In 1920, Elena and Enrico Scavini began to create dolls and toys using the felt made near their home in the northern Italian town of Turin. They later registered to trade under the name of Lenci, which was Elena’s nickname. In the early 20th century Lenci dolls became well known for their naturalistic moulding and painted felt faces.

The two boy and girl dolls pictured were made in 1927. Their felt bodies are stitched down the back, on top of the shoulders and hand stitched between the legs so that they could be dressed in realistic low cut clothes or with bare limbs. Their bodies have been modelled instead of stuffed and their hair, made of mohair, is sewn into their heads. They are dressed in children’s clothes typical of the 1920s and 1930s. The boy’s eyes are sideways glancing, giving him a slightly sullen appearance. Sideways glancing eyes became fashionable on dolls in the 1920s, and were particularly popular on felt dolls.

The Lenci factory was largely destroyed during the Second World War. Lenci dolls continued to be made from plastic and composition.