Articulated dolls go back to at least 200 BCE, with articulated clay and wooden dolls of ancient Greece and Rome. The modern era ball-jointed doll history began in Western Europe in the late 19th century. From the late 19th century through the early 20th century French and German manufacturers made bisque dolls with strung bodies articulated with ball-joints made of composition: a mix of pulp, sawdust, glue and similar materials. These dolls could measure between 15 and 100 cm (6-40 inches) and are now collectible antiques.
During the 1930s the German artist Hans Bellmer created dolls with ball-joints and used them in photography and other surrealistic artwork. Bellmer introduced the idea of artful doll photography, which continues today with Japanese doll artists, as well as BJD hobbyists.
Influenced by Bellmer and the rich Japanese doll tradition, Japanese artists began creating strung ball-jointed art dolls. These are commonly made entirely of bisque and often very tall, sometimes as tall as 120 cm (48 inches). These dolls are purely intended as art, and not for play or even the hobby level of collecting usually associated with dolls. They cost several thousand dollars, up to several hundred thousand dollars for older collectible dolls from famous artists. The art doll community is still active in Japan and artists regularly release artbooks with photographs of their dolls.
In today's market, BJDs have expanded to three main size categories: full size, mini and tiny. Many artisans have began interrepting their own version of the BJD's and creating a wide range of appearances.
Collectible ball jointed dolls are now being introduced into the art doll and dollhouse miniature world.
CDHM Artisan Jean Reid of Les Petits Tresors has hand sclupted this tiny Baby Cassie, OOAK Ball Jointed Doll BJD that is only 2 1/8 inches in height (6cm).
This BJD was originally hand sculpted, then cast in resin by CDHM Artisan Aleah Klay of Aleah Klay Studio. Named Orli by the artisan, the doll measures 4 1/4 inches tall (10.6 cm) with glass eyes.
CDHM Artisan Nefer Kane of CircusKane Art Dolls has been creating ball jointed dolls professionally for some time. The first doll, Iracebeth is a resin cast BJD that she customizes to the customers specifications. The second image shows, Soldier Dumpty. This doll has been dressed and customized. The third image, the Humpty Dumpty doll, reflects the basic doll, measuring 11-inches/28cm, before it goes through "face-up" or customization and dressing of the doll.