Preventing a decrease in circulation has been a perennial problem for the newspaper trade. In the later 19th century art supplements with the Sunday edition served as one remedy. In addition to parlor prints, newspapers also issued these children’s cutout toys. Promoted to parents in the preceding week’s newspaper as a must-have for their children, the toys were typically to be assembled and used as theaters or paper dolls.
Publisher Joseph P. Schiller Syndicate manufactured and marketed the Polly’s Paper Playmates to East Coast newspapers during the 1910s. Other cutouts showed Sister Prue with attire for the opera, Fifth Avenue, and a costume ball. By 1915 the Syndicate supplements also contained coupons to pay for additional sheets of paper dolls from which the newspaper publishers received half the profits.