Children of Japan

Children of Japan
Courtesy, R. John Wright

The Jumeau 201

The Jumeau 201
Courtesy Theriault's and Antique Doll Collector Magazine

Hinges and Hearts

Hinges and Hearts
An Exhibit of our Metal Dolls

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Tuxedo and Bangles

Tuxedo and Bangles

A History of Metal Dolls

A History of Metal Dolls
Now on Alibris.com and In Print! The First Book of its Kind

Alice, Commemorative Edition

Alice, Commemorative Edition
Courtesy, R. John Wright

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Emma, aka, La Contessa Bathory

Emma, aka, La Contessa Bathory
Her Grace wishes us all a Merry Christmas!

Annabelle

Annabelle

Emma Emmeline

Emma Emmeline
Our New Addition/fond of stuffed toys

Cloth Clown

Cloth Clown

Native American Art

Native American Art

the triplets

the triplets

c. 1969 Greek Plastic Mini Baby

c. 1969 Greek Plastic Mini Baby
Bought Athens on the street

Iron Maiden; Middle Ages

Iron Maiden; Middle Ages

Sand Baby Swirls!

Sand Baby Swirls!
By Glenda Rolle, courtesy, the Artist

Glenda's Logo

Glenda's Logo
Also, a link to her site

Sand Baby Castaway

Sand Baby Castaway
By Glenda Rolle, Courtesy the Artist

A French Friend

A French Friend

Mickey

Mickey
From our friends at The Fennimore Museum

2000+ year old Roman Rag Doll

2000+ year old Roman Rag Doll
British Museum, Child's Tomb

Ancient Egypt Paddle Doll

Ancient Egypt Paddle Doll
Among first "Toys?"

ushabti

ushabti
Egyptian Tomb Doll 18th Dynasty

Ann Parker Doll of Anne Boleyn

Ann Parker Doll of Anne Boleyn

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Tin Head Brother and Sister, a Recent Purchase

Tin Head Brother and Sister, a Recent Purchase
Courtesy, Antique Daughter

Judge Peep

Judge Peep

Hakata Doll Artist at Work

Hakata Doll Artist at Work
From the Museum Collection

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Japanese Costume Barbies

Japanese Costume Barbies
Samurai Ken

Etienne

Etienne
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Happy Heart Day

Happy Heart Day

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Dr. E's on Display with sign

Dr. E's on Display with sign

Dolls Restored ad New to the Museum

Dolls Restored ad New to the Museum
L to R: K*R /celluloid head, all bisque Artist Googly, 14 in. vinyl inuit sixties, early celluloid Skookum type.

Two More Rescued Dolls

Two More Rescued Dolls
Late Sixties Vinyl: L to R: Probably Horseman, all vinyl, jointed. New wig. R: Effanbee, probably Muffy, mid sixties. New wig and new clothing on both. About 12 inches high.

Restored Italian Baby Doll

Restored Italian Baby Doll
One of Dr. E's Rescued Residents

Dolls on Display

Dolls on Display
L to R: Nutcrackers, Danish Troll, HItty and her book, Patent Washable, Mechanical Minstrel, Creche figure, M. Alexander Swiss. Center is a German mechanical bear on the piano. Background is a bisque German costume doll.

A Few Friends

A Few Friends
These dolls are Old German and Nutcrackers from Dr. E's Museum. They are on loan to another local museum for the holidays.

Vintage Collage

Vintage Collage
Public Domain Art

The Merry Wanderer

The Merry Wanderer
Courtesy R. John Wright, The Hummel Collection

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The Fennimore Doll Museum

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A Haunted Doll with a Story

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Long-faced or Jumeau Triste

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A few friends in cloth!

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Sunday, July 31, 2011

All Dolls Are Collectible - SoThere!!

The title comes from Mrs. Angione's wonderful book, keep reading!


With the current economy I wonder a lot at prices in the antique market, especially the doll market. Antique dolls began to get really expensive when I first got interested in them, when I was about six or seven. I saw my first German bisque doll at Fantasy Land in Gettysburg when I was about five, and then my next group at the Folk Festival we used to have every summer at one of our junior highs. I was hooked. My first old doll was a Nancy Ann bisque in her box, given to me by my babysitter. Her daughter played with them, and her mother had saved them. There was a ball-jointed doll with a sweet face, not bisque, about 14 inches long in an organdy dress that I loved, a tiny silk wrapped wire doll, a little hard plastic, probably Irwin, in a crocheted dress, and several Dress-me dolls and Nancy Anns. The Nancy Anns were in a trunk, and I can’t even tell you how many there were, but Sandy, the daughter, was the baby, and had everything, so there were probably at least fifty.

Mrs. G. was about my age at the time, but she seemed so much older to me. I think the styles of the day didn’t help. My mother was about 12 years younger at the time, but she looked like she could be her daughter. The next time I had a chance to see old dolls was our first trip to California in ’67. The San Jose flea market was full of them, and my first big Arranbee compo baby came from there. It was “littlest Angel,” and her red dress was melting, it’s gilt polka dots fading. We kept the dress; one of my vintage cardboard Halloween skeletons is wearing it, but she had had a wardrobe of baby dresses, and now wears a vintage christening gown. I saw very old Mexican dolls that summer and boudoir dolls were going for 25.00, a fortune. We did buy a 40s composition doll from Mexico, and her dress didn’t’ even resemble the once bright China Poblana costume, but her comp and mohair wig were near mint. She wore her hair in braids on top of her head, like my mother did, and like I did once in a while. After I read Rumer Godden, she became Mrs. Plantaganet, and though not in scale, is still the real mother of my dollhouse family.

That fall, we went to the now defunct Women’s Club antique shows at our old Masonic Temple. The dolls were to die for. We were a paradise for big dealers, including Ralph’s Antique Dolls. Prices were discouraging, but there were French bebes and fashions for under $100.00. They would soon climb to $600, then $1000, then the price of a mortgage. My first real antique doll came from that show, a tiny china Frozen Charlotte, named of course, Charlotte. We were thrilled, thought that was a lot of money for us to pay. My mom made her tiny dresses, and she still has a gilt sleigh with upholstered pillows she sleeps in. That Christmas I read all about her in Helen Young’s The Complete Book of Doll Collecting. This was my second doll book. The first was Dolls by John Noble, a 7th birthday present. The third was written by my friend Mary Hillier, still a classic work, Dolls and Doll Makers. These were people who thought outside the box, and as a result, encouraged me to do so, too, as a collector.

Now, when antique dolls have held steady, but when they still cost well over $100.000, far more than that in the case of the famous Albert Marque that was just sold, I have to wonder who sets these prices, and what do we want to accomplish. Every good collection and antique shop when I was growing up had a variety of bisques, china heads, French bisques, and nice miniatures. They weren’t priced out of the market yet. Collectible dolls didn’t exist, and vintage Barbies cost under $2.00, and I could buy cases of them with clothes for less than that. Shackman and a few ladies like my Aunt Rose made reproductions, but Emma Clear dolls were already in a league of their own. Foreign dolls and Mme. Alexanders made up the collections of lucky little girls, and Shirley Temple was about the only compo doll people seemed to want. Paper doll collectors were just getting started, and later in the 70s or so, my friend R. Lane Herron wrote the first book about them.

Modern dolls an after thought, but I kept my babies, figuring they would in time be valuable. I was right. Pat Smith’s books on modern dolls, beginning in 1972, began to identify modern dolls and also to set prices, which also began to rise. These prices have begun to bottom out, and I have been able to replace the few dolls that did get given away [when I believed as a child that poor little children went to The Salvation Army for toys], and yesterday, I had a real moment of serendipity. One of those Salvation Army giveaways found her way back to my collection. I recognized her right away, and she came back home for fifty cents. She was at a local flea market, absolutely filthy, a 12-inch hard vinyl doll, made by Eegee in the sixties. She was one of the dolls my Uncle used to bring on weekends. She was still wearing the one-piece yellow flannel pjs that belonged to one of my Uneeda dolls that had a Styrofoam body built over wire. She hadn’t traveled far. I’d like to think some of her bad condition was due to being well loved, but who knows?

What if all doll prices dipped, and they were no longer playthings of the rich? What if all dealers banded together and said no doll would be over $1000? This is real fairy tale thinking; many people, including friends and acquaintances of mine, make a living out of high-end dolls. But, as Helen Young used to say, there are collections and accumulations. It bothers me that museums close, and it bothers me even more that they deaccess their permanent collections, either for money, or because they are antique stores in decline. I know of at least one collection often written about that has all the rare bisques, all-pristine, none under fifteen thousand dollars in value, most worth more. After about ten of them, they all look alike to me. The old celebrated collections Johl and St. George wrote about no longer exist. Everything is too specialized, and the variations on a theme begin to merge together when I look at them. Advanced collector now means a millionaire or a dealer who can afford to buy and sell in movie star circles, though there are some movie stars who collect who prefer stuffed animals, modern dolls, reproductions, or artist dolls. No even billionaires and millionaires always want to shell out fortunes for one doll. Collector and dealer are not interchangeable. Both are fine titles, and they can run into each other now and then, but not everyone collects to sell.

Veteran authors and collectors who owned dolls that were worth thousands were horrified that that dolls were costing five, ten, one hundred thousand dollars. Even new dolls for children often begin in the $40.00 range, and American Girls can run parents into thousands of dollars if they buy everything to go with the dolls, which now cost close to $100. Tonner, Wright, Iaccono, Deval, Ortiz, and other artists are out of the price range of most collectors. And, the motto is no longer, “buy what you love,” but “buy what is a good investment.” Well, personally, I say contribute to your IRA, buy bonds, invest in CDs, mutual funds, your 401k, or even play the Market, albeit prudently. Dolls are not an investment per se. Plunges in the secondary market have shown that interest can wane, and speculating can be dangerous.

Collections are meant to be kept for them to vest, any collections. Quick turnarounds among dealers in all antiques are fascinating to observe, but are they setting a good example? Who knows? I love Antiques Roadshow, but a good yard sale is getting harder and harder to find. I love eBay and Etsy, but good antique shops, even malls are few and far between. I love books on quirky antiques and collectibles, but once one is written [and I include mine in these comments] prices just go up and up. Why do we write, I ask, to boost prices, corner markets, or inspire others to follow in our footsteps?

Also, there is often a glut in what’s availability because anyone can put dolls on computer auctions Even I get jaded sometimes, and rare doesn’t mean what it used to mean. Any more, I think it is rare if I can’t find it on a computer auction, or in a book!

But, let’s look locally. Dolls in all types of condition, made of all materials, disappear off the shelves our local thrift stores and rummage sales. I see people grabbing CPK dolls, and Alexanders of all types, even since 1990, do very well at doll shows and estate sales. Doll parts do well on online auctions, and broken, dug up bisque heads are popular no matte what. A & AM 370 and 390 dolls are Pooh-poohed by dealers, but they sell very quickly, again, in any condition. I’ve seen many people proudly show them at lectures as their family heirlooms, and the rest of the audience ooh and aah about them. Grown men have tried to buy foreign dolls and Dress-me dolls out from under me everywhere.

The new, super expensive ball jointed dolls are becoming status items; I see Generation Xers carrying them around, and Living Dead Dolls and Goth dolls are attracting new doll collectors in the same tradition that Barbie, CPK, Raggedy Ann, and Precious Moments dolls attract them.

Hummels are also ridiculed, especially in great doll/puppet film called Team America, but they are still desirable to most people, and selling well. They are still expensive, and still do well in antique malls where I live. I still love them. My mother and I collected the ones with dolls and toys, but we managed to gather quite a few others, including dolls, plates, and other Goebel figurines. They were, and still are, special in my family. WE may have been spurred on by her sorority sister, my second grade teacher, who publically humiliated me during show and tell for believing my precious Joseph’s Original figurine was a Hummel. I was seven; I thought all figurines were Hummels like I thought all gelatin desserts were Jell-O. Silly me.

My museum will have dolls of all types, for all people, as many as I can gather, a la Samuel Pryor and other great collectors. There will be representatives from the prehistoric and ancient world, and modern dime store dolls. There will be figurines and foreign dolls , and costume dolls, and dump babies, and pristine dolls with their boxes, and antique bisque, wax, and china, and a world of composition dolls, along with their furniture, books, wardrobes and miniatures.

There will be soldiers and robots, and boy toys, and voodoo dolls, and all types of art objects. Never let it be said we are boring. We will have clowns and Smurfs and cartoon figures, and the comics will be well represented.

Till then, Happy Dolling. Collect what you love, rearrange, repair, and read, read, read about your dolls. Kudos to Doll Castle News for keeping up the tradition of catering to an audience of those who love dolls, and for not emphasizing money and price. We love the family heritage behind them, and the fact that they love all types of dolls, for just as there are all kinds of dolls; there are all kinds of people.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Yard Sale Musings; Memoir of a Good Sale and Doll Castle News

Hot, steamy summer is officially here. My glasses fog up repeatedly, and I have to pull my hair back. Everyday is a bad hair day, and it is just too, too hot! But, everything is relative. I have great memories of running around in the heat; of yard sales where I took off wearing my all cotton shirt, white, of course, and vinage jeans, usually with the faded flower print worked into the denim, hunting for treasures. I liked to wear my hair down then, and a lolng necklace of tourquoise beads doubled twiced around my neck. I found some good sales in the close heat and stifling air, one where the man of the house appreicated my love of old toys, and actually invited me in to look at Sonja Henie and Bucherer dolls, the last I had never seen. I only had the photo in my metal doll book from the Yokohama doll museum. He had a tiny mannikin, used to model foundation garments as an ad sign in drug stores, and lots of little bisque figures, most in boxes. At another sale, I bought African dolls and carvings, and a vintage radio case. The man there had brought the wooden carvings from Africa when he was there during World War II.

I had stumbled on estate sales with antique dolls and ancient scrapbooks, boxes of doll furniture, one legendary sale had dolls, pottery, and artifacts from all over the world. I came back with a Diana of Ephesus, a Lenci mascotte from Rome, several Greek pots with Ibises and horned beasts, jewelry, a block of antique tea with a pagoda done in bas relief on it, dozens of miniatures and crepe paper ornaments from Mexico, you name it. Even my mom was impressed. I felt a lot like Lucy St. Elmo from the Mary Moody mysteries.

Summer of 92 was stifling, but we used to take off for the Great River flea market, and eat at Lonesome Dove,now defunct, full of taxidermy and great buffet food. I met my friend Zondra there, who was a real gypsy, and a GWTW freak. She had the whole collection of dolls from Alexander and Royal, as well as sketches I didn't buy that were done for the TV sequel, Scarlett. Could have kicked myself for that, and would have liked the sketch of the late Dorothy Tutin, who made her portrayal of Anne Boleyn so famous.

Then there were our family trips, to Europe, Mexico, Canada, all over the US, always searching out flea markets and dolls. There was the "monasteraki" in Athens, and the black, silk screened Greek doll. We saw some bisque heads there, and wished we had bought them, and there were vendors on every corner selling soft plastic dolls and celluloid babies and toys made in Greece, and book shops with doll shaped books and litho paper dolls from Denmark and elsewhere. There was the Madrid flea market and the pilgrims of Santiago dolls, and the San Jose flea market, and Monterey Flea market, and the old Indiana Antiques. We loved Gilroy and Casa de Fruta in its early days; not only did they have aplets and cotlets, but they had old stock Europian dolls for Hungary and elsehwere, all original, for less than one dollar, and some were quite large. We found masks and Mexican miniatures in San Juan Bautista, and our favorite restaurant had two cases of foreign dolls gracing their walls. In Canada, we found antique stores with great jewelry, and commerically made bisque dolls, and Inuit dolls and sculpture. I used to love Stratford, Ontario, and just missed going to a big Doll Show, but I made it up in Royal Doultn and Canadian dolls. At a good will, I bought an Argeninian baby doll.

We loved Wisconsin Dells, and when I was thirteen, bought my first metal head from a lady whose whole house was a doll store, and my first Ginny from a farm with grey geese running around the yard. There was a great store there that had a window full of bisque dolls and costume dolls, and a drug store where I bought a Skookum doll and a baby in a papoose cradle marked "occupied Japan."

I loved the thrill of the hunt with my Mom, and we were forces to be recogned with in New Orleans and Williamsburg, VA. The Lady Anne Doll factory was a dream come true, and Mary Todd Lincoln was a special treasure, as were the Ozark flea markets and stops we made during another trip.

My mom and I got a kick out of anything unusual; my scandalized dad tried to keep me from entering Marie LeVeau's House of Voodoo in NO, but after I poopoohed his objections of people we know seeing us there, I went in and found my mom gazing at voodoo dolls and skulls and candles with, "that's cute" about to burst forth from her lips. I bought a ju-ju doll, and another VooDoo doll from a store called Hello Dolly. Great place; I'd live there ina heartbeat, hurricanes and all. Wish I could have gone back when St. Elizabeth's was a doll museum.

I did get to see the outside of Kimport Dolls, to visit Vera Kramer's Dolls in Wonderland before she had to move from her building. I saw the famous Marque doll, and many more.

So much has changed, and the hot summers that meant it was time for Old Albuquerque, and Disneyland's French Quarter Antique Shop, and Mott's Miniature Museum in Knott's Berry Farm, are sweet ghosts of my past. The summer of Jaws lingers in my memory because I spent time wandering on the beach at Huntington Beach, and picking up shells for a doll house roof that became an art project the next year. I used miniatures from an antique shop there, and ate scallops at a seafood shack where a six foot shark hung over our heads. Aunt Connie had flown down from San Jose, and we picked her up at LAX where I saw Laurel and Hardy Dolls by Dakin in the gift shop.

I think I actually bought one there.


That was the year we ate tuna salad at the Chicken of the Sea Restaurant in Disneyland, and wandered around San Francisco, and everyone was happy for once.

When I think about these things, or wander the sales, I'm still fifteen, and my family is with me. My pen pals still write to me, and Christmas Cards are still a big deal.

Kudos to Doll Castle magazine, by the way, for staying with it, and for publishing my friend R. Lane Herron's great article about our friend Glenda Rolle and her sand babies. What a wonderful article! Such great dolls, and they, too, remind me of beaches, especially Capitola, home of Suzanne Gibson, Santa Cruz, where I think Dewees Cochran lived? Lane would know.

I'd love to hear from anyone who remembers Kimport, or the mag, Berneice's Bambini, or Madonna Hardy Inlow dolls, or the Mark Farmer Doll doll company, or the old Chelsea Shop in Ghiradelli Square in San Francisco. Those were great times. May you all have a great summer, and find your own doll memories.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Eugene Field Memoir

This is a great two volume set that is free on Amazon's Kindle! I didn't know his father represented Dred Scott, but I've always been a fan of his, both because he was a doll colletor and because I went to Eugene Field Grade School [which had a doll collection on display!].

One assignment we do in humanities class is to choose a favorite toy and write about and discuss it. This is a good way to begin writing about childhood. Answer where the toy came from, was it hand made? Did you make it? Was it a gift? Was it even a toy [one of mine was an African statute dubbed The Little Drummer Boy" Do you still have it? Did you inherit it then pass it on? These are good ways to fill in gaps for childhood stories, and scrapbookers are liable to have photos and other memoarabilia for their albums.

With Love from Tin Lizzie: A History of Metal Dolls . . . at Publisher

Our book on metal dolls is being formatted and edited for publishing even as we speak. Look for it on Amazon in late fall; we hope by Christmas!

Of Pockets of Pearls and Doll Trivia

The Museum would like to thank Merna and Robin Throne for all their help with our new Facebook page, Dr. E'Doll Museum, and with our Twitter account. Our followers grow by the minute, and we are very pleased with our new look.

It has been a late spring cleaning at the museum, with a lot of books being sorted and arranged and dolls grouped and organized. Most of our china dolls are now residing on one settee, and these include local artists dolls, vintage and antique china heads and parian, Ruth Gibbs, some very early "dump babies" dug up in the ruins of German doll factories, some original creations, etc. Near them is a small shelf with a small collection of a friend's Nancy Ann and HP storybook dolls. There is a lot of planting of miniature gardens, dusting, packing, unpacking and repacking going on, too.

In part, we are saddened at the upcoming closing of our sister museum, The Rosalie Whyel Museum of Doll Art. We wish them luck, and do hope that they keep collecting privately.

Some short news and trivia; we will be presenting at MMLA this year, both our panel, A Literary Shelter for Misfit Dolls: Exploring Doll Play, and our paper on Dolls in Horror Films, are a go. This is a lot of work, but very exciting. We are indebted to the National Museum of Play for their on line Journal of Play and to our similar sources.

I have also been reviewing doll history, lately, and did not know that Charles Lindburgh was the best friend of the legendary Sam Pryor, former VP of Pan Am and noted doll collector. Pryor's collection is featured in several publications including the Dec. 1959 National Geographic, "The World in Dolls." Lindburgh, too, collected dolls, automatons and mechanical figures. Who knew? And, we have a porcelain Lindburgh doll, and a vintage Amelia Earhart.

Also, we hope to visit the home and doll collection of Eugene Field. I went to Eugene Field Grade School, as did my own son. Our principal had her own doll collection on display there, as was fitting. I did not know, however, that Fields' father, Roswell Field, was a lawyer, as is Dr. E by training, and that he represented Dred Scott. I've visited the courthouse before, and taught the case. We even have a house in my area where Scott stayed, but what a small world. Dolls are truly everywhere!

More triva: Chase Stockinet dolls, first made in 1893, were used as late as 1994 to teach hospital personnel. I had a student in one of my doll classes who used one, and she was called Mary Ann Chase [same first name as the student!]. I remember first grade books on nurses that showed drawings of them, too, in the mid sixties.

Also, the ball and socket joint for doll bodies was introduced in 1870. How interesting that these dolls are super popular today. Everything old isnew again. For more triva, see Betty O' Bennett's Collectible Dolls Facts and Trivia, vol.1 Hipp-Daniel, 1994.

Don't forget, the Bibiliography is on Amazon!! A Bibliography of Doll and Toy Sources, by Ellen Tsagaris.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Temples where Dolls are Cremated and "Die"

from the Japan Times; this is an interesting part of doll culture, but I couldn't bear to watch!

WEEK 3
CEREMONIES TO SAY 'THANKS AND GOODBYE'
Last rites for the memories as beloved dolls pass away
By SETSUKO KAMIYA
Staff writer
An opulent pair of Hime daruma prince and princess dolls from Ehime Prefecture in Shikoku has graced the living room of Tamiko Okamoto's home in Funabashi, Chiba Prefecture, since 1964. A wedding gift from a close friend, the dolls, side by side in a glass case, had been part of the family for all those years.




Departing dolls on display (top) before a monument to them at the Kiyomizu Kannondo Temple in Tokyo's Ueno Park, where some are cremated (above) at the finale of the annual event on Sept. 25. Dolls around the Shinto altar (below) at a similar "Doll-Thanking Ceremony" held on Sept. 18 at the Midori Kaikan funeral hall in Tokyo's Setagaya Ward. SETSUKO KAMIYA PHOTOS



But when her husband died six years ago, Okamoto thought it was also time to bid farewell to those witnesses to their life together. As well, 40 years had tattered their kimonos, and the colors were fading.

"It's been on my mind, but I couldn't just throw them away, because that would bring divine punishment," said Okamoto, now 69 years old. "I'd wanted to have them prayed for, but I didn't know where to take them."

Earlier this year, Okamoto was excited to learn about the Kiyomizu Kannondo Temple in Tokyo's northern Taito Ward. At that temple in Ueno Park, she found out that a ceremony called ningyo kuyo is held annually to pray for dolls and thank them for giving their owners many fond memories. It is also a way for owners to release dolls from their hands and lives.

On Sept. 25, Okamoto was one of many dozens who took their dolls to the temple to be prayed for and then discarded. They included traditional ones such as Hina ningyo doll sets representing emperor and empress, attendants, court musicians and guards, which are traditionally given on the March 3 annual Hinamatsuri (Doll Festival), when families with daughters display them as a way of expressing hope for their future happiness. As well, that day at the temple, numerous soft-toy animals or animation characters were among the many "offerings" made.

At 2 p.m., five monks started reciting sutras in front of a monument on which several dolls were displayed. The monks then moved over to a small hearth, where some token representatives of the dolls were burned to ashes. Okamoto and the other assembled owners all put their hands together in prayer as if they were attending a funeral.

Afterward, Okamoto was trembling. "I didn't think it would be such a proper ceremony," she said. "My dolls gave us a nice time and I am so touched."

A week before Okamoto bid goodbye to her beloved dolls, Noriko Yamada, 60, shared a similar experience in Tokyo's Setagaya Ward, where she lives. At the local funeral hall, called Midori Kaikan, another ceremony for departing dolls, called ningyo kanshasai, was performed.

Literally meaning "doll appreciation festival," the basic idea underlying the event was similar to that of the temple in Ueno Park. But the major difference was that the ceremony was according to Shinto practices rather than Buddhist ones.

Yamada took along a dozen dolls, including both some traditional ones and soft-toy animals that belonged to her now 35-year-old daughter.

"It's been hard to think about getting rid of them, because they remind me of the time my daughter spent with them," Yamada said, sentimentally. "And, you know, you can't throw away things with eyes, noses and mouths."

At the same time, Yamada said, she was looking for the right opportunity to dispose of them because the dolls were taking up too much space in her apartment. "I'm very glad that they are well taken care of like this," Yamada said as she surveyed the 5,000 dolls around the altar.

Soon, a priest began to perform a ritual to drive out the dolls' spirits and purify them. The ceremony was very solemn. Everyone was very quiet, as if it was a funeral -- but this time there was no burning of the dolls.


Dolls and soft toys (above) at Kiyomizu Kannondo Temple in Tokyo's Ueno Park, where Buddhist monks (below) receive them for the ceremony, along with a 3,000 yen donation per item.



Both Okamoto and Yamada believed it just wasn't right to simply toss their dolls into a rubbish bin, not least because of the memories that they embody. Each felt that doing so would in some way bring a curse down on them. In fact, many Japanese share their views -- as the huge number of dolls brought to the two farewell events so clearly demonstrated.

Where does such thinking come from?

Generally speaking, observers agree that it is neither a Buddhist nor a Shinto teaching to thank and pray for the dolls. Religious institutions simply reacted to this uniquely Japanese outlook by creating ceremonies to meet a need.

Historically, for instance, Kiyomizu Kannondo has long been a temple where couples would go and pray to be blessed with a child. When a child did come along, it was then customary for them to take a doll to the temple as the child's substitute to prevent anything bad befalling it. As time went by, some people simply started bringing dolls they wanted to get rid of, and the temple began accepting them daily and eventually started the annual ritual 49 years ago.

As for the Shinto ceremony at Midori Kaikan, the event there was actually part of a promotion campaign for the renewal of the funeral hall, owned by Setagaya Ward and run by JA Tokyo Central Ceremony Center. But it was also their effort to meet a local need, said Ceremony Center President Hiroaki Tanno, because "many residents are suffering over how to do away with their dolls."

As a result, to meet people's spiritual and practical needs regarding their dolls, similar events are held in temples and shrines across Japan, with owners normally paying "offerings" of around 3,000 yen per doll to for the service.

In fact, one of the nation's major "doll farewells" takes place today at Meiji Shrine in Tokyo's Shibuya Ward. There, from 9 a.m., people will start bringing in their dolls, and a huge number are expected to surround the main shrine before the day is out.

All very touching, for sure, but why do so many Japanese feel the need to pray for the dolls before abandoning them -- to say such "Thanks and Goodbye," as signs at Meiji Shrine proclaim?

According to Sumie Kobayashi, who heads the reference room of doll manufacturer Yoshitoku Co., the key actually lies in the annual Hinamatsuri Doll Festival. The dolls for this occasion, traditionally representing the wedding of the Imperial couple, are displayed on a platform. They are admired and handled with care and respect.

Kobayashi explained that festivals such as this are rooted in ancient purification rites performed as the seasons change, and that long ago the dolls were votive symbols in human form. In fact, she pointed out, the word for "doll" (ningyo) actually means "human form" when it is written in kanji characters.


Visitors admire the dolls at last year's "Doll Farewell" at Tokyo's Meiji Shrine (below). PHOTO COURTESY OF NIHON NINGYO KYOKAI

But in addition to respect for them being rooted in ritual and symbolism, Kobayashi said the dolls also "fulfill an educational purpose -- teaching us to be nice to them because they are vulnerable."

Kobayashi is a member of a group supporting today's festival at Meiji Shrine, and she has helped to display the dolls there many times. The number of dolls has been rising every year since the event started in 1989, she said, and this year is expected to top last year's record of more than 38,000.

After the ceremony is over and the dolls are purified, Kobayashi explained, most will be discarded as industrial waste. However, some with historical value will be kept to be displayed every year at the shrine after receiving the consent of the owners.

"Whenever I'm helping with this event, I'm really stunned to realize how much Japanese people have feelings for their dolls," she said. "It's really a unique and mysterious custom [to pray for them]."

The Japan Times: Sunday, Oct. 15, 2006

Great Page for Antique Doll Collectors

See below; this is a friendly, wonderful site where collectors can comment and learn. More book reviews and sites to follow, and thoughts on the closing of the Rosalie Whyel Museum:

My Grandmother's Marseille Doll
by Connie
(Bend, OR)












This was my grandmother's doll. She got it as a gift in about 1911 (she would have been 5 at that time).

I inherited it and have been trying to find out more about her. I know my dad had new clothes and hair made for her. She is about 23" tall and marked Armand Marseille - Germany - 390n - A 6-1/2 M on the back of her neck.

There is also something written between the 390n and the A 6-1/2 M, but I can't make it out. I would like to know when she was made and how much she might be worth? I've read that 390 dolls are very common.

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Join in and write your own page! It's easy to do. How?
Simply click here to return to Antique doll id's.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Nearly 6000 and Killer Stuff/Tons of Money

Greetings to the nearly 6000 who have viewed us at the museum; we love you! Also, I recommend this wonderful book my Maureen Stanton, who was mentored by Mary Swick, my old legal class; fictional approach to prose through the auspices of the Iowa Writers Workshop. For anyone who loves flea markets and collecting, this book is a must, as is Mary Moody's Lucy St. Elmo series, the latest which is set at the famous Brimfield Flea Market. A doll or two creeps into these, and the stories of fascinating. Don't forget Stanton's notes and her stellar bibliography for those who want to read more about collecting and collectors. I went to a farm wide flea market full of antiques on the 4th, and came back laden with wonderful things, including a good low brow china head, a name head at that, on a kid body for $25.00 and a vintage Cleopatra cameo. I also snagged a box of Youth's Companions which was awesome, and some Chocolate Drop Kids post cards and a wicker Victorian type doll carriage, old, with a steel name plate. It was fun just to be out, and to watch fireworks later on. Photos of various scenes and collectibles will follow, but I also found my first Pat Secrest doll, and a real African Mask. Now is the time to get out and antique or flea, whatever you like to call it, and enjoy the good weather and the great outdoors!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

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Roalie Whyel Newsletter-Museum to Close March 1, 2012

In this issue: MUSEUM CLOSING
ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATION
NADDA RETURNS
BOOK SIGNING
& MORE!


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Shelley Helzer
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Rosalie Whyel Museum of Doll Art
Ph 425-455-1116 Fx 425-455-4793
www.dollart.com