Thursday, May 24, 2012
My Life in Antiques
When I have a little time, I sit and muse. I go through old albums and notes to get ideas, especially on days like today when I know I have to up late, and work till 10 pm. I thought of all the antique stores I've been to, the flea markets, the malls, the antique shows, the exclusive yard sale here and there, and I'm overwhelmed by how much I learned, and of the wonderful dealers and owners who were willing to pause and teach a little girl with her mother about the different types of dolls available. There were ladies in Disneyland and Knotts Berry Farm, Mr. Mott himself of Mott's miniatures, Vera Kramer and her husband, who over the years, took the time to tell me about doll artists, premium foreign dolls like Peggy Nisbet and Charlotte Weibull, how to spot a repair or reproduction [Jim Fernando], how to put an antique doll head under Ultraviolet light or X-ray to determine if it had cracks [Michael Canadas] how to make doll dresses witout patterns [also Michael, once a theater major]; so many others whose names I can' remember, since I was six years old. When I was 8 and we wnt to see Mrs. Wellman's doll collection, my brownie leader told her I was a collector who already had a lot of good dolls, Mrs. Wellman took me up front and center and treated me as a colleague, even as she handed me penny dolls and explained their origins. Miss Bolin often showed us her dolls at school, and let me come up close to see them. I was promised some fo er dolls one time, but they have all disappaeared. There were dealers who stopped to explain to me the differences among Native American peoples and their doll-making techniques. Others told me the stories of the costumes and materials used. Some would show me their own old dolls, treasures for generations, even if we couldn't buy anything. Some kept their shops open when we pulled in near closing time. A few gave me little dolls, including a tiny peanut cowboy from a great store in Rock Springs, WY. My dear friend Violet taught me to make them and sew antique doll bodies. Some were only intrested in selling their junk; they would divert me from the antiques and show me their "cheap" dolls. I think in their own way, they didn't want to disappoint a little girl who had come so far, but few people were rude. Once once or twice was someone nasty with us, or tried to buy something out from under me, and these were people I knew. We didn't argue, just didn't go to those shops again. Well, we all have our days. As one of my dealer friends keeps saying, I grew up with them. My dad seldom went in, and he is known universally as "The Man in the Car." Dad is responsible for carrying two nearly lifesized dolls on the plane from Rome, and he bought the porclelain Suzanne Gibson and the Lady Anne Mary Todd Lincocln. He also carried dolls home from South Africa and Japan, especially when a business colleauge found out out my doll collection; they were eager to add to it then. So, mine is a life defined by old things, by antique dolls. I saw my first German bisque dolls in Fantasyland in Gettysburg, and I was about 5. I was hooked. My first "old doll" was a bisque Nancy Ann from my babysitter Mrs. Gianakes. My first antique was a Frozen Charlotte from the Women's Club antique show, at our Masonic Temple, now a fantastic banquet center and haunted house [with haunted doll room and animatrons!]. My first china heads were 40s Xmas angels and a handmade china head from my Aunt Rose. Mom bought me the second; a fanstastic Repro, that looks autentic even now, from Disneyland. Mom sewed them a wardrobe. I'll never part with my China Head Twins. My first old compo was Arranbee's Littlest Angel, and an old Mexican china poblana from Albuquerque. My first German bisque a small A and M dressed as a dutch boy, but she soon became "Melinda." My first antique china head was 5" and named Miss Charlotte. She as a cloth body and hands, and is from another old local antique show, no longer held. So, this is a syopsis of my life in antiques. When I'm "dolling," I m not sick don't feel stressed, and feel my mom walking beside me once again.