Thursday, June 7, 2012
Memoirs of a Doll Collector; Indiana Antqiues
There are so many places I visited for antique dolls as a child that I think I would have to spend the rest of my life documenting them. One legendary place was Indiana Antiques which was once on 2nd Street in San Jose. They used to advertise in Hobbies, and they were the place for antique dolls, though at one time, they were incredibly pricey. I thought of them yesterday when I got to visit my friend R., who is a big doll enthusiast, too. She has a fantastic collection and is always glad to share. I couldn't do the Museum Doll Day trip this year, or Convention, so I got a sneak pick at her exhibits. Indiana Antiques had room after room of French and German dolls, cases of large, black Frozen Charlottes with elaborate hairdos, China heads that stood nearly four feet, K and H storybook dolls in their upside down jars, mint. One of these came home with me one time, along with a tiny all bisque, probably French, with fantastic yellow soled boots. My uncle followed the "me no tell" policy that New Years Eve of 1973, because my mother paid nearly $30.00 for her. I went back in the late 80s, and bought a Minerva head, still in "mold" stage, and a china head that had survived the 1906SF earthquake. There were still dolls, but the fancy high end items and K and H dolls, which had their start in Santa Clara with Peg O' My Heart dolls, were gone. I also saw a pumpkin head restored by Lewis Sorenson, another Bay Area doll celeb and member of NIADA [My friend Suzanne Gibson of Capitola and I think Dewees Cochrane were others. My friend Mr. R. Lane Herron lived in San Francisco, too]. There were other antique stores with great tiny bisques nearby, and one with many vintage compos and HCs across the street, which were gone. The story behind IN antiques was a sad one; allegedly, the parents of the original owner were running the shop in the 80s; their daughter, original collector and founder, died young. I threw that story in my parents' faces when I wanted sympathy. My dad just said he would set up at the flea market. Great. There were other stores in El Paseo Saratoga, and one across the street from it, that had antique dolls and foreign dolls. My Floradora came from one, and my all metal Chelsea miniature peg doll from another. India Imports had Shackman dolls and beautiful international dolls at the Town and Country Shopping Center, and Pixie Toys in our neck of the woods had Madame Alexanders, Corolle, and HP mini German babies with wicker furniture. Vann's Craft and Hobby had beaucoup doll supplies and vintage coins and stamps as well, Woolworths had dolls and doll clothes, and Walgreens featured the largest collection of Bradley Collectors dolls I'd ever seen. Mark Farmer was in El Cerrito, which was just fantastic. There were Doll Hospitals and Antique stores all over San Jose, and of course, the San Jose Flea Market, where my Arranbe Littlest Angel and I first met. I think we could have had a Bonnie Babe that year for very little. There were old dolls in San Juan Bautista, inclusing bisque dolls and Santos on display, and one woman had a doll museum as part of her shop. She had a cabinet size Eden Bebe, and a Col. Sanders! I wish I new what haappened to her. We used to go to Goodwill, and to the Barn Flea Market outside Monterrey, and of course, to Chinatown, where I would find vintage and old dolls from Japan. Macy's, Magic Kingdom, Bullocks, Emporium, Valentine's Ladies, Gumps, Nice Twice Doll Shop, were all in business. They all had great doll departments. Celebrity Imports had them, as did Pool, Patio ant Things at Christmas. Kiddie World hosted artist doll shows. I lost out a mechanical Petitcolin one year at the Velco Village flea market to my friend Michael Canadas who took over The Carmel Doll shop from a family that hailed from Illinois, same town I lived in. I made up for it with antique Japanese Ningyo bought for a song. Collecting and collectors have evolved, as well they should, but the magic for me was those early childgood/adolescent yars hunting in California with my family, and travelling and seeing wonderful things along the way.