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
A Little Girl

Happy Heart Day

Happy Heart Day

From "Dolls"

From "Dolls"
A Favorite Doll Book

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Jenny Wren

Jenny Wren
Ultimate Doll Restorer

Our Friends at The Fennimore Doll and Toy Museum

Our Friends at The Fennimore Doll and Toy Museum

Baby Boo 1960s

Baby Boo 1960s
Reclaimed and Restored as a childhood Sabrina the Witch with Meow Meow

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

The Fennimore Doll Museum

The Fennimore Doll Museum

Robert

Robert
A Haunted Doll with a Story

Halloween Dolls Displayed in a Local Library

Halloween Dolls Displayed in a Local Library

The Cody Jumeau

The Cody Jumeau
Long-faced or Jumeau Triste

German Princesses

German Princesses
GAHC 2005

A Little PowerRanger

A Little PowerRanger
Halloween 2004

The Island of the Dolls

The Island of the Dolls
Shrine to Dolls in Mexico

Based on the Nutshell Series of Death

Based on the Nutshell Series of Death
Doll House murder

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A lovely dress

A lovely dress

Raggedy Ann

Raggedy Ann
A few friends in cloth!

Fennimore Doll and Toy Museum, WI

Fennimore Doll and Toy Museum, WI
Pixar Animator's Collection

Little PM sisters

Little PM sisters
Recent eBay finds

Dressed Mexican Fleas

Dressed Mexican Fleas

Really old Dolls!

Really old Dolls!

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Mrs. Stella Thomas: A Memory

My travels have taken me all over the world; my educational travels are no different. At one point in the early 80s, I landed in Iowa City to study. At the time, we didn’t have Goodwill at home. We had it in California, where my family lived, and it was a huge treat to go there at Christmas to look for dolls. I liked to prowl around the IC store and then stop at the Amelia Earhart deli for coffee or breakfast. We had everyone in IC, and there were times you were not sure if the person you were seeing was a or a woman, or if your movie theater companion would emerge wearing a Mohawk when the lights came on—and it didn’t really matter. We all managed to get along, to class, and stay friendly. The trouble was Goodwill downtown didn’t have many dolls. I would find maybe one in the whole store. Finally, I got the courage to ask where the dolls were, and was given a flier for a doll show, that very weekend, right before graduation! It was a Doll Show and Sale at the home of Mrs. Stella Thomas. She lived on College, which was part of the downtown, but too far to walk, especially if one had shopping bags full of doll treasures. I called a cab, universally $2.00, and started off. In Mrs. Thomas garage, not too far from the park we liked, and our favorite Haunted Book Shop, home of National Velvet paper dolls, were dozens and dozens of dolls. Most were restored, some dressed in original clothes, the oldest dating from the fifties up to the contemporary early 80s dolls, now vintage themselves. There were undressed dolls I later learned would be given away to those interested in dressing them, and there were boxes and boxes of doll parts. I went to work. I found Miss Revlon types, full dressed with the high heels so hard to find. I brought home a Bam Bam for free; he needed an arm and counted as free “parts.” I found hard plastic dolls, and Baby Secret, a doll I had wanted in the sixties. I took home an undressed Crissy to dress. All told, I had four white garbage bags filled with dolls, and these I sneaked by my 84-year-old landlady, not that she would have minded. The dolls went home to the cases at my parents’ home. After that, I went to the dolls show every year I lived in IC, and took my mom with me. After that, we would call Mrs. Thomas, and visit. She and I looked forward to talking to each other. The antiques dealers tended to leave her alone; comp and bisque dolls were the rage. A few would show up at her garage, but they were modern bisques, and a few compo babies in need of serious repair. One dealer we knew was her friend; Theo would help her by pricing some dolls, and donating some of her own stock to sell. Theo was a nice lady, and she, too, would encourage those interested in all types of dolls to visit. I don’t know if the UFDC would have applauded her efforts. She told me that a couple of times, someone would criticize who the dolls were dressed. Mrs. Thomas and her friends used donated material to dress the dolls, and often made ties and ribbons from pieces of yarn. Undaunted, she replied to these nay Sayers, “If you’re old enough to comment and criticize how the dolls are dressed; you’re too old to be playing with them!” That should be a battle cry! There were also stories with the dolls; Mrs. Thomas told me one cloth bodied baby doll had returned to her at least twice, redonated so that she could have a new cloth body cover twice made for her. That dolls resides at The Museum now, never to be redonated again. Mrs. Thomas was a simple person; her home was a modest fifties ranch. Her son, a science teacher, lived with her. When she found out my mom was a teacher, she talked about him proudly and often to us. She wore her salt and pepper hair page boy length, and wore old fashioned horn rimmed glasses. She had a simple rain coat for cool weather, dark in color, and favored flowered house dresses, like my grandma wore in the sixties and seventies. She and her friends made the doll show a party, and would have lunch during the show, usually bologna sandwiches and apple pie and cookies. Theo told me she died about ten years ago or so at 91. Theo, to, is no longer with us, and another era in doll collecting history, at least mine, has ended. I recently took a trip to IC, and couldn’t help but think of her as I drove through the familiar streets. I like to think She, Theo, Mary Hiller, our friend Violet, and Mom are all together somewhere now, talking dolls, maybe dressing a few, reminiscing, and waiting for me. Happy New Year 2013.

1 comment:

  1. I managed the Amelia Earhart Deli in the early 1980s, but this is about Stella Thomas. We raised our kids in a house about ten blocks from Stella's doll filled garage. My two daughters loved stopping by because they could always talk me out of a nickel or dime for a doll. My wife and I always wondered about the house, so in 2007 when Jill biked by and saw someone working on it, she got a short tour. Then she called me and said, "Pick up our house; someone is coming over to see it."

    Within a month, we had gone from not looking to moved. Stella had died in 2001, and her some Duane died six years late. A couple bought the house to flip. They wanted our house, so we traded houses!

    I always thought that we should have a little shelf outside the garage with a Raggedy Ann in Stella's memory, but I was vetoed. Instead, we have a bed of Stella De Oro Day Lilies along the side of the house as our tribute to Stella Thomas.

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