Monday, March 4, 2013
A few Photos and Update
Here are some photos of Tasha Tudor's dolls, one of the most beloved authors/collectors of all time. Apparently, doll news has posted a story about her, and her appearances in books by Eleanor St. George. I was fortunate enough to write to her, and to her friend Rumer Godden [A Dolls House, Miss Happiness and Miss Flower, Home is the Sailor, etc., and to receive responses from both of them: Doll News, the Winter 2013 issue, was published a month ago. "The Dolls' Christmas" by Margaret Kincaid appears on pages 68-74. Kinkaid briefly describes the Tudor family: "Tasha Tudor, my father's cousin." She used Tasha Tudor's 1950 book as a starting point, Kincaid describes building for herself and her daughter their own version of the doll house pictured in The Dolls' Christmas. She erroneously indicates that Tasha's dollhouse wasn't as large as pictured in the book, and that it was only realized in that size by Colonial Williamsburg Foundation in 1996. This is not correct; CWF built a replica of Tudor's Vermont dollhouse because the real one was too large to remove from Corgi Cottage. She also misquotes the names of her second cousins as Laura and Efner because Tudor used those names in her book. Tasha's daughters are Bethany and Efner. The article is a fascinating one about building and equipping a large doll house. There are 17 illustrations in color. Doll News is the official organ of the United Federation of Doll Clubs. UFDC.org DOLLS DOLLS DOLLS We started reviewing Tasha Tudor's books chronologically with Pumpkin Moonshine (1938) and last month reached First Prayers published in 1952. Today's topic is Tasha Tudor's Old-Fashioned Dolls, not a book, but rather a set of postal cards published early in 1953. Dolls were on Tasha Tudor's mind at the middle of the 20th century. She grew up with very personal and special dolls - family heirlooms. They were still of paramount importance to her as her own two daughters were growing up. She brought these worlds together - two dolls, two daughters - in The Dolls' Christmas (1950). Tasha Tudor and her antique fashion doll Sethany Ann had already been included in Eleanor St. George's The Dolls of Yesterday (1948), pp. 82-83. Although it is a short discussion in a larger book, it did publicize Tasha's doll. She was suddenly introduced to a larger doll reading audience. Five years later St. George's Dolls of Three Centuries again mentioned Tasha Tudor's choice dolls. By then Tudor's talents had expanded. The Dolls' Christmas has been published, and Tudor has made her own doll Ethan Shakespeare as a mate for her Sethany Ann. Much later there was published Tasha Tudor's Dollhouse by Harry Davis, describing one house that Tudor's doll family occupied. But we'll get to that book as a separate discussion in due time. TASHA TUDOR'S OLD-FASHIONED DOLLS Which brings us to the 13 photo postal cards featuring Tasha's dolls (the Shakespeare family) in various tableaux. The idea seems to have taken a while to germinate in the minds of Tudor and her husband Tom McCready. We have seen early versions of these postal cards as real photographs on heavy stock without any description. A next version reproduced the first ten photographs as a numbered set on glossy paper uniformly labeled Photo Paper, and now with title legends. The final form of the cards were black and white lithographed postal cards, with legends, ready for mailing. The cards were available for sale as a set in a paper wrapper entitled Tasha Tudor's Dolls. But each of the cards is imprinted with the longer title Tasha Tudor's Old-Fashioned Dolls. See item T108 in Tasha Tudor: The Direction of Her Dreams. The wrapper carries a picture on the front of Violet mailing a letter by the Sparrow Post. The history of the dolls in the McCready household unfolds with tales of sewing clubs, literary circles and managing a general store. The folder also carries this text describing each scene. 1. This is Violet Shakespeare mailing a letter by Sparrow Post to her Aunt Nicey Melinda. The Post Office is in her father's store, Shakespeare & Lovelace. 2. Here Nicey and Mrs. Shakespeare do the family washing and ironing. Babby, the maid, is apparently on vacation. 3. Mrs. Shakespeare and Nicey get ready for a trip to Saratoga. They are wondering how they are going to fit in their ball dresses. 4. The Shakespeares are enjoying tea. Violet is about to get a cup for herself while Rosebud sits in Nicey's lap. The Captain has just come back on leave. He is a Captain in the New Hampshire volunteers. 5. Nicey is making pies for her brother, the Captain's, return. His two daughters and the pussy, whose name is Puddings, look on. 6. This is Shakespeare & Lovelace Store. The Captain is waiting on his wife who has come to buy some apples. Violet is talking with her friend, Henrietta Asquith. 7. Nicey is giving Rosebud and Violet their Saturday night bath. Violet is urging Rosebud not to take so long as they wish Papa to read them a long story. 8. Nicey gives Henrietta Asquith a music lesson while Violet waits her turn. Violet plays the zither however. 9. The Captain and his wife and sister have a quiet dinner party all to themselves. 10. Mrs. Shakespeare cooks cranberry sauce while Nicey chops apples for the mince pies. It must be Thanksgiving. Soon after the initial publication three other cards were published on Christmas themes: Christmas Angel, The Christmas Party: Opening Presents and The Nativity. We have not discovered who the photographer was. We do know that Mrs. Bradley of Henniker, NH, was a photographer acquainted with the McCready family. We've seen two photographs she made of Thomas and Tasha McCready at their home in the early 1950s. Nell Dorr was a well-known photographer who was a close friend of Tasha Tudor. But her work is well documented and credited, whereas this series of photographs never names the photographer. So they are probably not Dorr's work. Our money is on Bradley. The text is most likely the work of Thomas L. McCready, Jr. He handled much of the family correspondence. And in a couple more years, he will be writing books of his own about their farm life. The printed brochure indicates these ten cards are the first series. There will be more. There were only three more un-numbered cards, each showing the dolls in Christmas tableau. All these cards are discussed in Christmas Card Designs of Tasha Tudor, pp. 67-68. They are illustrated on pages 265-266. MARCH SPECIAL Afternoon Tea Print Since we're talking about dolls this month, we have a doll special for you. We have copies of the Jenny Wren Press print "Afternoon Tea." It features 3 children at tea with their dolls and teddy bears and 2 hungry corgis. The girl on the right looks like Sara Johnson who posed for illustrations in The Real Pretend. The print (item 18231 on our website) is normally $20.00. You can buy one during the month of March for half that price, or $10. 3 or more - $8.00 each - no limit. For an extra treat we still have a few of these prints signed by Tasha Tudor for her Indiana company in 1992. (That was 21 years ago !) These signed copies are $60 each and not on sale (18196). Order now; they won't last forever. Shipping at the usual rate, and these prints will be shipped flat. Our general White Sale continues through the end of March. Visit our web site today to review the various discounts and special prices on merchandise.