Sunday, March 17, 2013
Musings, Doll Show Finds, Fear of Dolls, Bad Weather!
It is the time of year I find most depressing, and now it is also bitterly cold. Last year, our forsythia was out, and the pussy willows, too. There used to be a crocus, and the jonquils and daffodils were about to bloom. We had violets by the first day of spring, too.
Not this year; we have had crazy snow showers, and malicious full moons, despite the wonder of the comet. It should be December, but other than a few stray lights, there are no decorations or bright glows to alleviate the darkness. Easter will be early this year, and the Easter dolls and statues are making an appearance.
There is not a lot of money for dolls this year, or for any hobby. The economy is bad for many. The last doll show I went to had prices slashed considerably. 8 inch Nora Wellings dolls were only 12.00; I’ve never seen them less than $25.00. Artists dolls of bisque that sold originally over $100 were ten or fifteen dollars. A very old china head, at least 1870s, with original body and chemise, very worn, with a hairline was 35.00, and it did not sell. The doll was about 18 inches long. One of a kind resin babies of polymer clay were only 5.00. I bought an automaton by Dynasty from the 80s with a Jumeau style repro head for 15.00; 25 years ago I saw her at an outlet mall for $125.00.
I find that 14 inch Alexanders with the box cost about $20.00. Some were valued by Patricia Smith and others in the 80s and 90s at over $400. It was also impossible to buy them in department stores. Even 8 inch dolls had to be reserved ahead for specially listed customers. Now, Tuesday Morning carries them as discount items.
I saw a brown French Fashion dressed as a Greek woman at nearly $6000, but this is the old price for these dolls, going back several years. Frozen Charlottes booked at 50-75.00 cost between 10-20. There also were not as many dealers at this show.
As usual, I found some things to bring home. I have found many things here and there lately that didn’t cost very much. Yesterday, I found beanie baby kids at a dime each where a local library had a white elephant sale. At the same sale, I found the Infamous Teen Talk Barbie in her original box with her Toys R Us sticker intact. This is the doll the toy terrorists sabotaged. She said “math is hard” among other things The terrorists switched her voice box with a talking GI Joe. He now said the “girlie” things about math and other subjects, she talked commando lingo. I write about both of them in my book on metal dolls, With Love from Tin Lizzie.
While antique shows can be expensive, I still find some deals. At the most recent, I found a doll on a wire hoop skirt base, intended to be a lamp. She is a china head, with extended arms and a china bust with a bosom. Her hair is gray. She is circa 1920-30, and usually is found on candy boxes. I refer you to Frieda Marion or any other good source on half dolls. She wears an improvised red silk paisley scarf, vintage, as a gown. She has a small hairline at the base and a chipped finger, but was only 35.00. I’ve seen her on other utensils for ten times that much. I found a Frozen Charlotte dressed as a chimney sweep from my friend Dick at our local antique show. His outfit is all crochet. At the same show I bought a one-inch Peter Horne wooden doll, all jointed.
Recently, though I didn’t buy them, I saw Raggedy Anns made by the Sherman Smith doll club, with one of his wooden dolls designed as a local on the dolls’ bodies. An intriguing idea, to be sure, if you want to be an unusual doll maker.
Cabbage Patch Kids are showing themselves at thrift stores, and I found one for .88 cents at Goodwill. It’s worth looking. At an upscale Chicago store for GW, I found the 2 foot long Tonka toy fire engine for only 1.99. It works. As the new chair of our Fire Science major, I feel I should collect related artifacts. Toy fire engines are a favorite, though I did have at least one very old one in my collection, as well as a few fire fighter dolls and 101 Dalmatians items. I found china head clowns for .20 cents each as well at the White Elephant Sale, and doll related ornaments for five cents each.
At the Dick Blick outlet a few weeks ago, I bought books on collage and assemblage that featured dolls worked into art, and discussed artists like Joseph Cornell and Hans Bellmer. At an earlier antique show in February, I found post cards featuring dolls, many over 100 years old, and international. There was one of Rose O’Neill sculpting Kewpies, and several of Käthe Kruse. There were also nice trade cards from Effanbee and Vogue,, and dolls featured from museums no longer open. I also found one Halloween card for my collection, since these are hard to find.
For those interested in restoration and doll costuming, don’t give up looking for dresses. I found vintage dresses and lingerie for $1.00 and less at doll shows, as well as vintage Italian (40 years old by Eros) and Greek, (the Evzon, or guard, composition, circa 1930s). I was able to dress several vintage sixties and fifties dolls in the correct outfits.
Yesterday, at our monthly down town indoor flea market, there were some free stuffed dolls and toys, and I chose two after I had bought some items. I find beads doll parts there occasionally for around .25. It is a bittersweet visit for me; one of the owners, our dear friend Frieda Quinlan, died unexpectedly after the Dec. 16th flea market. She was attending sales, as she loved to do, and took a box home with her. She tried on the stairs, fell, and suffered fatal injuries. She is gone much to soon for us, and she was someone with boundless energy who defined living live the fullest doing what you love.
Magazines at library sales are good sources for research. I bought some craft magazines from the 70s and 80s and a few Life mags, too. There were ads for dolls like The Jolly Green Giant and one for a Brigitte Deval doll that I had bought some time ago but could not identify. Also, there are articles about doll related stories, including a feature on Michael Landon, who starred/created Little House on the Prairie, dear to many doll collectors and children’s lit aficionados, one on Princess Diana, also immortalized in dolls, directions for making cloth dolls and toys, craft articles for miniatures, etc.
I also find vintage editions of Doll Reader, Doll Castle News, and Doll Talk, which are valuable sources of information for those who love to collect and to write.
Dolls are everywhere these days, and I saw my Morticia Addams Hand Puppet on the wall of Ritchie’s room on The Dick Van Dyke Show, 1966. Dolls also show themselves on Kojak, The Twilight Zone, Dragnet, and Mash.
I learned yesterday of Pediophobia, a fear dolls and Automatonophobia, fear of Automatons. Really? I guess one can be afraid or have a phobia for anything. I’m not crazy about live mice, or rats, [‘But you love the meeces,!” says my Dad] only in cartoons, like Mickey Mouse. Technically, doll is Kukla or Kutsuna in Greek, and Pediophobia is a fear of children, literally, what whatever. Our friend Deb Baker calls it something else in her doll mystery series, excellent reads for both doll lovers and mystery buffs. I’m both.
To each his own. Or her own. Whatever.
I still agree with a quote I read about another doll museum that featured new and advertising dolls along with old ones. While old dolls are wonderful, and what I look for, I love the modern dolls. The owner stated that children came and loved seeing dolls and characters they recognized, and this delight might turn them into future collectors.
More later on collections of things I don’t collect. May March come in like a lamb and go out like a lamb for you.