Monday, March 31, 2014
See below, a press release from Theriault's: ANNAPOLIS, Md., March 29, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- A new world record for an antique doll sold at auction was set this weekend when Theriault's, a specialty auction house for antique childhood items, presented the highly sought after French character doll, circa 1916 by Albert Marque for bid. The doll realized $300,000 breaking the previous world record. At the widely attended event held in Naples, FL, Theriault's, the 40-year old firm based in Annapolis, MD, presented nearly 1,000 pieces from what had been the Puppenmuseum Stein am Rhein, a world renowned doll museum located in a small village of Switzerland. The main highlight of the collection, a French art character doll, by sculptor Albert Marque, was anxiously awaited. Bidding on the doll was fast paced and surrounded with dramatic tension as phone and floor bidders passionately laid claim to the doll. Ultimately the last bid was cast and the room broke out in applause. The doll, which was wearing an original signed costume, was inscribed as #27 of the 100 models known to have ever been made. It is believed to have been first presented in 1916 at an exclusive exhibition at the fashion boutique of Parisian art patron Margaine- Lacroix. "The Albert Marque bebe has long been considered the most coveted doll in the world by collectors. It is for good reason in that this renowned art doll blends every essential characteristic of greatness: rarity, artistic provenance, fashion, romance, and, most importantly, unparalleled beauty." -Stuart Holbrook, President Founded in 1970 Theriault's specializes exclusively in the appraisal and auction of antique dolls and childhood ephemera. The firm's offices and cataloging center are headquartered in Annapolis, Maryland, and the company hosts live auctions in major cities throughout the United States. For more information please visit www.Theriaults.com
Friday, March 21, 2014
Look for me on the doll collecting site, above. There is a free newsletter you can sign up for, and my weekly blog. I also have a blog on Good Reads, but it is slow going on that one. Just started, and much to write. I still have my blogs here, and they are my first love and will keep going. Please comment or email with topics you would like to read about. Also, my Bibliography of Doll and Toy Sources will soon be available on Kindle, with links to take you to the section of the book you want. Thanks to all my loyal readers; there is much, much more to come!
Sunday, March 16, 2014
If it were not for my late mother, Mrs. Clara Fanakos, Tsagaris, I would have had no doll collection at all. She led a remarkable life, and was caught in Occupied Greece for World War II and the Greek Civil War that followed. Though she was born in Douglas County, Illinois, her parents packed up the family to go on a vacation to visit family and settle some real estate business that ended up taking 8 years. Most of her toys were left behind or lost; we only have two dolls left from that time in her life that she dressed in Greek national costumes. Later, when the entire family moved back home, they travelled extensively, and amassed their own collection of international costume dolls and American regional dolls. The first dolls in my collection came from that group from all over the world. We had a lot of Greek dolls, but also a beautiful celluloid girl from France, Korean and Japanese dolls and statutes from the 1950s, Mexican folk dolls, mechanical figures, Inuit, Native American dolls dressed in buckskin, a few Hummel figurines, one doll from Portugal, they seemed endless to me. Sometimes, another doll would find her way to my collection, either from my Grandma, or as a Christmas present. My grandmother loved dolls, but she didn't have any when she was little. Her father died when she was six, and she grew up wearing black, and seeing her mother and sister wear black. It wasn't until she married my grandpa Steve that she had beautiful clothes, but he married her in Paris and went all out with a French trousseau. In fact, both my grandmothers knew each other had gone to school together to learn to be seamstresses. My mother's mom was the one with the international collection. She hated seeing naked dolls lying around, so she would make outfits for after I had gone to bed. My mother also liked to make dolls and to dress them. She was very good at knitting and crocheting, and she would often make her own designs, patterned from my commercial plush stuffed animals. Every Christmas, she would take one of my dolls and give it a make-over. This included cleaning it up, styling her hair, and dressing her. She made matching shoes and slippers from the dress's material, and sometimes, would cut down one of my dresses to fit a larger doll. She kept making clothes for these doll projects, and the day after she died, I found finished and unfinished crocheted doll clothes in her sewing basket. She liked refurbishing old dolls and making dolls with antique heads. Some were heads that had been burned in od dumps, or chipped. We built them up and restored them to their former glory. Many times, I would be plying outside oblivious to the fact that a newly washed composition or rag doll was drying in on the bushes. We liked monster dolls and stuffed animals, and they all had outfits. When my husband bought me one of the Playboy fashion model dolls, wearing jewelry, bikini, and "fur coat," my mother said, "That's ugly; she needs a dress!" and promptly knitted one that fit like a dream. She knitted a red sundress for my Alien queen action figure and a layette for our two-headed zombie baby. All my bears wear handmade sweaters, similar to those she used to knit for party favors at my birthday bashes. No doll was too hopeless for, and she took even the ugliest specimens, restored them, and gave them back their innocence as children's toys. Her talents extended to finding hard-to-get dolls and antiques in strange places. At the height of the Cabbage Patch craze, she walked right into our local Kmart and bought one. She found Furby, Tickle Me Elmo, Obi Wan Kenobi, Beanies, you name it. She never waited in one line. She wasn't a doll collector, but she and my dad liked to save things, and they both had collections of stamps, coins, rocks, tea cups, and other small items. I didn't fall far from the collecting tree. I had hopes she and I would be the next Pam and Polly Judd, going to exotic places to collect dolls and then write books about them. Everything good I have came from her. She hated rummage sales and antique sales at first, but would go with me to the Doll Shows and big antique shows later, and then alone when I was in school. The doll collection became hers, too, and she always encouraged me to write about dolls. Tw days before she died, we were looking at an ad from The Rosalie Whyel museum, deciding what to buy. One of her last gifts to me was a Hanna Montana doll, with clippings about it she had saved from Newsweek. She was very creative, and I consider myself lucky that she was my mother, and my doll collecting friend.
Sunday, March 9, 2014
Similar to what I wrote on About.com, a sample blog and some links. Thanks again for all your emails and comments; while I can't read and respond to them all, I certainly try and take your suggestions to heart! Please note that I am not an appraiser, and do not buy and sell doll collections; I am a doll scholar, collector, and author, who plans to open a museum and library when she retires. I have been including links to the previous guide's articles on buying/selling and For those selling local auction houses, antique malls, online information for Theriault's, Frashers, Noel Barrett, Morphy auctions, Skinner, and other auction houses can help you with your questions. If you can get to Google, just "Google" their names and you will find them. Good luck and thanks to all who have sent best wishes and kind words of admiration. I hope we will be doing this together for a very long time!! Barbie has engendered controversy since 1959 when her "mother" Ruth Handler introduced her to the Toy World. The latest controversy involves the doll's new Girl Scout Badge and her cover for The Sports Illustrated Swim Suit issue. More About China Dolls talks about the history of these wonderful figures and their role in doll collecting. China Heads II continues the discussion and also addresses unusual examples in my own collection. Uneek Doll Designs is the brainchild of Debbie Ritter, and Etsy entrepreneur who produces remarkable portraits in miniature of historical, literary, and fictional persons. Finally, here is an updated piece on action figures, male and female, and G. I. Joe's birthday.
Wednesday, March 5, 2014
I met Debbie after finding one of her dolls featured on a blog about Lady Jane Grey. I couldn’t wait to buy the doll, and soon bought others, including the portrait of writer Barbara Pym, featured on my blog Miss Charlotte Bronte meets Miss Barbara Pym . Debbie is a transplanted Hoosier to Alabama as of summer 2013 with four grown children and one grandchild. She has been married 25 years. Besides making dolls, her interests include reading, walking, art work, and cooking (when she has time!) Debbie is a born artist, and as she says of herself; “I grew up with a pencil in hand and carried paper everywhere I went- got in trouble a few times with teachers for drawing on my homework, and art was my best subject in school.” Debbie does not collect dolls per se, but likes to create them as a favorite art form. A doll house kit first inspired her miniature creations: “I got inspired to create my art dolls when my husband was given a dollhouse kit by my mom, who despaired of my father ever putting it together. Being the tooling engineer that he was, he put it together and I decided to make some dolls to go in it out of clothespins. She loved it so I continued and I made up my own technique and developed it over time.” I can really relate to Debbie over dollhouses and the need to populate them. My dad was an electrical engineer who built one fantastic dollhouse for me from scratch, and another from a kit. He is an electrical engineer, and it seemed to take forever. He didn’t electrify my houses, and when I asked him why, Dad answered, “We’re Victorian.” Debbie’s dollhouse adventures began a chain of thinking; she decided to combine her love of classic literature, history, and the observation of ordinary people into creating her art work. Debbie finds people in general inspiring because if you study someone long enough, you will see some features that stand out. It is those features challenge her. She started selling her creations when by chance a lady waiting on her at the craft store mentioned Etsy. Debbie wrote the word down and forgot about it for 2 months, then decided to take the plunge to see what would happen. The rest is history and she has been doing well at it ever since. The artist’s work has been featured at “The Today Show” where the crew gave Susan Boyle a replica of herself that Debbie had made during a live interview between Boyle Meredith Viera. . Debbie’s work has also been featured in Vanity Fair online, The Art Doll Quarterly, Doll Collector Magazine, New York Magazine, -Show Time series on television, -Mystery Scene Magazine, New York Magazine, CI Living in Champaign Illinois, and my blogs Dr.Es’s Doll Museum, Dr. E’s Greening Tips for the Common Person, An Apologia for Countess Erzebet Bathory, and Memoir; Writing your Life Story. She can be reached through me or her Etsy store, uneekdolldesigns.etsy.com
Sheriff Ruth Merrill, played by Joanna Cassidy in the TV Miniseries "The Tommyknockers", is an avid doll collector. She displays hundreds in her office. After an ancient space ship is dug up, and evil aliens begin to possess the townspeople, turning them into their own toys or zombie dolls, Ruth’s doll collection also becomes possessed. King takes The Nutcracker, where animated dolls are noble, entertaining, and heroic, and turns the hero into a killer who stabs Ruth. Interview with the Vampire: Dolls are a big motif in Anne Rice’s novels; in fact, she was once an avid doll collector and set up a museum in St. Elizabeth’s Orphanage in New Orleans Last year, she sold the last of her large and varied collection in an auction that included a doll that once belonged to Victor Hugo. One of her dolls alone, a large French Bru bisque head described in "Taltos" and featured on the back cover of Interview, sold for over $30,000.00 by itself. In the film Interview, dolls take on a creepy role. Claudia, the child vampire who grows in mind by not in her perpetually five year old body, received a doll every year on her “vampire” birthday from Lestat. Claudia, as one of the undead, is herself animated doll, but one with an attitude. The dolls pile up, and on one occasions, she murders a woman who has the physique she would like to have, and hides her under the pile of dolls on her bed, in a strange twist to Rilke’s doll/corpse idea. Claudia befriends a lonely doll maker named Madeline in Paris because she thinks Madeleine can create for her a lady doll that will reflect who she would like to be. Claudia, like many others, sees the doll as an image and projection of herself in her most perfect sense. Madeleine, on the other hand, sees Claudia as the reincarnation of the child that she lost. She has been making dolls over and over again in the hopes of recreating her child. At the end, she has Claudia, and “undead” living doll to fulfill her fantasy. Both are “broken” or destroyed by the Theatre de Vampires for crimes against Lestat the Vampire. Recently, two of the prop dolls made for the 1994 Warner Brothers film were being auctioned by Live Auctioneers, estimate for the two dolls was $400-600 dollars. Rice features dolls in nearly all her books, prominently in "Belinda", "Taltos", "Lasher", "The Witching Hour", "Memnoch the Devil" and "Merrick " She often features items from her own now defunct collections, including the antique Bru and French bisque dolls, Pre-Columbian idols and small ritual figures, Santos and religious figures, ritual “voodoo” type dolls made of the bones of the Mayfair witches, and others. The movies discussed here are only a part of the horizon. I will touch on the Saw and Puppet Master Series, Disney’s Child of Glass, Toy Story I, II, III, The Nightmare before Christmas, The Stepford Wives films, the dozens of robot, wax figure, and manikin films, the toys in Poltergeist, and the hundreds of films that use dolls, statutes, figurines, animatronics, or robots to achieve a creepy and uncanny effect. Also, these films generate dolls and doll related collectibles that often become valuable, especially if they are the original props or puppets used to achieve the spooky effects. Because dolls are among the oldest human artifacts, and because they are images of their creators, they inspire human imagination and emotion.
Tuesday, March 4, 2014
A brief post to remind all my followers and readers that I love you and welcome comments. You can also read me on About.com Doll Collecting, where I am the expert guide. This is a wonderful site I took over from Denise Van Patten, who is a note author, lawyer, and doll expert. You can also sign up for a free newsletter from me each week. I would like to profile Long Gone Dolls, an Etsy store created by my new friend, Teri Long. She truly upcycles in style, and takes porcelain dolls and other dolls gently used and damaged and reinvents them into gothic beauties that are elegant and original. She has a real feel for The Day of the Dead, and there is a longer piece at About.com, both as an article and blog post. I own two, and will buy more She is quite an artist, as you will see. I bought Tin Lizzie for obvious reasons; she is the mascot for my books! Blogging is my true love, and I will be posting more soon. Enjoy the photos!
Saturday, March 1, 2014
Admit it, you still love them! Who doesn't love a teddy bear on her bed, and what guy doesn't love winning a stuffed animal as a carnival prize from his sweetie? But, what is the history of our anthropomorphic stuffed plush companions that protect us from things that go "bump" in the night? Read below from: Learn About the History of Stuffed Toys and Stuffed Animals. Childhood memories are filled with colorful plush toys, and stuffed animals filling up a bed. Everyone has their own favorite stuffed toy, whether they cried into a teddy bear or got it from someone that they would eventually marry. But how long ago did these cuddly creatures start springing up in toy shops? Historical records indicate that the ancient Egyptians could probably be credited with the first plush toys. There are actually no stuffed animals that have been unearthed from any of the archaeological digs in Egypt, but hieroglyphics and paintings indicate that they were present. They were not stuffed toys, however, but representatives of real animals that could be used in ceremonies. The 1830's saw the introduction of stuffed animals as toys. These were not the soft, stuffing-field plush toys that we have today, however. These were made at home from cloth and straw, and were more like sock puppets than the factory-made toys that we now have. The original idea, moreover, to stuff animals also came from taxidermy, where real animals are stuffed, and where the process is far more expensive (not to mention dangerous, if you're after stuffed moose). Finally, in 1880, stuffed animals finally took on the look of the toys that we see today. They were first made and sold in Germany. They were made from rather expensive materials, but with more technology and tests on the softness of plush animals, cotton and even synthetic fibers became more popular as materials. Even small beans were used to stuff toys, which could then be tossed around and played with. The teddy bear, it is said, was named after President Theodore Roosevelt, who was approached by a toy manufacturer interested in having a line of stuffed animals. So having plush toys isn't just about getting the right materials, it's also having the right people to inspire you! Today, stuffed animals are still selling, whether they're from classic cartoons or modern-day Disney characters. There is also a market for older, antique plush toys, which are now considered rare, if not at all precious collectors' items. Whether they're gathering dust and grime in your attic, or still sitting in your bedroom, these cuddly creatures really do make our lives brighter. Learn More: •The History of the Teddy Bear •So Where Did Our Favorite Stuffed Toys First Start Out? •A Quick History of Our Favorite Teddy Bear •A Brief History of Stuffed Toys