Saturday, October 31, 2015
Which to Keep?
Which to Keep?
“Do not be afraid to weed your collection” admonished Doll Guru of Gurus, the late John Noble in his classic “Dolls”, which happened to be my first book on the subject. My mom bought it for me when I was 7.
I was horrified at the thought. At age 7, it was hard enough to be able to get dolls to add the collection I officially started at age 3, let alone get rid of them!
But, over the years, I did give dolls away, many of them. My ne’er do well cousin in Greece managed to talk my mother out of two after we visited there; then her mother complained that they had to pay taxes on them. “Then they can send them, back!” was my answer. The offer still stands, by the way.
Now, I buy dolls to donate for good causes, and will occasionally make one as a gift, but I don’t weed, and I have never sold a doll, and unless I have to, probably never will.
I’ve slowed down considerably over the years, after all, one can’t have everything. But were I forced to start shedding dolls, I wouldn’t know where to start. Which to keep? My goal is a brick and mortar museum that will cover the history of dolls, and with it, a good deal of human history. It is precisely that dolls are ephemeral that I feel they should be preserved. I love the staggering variety of my dolls, from the tiny Ushabti and rice Kokeshi dolls, to the 8 ft pirate for Halloween, and everything in between. It took years to find just a few French bisques, and some of the automatons were mine by sheer luck. The dolls that my mother and family bought? Nonnegotiable. They stay. Same for the dolls my dad brought from trips, and the ones that my uncle brought from Korea and Japan and later gave to me.
I could probably fill the drawers of a good sized bureau with Frozen Charlottes and penny dolls, and several file cabinets with paper dolls and paper doll books. Yet, no two are alike, and each has a story and a reason for being in the collection. Don’t even think the “H” word; we don’t believe in such heresies here.
Crowded and cluttered we may be some time, but messy and dirty we are not. As that great collector who inspired me, the late Lenon Hoyte said in “Who won Second Place in Omaha?” “clutter is clutter and a mess is a mess.”
It’s a worthwhile full time job to manage such a big collection, but it’s rewarding, too. Now, when even holidays are denied me, and I can’t decorate for lack of time, I can steal down to my storage places and look through the ornaments labeled “Halloween” and “Christmas,” “Thanksgiving” and “Easter”, and by looking at the holiday dolls relive happier times.
Which to keep? All of them. We’ll manage, and we’ll have that museum.