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
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Cloth Clown

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Native American Art

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the triplets

c. 1969 Greek Plastic Mini Baby

c. 1969 Greek Plastic Mini Baby
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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
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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
Courtesy, Antique Daughter

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Judge Peep

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Hakata Doll Artist at Work
From the Museum Collection

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Japanese Costume Barbies
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Etienne
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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

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One of Dr. E's Rescued Residents

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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.

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These dolls are Old German and Nutcrackers from Dr. E's Museum. They are on loan to another local museum for the holidays.

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Friday, May 13, 2016

Grapes of Wrath, A Child’s Doll, Toys, and Precious Objects; Profiting from Debt in the Depression



Grapes of Wrath, A Child’s Doll, Toys, and Precious Objects; Profiting from Debt in the Depression

The 30s were a great time to collect dolls.  A doll collection from 1937 was featured on one of that year’s “Hobbies” Magazine.  Shirley Temple dolls and other items were all the rage.  Many lovely composition dolls were on the market, as well as late porcelain dolls and pincushion dolls.  Dolls as souvenirs were popular, as were plush animals. The Dionne Quints were born, and dolls made in their image were popular as well.

Shirley Temple's doll "Jimmy" from Love, Shirley Temple Auction

, courtesy Theriault's


Unfortunately, many suffered from The Great Depression during this time.  My own grandmother remembered men coming to her door asking for food and work. She had them wait on the porch while she made them fried egg sandwiches and found them odd jobs to do.

Many cheap bisque dolls were important from Japan, including one piece “penny dolls” that often were sold in boxes of five or so.

Steinbeck contrasted the ideal of the American Dream with the harsh reality that some lived in his novel, using dolls, toys, and personal objects to make his point.


John Steinbeck wrote “Grapes of Wrath”  after witnessing first hand " the terrible living conditions in the migrant labor camps of Northern California."   The novel was published in 1939, the same year as “Gone with the Wind.”  It won as much praise as it did criticism, and one point being condemned, according to Mishah Berson as "an exaggerated communist tract.” Much of the praise GOW received centered on its being "a great work of muckraking.”   It won the 1940 Pulitzer price for fiction.  The plot tells the story of the Joads, a family suffering in the dust bowl of Oklahoma in the 30s.  After hardship that would rival the Dinner Party's, the Joads arrive in California, the golden Promised Land, ["California, Here I come,"] only to be bitterly abused and disappointed.  Families like the Joads "upped sticks for a mammoth cross-country pilgrimage ins each of work, still believing in this American dream, only to find themselves squaring up to a greedy and exploitative system. Neil Cooper, writing for the “Glasgow Herald” writes in "A Hard Life when the American Dream Turns Sour; Steinbeck’s Gritty Tale of Survival in the 1930s Depression has Parallels with Today," that Steinbeck’s novel is a "tale of financial collapse, property slump, migrant labor, and political awakening."   In fact, Jonathan Church staged a theater version in 2009 saying . . "this year, with everything that had occurred in the world with her recession if ever there was at time to do it, it was now or never."   It starred as Tom Joad, Christopher Timothy of “All Creatures Great and Small Fame.” The novel inspired a John Ford Academy Award winning film, 1940, and a folk song written by Woody Guthrie, "the Ballad of Tom Joad," supposedly written after Guthrie saw the film.  Berson writes:  "Though clearly a product of the political and economic tumult of the Great Depression, GOW remains powerful not only as an indictment of how the forces of greed prey on the weak, but also as an indelible portrait of an American family.”

      The title is derived from Julia Ward Howe's "The Battle Hymn of the Republic," suggested by his wife at the time. [Remember her relative made the Beecher Baby Dolls].  Steinbeck liked the title, because he liked the music.   He liked it "because it is a march and this book is a kind of march-because it is our own revolutionary tradition and because in reference to this book it has a large meaning."   An interesting piece of trivia is that the official publication date for “Grapes of Wrath”  was April. 14, 1939, the 4th anniversary of Black Sunday, the worst and most devastating of the Dust Bowl Storms.  The book has "entered both the American consciousness and its conscience. Few novels can make that claim. Furthermore, "If a literary classic can be defined as a book that speaks directly to readers' concerns in successive historical and cultural eras, no matter what their critical approaches, methods or preoccupations are, then surely, “The Grapes of Wrath” is such a work. Each generation of readers has found something new and relevant about it that speaks to its times"

      The novel is replete with descriptions of why objects, including dolls,  are important to people, and why the human identity is often marked and caught up in human possessions.  Really, no two people will possess the same items; a good visit to a couple of estate sales will confirm this.  [See, also, The Witching Hour, while Michael Curry can tell what a person is like and feel that person's pain and emotions by holding his or her object].
     
The following excerpt from “Grapes of Wrath” might be from an American Pickers Trailer; what we own is what defines us, or why the many reality shows obsessed with what people own:

      "In the little houses the tenant people sifted their belongings and the belongings of their fathers and of their grandfathers.  Picked over their possessions for the journey to the west.  The men were ruthless because the past had been spoiled, but the women knew how the past would cry to them in the coming days.” The men, Steinbeck writes, then go out to the barns and shed, their worlds.  The narrator describes a spirited haggling for farm equipment, as well as an inventory, similar tot hat in early bankruptcy codes of what a person can still have.  IN fact, early bankruptcy and current bankruptcy codes still have an inventory not unlike Steinbeck's that tell the debtor what he may keep, what will define him in the future: "harness, carts, seeders, little bundles o hoes. Bring 'm out..."Sell ';em for what you can get... No more use for anything.”

      "Fifty cents isn't enough to get for a good plow.  That seeder cost thirty-eight dollars.  Two dollars isn't enough . .. Well, take it, and  bitterness with it Take halters, collars, names, and guts.”

      "Junk piled up in a yard."
      And this last might be a dialog from American Pickers; "Can't sell a hand plow any more. Fifty cents for the weight of the metal. Disks and tractors, that's the stuff now."
      "Well, take it-all junk-and give em five dollars. You're not buying only junk, you're buying junked lives. And More-You'll see-you are buying bitterness.  Buying a plow to plow your own children under/"

      The narrator goes on to tell the stories of the fine bays matched, with braided manes and little red bows, done by the daughter of the former owner.  The stories of the objects come up, and they are anything but useless junk; "There's a premium goes with this pile of junk and they bay horse-so beautiful-a packet of bitterness to grow in your house and to flower, some day.  We could have saved you, but you cut us down, and soon you will be cut down and there'll been one of us to save you?”

“Dolls in The Grapes of Wrath:”

      "And the children came.
      If Mary takes that doll, that dirty rag doll, I got to take my Injun bow. I got to..."

      Clearly, the little girl’s doll is her most important possession. Too poor to own a composition or late bisque doll, she must be satisfied with a crude rag doll.

      Throughout there is a sort of obsession with clothes and objects, first the narrator's universal obsession, then it hones in to Tom and the Joads, from Pa asking if tom paid for his new clothes (84), to Ma going through her stationary box of old letters and precious jewelry, deciding to take the jewelry and burn the rest,(108=109) looking at her empty home, where the bureau once stood, and where their things were.  Ultimately, they only get 18 dollars for all their possessions, even the horse and wagon, and they burn what they can't sell, and watch the dust hand in the air for a moment. 

      Of the "Pickers" in GOW, Pa explains, "when I was in the hardware store I talked to some men I know.  They say there's fellas comin in jus' to buy the stuff us fellas got to sell when we get out.  They say these new fellas is cleaning up. But there ain't nothing' we can do about it.  Maybe Tommy should of went.  Maybe he could of did better.”

 As Jones writes in "Property and Personhood Revisited," "[o]ne  may gauge the . . . significance of someone's relationship with an object by the kind of pain  that would be occasioned by its loss  Jones notes there is an important sentimental feeling certain cherished objects engender which is important to someone's personality and self image.  When older people voluntarily dispose of objects, they do so to pass on memories and cherished objects, hence the APS comments that they sometimes talk people out of selling family heirlooms to them.  Or the dealers on Antiques RS who give insurance values to people after telling them not to sell a cherished object passed down in their families.







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