Children of Japan

Children of Japan
Courtesy, R. John Wright

Hinges and Hearts

Hinges and Hearts
An Exhibit of our Metal Dolls

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
Our New Addition/fond of stuffed toys

Cloth Clown

Cloth Clown

Native American Art

Native American Art

the triplets

the triplets

c. 1969 Greek Plastic Mini Baby

c. 1969 Greek Plastic Mini Baby
Bought Athens on the street

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Iron Maiden; Middle Ages

Sand Baby Swirls!

Sand Baby Swirls!
By Glenda Rolle, courtesy, the Artist

Glenda's Logo

Glenda's Logo
Also, a link to her site

Sand Baby Castaway

Sand Baby Castaway
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A French Friend

Mickey

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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
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ushabti

ushabti
Egyptian Tomb Doll 18th Dynasty

Ann Parker Doll of Anne Boleyn

Ann Parker Doll of Anne Boleyn

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Sunday, June 23, 2019

Endeavors in Doll Collecting and Disappearances from the Thrift Store Shelves

Tonight's episode of Endeavor featured marionettes and a show like The Thunderbirds.  There were puppets, and puppeteers, all part of the murder's mystery tonight.

Another mystery I've been pondering is the kind of dolls disappearing from yard sales and thrift store shelves, at least in our area.

For a while, CPK kids were popular, and commanding higher prices.  Then, they were gone a while, and a few have been finding their way back.

I used to find all kinds of McDonald's Happy Meal toys and other fastfood premium toys. They were plentiful in thrift stores; I don't see them as often these days.  I found bags, the Olios, of Goodwill, with Happy Meal toys still in their packages, but it's been maybe two years since I've seen so many there.

Barbie and her friends and  clones used to be everywhere. Occasionally, I would even find a Vintage doll, like the original Midge I found for fifty cents. Now, the Barbies are later jointed dolls; I haven't seen Bratz dolls for months, and not as many Monster High for Weeks.  I'm not finding many 80s or 90s Barbies at yard sales, either.  Usually, the dolls are the jointed dolls of the last four or five years.  I'm not seeing too many clothes or accessories.  I see many Disney toddler dolls these days.

Cititoy dolls used to be plentiful, especially babies made in the style of Berenguer.  I don't see many of them, but Baby Alive and her friends occasionally appear.

I've seen a few companion style walking dolls from the sixties, but not many.  Sixties and seventies dolls are few and in between, even at yard sales.



Locally, I see more stuffed animals, a few beanies, and lot so of action figures and at yard sales.
I don't see many modern porcelain dolls from the late 70s to 90s; I do see a lot of these at thrift shops, sometimes for less than a dollar.  This makes me sad; no one seems to want these dolls, except Walda collectors buy the first of these dolls, made in 1979 or so.







I wrote an article on them for about.com.  They seem to be the weeds among dolls, along with tourist dolls or souvenir dolls.  I don't get it.  The reasons people give for hating them don't make sense.  They are appealing, and their clothes are often very nice.

Seymour Mann, Brass Key, Duck House, Dynasty, and Marian Yu made some of the prettiest dolls.  They came in different sizes, too.    I admit I still like collecting them, even side by side with my antiques and artist dolls.  Someone else must like them; they aren't appearing at yard sales or garage sales.

Maybe everyone is on ebay and etsy?  I see them on Amazon and other sites, too.

I still like souvenir dolls from all over the world; these dolls began many great collections, including mine.  They bring the world together and remind us of cultures that have since disappeared themselves.

To each her own; collectors are as varied as the dolls they collect, but I'm curious as to what you think.  Which dolls have disappeared from your thrift store shelves?  Do you buy dolls at thrift shops and yard sales?  Why or why not? 

Happy collecting!

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Dolls, Play, a Children's Museum, and Age Discrimination, Oh My!

This week, I was privileged on the 47th anniversary of Watergate, to visit the Iowa Children's Museum, something I had wanted to do since it opened.  I never had enough time before, or it was closed, or just never get to take that many trips anymore.


The building is within Coralville Mall, across from a public ice skating rink.  It is open M to S, but closed Mondays when school is in session.  I thought I was in luck, because school is out.

The museum is located near one of my alma maters, The University of Iowa.  Several members of my family attended The University.  I have many fond memories, and a few sad, bittersweet ones.  Ah, sweet mystery of life.

Like many children's museums, this one is centered on interactive play that leads to learning.  City Works includes a pizza restaurant, theater, grocery store, hospital, art & design studio, post office, music hall, and bank, "City Money."  All is done to child scale, with accessories like play food, and cans on the walls of the store.  Children and parents can play there together.  The preschool gallery is called InaginAcres, and includes a pretend play farmhouse, garden, an family sanctuary.  There is a Lego room, where kids can build, a Notion of Motion gallery that plays with gravity, Take Flight, with a paper airplane flight cage, space exhibits, wind tunnel, and much more.

The Court of Curiosities is a gallery with walls covered in shadow boxes with items representing a letter in the alphabet.  Yes, there was a case of modern 90s porcelain dolls for D, and two traditional puppets of India for P.  There were also collections of coins and foreign money.

A mechanical cow, one of two, stands before a scaled down barn. Kids can milk her, and she moos.

All great.  All miniaturized, bringing to mind Simon Garfield's new book on how miniatures illuminate the larger world.  All beautiful,  Just one problem.

When I got there, I saw admission posted for toddlers up to 59 and older.  I was not with a child; I would have to show a photo ID. Fine with me.  I've been to children's museums in Bettendorf, Indianapolis, and elsewhere.  Never had a problem touring or shopping in the gift shop.

The young man at the desk was not going to let me in because I didn't have a child with me.  That's a little sinister. My legal education and its muses are screaming at me by this point.  All a predator had to do to get in is rent a kid. The opposite, I suspect, of what they wanted.

"But it doesn't say that, anywhere", said I.

Oh well, I had the kid up front stumped.  Besides, it's a public place, and that's age discrimination.  I look a lot like Aunt Bee, anyway, hardly threatening.  I know, I know, don't all start lecturing me.  I know criminals come in every shape, size, and appearance, but really?

To make a long story short, a nice young girl gave me a tour, admission free.  I offered to pay admission, but they wouldn't hear of it.  Kind of them.  I also told them I was a nonprofit doll and toy museum, and that I was there for research purposes.

I was allowed to shop in the gift shop. I found mini puppies at .75 for doll houses, emoji dolls the size of Uneeda PeeWees, same price.  I found a doll I had not heard of, and bought her and her outfit.She is called Lottie, and is about 8 inches.  She has friends, and coloring sheets were provided.  I bought Blue Velvet, with a silver sparlkly sweater, shoes, and socks.  The dress is blue velvet.  She has brown hair, and comes in a white silk dress.  The dolls are "inspired by real children", but have big, Manga style moppet eyes.  Pictures to follow.

Hmph.  We can take things to extremes, even to violating the law.

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Wings, Blimps, Respect is spelled D-O-L-L-S!!


One of my all time favorite television shows is Wings, the story of two brothers running a small airport on Nantucket Island.  The characters are quirky and lovable, the dialog and writing witty.  The entire show is poignant, because one of its creators, David Angell, was killed with his wife on 911.





He was a literature major, as was David Schramm, who plays the slick Roy Biggins, owner of Aeromass Airlines.

During a recent episode, Lowell Mather, the eccentric but gifted mechanic, spent six years creating the most amazing model of a Graf zeppelin that not only flew, but that had a miniature furnished interior with captain and crew.  Things never quite go right for poor Lowell.  This episode was no exception. 

It took Lowell, played by Thomas Hayden Church, six years to build his blimp.  He brought it to pilot Joe Hackett’s office for safekeeping till the weekend model show, with orders no one was to touch it or fly it.

Joe, usually so upright and uptight, strays and flies the blimp behind the closed door of his office; then brash Roy barges in and smashes the Blimp to pits behind the door.  Lowell is besides himself, and Joe tries to save face by reminding Lowell his creation was just an inanimate object.

It was right out of the scene from Hawthorne’s “The Artist of the Beautiful” when a little child smashes a miraculous butterfly automaton.

Lowell descends into tears creaming “My Baby! My Baby!” He mourns when he finds the tiny captain on the floor.

It’s meant to be funny, to accentuate Lowell’s eccentricity, but stop and think.  Any artist or collector would cringe.  That’s the difference between us and them, artists/collectors and those who aren’t.

Really, let’s talk.  How many of you feel betrayed, angry, upset, when someone carelessly destroys something in your collection.  Does it make you feel better when you are callously reminded it’s just an inanimate object?

I hate to put “don’t touch” signs all over the place, but I feel like it.  Someone just broke one of my blue willow plates, accidentally, but she just threw it in the garbage and didn’t feel she had to tell me.  When I asked her what happened, she didn’t apologize or anything.  Just laughed at how it “slipped right off the counter.”  It was an old plate, too.  I fished out the pieces and I’m going to mend it.  Me and Doris Duke, I guess, thought it was just the idea.

I have another “helper” who averages one break a week.  It’s always my fault; things that have been in the same place for ten years have the nerve to run afoul of her clumsy fingers.   No apology there, either.

In the past, I’ve had friends with little kids who think it’s ok to let them run amok among the dolls.  Twenty years ago, one little boy walked into my house, went to my shelves, picked up a three-faced doll and ripped it’s head off.  I nearly bit my tongue into, not saying what I really wanted to.  “Now Paulie,” said his mom, “how would you feel if Ellen ripped the head of one of your toys?  That’s the point, it wasn’t a toy; it was a collectible.   On a shelf.  Shouldn’t Paulie have learned to respect other people’s things?  Isn’t that sort of a basic rule. 

For all those who think it’s ok to destroy other people’s inanimate objects.  Read the Property Clause of the Constitution.  Take American History; a lot of what we fought for had to do with the right to own property, real, and yes, personal.  

As much as I love hands on children’s’ museums, there’s something to be said for the traditional kind where dolls and artifacts are preserved behind glass, where they can’t be destroyed.

It’s about respecting other people’s space, either in stores or private homes.   I now have rules about packing up dolls after programs and putting them on my shelves because early on, I gave a program at a junior college that ran long.  The hosts began taking the dolls on display and tossing them, unwrapped, into boxes so they could go on with their next activity. These were old dolls, mostly bisque and composition.

At the end of the Wings epsisode,  Joe Hackett realizes what he has done, and moans a la Hindenberg, “Oh, the humanity!”  Now he gets it.



Monday, June 10, 2019

Jeopardy James; Skyward June 2019 by Guest Blogger Dr. David Levy

Another wonderful post!

On April 23, 2019 I took this picture of a bright
Lyrid meteor falling in the sky north of our Jarnac Observatory.  It
is not often I can actually capture meteors using a camera.



Skyward for June 2019.


Jeopardy James.

Of all the programs that Wendee and I enjoy on our television set,  the game show Jeopardy is one of our favorites.  For a half hour each day, Wendee and I play along as the three contestants try to respond correctly to host Alex Trebek’s clues.  In our tradition, if Wendee or I get a question answered, we applaud each other.  It’s fun.  We were saddened to learn of Trebek’s cancer diagnosis and we hope he will continue to enjoy a long life. Last month the show has been unforgettable.  In his first 31 days as a contestant, James Holzhauer has earned an astonishing $2,462,216 in winnings.  On the show that aired Friday, May 31, Holzhauer won $79,633.
          Wendee and I particularly enjoy the astronomy clues that come up on shows like Jeopardy.  Here is a clue from last Friday:  “On November 12, 1833, these meteor showers were seen across all of North America, sparking the serious study of meteor showers.”  Jeopardy James got it right:  “What are the Leonids?!”
          The Leonids are a meteor shower which occurs whenever the Earth punches its way through the sand grain sized debris left by a comet.  The debris spreads out across the comet’s entire orbit about the Sun.  In the case of the Leonids, when the parent comet Temple-Tuttle itself appears in the sky once every 33 years, a meteor storm, rather than a shower, sometimes occurs when meteors, or shooting stars, can fall at rates of a meteor per second.  It happened in 1833, the year of the Jeopardy clue, in 1966, and somewhat less intensely over the period from 1996 to 2002.
          As I watched this program, my mind harked back to our visit to Australia in 2001 where we saw 2,406 meteors scratch the sky over the course of a few hours. The display that night began as our group was relaxing on a dry lakebed.  A bright shooting star appeared in the east, brightened rapidly as it soared across the sky, then disappeared in the west.  Before the cheering ended a second meteor repeated the event.  At the height of the show, I witnessed nine meteors appearing simultaneously.  We continued to see meteors well into the morning twilight.
          I have observed meteors on more than two hundred nights that began with a night at the original Jarnac cottage north of Montreal.  I saw a magnificent, brilliant shooting star low in the southwest.  The picture the accompanies this article is of a brilliant Lyrid that appeared to wave at me from the northern sky in late April of this year.  Even though I have and use telescopes each night, perhaps my favorite observing session happens when I sit down outside, lookup, and watch the sky for these always welcome messages from space that we call meteors.  Maybe someday, James Holzhauer will get to enjoy the shooting stars as well.

Monday, June 3, 2019

World Doll Day – The State of the Doll House


World Doll Day 2019 – The State of the Doll House



World Doll Day is fast approaching; do you know where your dolls are?  LOL!  Seriously, it is time to take stock of what dolls mean to us.  Dolls are the perhaps the oldest toy, and according to some, the oldest cultural artifact.  Sadly, I may argue that the weapon comes before that, but let’s stick with happier topics and say it is at least one of the world’s oldest cultural artifacts.



Max von Boehn and others traced the earliest doll like figure or statue to the Venus or Goddess figures found in Willendorf and elsewhere, and the oldest was approximately 40,000 years old.  Yet, older figures, dating to the Neanderthals, are surfacing in Israel and elsewhere.   In some ways, I will argue that the definition of what a doll is goes back with what the definition of what a human being is.  When I taught humanities, I found materials that stated the oldest common human mammal ancestor dated back 53 million years.  Keep in mind; I am not trying to teach anthropology or archaeology here, just getting us all to think.





Certainly, play is important to animals.  Animals also “collect”; magpies and pack rats being the most common examples, but read the most excellent tome, The Scavengers Manifesto to learn more about animal collecting behavior.

We know our pets have toys, and love to play.  My late cat Emma had her own doll and toy collection; all of the toys had the last name of “Mouse.”  Opie kitty, who lived to be around 24 years old, loved a plush cow doll, a Victorian doll bed, and a large Muppet Animal doll.  His “sibling” Dax, had his own love for catnip toys and beanie babies.  My dogs, Killer and Smokey, had their own dolls, a black plush dog, a love of squeaky toys, and white teddy bears.  Once, when we were laying out on my bed and admiring our recent doll show loot, Killer, a tiny scotty/poodle mix, hopped in the middle of my bed with his squeaky monkey in his mouth.  My mom and I couldn’t stop laughing.




Smokey, my Benji dog, loved to sleep with a silk screened T-Rex.  He would be sound asleep, but I guess could sense me coming with it. He would lift his little head, and I would slip Dinosaur under it.  He also had a white bear with a worn nose that he loved.

My two kitties currently love toys, and literally skip when they see me coming with new ones.  The little girl cat loves doll houses; she likes to get on her hind legs, balance on one paw, and “select” toys to play with using her other paw.  I had to give her a doll house rug to appease her.






Birds, fish, reptiles, guinea pigs, all pet rodents, zoo animals, even birds of prey, have their games and toys.

So, play and toys seem to be essential to practically every life form.

Humans are no exception.

Bangles and Mr. Tuxedo



Miss Bangles with Susan Clepac Doll


Dolls and statuary, figural drawings, all survive from Prehistory and the Ancient World and thereby attest to their importance.  Surviving examples of Santos, crèche figures, tomb figures, fashion dolls, even painted images and early paper figures exist or are described in many texts.  The shadow puppets Plato made famous in his Parable of the Cave “live” in museums in Greece, and in books by authors like my friend, the late Mary Hillier (Dolls and Dollmakers).


Daxie

Opie

Anne Rice, once and avid collector, has written them into her gripping novels in all genres, and stated that when you love the worlds’ people, you loved their dolls.  Of course; dolls are portraits one way or another of their makers, good, bad, and ugly.   Lost civilizations live on because we have their dolls and toys.  Doll houses inspire artists, writers, and set designers, and show us how people lived in the past.  They are the best living history lesson I can think of.

Some dolls fight crime, like Frances Glessner Lee’s Nutshell doll house shadow boxes of unexplained death.  She had a hand in inspiring CSI’s Miniature Killer, too. 




Look at it this way, as collectors, doll artists, doll makers, doll retailers, dealers, museum curators, etc., we have a collective mission to promote the preservation of dolls, toys, doll houses and related objects for future generations.  While certain dolls continue to be a good investment, money does not motivate true collectors; at least that’s my opinion.  Kids seem to be getting away from dolls, toys, and collecting in general, and the creepy doll garbage pop culture phenomenon isn’t helping.  I see a few glimmers of hope on our Virtual Doll Convention page, young people interested in dolls.

Let’s face it, dolls are historical icons, that do indeed tell our story.  They are our texts and literature of who we are, and they teach us many things.  Hurting a doll, well, there is a certain voodoo aspect to it, and it chills us to the bone.

Emma




Shirley Temple's Dolls, on display Stanford Children's Hospital






Kudos to the terrific social media sites featuring dolls, and to the many museums out there that foster them.  Don’t be afraid to make future plans for your dolls for when you go to the great doll house in the sky, and remember, no one judges what those plans are.  Just so they don’t end up in a dumpster!  As for me, I am getting closer to finding a building for the museum of dolls that has been my life long passion, and I continue to write books about them.  One is at the publisher, another is in proposal form.  Thanks to all for your contributions of Facebook, Kickstarter, and for your donations.

Happy World Doll Day!  Perhaps you could share with us a few words about what dolls mean to you, as well a photo or two!

Collect in peace and good health! Happy World Doll Day!

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

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Barbie's 60th, Dolls and Microsurgery and More

For Barbie's 60th, I bought the pilot Barbie; I just took a round-trip jaunt cross country, not for fun, for family business.  It seemed appropriate.  I brought family dolls, plush, and souvenirs for my aunt home.   I bought the MEGO Samantha and a tiny,3 inch Kachina to add to my collection.  One was from Target on a quick run for another suitcase.  The other came from the Southwest store at O'Hare.

In the last week I've been home, I made up for the lack of doll places I wasn't able to visit here, at Salvation Army, Goodwill, a couple thrift stores and yard sales. 

The Ultimate Teddy; Bass Pro Shops

Mermaid, doll utensil door handle, Bass Pro Shops

One Fairy Garden ready

Bitty Babies and Star Wars finds

German bisque baby head

Small antiques peek from their case


Besides the 60th Barbie, I found a Star Wars Hot Wheels robot car.  Also, a large terracotta statue made in Mexico and an Ashanti doll of wood from Ghana.   A large German bisque baby head and several International dolls, two German bisque came home, also several boxes of vintage 40s and 50s paper dolls.  At one yard sale, I found Victorian German bisque figures, and a Lefton Madonna and Child.  A live sized Pekingese named Mickey came with, and a life-sized PM statue of a collie named, of course, Lassie.

Some gorgeous modern bisques arrived, and a little boy, an artists doll, kneeling in a tiny suit with short pants.  Adorable. 

Three Madame Alexander portraits came home, along with a lovely Supermarket bride complete with earrings and heels.  A deer friend left me an action figures and three movies channeling my Countess.

So, the museum rolls on.

A friend told me his son was doing microsurgery for voles as part of his vet studies.  He learned the precision by paining eyes on mini plastic soldiers. Play with dolls and toys has inspired scientific discoveries and all kidns of other inventions.  Get out that toybox!

I see lots of doll references to teddies, Barbie and Chatty Cathy on The Nanny, and references to 80s toys on The Goldbergs.  New toys will be out soon for fall; check out the shelves.  I noticed Barbie fishing gear at Bass Pro Shops this weekend, and a line of dolls with accessories that the shops put out.

My big find was two AG Bitty Babies for $2.50 each at a yard sale, and box of Star Wars figures and a Millennium Falcon for $5.  Not bad.

So, look for the Virtual Doll Convention if you haven't signed up yet; June 19-23.  My book, Thinking Outside the Doll House; A Memoir, will be out soon. 

We move forward, even as life and fate drag us backward.

Lassie

One of our new Gene additions

Wearing a vintage dress, a Dollikins style doll ponders the state of the doll house