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

Translate

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

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
Also, a link to her site

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

Tin Head Brother and Sister, a Recent Purchase
Courtesy, Antique Daughter

Judge Peep

Judge Peep

Hakata Doll Artist at Work

Hakata Doll Artist at Work
From the Museum Collection

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Japanese Costume Barbies

Japanese Costume Barbies
Samurai Ken

Etienne

Etienne
A Little Girl

Happy Heart Day

Happy Heart Day

From "Dolls"

From "Dolls"
A Favorite Doll Book

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Jenny Wren

Jenny Wren
Ultimate Doll Restorer

Our Friends at The Fennimore Doll and Toy Museum

Our Friends at The Fennimore Doll and Toy Museum

Baby Boo 1960s

Baby Boo 1960s
Reclaimed and Restored as a childhood Sabrina the Witch with Meow Meow

Dr. E's on Display with sign

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

Restored Italian Baby Doll
One of Dr. E's Rescued Residents

Dolls on Display

Dolls on Display
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.

A Few Friends

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

Vintage Collage

Vintage Collage
Public Domain Art

The Merry Wanderer

The Merry Wanderer
Courtesy R. John Wright, The Hummel Collection

The Fennimore Doll Museum

The Fennimore Doll Museum

Robert

Robert
A Haunted Doll with a Story

Halloween Dolls Displayed in a Local Library

Halloween Dolls Displayed in a Local Library

The Cody Jumeau

The Cody Jumeau
Long-faced or Jumeau Triste

German Princesses

German Princesses
GAHC 2005

A Little PowerRanger

A Little PowerRanger
Halloween 2004

The Island of the Dolls

The Island of the Dolls
Shrine to Dolls in Mexico

Based on the Nutshell Series of Death

Based on the Nutshell Series of Death
Doll House murder

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A lovely dress

A lovely dress

Raggedy Ann

Raggedy Ann
A few friends in cloth!

Fennimore Doll and Toy Museum, WI

Fennimore Doll and Toy Museum, WI
Pixar Animator's Collection

Little PM sisters

Little PM sisters
Recent eBay finds

Dressed Mexican Fleas

Dressed Mexican Fleas

Really old Dolls!

Really old Dolls!

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Pondering the State of the Hobby


A friend of mine recently wondered whether there was anything new that could be written about dolls. I certainly hope there is; I have another book about then being published, and one ready to go.  One is sort of a memoir, the other is poetry. I can admit that I have a lot more to say.  Just tonight, I was watching the old Johnny Carson Tonight Show and discovered two dolls I didn’t know about, Suzy Snapshot by Galoob and Bottle Baby by Tyco.  I was able to find both on ebay.
 
One subject to pursue is the pop culture fad that dolls are creepy and scary.  I’ve harped on that before, I know, but it is affecting peoples’ lives and businesses now.  Children are discouraged from playing with dolls, commercials make fun of collectors, doll dealers have to put up with would be patrons telling them their dolls are creepy.  
 
I have the TV on in the background, and I saw Halloween dolls and props on The Office, and a teddy bear on The Nanny.  There is a bobble head mascot on The Office.  The Nanny often features dolls as props, and there is a Nanny doll, which I have.  I love my Halloween monster dolls; they are cute, and reflect us and our interests as humans. I love our own Terror at Skellington Manor haunted house because they have a doll room, full of dolls, but they take care of them, and even ask me to identify them for them.  They also have wonderful animatronics, cousins of automatons and mechanical dolls. They really like dolls, and the whole thing with them is tongue in cheek.
 
Lately, things in my life have been very difficult. Were it not for the dolls and the dollhouses, these past few years, I’m not sure what would have happened to me.  Our passions keep us alive.  Mine are similar to those my late mother, my best friend, my inspiration, shared.  Often, I can’t believe my parents are gone and I’m alone.  The dolls were always a family endeavor.  We took trips to find them, bought them as souvenirs, Dad built doll houses and doll cases, ’he drove my mother to find them when I was away at school, and my mother made dolls, dressed them, helped me fix them. Both were supportive and proud of them.  The rest of my extended family was in on it, too.
 
We also liked coins, stamps, books, and shells.  We have postcards and ticket stubs and lots of slides from all our trips.  These are not just things; they sustain me and remind me that life was once good.
 
Planning this doll museum has been a huge dream, and a big project.  Dolls and “the doll motif” have been a huge part of my life.  Barbara Pym, the writer I wrote a book and my dissertation on, stated we all needed something to love, even if that something were not another person. She meant we had to have a passion in life, something that got us excited and made us want to wake up each morning.  Virginia Woolf, who preceded Pym at Oxford and whom Pym read, said we should all have a room of our own, hence her work, A Room of One’s Own.  If you don’t want to read it, get Eileen Atkins one woman portrayal.  It makes you think.   That room could be a shelf, a “she shack”, or again, something you do that is unique to you, like collecting dolls, crafts, arts, sports, it is up to you to define.
 
During one of my dark times when I couldn’t decide what to do and felt useless, I mentioned to my Dad that all I really knew had to do with dolls. “That’s a talent’, he said.  It surprised me, but it didn’t.  It is a talent to assemble, curate, and maintain a great collection.  It takes organization, management, memory, and communication skills.   What I’ve learned about them took years of study, and not just on dolls.  I read historical texts, plays, literature, sociology books, psychology texts, legal cases and texts, patents, and more.  Books on art and costume crept into my library, and of course, lots of paper dolls, fashion plates, and ephemera.    The dolls have been the best education I’ve had, and I have 12.5 years of college and grad school alone behind me. I could have been a surgeon, but I’d rather be a doll doctor!
 
It’s a shame so many people are ditching good dolls in charity and thrift shops.  It’s a shame doll snobs with high prices and bad attitudes discourage people from getting interested in the hobby.  It’s a shame haunted doll crap is making us all ignorant and driving away kids who are missing out on a lot of fun and chances to make friends and learn something.
 
Dolls are more than money or investment, though good antiques can out do the stock market any day.  I find most doll dealers to be passionate about their inventory and eager to help new collectors learn.  They respect collectors, and are enthusiastic about sharing information and coming together. They are part of the doll community, and important to all of us who study and who collect.
 
Doll shows are social events where we catch up with each other.  I’ve made many friends over dolls, some near and dear to me, as much as my own family.  Dolls have brought my husband and me closer as we work on books and museum projects together.  
 
So, my advice?  Collect, keep an open mind.  As Genevieve Angione wrote, all dolls are collectible.  Study and notice it, even if you don’t collect it, but good general collections have their place.  To paraphrase George Orwell, break any of my rules before doing something barbaric.  In other words, collect what you like in dolls.  Follow your passion, but don’t put down someone else’s.  As for all the negative creepy doll nay sayers, you’re a regrettable part of doll history, but grow up and straighten out your miserable lives. Quit ruining it for everyone else, learn to think for yourselves, and don’t follow every pop culture fad. Finally, well, go get a hobby!  Try collecting dolls seriously. 
 
Happy collecting everyone!

Phantom Menace

I admit it; I'm behind on my Star Wars movies, cartoons, and books, but I love my ST dolls, plush and action figures.  After watching Phantom Menace, I was able to ID my Rey figure.  I love R-8, and of course, Chewie. 




Public Domain




Millennium Falcon, Public Domain




Rey was a scavenger, and was selling found parts to an extraterrestrial flea market for food.  I know there is also Jar Binks, who is a junker.  He isn't the most popular character, but I like him.


Public Domain


Rey in PM also discovers, yes, The Millennium Falcon, something else we have models of in the museum.  I have written and done article on space toys; I just love them.  This film really struck a chord with me.  BTW, Mark Hamill is a puppet collector, Lucas has the original models for Star Wars creatures, the late Carrie Fisher and her mother, the late Debbie Reynolds, were also collectors.  You never know where you will see the phantom collecting but, or where you will get inspired.


May the Force be with Us!




Jar Jar Public Domain

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Miss Charlotte Bronte meets Miss Barbara Pym: Historical Women of the QCA

Miss Charlotte Bronte meets Miss Barbara Pym: Historical Women of the QCA: Here is a link to my latest article in the Dispatch/Argus:  https://qconline.com/opinion/columnists/historical-women-of-q-c-area/article_622...

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

My New Book is forth Coming!


Author Background for Thinking outside the Dollhouse; A Memoir:  The author began collecting dolls and studying them when she was three years old.  Her collection began with 3 Greek dolls, her first, that were purchased for her in Athens or that were purchased years before as part of her grandmother’s collection.  Dr. Tsagaris’ family has traveled, lived, and worked on every continent except Antarctica,  but a very close family friend traveled there, so even that territory is covered and represented by the items in her collection, which encompasses thousands of dolls, a library of books on dolls and related subjects that numbers in the thousands and is the subject of its own book-length bibliography, some 50 doll houses and shadow boxes, thousands of miniatures, hundreds of vintage toys, and thousands of doll related ephemera, antiques, children’s items, paper dolls, and doll clothes.



 

These items have been displayed in local museums, libraries, and schools, including The German American Heritage Center in Davenport, IA, The Bettendorf Public Library, and Kaplan University, Davenport, IA.

 

Dr. Tsagaris has published hundreds of articles on dolls and their history in publications that include National Doll World, Doll Reader, Antique Trader, Collector’s Weekly, The Dispatch/Argus, Doll News, International Doll World, Doll Designs, Hope and Glory: The Midwest Journal of Victorian Studies, and The Western Doll Collector.  She has published two books about dolls, A Bibliography of Doll and Toy Sources, favorably reviewed by the editors of Doll Castle News, Antique Doll Collector,  and With Love from Tin Lizzie: A History of Metal Dolls and Automatons.  She was Director of Social Media for Antique Doll Collector Magazine and the Expert Guide for About.com Doll Collecting, now defunct. She has also presented papers about dolls and about children’s books that feature dolls at the annual Convention of the Midwest Modern Language Association. These titles include “They want to Play with You; Dolls in Horror Movies,” and  “A Literary Shelter for Misfit Dolls,” “Sara Crewe’s Emotional Debts in A Little Princess” and “Rumer Godden’s debt to Children’s Literature.”  She has written a book review for the American Journal of Play, published by the Strong National Museum of play and corresponds with many well-known doll makers, authors, collectors and dealers.  She is affiliated with The Warren County/West Central Illinois Doll Club, is a friend of the Fennimore Doll and Toy Museum of Fennimore, WI, a Friend of the Eugene Field House and Toy Museum, and has been a member of the United Federation of Doll Clubs.  She has taught classes on the historical and literary significance of dolls, including The Doll as Other, for CommUniversity, a series of weekend courses mentored by St. Ambrose University and other institutions of higher learning.  She has lectured on various literary and historical subjects, including dolls for The American Association of University Women, The German American Heritage Center, various Churches, The Quad City Literary Guild, and The Putnam Museum.




 

Dr. Tsagaris writes several blogs, and five are devoted exclusively to dolls and doll collectors. Three are translated into other languages.  These are Doll Museum, a historical web museum of the history of dolls, and Dr. E’s Doll Museum.  She also writes blogs on green living, which often features folk dolls, Dr. E’s Greening Tips for the Common Person, blogs on memoir, Writing Your Life Story, a blog on the works of Barbara Pym and Charlotte Bronte, Miss Barbara Pym meets Miss Charlotte Bronte and An Apologia for Erzebet Bathory. She has a blog for GoodReads.com, too. These blogs often include stories and information about dolls. Over 50,000 people around the world have visited, read, and occasionally commented, on these blogs.  She maintains several Pinterest boards including one called “Doll Collection,” and has her own Facebook Pages for dolls, “Doll Universe“, “Antique Doll”,  “Dr. R.”  and Dr.E’s Doll Museum.”  Her hashtag on Twitter is Dr. E’s Doll Museum.  She has written for The Ruby Lane Blog and The R. John Wright Design Blog, “Ellen’s Takes.”  She catalogs descriptions for eBay and Ruby Lane, and has created boards for Ruby Lane and other doll orgs.  She has appraised dolls for the Bishop Hill Museum and Historical Society.

 

Education:  Dr. Tsagaris holds a law degree (Juris Doctor) and a Masters and Ph.D. in English.  Her Bachelors degree is a double major in English and Spanish.  She has published widely in many fields, including a chapbook on poetry, Sappho, I Should have Listened, and she is the editor and a contributor for an anthology of ghost stories, The Legend of Tugfest, 918 Studio 2012.   She writes a guest column for the Moline Dispatch/Argus newspaper, and contributes articles on Astronomy as well.  She published a book of literary criticism, The Subversion of Romance in the Novels of Barbara Pym, The Popular Press, 1998, and has published in anthologies of fiction and poetry, She published college study guides in Legal Writing and Administrative Law and is currently working on a book about the death penalty, two novels, and two books about vintage jewelry.   She chaired departments in Criminal Justice Legal Studies and Humanities for a major University. Currently, she is concentrating on opening a doll museum, and writing this book.  She is also a free lance writer in fiction and nonfiction.

Saturday, February 9, 2019

When the seasons end



The tree top. All dolls were 1990 and earlier.
The doll tree was on all year display.
We took it down to move it.
It's from the QC Arts Festival of Trees. 🌲

Thursday, February 7, 2019

Dolls are Important to Black History Month

Below is a blog post I did in 2017 for Ruby Lane.  I am grateful that it was popular. 


https://mail.google.com/mail/u/0/#inbox/FMfcgxwBVWRXNjSwBLFbTQNppVgbMJPC






My dream doll is an original Leo Moss.  I have one done by an artist how studied him, and a miniature I sculpted of Lillian. 


Happy February.



Wednesday, February 6, 2019

More Media Moppets

StarTV just popped on the air, and two of my favorite shows, Profiler and Medium are back on the air.  Profiler's opening credits include an antique doll; when she turns her head, you see the bisque is shattered.  Of course, Law and Order SVU includes a burned doll in its opening credits.  The Trials of Rosie O'Neill with Sharon Gless featured a porcelain doll that resembled Walda.


A Simpson's episode I watched included a trip to New Orleans with voodoo dolls.  There was one of Milhouse that was put to use.


The Goldberg's tonight featured Murray's stamp collection and Adam's action figures.  Toys R Us played key role.  How's that for nostalgia!?  Murray's passion for stamps was key; the collector's passion was important.


Finally, on a similar but different note, Harry Rinker commented on dwindling number of books out there on collectibles and antiques.  He wrote in his column for Antique Week.  I find that true with doll books, though my latest is in publication as we speak.   Why do you think fewer books on dolls and antiques are being written?  Do we no longer need reference books?  Are price guides becoming too quickly obsolete for identifying dolls?


Please comment; would love to know what you think.



Skyward February 2019


Skyward

February 2019

 

March 23

 

In 1963, while living as a patient at the Jewish National Home for Asthmatic Children in Denver,  I strolled outside on the evening of March 23 to observe the evening sky.  The sky was brilliant and clear that evening so long ago as I set up my small first telescope, Echo, and proceeded to sketch a portion of the Milky Way as it shone in  the sky over Denver.  It was a silly and immature project of no particular value whatsoever, but it was important to me, and it resulted in a small chart of the winter Milky Way.

Over many years, the particular date of March 23 has brought many treasured  memories to my personal life and my skywatching life.   Late in 1988 I began studying the behavior of TV Corvi, a certain variable star that had been discovered in 1931 by Clyde Tombaugh, the same person who discovered Pluto. On the evening of March 23, 1990, TV Corvi erupted againlike a nova, brightening from fainter than magnitude 19 to magnitude 12, an increase of almost 250 times in brightness in just a few hours.    Even though it has gone through outburts of energy many times since then,  one of those outbursts also took place on another March 23.

          All these events paled in contrast to what happened next.  On March 23, 1993,  Gene and Carolyn Shoemaker and I, while observing from Palomar Observatory, took the two photographs of a region of sky that led to our discovery of Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9.  Sixteen months later, the 21-odd pieces of that tidally disrupted comet collided with Jupiter, the largest planet in our solar system, in what is now regarded as the mightiest collision ever witnessed by humanity.  This event captured the attention, and the imagination, of the world, and was directly responsible for inspiring many people to become interested in the breathtaking majesty and behavior of the universe.   

The fact that my youthful map of the Milky Way, a new variable star, and one of the most interesting comets in the history of science (according to scientists around the world),  all began on March 23, left a most lasting impression on me regarding that special date.   In the nonastonomical parts of my own life, on March 23, 1992, I typed a postcard to Wendee Wallach, a teacher in Las Cruces, New Mexico.  It was my not very romantic way of asking her out on a date.  At the time it was just a coincidence that the letter was written on that particular date.  But five years later, it was not a surpise, therefore, that Wendee and I were married on March 23, 1997. 

          There is a special reason that March 23 recurs in this way.  The various astronomical happenings associated with this date comprise not just a single part of astronomy, like a planet, a comet or a star that suddenly changes in bightness, but almost the whole gamut of what can happen in the sky, from a comet that collides with a planet, to a unique variable star, and on to the vast expanse of our galaxy across the night, and how all these things relate to the happiest parts of my personal life.  The date reminds me once again of how exciting and unexpected the night sky can be.

Discovery images of Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9, tsken on March 23, 1993 by Gene Shoe




Sunday, February 3, 2019

Doll Dressing and More


As I was dusting, rearranging, repairing, and dressing dolls in my collection, I started to wonder about how other collectors managed their dolls.  I’ve always thought managing a doll collection was a lot like a management job in general.  There are lots of hats to wear and juggle, albeit tiny ones, and lots of multitasking!




 
So, do you dress dolls all at once?  Do you sew for your dolls?  I tend to gather the undressed dolls first.  We have a thing in my family about leaving naked dolls around, unless they are Venus statues in miniature or Frozen Charlottes.  My grandmother, a seamstress, used to gather the naked dolls I left out at night, and then make clothes for them.  Often, by morning, the poor nude dolly had a whole new ensemble.
 
I tend to find an outfit for the doll first.  I like to go through my doll clothes, and match outfit to doll.  Sometimes, I will buy a thrift shop doll just because I have clotjes for it.  I love the 18inch American Girl lookalikes, especially the Madame Alexander variety.  They are fun to dress, and I once picked up the Heidi Ott version with a whole wardrobe of handmade clothes, complete with labels.  The wardrobe opened as a bedroom, complete with a little Murphy bed.  Other times, there is a terrific piece of old lace or material I just have to make into something.
 
After I find the clothes, I work on a series of dolls at once.  Some get wigs, others clothes.  I look for underthings, accessories, then think about the hair.  The dolls get cleaned up first, but sometimes I save hairstyling for last.  Barbie shoes go on the very last; they get lost too easily.  If the doll is displayed, I find her shoes.  If she gets packed a way for awhile, I wait on putting on her shoes.
 
Sometimes, I find a more appropriate or older outfit.  Then, I will switch clothes.  I like to take spring and summer afternoons to launder doll clothes; I add Febreze or Ivory Liquid to the water and soak them, and usually wash them by hand.  I’ve taken some costumes for dolls to the cleaners; they charge as if they were baby clothes, usually.
 
My mother was terrific at dressing dolls.  Every Christmas, one of my dolls got a makeover.  She knitted and crocheted, and I found a half finished outfit in her things after she died.  I have lots of treat knitted doll pieces displayed on my dolls; tiny purses were  her specialty.  She was a wiz at Barbie clothes, even to making tiny beaded boots and leather look coats.
 
Just curious; I’d like to know how you put outfits together when you need to dress your dolls.  Happy Collecting!