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Thursday, January 18, 2018

On the Mysterious Mr. Moss

Here is a link to an article "Who is Leo Moss--" retrieved from

Apparently, there is an ongoing issues about the very existence of the artist and the authenticity of the dolls.   I had the honor of seeing some at a local exhibit, including Violet May, and her X-Ray.  More later as I dig further into the story.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Automatons keep moving, no matter what!

Automatons keep moving, no matter what!: The news was recently abuzz with an incredible story; Saudi Arabia made an android, or robot, a citizen. Ever since a 1797 brochure called Mr. Haddock’s Andorides was published about an exhibition of automatons, the fascination with this fusion of doll and machinery has never stopped. There are all kinds of horror films and novels about them, and dolls, for that matter. Automatons even have Facebook pages devoted to them. Wired magazine frequently writes about them, and artificial intelligence, in general, is a hot ticket today.

Monday, January 1, 2018

Kintsugi and Kutsunia; The Art of Broken Pieces and Dolls

Here is a link with video explaining the beautiful art of kintsugi, repairing broken pieces of pottery with lacquer missed with gold, silver, or platinum.  The point is to repair, but not to disguise, and to emphasize the history of an object.

Many of us in the doll business are often loathe to collect a doll or figurine that has been repaired.  Like Barbara Pym's Leonora Eyre of The Sweet Dove Died, we don't' want imperfection in our lives. She hides a hand painted glass pitcher, formerly one of her treasures, because she notices a tiny chip in the paint of one of the flowers.

The whole point of antique and vintage dolls, at least, is that they are used nad well-loved.  Look at the "as is" disclaimers that go with them when you buy them on e-bay.

More than that, however, is the history and patina that these dolls have.  They have been loved; they shouldn't be disguised or repaired to he point of perfection.  I don't think they should be disdained, either. I'm not alone in that, or there would be no doll hospitals or books on doll repair. 

Others who collect with money to burn still buy objects in need of a little TLC.  Doris Duke had a studio in one of her estates where she had all the broken china sent.  She mended it as a hobby.  Marilyn Gelfman Karp in her classic In Flagrante Collecto describes "poignant repairs" among her favorite collectibles.  These are pieces of pottery repaired with nails and braces of wood and other materials.  they are hard to find.  I have only one example among my treasures.

Ever since I read of Beth March and her pathetic collection of rag tag dolls that she nursed and cherished, I've had a special place in my heart for the misfit dolls that need help.  Some are the best examples I could find of rare dolls, but others were dolly wrecks that needed a new life.

I do some of my own repairs, but would no way work on someone else's dolls. As I wrote for an article, "I'm not a Doll Doctor, But . . . .", I had means of repairing and maintaining my dolls, of dressing them and constructing bodies, without doing any harm.  It could all be undone.

One famous collector dealer I crossed paths with in San Jose used to buy the repainted and professionally repaired French bisque doll heads and then remove the paint. He showed me how he did this with a Jumeau head.

He had mint French Fashions and Bebes in his collection that were mint and very rare, but he had a soft spot for rescuing the less than perfect among them, too.

Many current mixed media artists see the beauty in these fabulous fragments; they create jewelry, vignettes, and all sorts of art from them.  As a result, doll parts are selling briskly and books on assemblage and collage using antique and vintage doll parts pop up everywhere.   I have written on these artists, too, including a post called "Fabulous Fragments."

Good dolls in mint shape are hard to come by; I never advocate to collect for investment; doing so makes us doll snobs with tunnel vision. That's just my opinion.  I go with buy what you like and what inspires you.  You will still have a valuable collection, but you will enjoy it for its intrinsic self.

Dolls have their own history; those who are banged up have the best stories to tell.  Some little girl loved them; they provided comfort and companion ship.  Also, many dolls would not be saved if we only wanted mint examples, the "failures" of the play world.

For a while, collectors wanted Barbies out of the box, and one famous photographer only collects the undressed, played with variety.  Read about her in M.G. Lord's, Forever Barbie.

Old dolls are finite; they are no longer made.  Preserving them in any condition tell us about the business history of the toy industry, of materials used, of manufacturing practices and cultural norms.

One famous author even stated that every old doll is rare.  That's true.  Real antiques, even "low brow" china heads, are disappearing from antique malls and stores. 

Back to Kintsugi; no one is perfect, everything is flawed.  Read Plato for more on the theory, or Derrida on the idea of signs in the post modern world. Yet, it is our flaw that give us historyIf old pottery and china are worth saving through Kintsugi, so are old dolls.

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Vintage Rose for Dolls, fellowhip and More

Image result for vintage rose antiques rock island il
The Bottom Line:  Partners Michelle and Diane opened this wonderful, true antique store in 2009.  This is the kind of antique store I grew up with, with real antiques, a good general line, vintage and antique china and pottery, lots of Art Deco, and wonderful jewelry.  I especially love the rhinestones.  There is also a good selection of dolls and toys from vintage to antique.   I have purchased Silvestri automatons, once displayed at the flagship Marshall Field’s Store in Chicago, small all bisque German dolls, German bisque dolls with glass eyes, dressed in furs, vintage and collectible Raggedy Anns, including to talking varieties, antique china heads, a near mint comp character baby, and more.  Michelle and Diane also carry miniatures like netsuke, bone china animals, children’s books, toys, and seasonal items.
Image result for vintage rose antiques rock island il

One case holds antique toys including a Victorian wooden doll bed, several small German bisque dolls, vintage doll accessories, and other toys dating from Victorian days to the 1930s.  She carries several unusual types of German bisque nodders and figurines, many with elaborate detail.  She has also featured LLadro Japanese Doll Festival figures and musical marottes with German bisque heads.
Recently on display was a vintage mechanical Santa who pops out of a chimney, circa 1950s.  Vintage Rose is a great place to look for gift items and vintage and modern Victorian inspired lithographs.  She carries Victorian Papers cards, but also original graphics and paper ephemera. 
Pros:  The displays and merchandise are always changing.  Michelle and Diane are super friendly and customer service is excellent.  Staff, including Lois, Ellen, Eric, and Lexi [forgive me if I’ve forgotten anyone], are knowledgeable and upbeat. No one is every pressured to buy anything, layaway terms are generous. You can spend one minute or one hour browsing and receive the same wonderful service.
Displays change with the seasons; wonderful old aluminum trees and 50s/60s ornaments appear during Christmas.  Spooky, nostalgic vintage Halloween decorations pop up in the fall, along with pilgrims, and later in winter, snowmen.  During the Christmas season, Michele and Diane hand out real sugar plum candies.
Prices are fair and often negotiable.  Ask about the Gold Box program!  There are good books on genealogy and local history, too.  Michelle is active in DAR activities and also has an Etsy store, Effie Rose Antiques.   She has many antiques on consignment from around the country, and also displays in other malls.  She is active in the antique show circuit and is good at looking for special collectibles for her customer.
She carries books on antiques including my own book on metal dolls, “With Love from Tin Lizzie . . .” We had a terrific book signing there.
I especially appreciate the fact that anything you buy at Vintage Rose is carefully wrapped in clean tissue paper and carefully packed.  Michelle does not spare the bubble wrap, boxes, or large, handy shopping bags.  I always recycle these.  Nothing is ever lost, left behind, or broken when I get it home. I can’t say the same of all my antiquing experiences.
Cons:  Only that Vintage Rose isn’t open 24/7, though you could argue it is with the Etsy store.
See their Facebook Page for contact information. On the same street and within walking distance are several other antique stores including G.V’s Stuff [general line, pottery, national costume dolls, glass, Stengl, Lefton kewpies, half dolls, metal doll houses, plastic doll house furniture, some Star Wars and Hot Wheels], Fred and Ethel’s [Lucy memorabilia, vintage clothing, fifties and sixties nostalgia, Gas Station/Duchess Costume dolls, some 80s Barbies, Christmas, Halloween, Easter, displays 6’ Barbie manikins, vintage costume jewelry], Jackson’s Antiques [Great Seasonal Open Houses, Jackson Pottery, books, vintage clothing, “Ugly” sweaters at Christmas, small dolls, china heads, miniatures, compo dolls], Estate of Grace [seasonal, primitive, shabby chic, some dolls], Dar Jac Antiques [Dover paper doll books, antique jewelry, glass, miniatures, furniture, some dolls] Fabulous Finds [collectible porcelain, Franklin Mint type, Danbury Mint, 80s Effanbee, 80s Ginnys, some art dolls, Lefton figurines]. Don’t
forget Tim’s Corner for vintage comics magazines, action figures, and other doll related collectibles, and More than Memories-Estate of Grace for unusual décor and vintage items.