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Saturday, January 19, 2019

Dr. E's Doll Museum Blog: Thank you Virtual Doll Convention!

Dr. E's Doll Museum Blog: Thank you Virtual Doll Convention!: I'm taking this chance to thank everyone at Virtual Doll Convention. We all learned and enjoyed so much! Truly, doll folk are not single...

Saturday, January 12, 2019

Hellenic Muses a la Poupee

Greek dolls have been influenced by many cultures, mixing with, and creating doll simultaneously with, Greek artists.

A doll shaped Ouzo bottle; author's collection and public domain

Greek doll wearing clothing of ancient theater.  Author.

Queen Amalia of Greece; outfit she designed c. 1821 from her German Homeland
and contemporary dress.  Sequins represent coins for dowry.  1960s; author.  Brought
from Greece.  Mask face, plastic, and wire, painted features, mohair wig.  Photo Dino Milani.

From Egypt come rag dolls of coarse linen or other cloth, stuffed with papyrus.  Mary Hillier and others have theorized that there were more soft dolls played with in the ancient world, as there were probably wooden dolls and dolls of other materials.  Yet, they only seem to have survive in Egypt because the dry conditions allowed for their preservation.

Mary Hillier in "Dolls and Doll Makers" showed seated dolls with realistic faces and hair styles that resembled those on classic marble statues.  These were missing arms, but obviously had jointed arms at one time.  She called these theater figures, and it is unclear if they are toys or not.  Ancient writer Xenophon allegedly discusses puppets in his works, and Plato's famous "Allegory of the Cave" from "The Republic" alludes to shadow puppets or figures on the wall.

Many other writers feature ancient Greek dolls, and Sappho, classic poet of the Ancient World left a poetic fragment dedicating her doll to Artemis, "despise not my doll's little purple cloak."

Reproduction Kore figures in my collection, one made in Greece, depict young girls before marriage, and are often 2 or 3 feet high, and represent tomb figures.

Gorgeous ivory dolls wearing remnants of gold jewelry, and often found in little girls' tombs with scraps of cloth, were luxury figures, but many terracotta jointed dolls exist in the Benaki Museum and other European museums as proof that children's games of all types existed.  When I was 9, I saw some of these myself at the National Archaeological Museum in Athens, and I actually cried from the emotional impact.

Argyriadis writes of dolls created during Byzantium, 330-1453 A.D.  Bone dolls with etched figures, and large luminous eyes were popular.  She quotes St. John Chrysostom, Archbishop of Constantinople and author of one of The Divine Liturgies of The Greek Orthodox Church, on the similarity between Christian dolls contemporary to him and ancient dolls. Doll makers still worked in clay, cloth, bone, ivory, and wood, just as they had 1000 years before.  Dolls were still sold from workshops.

At the Monastiraki, I bought a black silk Greek doll head, and other souvenir dolls.  We also saw antique German doll heads for sale. Argyriadis pictures many papier mache, wax, and bisque dolls, as well as Dresden German Christmas ornaments , wax angels, and other European toys popular in Greece during the late 19th and 20th centuries. She writes of these so-called "Type V" dolls as heads that come to a point, and date from the first to twelfth centuries.  They were inserted into cloth stuffed bodies, and some had wigs. They remind me of half dolls of the early 20th century.

According to Argyriadis, from the 6th century on, writings talk about little girls' dolls and their importance.  Pollucis Onomasticon mentions dolls in his work, (Lib.IX. 127). During this time dolls were found in children's tombs, and Argyridadis writes these are almost certainly toys.  Pagan worshippers still had their idols at this time, and dolls were even found in the graves of Christian adults as symbols of adults entering the kingdom of Heaven as little children (Matthew XVIII, 3-4). Apparently, she writes there was a common Byzantine phrase cited by Phaidon Koukoules, "We're not playing with dolls." An interesting note is that the Empress Theodora treated her Holy Icons as dolls.  I find this interesting; icons are meant to take the place of religious statues in the early church, yet at the same time, other citizens would have had idols and ritual figures as part of their worship.  People do revere and address their icons as three dimensional figures, and portraits and images like them are indeed cousins to the two dimensional and three dimensional images we call dolls.


Friday, January 11, 2019

Ten Iconoclastic Rules for Collecting Dolls; Thinking outside the Doll Box

Ten Iconoclastic Rules for Collecting Dolls; Thinking outside the Doll Box


Let me begin by paraphrasing George Orwell, author if 1984 and other works, from his essay “Politics and the English Language.”  He outlines his ten rules for good writing, no doubt formed from his own school of hard knocks, learned during his days of writing communist propaganda.  Basically, he said in about the tenth rule that writers should break the other 9 before they wrote anything “barbarous.”


I’m a big fan of Orwell and literary freedom; I don’t like collector fascists either, or collector totalitarians.  To each her own, or in the immortal words of Sly Stone, “different strokes for different folks.”


So, here are my ten unorthodox rules for collecting dolls.


  1. Buy what you like.  This is the most sacred rule for any collector to follow.  Buy what you like, and opportunity and investment will come.  As you buy what you like, your taste may change or not.  You will learn about all kinds of dolls and related items, you will study, read, and improve your critical thinking skills and even your communication skills as you explore what you love.
  2. Read freely of other collectors’ advice; take that advice sparingly.  Don’t let a doll snob, or even a well meaning collector, talk you out of a doll you love.  If you can afford it, you like it, have plans for it, are inspired by it, made happy by it, go for it.   Your collection is a kind of autobiography; it says things about you, and those things are good.
  3. To paraphrase Mary Randolph Carter, author of The American Junk Series of books, magazine contributor, Internet entrepreneur, and executive at Ralph Lauren, never ask where am I going to put it?
  4. Condition is not everything; if you have a chance to be gifted, or to buy,  a fabulous doll that is damaged but very reasonably priced, don’t turn it down.  What if that bargain baby that needs TLC is a Bru, or a Marque?  Stranger things have happened.
  5. Don’t buy just for investment.  If you want to speculate on investments, become a day trader, buy bitcoin, trade in stocks, etc.   Like art, dolls and collectibles should be lived with first.  A good collection ages like fine wine.
  6. More is more.  I’m sorry; it just is.  Collectors don’t like the “H” word.    Simplifying and downsizing what you like to please others merely causes you more stress.  Collecting what you like in any number you are comfortable with brings joy. 
  7. All Dolls are Collectible.  CF Genevieve Angione’s wonderful book of that title.
  8. Donate dolls to charity, or contribute to Toys for Tots.  Spread the word that dolls are good, and that they teach children many valuable skills.  Dolls are probably the oldest toy, and perhaps the oldest human cultural artifact. 
  9. Stay away from haunted object and creepy doll crap.  Don’t let these naysayers talk you out of your dolls.  I love monster and Halloween dolls all in good fun; I feel happy and safe when I’m surrounded by my collection, writing about it and caring for it.
  10. As Mr. Orwell wrote, break any of these rules before you do something barbarous, like throw away a doll.  Never, ever do that!! The Doll is always Greater than the Sum of its dolly Parts.

Rare Darrow Rawhide Dolls, 1870s

Thursday, January 3, 2019

Monday, December 31, 2018

Sunday, December 23, 2018

Dr. E's Doll Museum Blog: Electicism in Dolls

Dr. E's Doll Museum Blog: Electicism in Dolls: Electicism, Perhaps I've Made up a Word!   My friend, noted author and doll artist R. Lane Herron writes a series of articles ...

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

The First Virtual Doll Convention! Begins January 10, 2019

As the bleak midwinter approaches, what better way to beat those winter blahs than a virtual doll convention!  Enter the magical cyber world of your own computer, curl up with your favorite doll and fur child in front of a roaring fire, Victorian stove, or your favorite safety pace heater!  Pour the hot chocolate, the hot toddy, the Earl Grey,  Get ready to tour the doll world and art world through great programs by doll experts, web fieldtrips of the most fantastic art museums in the world, practice your culinary skills, and immerse yourself in the warm, wonderful world of dolls!  Below is the information from doll star Rachel Hoffmann!

Rachel Hoffman
 December 3 at 12:07 PM
Registration for the January Virtual Doll Convention Open - please register to get in the convention system and on the mailing list for the activities of the Virtual Convention:
Click the black “purchase now” button and the website will guide you through.
If you are not available at the time of the live broadcasts and scheduled events, don’t fret! They do not disappear or go away and will be available for later viewing when you can catch up. Don’t miss this!
After you register and as we join the Virtual Doll Convention over the next couple weeks, please feel free to reach out to the group in a post and introduce yourself and share doll + bear photos. What we would love to know about you:
Who you are and where you live?
What kind of dolls or teddy bears you collect?
Do you remember your first doll?
What do you hope to happen at Virtual Doll Convention?