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Friday, April 6, 2012

Top Ten

Those who know Theriault’s, know that we don’t collect dolls. Not that we don’t love them, for how else could we be so deeply involved every single day in the world of dolls. But because we believe it would be a conflict of interest in serving our selling and buying clientele.

But – one can still imagine, one can still dream. And, so, here then are my top ten (okay, eleven, I couldn’t cut it down any further) picks from De Kleine Wereld Museum of Dolls and Dollhouses, coming up for auction this Sunday, April 1st at the Westin Market Street in San Francisco. “If I collected” these wonderful things would come to live in my home, or at least I’d make a try to win them.

They’re not in any particular order of favorites, and not necessarily the most expensive or the rarest, just some wonderful things that “spoke to me”.

Catalog #1. The Early Parfumerie. So dainty in size and so luminous in its presentation. The stair-step displays, the gilt-paper framed mirrors on the unusually-angled back, the rich cobalt blue all enhance the miniature perfume bottles and toiletries.

Catalog #16. The Chinese Tea Shop. It was love at first sight for me, and then I looked further and it got even better. Every niche and cranny of the shop is filled with rare tea tin canisters (there are 26!). The lacquered wall, floor and cabinet finish enhances the rich colors as do the brass-framed display windows. You could study this shop for hours and still see different and wonderful things.

Catalog #28. The Shoe Store. Every one of those little boxes has a pair of shoes, and that’s not to mention the extra shoes on display. The oval counter is very rare, and I really love the luxury green velvet chairs and the impossibly-rare slanted foot stools for trying on shoes. What a treasure!

Catalog #55. “Les Modes Parisienne” Millinery Shop by Christian Hacker. It’s difficult to say what I love most about this shop. Is it the wonderful original paint and stenciled decorations, the display window curtains that open and close (visible from the “street front”), the fact that it has original display legs, or is it the mystery of the store sign “Les Modes Parisienne, rue Bergere 20, Paris” which was the address of one of the most prominent Parisian fashion journals of the mid-19th century. Was this store commissioned by them as a promotional object? A beautiful store, a great rarity, a wonderful mystery.
Catalog #65. Well-Laden German Wooden Kitchen Cabinet. Designed for a child, yet perfect for doll display, the cabinet is abundantly laden with kitchenware and supplies, beginning with a large claw-foot tin stove and including numerous blue and white porcelain cooking supplies and dishes such as pie-crimper, sieves, ladle and rolling pin, a rare lithographed tin grocery list and much much more. An extraordinary child play object that I have never seen before.
Catalog #86. Beautiful and Rare Petite French Poupee with Sculpted Hair, with Two Early Chairs. From the kitchen to an elegant salon, I will admit that my tastes vary greatly. This dainty petite French bisque poupee in original lace gown over rose twill under-gown is offered along with her two early brass-framed chairs with original silk embroidered upholstery. I have a sense of tranquility just looking at these.
Catalog #88. Very Rare Late-19th Century Miniature Art Nouveau Jardiniere. The second I spotted the jardinière – just 8” tall – in the museum, I fell in love. Classically Art Nouveau, and of luxury-quality workmanship, it is doll room accessory, par excellence. Again, I have never seen another.
Catalog #123. French All-Bisque Mignonette with Painted Brown Boots in Wicker Egg Presentation. If you are the lucky winner of this all-bisque mignonette with rare brown ankle boots, original wig and antique silk costume, you can decide to let her live in her wicker egg presentation basket – or come out to play with your other mignonettes. Whichever you decide, she will be the star of your little ones.
Catalog #210. Fine Early Wooden Sleigh of Northern Netherlands with Oil-Painted Scenes. The coachman stood at the back platform with studded brass foot plates and blue velvet cushion, while a precious child (undoubtedly a princess) rode within. A carved wooden lion led the sleigh, and painted scenes decorated each side. The sleigh is only 13”l. and a superbly-crafted toy, indeed fit for the play of a real princess as it may well have been.
Catalog #315. Very Fine French Wooden Doll Bed with Silk Curtains. Look closely at the bed, made of finest walnut with well-chosen grains, and decorated with a bronze garland at the foot. The bed is fitted with soft emerald green silk covers and canopy curtains, edged with pale mauve velvet bands. I imagine a French bisque poupee or early wooden or china doll posed alongside.
Catalog #332. 19th Century Doll's Recamier with Original Tufted Upholstery. I call this a Recamier in honor of its French heritage. But you can name it a fainting couch, if you prefer. Its elegant lines are emphasized by the depth of the tufting on the original royal purple silk upholstery, faded just enough to inspire sentiment. Braided cording adds detail, and “if I collected”, the Recamier would have a place of honor with one of my favorite dolls.

Have you chosen your favorites? Even if you’re not planning to bid, it’s always wise to dream. Take some time, click here and browse through the De Kleine Wereld auction catalog. I’d love to hear about your favorites. You can email me at and share your thoughts.

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