Friday, March 22, 2013
Tuesday, March 19, 2013
China Heads: These glazed porcelain heads first showed themselves in about 1830-40, with some bald examples called Bidemeier dolls. Some of these heads boast a black sot for a wig. John Noble’s Dolls and Beautiful Dolls have excellent examples. There were glazed figurines even before this, with busts dating to the 17th century, and Della Robbia porcelains dating to the Renaissance. Glazed pottery were also found in Ancient Rome and Egypt. Meissen and Staffordshire figurines are older, but it is true that you often see these types of heads on dolls, and doll heads share the same hairdos. The same is true of stone bisque or arian dolls nad bonnet heads; their hairdos and faces early on figurines as well as dolls. Royal Copenhagen makes lovely brown haired dolls, featured in Nobles’ books and in books by Eleanor St. George, and at least one “portrait” head of Jenny Lind in a dark wig is attributed to RC. I know the make figurines, and they started making dolls in the 1980s. Royal Doutlon joined with eggy Nisbet of England about this time to create a series of dolls, including one of the infant prince William and a series of about out 9 in little girls showcasing Days of the Week.
The Chinese and later Japanese brought china production to a fine art, and these examples, Ming, Satsuma [from which figurine dolls are made today] and other figures are very collectible and priceless. China dishes seem to come into use in the 18th century, with the ubiquitous Blue Willow pattern still being used today. I also collect BW and look for examples in old TV shows like Daniel Boone and Dark Shadows. You can find a set on display at Hearst Castle in Sam Simeon, too. China comes from white kaolin clay, and this type of clay can be found today. I’ve made small toys and figurines from it, sometimes glazed, in art classes. Bone china, which I collected in the forms of mini animals and teacups, actually is fired with ground bone and ash. Wedgwood, Noritake, and Royal Doulton still make fine bone china dishes. Haviland china is another company that created wonderful glazed dishes for use in homes.
For me, this are the quintessential antique dolls. I saw my first ones when I was in kindergarten, and received my first when I was 8, not counting the Frozen Charlotte Mom and I bought at the Women’s Club Antique Show when I was 7. My first was Japanese, with the molded bobbed hairdo young girls wore in the fifties. She was a head for a Christmas angel, with a cones cardboard body covered with red feathers, wire chenille covered arms, and a gilt songbook. Her features were painted and her hair was white. I still have her, but she is on a regular doll body with china limbs. She wears a red velvet medieval Barbie sized dress Mom sewed, and a black lace flower hat to conceal damage and cracks. My Aunt Rose gave her to me, and she also made in ceramics the second china head in my collection. This was a 24 in low brow, black glazed hair for Xmas 1968. The doll has china limbs, with high heeled painted black boots and garters. She is dressed in white silk damask with a white lace overskirt, and red ribbon trim. She wears a black velvet choker, as I did at the time, only where mine had a cameo, hers has a tear shaped agate. My mother knitted her a red shawl, and sewed a wardrobe of bright materials from Aunt Rose and my grandma. There is an antique flannel nightgown, underwear, dotted Swiss in red, red and blue polka dots, brown print and blue print with daisies and vintage flowers, a bright yellow daisy print, and a few hats and bonnets. All lived in a vinyl Barbie case!
The next dolls, also 1968, was a replica, that would fool an exert. She wears a red ring leg o’ mutton dress and lingerie. Her shoes are white, high heeled, button down shoes. She is from The Tinkerbell Toy Shop in Disneyland I have her receipt still. She cost $20.00 in 1968, a huge sum for dolls. She is a little thinner than Aunt Rose’s Doll, but can wear her clothes. I added for her a flannel jacket in green with removable felt symbols for each season. The China Sisters, Rose and Rosalie had many adventures, and are honored members of The Museum. Rosalie, from The Magic Kingdom, was meant to be another Xmas gift. When Mom saw the Rose doll, lying in its beautiful tissue lined box, she waited until Valentine’s Day 1969 to give her to me. I was ecstatic. She was a big sister to the dollhouse dolls, and could use their attic as a bed, where she could lie flat comfortably, if a little claustrophobically.
My first antique “low brow” doll was five inches high, all cloth, with cloth arms and legs. Mom sewed her a yellow eyelet and batiste dress she still wears. My first large low brow with black hair was a name head, “Helen,” and I got her at 15. Many whole and fragmented “low brows” joined the collection, many doll house sized, some replicas I made from kits created for doll houses by my friend Violet age.
Aunt rose made me an 19th replica with red hair, a ribbon, and flat boots. She wore a green dress similar to Rose’s white one. Mrs. Brandmeyer of the 18th Avenue Doll Hospital assembled and dressed both dolls. Another small doll in the style of highland Mary never was glazed! I got impatient, and Mom and I made her a body and dress.
Later, I found a Marie Antoinette Sherman Smith doll, and two other Smith dolls on wooden bodies, more Xmas Angels, including choirboys, in sizes from 3 inches to 9 inches. There were more and more half dolls to explore, including some with Medieval headdress Eleanor St. George considered china heads though they were pincushion r half dolls. Another grey harried doll form the 40s is now vintage; her glazed hair is braided and gray. This style is also called “Marie Antoinette,” though we don’t know how many actually resented real women. Others in Nobles’ works are called Maria avlova, Adelina atti, Jenny Lind, and Highland Mary. Some old heads have braids worn on their heads as a coronet. My largest ceramic head is about 12 inches high with such a style, she is an artist head by my friend Violet, and she “nodded” forward in the kiln due to her weight. She makes a doll nearly 4 feet high. There are also Spanish china heads with wigs and painted features from Balos, and some from Capo di Monti and Marin, Italy and Sain.
I learned of Rohmer dolls, with zinc bodies, and Huret dolls, with glass eyes and wigs. I added a patty Jene artist doll of a china head with a wig. She was assembled with old limbs and clothes, and has re-1860 colored flat boots.
My rarest is a man’s head, with black hair, painted eyes, goatee and moustache. I think he may represent Napoleon III, husband of Eugenie, and I have an old head representing Eugenie herself.
There is a Victoria doll from Shackman, and several Jenny Linds, one by Emma Clear, on an antique. One small doll has a waterfall hairdo in a net. Some have molded ribbons. There are swivel necked chinas, and I have one in bisque from Japan with the curly lowbrow hairdo. I think these dolls are meant to have a Gibson girl type hair do with the rest of their hair pinned up in back. They are the most common and plentiful, and cost pennies. Many were made by Hertel and Schwab, and some were found intact after the Iron Curtain came down, in their original East German Factories.
Shards of these and other bisque dolls that were thrown out are still buried in the soil and turn u. I have a box of them, sent from Germany, with the dirt in which they were buried still clinging to them. The box still has its German label.
Tours allow visitors to the factory sites to scoop u as many shards as they can carry, or at least they did. There is a brisk trade in Etsy, eBay, and other online sites for these doll heads and shards. Artists use them for art dolls, found art, shadow boxes, and jewelry. I make pins from them, and I bought several Christmas ornaments form the Cincinnati Art Museum and other galleries this year. I also make barrettes. I have some doll heads that were buried, some in ancient privys! Sanitized these many years later, my mother and I made dolls from them.
Blondes are more unusual, and we have several in different sizes. The smallest china head is about two inches high, a blonde Alice in Wonderland type artist doll, in a real blue dress and pinafore. She has a cloth body and china limbs and is microscopic. I have heads that size made by artist Pat Wolford.
We have another French type man with a side art, and a black china head, which is rare. Standard Doll Company made many historical heads, including Harriet Tubman.
My flat to and curly boy antiques are nearly three feet long, and came from my friend Violet. This flat to is sometimes called a Mary Todd Lincoln head, but a documentary showing Mrs. Lincoln’s girlhood home showed her doll from childhood, and it was a flat to, so the style dates even older than that. The Mrs. Tom Thumb doll, made about the same height as the tiny lady herself bears this style.
Ruth Gibbs made china head dolls with china limbs wearing 19th c. outfits under the Godey’s Ladies Dolls trademark. I have several of the small six-inch versions, and one large 12-inch version with painted jewelry.
Glass eye dolls, men, dolls with teeth and sleeping eyes, a super rare example owned by a friend with sleep eyes, china bonnet heads, all china Frozen Charlottes, dolls with fruit and flowers molded in their hair, these are the rarities of China heads. Limbach made many like this in bisque and china, including the bisque Irish Queen.
Emma Clear, of the legendary Humpty Dumpty Doll Hospital is credited with making the first “modern” china heads, now over 70 years old themselves. These are excellent dolls, and we have several, including the mold for her grape lady. We purchased the ink scarf doll from the Marry Merritt Museum and treasure her. She was an absentee bid, and the hammer came down online for us to our great pleasure. God Bless Noel Barrette auctions!
I have a china bonnet head, about six inches long, with brown eyes that I bought from noted authority Helen Draves. I also have a half doll with gray hear and brown eyes mom bought in about 1983 at a local doll show while I was still in law school.
There are china dolls from Tibet, in traditional costume, of blue and white china that looks delft. There are Japanese heads, very early, that look to some like the famous Nymhemberg, so called 18th c china head which may now be an early twentieth century doll. Lowbrow dolls are featured in Disney’s’ film Child of Glass, and Grace Ingalls allegedly had one, as did the mean Nellie Olesen. One of my Chinese heads has a molded tricorner hat; he represents a British soldier with blonde hair, but Asian features. He came from a store called “Z Best things in Life,” San Jose in the 80s. More on him in With Love from Tin Lizzie. Our Japanese head is blonde, and she resembles the Nymhemberg head, but her features are Asian. Yet, I’ve sent this doll priced at $1000 because someone mistook her for the rare German doll. Many rare dolls a.ear in the Coleman’s books, too. The Merritt Museum’s All Color Book of Dolls features more. Mona Borger and Jan Foulke have written books on china heads with rare examples, too.
Older examples had wooden bodies, and some, with the long Lydia sausage curls resemble Milliners’ models and other early aier mache heads. Metal heads, my area of expertise, were meant to imitate china heads, and Effanbee and other companies made them in vinyl. I thought they would catch on, but they did not. One head in my book on metal dolls I really made of china—the Minerva metal head was reproduced as a china doll! I have an all china Motschmann reproduction and a Schoenhut reproduction made in china and bisque, as well as a penny Wooden; my friend Violet made these in the 70s. I have one modern “china” done in shiny hard plastic.
Early doll books state that about 1 billion china heads were made in Germany alone in the early 19th to mid 20th centuries. Not many are reproduced today; glazing them at least three times and the china underglaze painting makes them expensive dolls to make. They also require skill, more than other dolls.
I made others from salt clay, and glazed them with nail polish, and I made aer dolls of sketches and photographs of others. They live in the Museum dollhouses, and some double as Xmas ornaments. I have seen them featured in Golden Glow of Christmas exhibits and in museums. There was a flat head or MTL doll on display for many years at Ft. Cody in Ogallala, NE, and I have a picture of her. The doll is no longer there.
One head as a printed body in patriotic material. Other dolls have ABC material. Mark Farmer Co, of El Cerrito, CA reproduced many china heads, including the beloved Jennie June, which featured the low brow. One of my low brows survived the 1906 SF earthquake and came from the legendary Indiana Antiques in San Jose many years ago.
I write more about these heads, with sources included in my work in progress, A Cultural History of Dolls where they have their own chapter.
Finally, how do you tell an antique head from a vintage or new head? Ruth Gibbs dolls are very distinctive, and have red hair and other nonantique shades. Their clothes and boxes are labeled. Old china heads have a grayish caste to the china; they have worn marks on their hair, and little specks of kiln dirt that look like beauty marks. New dolls are stark white, or creamy colored. Old ink luster heads like a couple of mine have a pinkish caste to them, created by adding gold power or dust to the glaze. They often have the sausage curls or “covered wagon” style.
Older dolls, at least large ones, have a red line over their eyes to simulate eyelids. The rouge on their cheeks is almost orangey, very ale. Black dolls are coal black; modern are usually chocolate brown glazed like Harriet Tubman. If chied, older dolls have a grayish bisque underneath.
Some very old examples are pressed into molds and you can see the seam. Kling dolls are marked with a bell in a K. Some, dressed and sold in France, may have labels on their clothes. Some dolls come with original wardrobes and are stuffed with sawdust. A few have kid bodies. If they are original and the body and clothes are old and came with the doll, it could well be old.
Motschmann dolls are id 19th century; they have a bisque or china pelvis as well as limbs and heads in the style of antique Japanese Ningyo dolls, see Scott Alan ate and Lea Baten. Some dolls have a cu and saucer joint. Goldsmith dolls are on bodies with cloth boots and altitude corsets. One of my ink luster heads ha her original kid body.
Look for dolls with synthetic clothes; they aren’t old. Also, dolls wearing Velcro or snaps may not be antique.
Modern artists usually incise their names in the back. If you get a rarity like a glass-eyed doll for a song, be careful. I have a Parian with molded hair, flowers, and glass eyes, but she has a tiny hairline flaw, hence I didn’t ay book value. If it’s too pristine, like some “rare” half dolls on the market a few years ago, I’d worry.
Kestner and some of the famous German companies allegedly made china head dolls, or assembled china heads. As with all dolls and antiques, read, look at price guides, online sites and doll shows and sales. Check with museums, bottle collectors, join a group that digs for old china, but get permission from landowners so you don’t trespass. If you can handle old dolls, or visit collectors with newer and antique china heads, do so. Even the common dolls are antiques, and there is a finite number of them. I don’t turn my nose up at them, and neither should you. Rare examples are really fine china. Earlier Toby jugs and majolica figures are the ancestors of these dolls and belong in a good collection. Earthenware dolls with china doll hairdos are nice, too. I have one in highland Mary style made from native Iowa Clay. Some are on the bodies of mechanical dolls, like Autoperipatetikos featured in With Love from Tin Lizzie, and some are dressed as foreign dolls, Scottish highlanders and Breton fisher folk. More books with information on these dolls are in my A Bibliography of Toy and Doll Sources. All are beautiful, and make a great collection. One is tempted to make the request the little girl in the famous doll children’s story makes, “Mommy, buy me a china doll! Do, Mommy, Do!!”
Monday, March 18, 2013
918studio releases Throne fiction debut: Her Kind LECLAIRE, IOWA — March 18, 2013 — 918studio announced today the release of a debut novel from author, professor, and small press publisher, Robin Throne. Her Kind, a novel was inspired by Anne Sexton's famous poem of the same name, and is an epistolary novel of an unassuming matriarch who chronicles a family migration from England to the new England to Iowa, and the settlement of the lost river village of Parkhurst (now part of historic Le Claire). Throne was also named the recipient of the fourth David R. Collins' Literary Achievement Award March 16 at the Midwest Writing Center's Literary Banquet at the Outing Club in Davenport. Past recipients have included notable local authors, Sean Leary, Michael McCarty, and Connie Corcoran Wilson. Her Kind, a novel is available for purchase at the Midwest Writing Center, Artswork in Le Claire, The Book Rack in Davenport and Moline, Book World in Southpark Mall, and Prairie Lights in Iowa City. The Kindle version is available from Amazon.com. Past releases from 918studio have included Nancy Ann Schaefer's In Search of Lode (2012), The Legend of Tug Fest and other LeClaire Ghost Stories (2012), Jane VanVooren Rogers' How to avoid being and other paths to Triumph (2011), and Ellen Tsagaris' Sappho, I should have listened (2011). For more about 918studio, visit www.918studio.net
Sunday, March 17, 2013
Remember to wear the Green! Our thanks to Eugene Field House for listing Dr. E in their current newsletter. When we continue, we will discuss china heads as 19th century dolls. See our other blogs, too, for doll related stories, and our other doll blog, Dr. E's Doll Museum.
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Monday, March 4, 2013
Chronologically, we are on dolls of the early 19th century. The 19th century in general seems to be the heyday of doll making, and there are literally dozens of types of dolls made, and perhaps hundreds of manufacturers and makers. We will get back to them, and spend a significant amount of time on them. I like to digress now and then, to fill out the topic and peak readers' interests. I was ponderng over thew eekend after visiting another antique show and staying up late to read various antiques publications including The Collectors Journal, Fine Art, Treasures, and a few more. These are just my musings; I do not claim expertise, but am simply putting my thoughts on paper for you. Investors: These may be dealers, museums, private people, and at least one LLC I've come across. Dolls are an investment to them, more exclusively than to other collector types. They want only mint dolls, where possible, and high end dolls. If dealers, they may be highly specialized. Sentimental value is a commercial asset that makes the product marketable. This is a good way to make a living for good business people and those who love to study. It takes years of expertise to be a successful investor, and lots of hard lessons are learned along the way. It takes discipline and patience, just as play the stock market does. Investors will not buy a rare doll if it is in bad condition unless the restoration involved is economical and will enhance a doll's value. Investors have the pulse of the market; they survey what sells well, and stick with it. They are often good at auctions, at least those I know are. They like playing the game and are friendly and willing to share their knowledge. Dealers; they may be investors, or collectors selling items they are do not collect themselves. Some become dealers to learn the market and to learn where to buy better dolls. Dealers have to be good at marketing and at customer service. Like investors, they know a good deal, but to stay in business may depend on quick turn around. Storage may be a problem for them jsut as it is for other collectors. They may or may not have chattel mortgates taken out on their inventory, and may or may not have stores. Some dealers may also be certified appraisers. This involves taking classs and receiving credentials as an appraiser. You may see some of them on the Antiques Road Show. Many belong to the National Antique Doll Dealers Association. A few are also doll artists. Some dealers are professionals, others operate soley on eBay and Etsy or other mail order sites. Some do not collect dolls at all, but are very knowledgeable and belong to UFDC and other organizations. As always, Caveat Emptor, but it is safe to say most dealers in dolls appreciate them, and are in business to sell. They are williing to look for items for you and act as "pickers" and to trade shop talk. Without them, many would not be able to collect! Private collectors who are knowledgeable. This probably describes me. We collect not to sell, but to build a collection for our own enjoyment, or for our families. Some of us want to create a museum, or we use our dolls to write about. Others make dolls or paint and use dolls as models. We may trade or sell a doll to upgrade, we may give to charity to become involved in Scouts or other community service projects. Some of us are investors, but we love to scrounge yard sales as well as high end auctions. Many of us now specialize because the price of dolls has skyrocketed; we look for modern and collectible dolls as well, foreign dolls, celebrity dolls, paper dolls. Some of us collect "People," e.g., Dionne or Shirley Temple Dolls and memorabilia. A favorite chldhoo doll often starts us, and sentimental value is crucial, as is a doll's history. We don't care so much about condition if we can get a good price, and some of us like to restore our dolls. We may run a doll hospital, too, though this is also a course of study, still offerred by Lifetime Career Schools. Selling our dolls and profit are not our main goals, though know knowledge is power in our field. Private collectors who are interested in decor; These collectors love dolls, and like to decorate with them. They are not interested in makers or price guides, and may not even history. They enjoy the ambiance a bisque doll lends to an old chair, or like to buy dolls as souvenirs of travel. They are happy, may or may not be sentimentally attached, and place alimit on what they spend. Decor collectors are interested in aesthetics and beauty; they like modern porcelain dolls as much as antiques and/or reproductions because they are lovely to look at. Decor collectors can morph into knowledgeable collectors, and can even become dealers or investors after a while. Action Figure, Figurine, Stuffed Animal collectors; they are variations of the types of doll collectors out there. They don't often like to be called doll collectors. They are, but tread warily. Many men fall into this category. Also, museums often have collections of these objects cataloged in areas other than "dolls and toys." Toy collectors; they manage to have a few dolls among their treasures. May also be dealers and/or investors. Doll Artists/other artists; may collect found objects or doll parts to make their own creations. May also collect in their own right. Other artists may photograph or paint dolls. These include the folks of NIADA, ODACA, Crafters Guilds, Joseph Cornell, Lynn Pererra, Tasha Tudor, Hans Bellmer, David Levinthal and Jarvis Rockwell. Favorite Doll Shops of the Past: The Fallen Angel/Colorado: We used to drive through over the summer on our way to California. She had lots of art dolls and Santos, old and new, and Shackman porcelain dolls. My first Heebee Sheebee came from there. No longer open in 1985, the last time we drove through. Lolly's Doll Museum, Galena; closed about 20 years ago. Lolly Shaver, the owner, passed away. She sold dolls and costumes, etc., as well. My Dad says my house looks like her museum. I should be so lucky. Kneen's Doll Shop: Mrs. Kneen and her husband ran department stores, and then she had a small shop in rural Central Illinois. She also sponsored doll shows. She was a prominent member of her community and of the doll community. My mother and I liked her very much, and she featured dolls with provenance and dolls that came from around the world. I also found many Barbie collectibles, and a great crazy quilt top at her store. The Boardwalk, Larmie, WY: I don't know if they are open, but we used to race to get there by closing time. The elderly owner always let us in. There were souvenirs, antiques, and Native American Dolls of all types, including general store items, and a Horse supply shop. The Albuquerque Doll Shop: She had the most amazing dolls from around the world, collectible, old, foreign. She was located in Old Spanish Town int he 70s, but closed sometime after 1981. Indiana Antiques, San Jose, Ca. This was like going into a high end museum in 1973. Over the years, the inventory dwindled, but there were more antiques, French dolls, frozen Charlottes, and Peg O' My Heart dolls in original bottles than I had ever seen. I bought a doll that survived the 1906 earthquake from them, among others. The Magic Kingdom Toy Shop and King Norman's Toys: They were in San Jose and other parts of CA. Modern dolls, but great collectible dolls, and dolls we did not have in The Midwest. Some of the dolls I've never seen again. Marionette Doll Shop and Doll Hosptial; changed locations in and around El Paseo Saratoga in San Jose. She had amazing foreign dolls, and antiques. There was a great earthenware head, and one made from a gourd. My first Floradora came from there. Dolly Dear Doll Hospital, Iowa: Run by Mrs. Rossi; her collection was magnificent, and took up her living room. She had every Joel Ellis, every French Bisque, every Schoenhut you can imagine. I bought my first Sherman Smith from her. Mrs. Rossie was a wonderful person, but a bit of a doll snob. She didn't think much of Mr. Smith's dolls at all. :) The New York Doll Hospital: run by the Late Irving Chais and hsi family. Spelling is not perfect, but his doll hospital was nearly so, and featured in Carl Fox's 1970s photo essay, The Doll. Ms. Lenon Hoyte, of Aunt Len's Doll Museum, took her dolls there to be repaired. Her collection was featured in Who won Second Place in Omaha and in the 1970 Xmas edition of Life. India Imports, The Importer, Santa Cruz Imports, all in San Jose. There are many more I could add here. They fueled my desire to collect and inspired my love of dolls. There was Hobby City in Anaheim, Motts' Miniature Museum in Knott's Berry Farm, Buena Park; Glick's Antiques and Doll Musem in Galena, Hobby City and the Hobby City Doll Museum, Anaheim, The small doll museum in San Juan Bautista, part of an antique shop, The Big D Doll Shop and museum, Kalona, IA; Anns Antiques, Illinois and Iowa, Dolls and Doodads, Maquoqueta, The Mary Merrit Doll Musem, The Rosalie Whyel Museum of Doll Art, and the Enchanted World Doll Museum, South Dakota, Estes Park Doll Museum, and many, many more. Of course, there is Emma Clear's legendary Humpty Dumpty Doll Hospital. May they live on in our memories, along with the wonderful people who have owned them.