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Sunday, June 30, 2013

History and Chronology Continued: Paper Dolls and The Paper Collector

Before I start, let me note that this is the best site I've found for paper dolls and their history, plus it has lavish illustrations; The Paper Collector. It is a blog, but I like beginning research with blogs; I find most are written by people who are passionate and who care. This one is no exception. Paper has existed for centuries, and was probably invented by the Chinese. Though, the Ancient Egyptians had papyrus, and others wrote on vellum. Rare medieval manuscripts and illuminations were painted by hand in monasteries by talented monks; the famous tome of these is The Book of Kells, represented in artwork done for Colleen Moore's Fairy Castle. Books and paper were rare and prized in Europe. Wealthy people posed with their libraries, showing that the more books they owned, the wealthier they were. The book A Gentle Madness describes famous book collectors, all wealthy, who had "rock star" status. Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz, a 17th century Mexican scholar, mathematician, poet and writer who was also a child prodigy and a nun, kept a library of 2500 books and manuscripts in her cell. She is often painted with them. For her talent and genius, she was famous in both Spain and Mexico, and was the granddaughter of the viceroy of Mexico. Early manuscripts that have survived by Cervantes, Byron, Keats, Wordsworth, and other 15th-19th century writers show that they conserved paper, saved old manuscripts, wrote on scratch paper, and wrote all over the page, turning it upside down, writing on margins, etc. Paper was collected and sold at rag and bone shops, and would not be thrown out. Our modern day recycling hearkens back to this era. In Japan, origami has long been a treasured art. Figures of paper have often represented the souls of the departed and were used in ceremonies where they were thrown into water at the end. Paper figures are burned in similar rites in Malaysia. Paper scrolls play a role in the Japanese Milky Way festival, as described by Rumer Godden in her story of two Japanese dolls, Miss Happiness and Miss Flower. There is a paper doll in love with a lead soldier in Hans Christian Andersen's "The Steadfast Tin Soldier." As we know them, paper dolls were created in the 18th century, more as amusements for adults than children. Indeed, Mary Hillier and Helen Young have written that 19th century jointed pantins originated in France. Supposedly, a law was written prohibiting them, lest pregnant women give birth to deformed children because they played too much with the paper dolls themselves. These jumping jacks still exist. Shackman reproduced the original Polichinelle varieties, but they are also made in wood. Often, they come from German or Italy. I have a rare, X-raged one done in metal involving a couple with 1920s style hairdos. This is a family blog; I'll leave the rest to your imagination. Paper dolls were often hand tinted, and represented fashions of the day. There are fashion plates made of ivory, very thin, where images of hats and wigs are laid over a head to try out the latest styles. There are examples of these in the Cincinnati Museum of Art. The books of foremost authority R. Lane Herron also feature great articles on paper dolls, as do the books of Janet Pagter John and Clara Hallard Fawcett. Mr. Herron was the first authority to write on and publish about, paper dolls. By the time The History of Little Fanny and The History of Little Henry came around, lithography was being used in books and paper, and paper dolls could now be lithographed and mass produced. Fine examples exist from the 1820s to 1890s. Paper dolls, often printed on both sides, where used to advertised products, so that Lion Coffee and other companies used them as others did trade cards. There is also as set featuring Queen Isabella and other European queens that dates from the 1892 Columbian Exhibition. There will be more on the handmade varieties that abound, some in 3-D, as well as a word on paper toys and printables, as well as paper doll houses. For those who crave more, I recommend Marilyn Waters The Toy Maker site, Jim's Mini Printables and Marilee's Paper Doll Page.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Dr. E's Doll Museum Blog: Yves St. Laurent

Dr. E's Doll Museum Blog: Yves St. Laurent:$$ These are paper doll...

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Wax Dolls, back to the 19th Century and our Chronology

Mary Hillier, Helen Young, Janet P. Johl, and other writers have observed that wax dolls may date to antiquity, though it is doubtful they could survive in the hot Egyptian climate. Our earliest examples tend to be 17th century, but they were popular in the 18th especially as wax works, church figures, and doll house dolls. Beeswax has been used for over a century in Germany to make figures, toys and elaborate candles. Wax headed German angels are classic ornaments, and those dressed in colorful velvet with gilt wings are collectibles in their own right. My oldest wax baby has tiny black glass beads for eyes. She, and the wax life sized Christ child we own date from around the 18th century. The Museum owns a wax devotional doll that was once part of the Mary Merritt collection. We have a poured wax Bru-type of unknown age, no marks. There are some wax slit heads, and pumpkin heads, and bonnet heads. Vargas made lifelike elderly couples in wax in Mexico. These are modeled over plaster and usually come in handmade chairs. They appear in different sizes, from about 9 inches to 18 ins. Also from Mexico are folk dolls, more like Crèche figures. One of these was made by an elderly man in the late sixties. Her clothes are wax dipped cloth. There are also wax doll heads and some of metal dipped in wax. Brigitte Deval has made porcelain dolls dipped in wax, too. There were wax funerary portraits perhaps as early as the 16th century. Waxworks, like those by Mme. Tussaud were popular in the 17th and 18th centuries. Mme. T kept her head in The French Revolution by modeling the severed heads of the victims of Mlle. Guillotine. Alas, at least one was a childhood friend of hers. Wax museums still exist, and so do horror movies about them like House of Wax. Norah Lofts wrote the suspense novel The Little Wax Doll. Voodoo dolls are often wax, and one is features in Yvette Mimieux's Darkness at Noon, a made for TV film. Wax dolls were luxury 1tems in the 19th century. Nellie Olsen’s doll in Wilder's On the Banks of Plum Creek awes Laura completely. The Bronte girls supposedly played with wax dolls, which makes one wonder how poor they may have actually been. Key makers were Pierotti and Montanari, families in England who thrived in the 19th century. They had a method for inserting individual hairs in their dolls; head, and used lovely glass eyes. There are many famous portrait dolls in wax of Queen Victoria and her family. The Pierotti and Montanari families may likely have come from Mexico, and may have made life sized figures as well. Lewis Sorensen, well known NIADA artist, repaired wax dolls and also made the figures for the Ripley's Believe it or Not Museums in the sixties. For more on his work, read his Scrapbook and articles and books by our friend, R. Lane Herron, who knew Mr. Sorensen. For more on the 19th century and earlier, read Mary Hillier's book on wax doll, on Amazon or in my bibliography. Twentieth century artists include Bobbi Langkau, who let her sons kick around wax doll prototypes to test doll strength, Gladys McDowell, Sheila Wallace, and Paul Crees. Helen Young also writes about wax dolls, and she notes that they can be made from candles and crayons, something I used to do often. Also, figurative candles like the old Xmas and Halloween examples of the fifties, and current examples sold even at Wal-Mart and dollar stores make good additions as wax dolls to a doll collection. Shackman used to make a wax baby, and there are wax Kewpies, too. These dolls are still prey to extremes of temperatures, but are sturdier than you think. They can be repaired by expert artists. The Holub Doll Hospital series also features a wax doll. I store mine upstairs, out of sunlight. I check them over and avoid letting anyone touch them. Fingerprints and long nails are deadly. The prototype Bye Lo baby was wax; there are only a few models, and I think one was in the Merritt collection. Lolly's Doll Museum, formerly in Galena, had some nice examples. When I was a child first collecting, wax dolls by these and makers like Charles Marsh, Peck, and others, abounded in doll collections. Now, many veteran collectors have not seen or heard of them.

Dr. E's Doll Museum Blog: Estate Sale of Dean Betsey Brodahl A Call for Doll...

Dr. E's Doll Museum Blog: Estate Sale of Dean Betsey Brodahl A Call for Doll...: Anyone who attended this sale May 11, 2013 at Lincoln, NE, may have bought some of the dolls that were part of this collection. The sale ...