Wednesday, May 28, 2014
Miss Charlotte Bronte meets Miss Barbara Pym: Maya Angelou,: We salute another excellent woman, Maya Angelou, and mourn her passing. I studied many a work by her, and consider her a compatriot, Eonia ...
Monday, May 19, 2014
Dr. E's Doll Museum Blog: Dolls at The Monastiraki: The Monastiraki Flea Market I developed a taste for old dolls, even antiques, when I was five years old. I learned to love Greek Dolls whe...
Monday, May 12, 2014
Dr. E's Doll Museum Blog: More Places to hear from us!: If you love doll photos and information, visit us on our Facebook page, Dr. E's Doll Museum. I've shared dozens of new albums and ph...
Sunday, May 11, 2014
Dolls have told the story of humanity since the dawn of time. Early dolls were probably religious figures and were made from clay, bone, stone, fur, or wood. The earliest rag doll we know of came from Egypt, and is over 2000 years old. she now lives in The British Museum. Dolls that have survived from the Stone Age are the oldest we know of; these are the Venus or Goddess figures, and date between 20,000 and 40,000 years old. From Babylon comes a fragment of an alabaster doll with movable arms. Other ancient dolls come from Egypt, Rome, Greece, and Asia. Wooden paddle dolls painted with various designs and with "hair" made of strings of clay or wooden beads, come from Egyptian graves dating back to 2000 BC. It used to be taken for granted that these were dolls. The designs and hieroglyphics on them have made some archaeologists think again. My theory is that the messages on the doll may have been educational, something like our modern board books, or the colonial hornbooks that taught children. Egyptian tombs of wealthy families have included pottery dolls and the aforementioned rag doll, as well as dolls of bone. Ushabti abound in tombs, and some of these are made of precious metals. Some dolls placed in graves may have been favorite possessions, but others are talismans, or like the Ushabti, they took the place of human beings once sacrificed and buried with the royal personage to serve him/her in the next world. The little doll figures took the humans' places, and were said to rise in The Afterworld to serve their masters. The same theory is behind the life sized soldiers in the Chinese emperor's tomb. Dolls have been found by archeologists buried in Greek and Roman children's graves. Girls from Greece and Rome dedicated their wooden dolls to goddesses like Diana after when they were to be married. Sappho, the great poet, left a fragment of verse where she dedicated her doll to Aphrodite, and asked the Goddess not to despise her doll's little purple kerchief. In the Middle Ages and after, Europe was the hub for doll manufacturing. There are woodcuts dating from the late 1400s that show Dollmakers at work. . Primarily made of wood, often with no legs, these stump dolls from 16th and 17th century England are few in number today. In her books, Antonia Fraser shows one that belonged to Alycia Boleyn, niece of Anne Boleyn, tragic second queen of Henry VIII and mother of Elizabeth I. She shows another wooden doll dating from the late 16th century that is all carved. Germany produced many peg wooden dolls, and wooden dolls elaborately dressed were made for the 17th English Bartholomew Faire and were called Bartholomew Babies. English Queen Anne and Georgian dolls were made during the late and very early 19th centuries. By the 1800s, composition , a mixture of pulped wood or paper and glue was used to make doll heads and bodies. A variation of this is papier mache, that uses more shredded paper than sawdust. Molded under pressure, composition cracked, and papier mache could be crushed, but the dolls created were durable dolls that could be mass produced. Wax dolls were popular in the 17th and 18th centuries, maybe because waxwork attractions like those of Mme. Tussaud were wildly popular, too. Germany was a major manufacturing center for wax dolls, but so was The Netherlands. Some of the most distinctive wax dolls were created in England between 1850 and 1930 by families that came from Mexico and Italy. A famous female anatomist and sculptor named Morendi was making lifelike models for anatomical study during this time. In skill, she rivaled Mme. Tussaud herself. One of the first baby dolls was made of wax, as were many Santos and church figures. I have one of these 18th century wax dolls in my collection. Porcelain clay was used to make dolls by around 1840, though glazed china or porcelain figurines date to the 17th century. Some of these are made of glazed terracotta clay, not white kaolin porcelain. True white porcelain dates to Ancient China and Japan, though it was not always used for dolls or figurines. The oldest ceramic figure in existence is a Czech Venus figure from about 25,000 B.C. became popular at the beginning of the 19th century. China is glazed, but bisque is unglazed. Germany, France, and Denmark made china heads for dolls in the 1840s. There may have been one billion of them made in Germany alone. French and German bisque dolls were popular during the 19th and early 30th century. Bisque collectors dolls, both artist and reproduction, have enjoyed a Renaissance since the 1940s. They were very plentiful during the late 80s and 90s. The French "bebe" was popular in the 1880s. French Fashion dolls representing adult women were popular between about 1850 and 1880. German bisque dolls became popular, though German companies first made heads and parts for French manufacturers. Some were not as expensive as German dolls, but some German dolls were made for the French market. . Kamner & Reinhardt made one of the first bisque character doll in the 1900s, starting a trend of creating realistic dolls. Rag and cloth dolls were often made at home, and have survived since 2000 B.C., though more dolls made of cloth, fur, and skin probably existed, but did not survive in damp climates. After the Civil War in the 1860, American doll makers began to create, including Izannah Walker, Greiner, Arnold Print Works, Franklin Darrow, Joel Ellis, and others.. Celluloid was actually invented in New Jersey in the late 1860s and was used to manufacture dolls until the mid-1950s and later. Some celluloid dolls are reproduced today by Petitcolin in France. German, French, American, and Japanese factories made them. After World War II, hard plastic dolls, then vinyl dolls, were manufactured. In the early 1970s, Pat Smith wrote the first of her series of books on Modern Dolls, and many vinyl and hard plastic dolls became as popular as many antiques, especially those by Madame Alexander and Vogue. Paper dolls have existed since ancient times, as have puppets and some automata. Folk dolls have always represented the arts of those who made them, and costume dolls often show us how lost civilizations dressed. Today, there are virtual dolls, paper dolls, computer shipped animatronic dolls, foreign dolls, animals dolls, you name it. Collectors for all of these and more abound, and the love affair continues.
Thursday, May 1, 2014
In the late Victorian era, childhood was sentimentalized and given special attention. Dolls, always reflections of their makers and their societies, began to represent little girls, and baby dolls were more common from the 1850s on. Maezel, who created the metronome, soon created the mechanism for the “mamma” doll, so that toys too became “juvenelized. “ Poor children were given another glance due to poems by The Romantics, and the growing body of sentimental literature written for children, as well as by other adult poets like Burnett, Dickens, Stowe, Kate Douglas Wiggins, E. Nesbit, Kate Douglas Wiggins, Eugene Field, and others. Lithographs of children were sweet and idealized, and poor, unfortunate children were given romantic deaths and sent straight to heaven, as in Andersen’s “The Little Match Girl” and to a certain extent, Little Eva in Uncle Tom’s Cabin and Carol in The Birds’ Christmas Carol. Sara’s life reflected contemporary belief in charity towards others, which Sara certainly practiced while she was wealthy, and even when she was poor, towards Ann and Melchisedec. Sara was more mature for her years and her time. She is a composite of Burnett’s own experiences [one is reminded of Joyce and his Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man], and early reform movements to improve the lives of children that didn’t involve class preconceptions or prejudices, work that perhaps began with reform of schools like that the Brontë girls attended and Dickens’ literary children, e.g., Tiny Tim. The original story of Sara Crewe was written as a serialized novel in 1888 called Sara Crew or what Happened at Miss Minchin’s Boarding School, published by St. Nicholas Magazine, a periodical popular with children like Helen Keller who themselves later became famous writers. The Book A Little Princess was published in 1905. One of the most famous and appealing editions was illustrated by Tasha Tudor, who was a friend of Rumer Godden and also illustrated The Dolls House. Burnett also wrote a play, The Little Princess, and The Little Un-Fairy Princess, which seem to the basis of the Shirley Temple films. Since the book was published, there have been numerous film, dramatic, and TV adaptations, as well as various editions of the book. ALP, according to one source, may have been inspired by Bronte’s unfinished Emma, but there are also shades of Jane Eyre and Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Little Match Girl” in the story. As with British writer Rumer Godden, “Burnett did not begin her writing career as a children’s author, yet she seems to have stumbled onto a formula for writing for children that allowed her to be successful” (Resler 15). Some critics have argued that children’s literature gives Burnett “more reign” to show her skills as a story teller (Bixler 54 cited in Resler 15), while others claim children’s literature is less taxing for Burnett to write (Gerzina 119). A. How cruel to take Last Doll, and why not take Emily? Resler notes Sara cannot keep LD because Crew had not paid her bill before his death. “The inclusion and loss of the Last Doll as a character magnifies the importance placed on Sara’s doll Emily and the connection she has with her before and after her father’s death” (Resler 49).