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Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Thursday, June 9, 2016

From Theriault's, about a Wonderful Collection

Dear Friends, 

I remember the first time I met Ursula Brecht. Some 17 years ago in Munich I visited her and her late husband as I had heard legends and stories of what was perhaps Europe’s greatest private collection. In fact, it was Jurgen and Marianne Cieslik, the great German doll researchers, who had told me years ago before this meeting that "this is the most important private collection in Germany.” 

It was so long ago, in fact, that at the time of our first visit, Mrs. Brecht told me about her love of coffee from a small American company called “Starbucks” and despaired that it was impossible to get Starbucks coffee in Germany. Times have certainly changed in that regard. But the Brecht collection remained intact and beautifully preserved in her splendid Munich home. 

As she showed me around her home so many years ago, I recall thinking that if any one private collection in Europe could be considered a museum, this was it. As their main home was a few hours north, in Essen, the Munich residence served as a “getaway” for the Brecht family in which to enjoy their favorite city and to house the extraordinary collection gathered over four decades of passionate hunting. The dolls and automata were truly a sight to behold. 

Over the years we kept in touch. And given her years of writing books, publishing calendars, and being a leading figure in the world of dolls in Europe, I valued so much her thoughts and comments on our auctions and the way we presented dolls in our catalogs. It was a friendship after that first visit that was mostly through letters, emails, and cards being exchanged. 

In December she contacted me in a different way. Not the usual Christmas greeting but to tell me that the time had come. Being well into her 80’s, she said, the trip to Munich to spend weekends with her dolls had become less frequent and more difficult. She felt it was time to see them on to their next homes. As was always the plan, she wanted to witness and know firsthand that they would be cared for, loved, and brought to good homes across the world. 

As I stepped back into her Munich home for the first time since the 1990’s, everything was exactly the same. Every imaginable French bébés, automata, French fashions, rare mignonettes, early wood dolls and more were displayed in a wondrous fashion as if in a museum. As well, her respect for original costumes finds most pieces in fine outfits that have been painstakingly preserved. The dolls served not only as a centerpiece of her personal surroundings, but also, as the models for her numerous books and calendars that were a mainstay of European collectors in the 1980’s. 

That is why come July 26th in Washington DC, Theriault’s will present what will easily be considered the greatest auction since The Lucy Morgan Collection was offered some 11 years ago. Held at the historic and grand Mayflower Hotel, this day will stand as a tribute to one of the truly great European pioneer collectors of the 20th century. 

In the conclusion to her 1983 book, Precious Dolls, Ursula Brecht wrote about the importance of play in our grown-up worlds. She wrote "Play is a dream, a fantasy, a way to lose oneself...Play is not restricted by age. The blissful state a child sinks into can be experienced by grown-ups...who have kept a little of the child within themselves." And she built a collection, a private world, which captures this vision. 

I look forward to welcoming you to the exhibition and auction of the Ursula Brecht collection of antique dolls. 

Happy Collecting, 

Stuart Holbrook

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Doll Museum: Mr. James Patterson, Toys R Us, and Nursery Rhymes...

Doll Museum: Mr. James Patterson, Toys R Us, and Nursery Rhymes...: Today on "Sunday Morning", CBS, author James Patterson was profiled.  I have been addicted to his books for some time, and as a wr...

Mr. James Patterson, Toys R Us, and Nursery Rhymes; We Salute a Terrific Author!

Today on "Sunday Morning", CBS, author James Patterson was profiled.  I have been addicted to his books for some time, and as a writer myself, applaud and admire how prolific and consistently good he is.  I admit to being addicted to the Dr. Alex Cross mysteries and to The Women's Murder Club.  Many of the Cross novels have titles borrowed from nursery rhymes, including "Along Came A Spider" and "Mary, Mary."  Today's profile revealed that he was an ad man behind the Toy R Us famous campaign, " I don't want to grow up! I'm a Toys R Us Kid . . ."  From time to time, I've seen dolls and toys appear as props in his novels, but this tidbit was icing on the Easy Bake Oven cake for me!  Also, he was his class valedictorian, and wrote stories when he held an early job that proved a challenge.  Same as me! Not that I could ever have his talent, and I was 8th in my class of 500, but Mr. Patterson shares that talent Dickens and King have; he draws in his readers, and makes you feel as if you are there with him,  a good friend sharing confidences.  He also suffered great loss and personal tragedy, and he went on.  This is something I am trying to do in light of a difficult couple of years of family illnesses, emergencies, and tragedies, along with the loss of my other, aunt, and many other relatives and good friends.  But, like Mr. Patterson, my late mother would have urged us that life goes on.  Patterson is a versatile, vibrant author.  He inspires me, both by his life example and by his talent, and for that, we at the museum have to thank him!

James Patterson, Public Domain Image

Public Domain Image

The Women's Murder Club, Public Domain Image

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Press Release Soirée from May 14th Auction; Thanks to Theriault's for Sharing!

            Theriault’s antique doll auction in Las Vegas on May 14 was titled “Soirée”, a play on the French word for an evening gala and a nod toward the extraordinary musical automata that were featured. But the auction was actually an entire day of auction treasures that had fascinated bidders eagerly competing the entire time.  Highlighted was the estate collection of Ron and Mary Ellen Connors of Rogers, Arkansas, whose interests had clustered around musical automata, music boxes, and the glorious 19th century bisque bébés of Emile Jumeau.


            Automata and Jumeau came together in many of the most important pieces, notably a grand-sized automaton by Gustav Vichy known as “Bébé Triste with Toy Theatre and Pup in Basket.”  Vichy’s use of the rare “triste” model by Jumeau was a clue  to the luxury quality of the piece , which featured a tumbling acrobat in the theatre, a pup with waving paw in the basket, and a bisque child delighted by all the toy treasures she was holding.  A splendid 30” tall, no other example is known to exist; she sold for $44,800.  Other automata included Vichy’s “organ Grinder with Dancing Doll” topping at $22,00, Lambert’s “The Spanish Mandolin Player” at $20,100, a “Troubadour Playing the Mandolin” by Roullet et Decamps for $8700, and Lambert’s “The Ballerina” for $11,500; 25 musical automat, in all, were sold to enthusiastic bidders.


            Among the beautiful dolls of Emile Jumeau that were presented at the auction were the very rare E.J.A. which was made by the firm for one or two years only, circa 1879; it soared to $34,700.  A very rare size 20 Bebe Jumeau, the largest model made and likely for exhibition purposes only, topped at $33,400, selling to a private collector who had bid against Mr. Connor some 15 years ago when the doll was originally presented at a Theriault’s auction.  “I’ve dreamt about this doll forever, it seems”, she said, joyfully.  Other rare Jumeau bébés include a lady-bodied tete model with her original elaborate Spanish costume and wooden shipping box, topping at $10,000; a tete model in outstanding original couturier Asian costume and headdress at $9000; a gorgeous and all-original Bebe Jumeau, size 16, with original chemise, wig and box at $15,000, a “Paris Bebe” at $7700, and a tiny 8” bébé with rare “F” markings at $6000.  More than 50 gorgeous examples of the Jumeau dols were presented at the auction, with prices especially strong.


            The auction also featured the collection of the late Carolyn Guise of Dayton, Ohio.  During the heyday of her collecting years, Mrs. Guise lived near Pawtucket, Rhode Island, the hometown of the revered American cloth dolls by Martha Chase.  The seeking and acquiring of rare Chase dolls became a preoccupation of the discerning collector, whose collection included nearly two dozen examples, each different.  Especially notable was a brown-haired lady with rare double chignons, presented in their original box, which sold for $4800; another brown-haired lady with are double spit curls at the sides of her forehead went to $3900; “Little Nell” lady topped at $1700, while another brown-haired lady with classic chignon and original box realized $1900.  A large black cloth “Mammy” doll sold for $5500; while a rare 12 “black-complexioned child was $6000.  The bald-headed gentleman known as “Mr. Micawber” topped at $5200, while a younger handsome lad with stylish side-parted hair soared to $7000.  All prices reflect a 12% buyer’s premium.

            Theriault’s Marquis cataloged doll auctions are considered “events’ in the doll world, featuring museum-quality displays, pre-auction lectures by noted authorities, and even the signature hot fudge sundae breaks.  For those who cannot attend, absentee bidding is encouraged including written bids, live telephone bidding

The 21st Century Continued: The Shirley Temple Forever Stamp

With the World Stamp Show concluding June 4th, I thought this would be a great time to talk about the new stamp honoring Shirley Temple. For those of us who collect both stamps and dolls, this is a perfect opportunity.

Some of Shirley's Dolls.  Knitted doll, 2d from left, is now mine.  Photo, courtesy Theriault's

From the USPS, Below:

Shirley Temple Black

One of the most beloved child stars in film history, Shirley Temple Black (1928–2014) went from Hollywood actor to distinguished diplomat in a life filled with adventure, fame, and service to her country. As a pint-sized star, she cheered Americans during the last years of the Depression. A talented performer, she was the number one box office draw for four years in a row and was awarded the first-ever juvenile Oscar.

The stamp shows a very attractive portrait of the young Shirley, the dimpled little girl so many have grown to love.  I was fortunate enough to win one of her dolls at the Theriault's auction last year; I was also fortunate to have seen them when they were first displayed at Stanford Children's Hospital, Palo Alto, CA.  They were there nearly 20 years.  I have photos of them from when I was 11, and later, when I was 30.  I also was able to meet her at a book signing of her autobiography, "Child Star." 

In my own collection are numerous Shirley dolls, paper dolls, mugs, pins, teddy bears, and pictures.  I have the "Photo Play" article that featured the installation of her doll display at Stanford, and I have her films and many memories.  My mother and aunt loved her, and were interested in her career for some time. 

She was everyone's sweetheart, and like this stamp, she is "forever."

Ruby Lane Celebrates World Doll Day | Ruby Lane Blog

Ruby Lane Celebrates World Doll Day | Ruby Lane Blog

Wednesday, June 1, 2016