Monday, January 27, 2014
The Chronology Continues; The 19th into the 20th Century
We continue our timeline with some observations about the end of the 19th century and the types of dolls being made at the turn of the century. Between 1897 and 1908, there were at least three major books about dolls and doll collecting. G. Stanley Hall, a sociologist, published A Study of Dolls, which can be downloaded today for free on Google Books. As an aside, 1897 was a great year for me; Dracula was published, and my Grandpa Steve, who contributed many dolls so The Museum, was born. In 1908 Laura Starr published The Doll Book, available on Kindle and free on Google Books. The same year, Emily Jackson published Toys of Bygone Days. All three are invaluable to collectors interested in doll and toy history. Hall talks about the roles doll play in children's lives, because he surveyed around 600 children from all economic strata, and asked them questions about doll materials, doll play, types of dolls, number of dolls owned, etc. We learn that even in 1897, dolls were important in children's lives and development, but also that long before The UFDC or any other doll clubs, there were doll collectors. Starr took a year to travel the world to collect dolls. Puppentour has nothing over her, wonderful though the tour is! Starr talked about dolls in every aspect of life and society. Her work should be valuable even today to anthropologists. She talks about dolls in museums that existed over 100 years ago, including examples in Naples and collections by actress Ellen Terry and other royalty and celebrities. Starr discusses Queen Victoria's collection in detail, as well as Queen Whilemina's. She writes about the Japanese doll festivals and Native American Dolls and Katchinas in great detail. These types of dolls are often neglected in books about antique dolls. Were it not for Starr, we would not know of these collections and collectors. She also discusses Native peoples and cultures who no longer exist; we only have her descriptions of their dolls. Jackson covers toys and dolls from prehistory to 1908. Her section on puppetry and mechanical toys has yet to be rivaled. By the end of the 19th century into the mid 1920s, dolls were catching the attention of artists and becoming decorative objects. Rainier Marie Rilke wrote his essay "Dolls" and Max von Boehn wrote Dolls and Puppets. Armand Marseilles, Kestner, Simon and Halbig, and the SFBJ were producing dolls in Europe. Kathe Kruse had begun to make dolls, too. Schoenhut was doing great business in the US and was already being collected. Metal dolls were very popular and made in large quantities. Composition and celebrity dolls were becoming popular, and the quest to find an unbreakable dolls continued. Old favorites like penny dolls and low brow china heads were still around. The dolls as decorative object was very popular. Boudoir dolls and half dolls abounded, and famous makers like Goebel and Lenci created them. Early movies like the Nick and Nora Charles series sometimes features a bed doll or two. Dolls as antiques were gaining in popularity. Kewpie was born in 1913, and Raggedy Ann in 1918. Charlie Chaplin and Jackie Coogan were created as dolls; so was Mary Pickford, Clara Bow, and Rudolph Valentino. There were terrific paper dolls like Lettie Lane and soon, Dolly Dingle. Others appeared in The Funny Papers. Mamma dolls and drink and wet dolls were reinvented and hit the doll shelves, and friendship dolls were being exchanged with Japan. Romantic doll lore about Meissen heads, Court Dolls, Iron Maidens, and Parian dolls were being spun, and many stuck. Madame Alexander began business in 1923. Albert Marque created unwittingly the most expensive doll perhaps ever made, at least one meant to be originally a toy. People travelled more and more and souvenir dolls became popular items to bring home from trips, especially costume dolls, dolls made from shells, cloth dolls, and folk dolls of all materials. Even in Lolita, written about 20 years or so after The Flapper Era, mentions a small souvenir Indian Doll. The Modern Era was born. For those who would read more, I recommend The Twentieth Century and More Twentieth Century doll books by Johanna Gast Anderton, and Pat Smith's early Modern Dolls pictorial series, compiled during the 70s. Here are some new photos from my Hinges and Hearts Exhibit on metal dolls, and from an estate doll collection I was lucky enough to view. Happy New Year!