Wednesday, December 28, 2016

A Tribute to Pat Vaillancourt

Our good friend, noted doll dealer, collector, and advertiser in ADC, Patricia Vaillancourt, passed away just before Christmas.  Pat told me that she had been collecting dolls since age 10, and she was the co-creator of the popular Facebook group, Antique Dolls by Dolls Antique.  Pat truly loved the doll world, and was charming, friendly, quick witted, and knowledgeable.  I will miss her very much, and she will live for me again each time I flip through the pages of Antique Doll Collector Magazine.
The c. 1860 rubber doll shown here used to be in Pat's collection, and I bought it from her some years ago.  I love her so much, that I used her photo on one of my own books on dolls.  RIP, Pat, and say hello to our other good friends who preceded you to doll heaven, including Mary Hillier, and John Axe.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Merry Christmas and Happy Chanukah! A Peaceful 2017

We wish everyone a Happy Holiday Season, and a Safe, Happy New Year!  Love from all of us at Antique Doll Collector Magazine, and of course, from the Dolls!!

Courtesy, Antique Doll Collector Magazine, and K and D Kaonis

Saturday, December 17, 2016

January Mini Sneak Peek 2017 Antique Doll Collector Magazine

January  Mini  Sneak Peek 2017 Antique Doll Collector Magazine

Jan. 2017 Cover
This issue of ADC promise to start the New Year off with a Bang!  First, Samy Odin will auction his legendary collection from Musée de la Poupée through Theriault’s, January 7, 2017.

We feature an amazing article on the Madame Alexander First Ladies; who can resist those wonderful gowns! For further research through Jackie Kennedy, we suggest  Caroline Kennedy’s First Ladies Dress Up book.

A new column on collectibles will discuss the relationship between antique dolls and modern collectors doll.  Even our contemporary dolls are just a generation away from their antique sisters.

There is an intriguing article on 1920s “Dolls of Desperation” and a tour of a fantastic museum.


Our usual listings of top advertisers and doll shows is also featured. For more, got to our website for Antique DOLL Collector Magazine and sign up for our monthly Sneak Peek!

 Image result for madame alexander first lady doll collection public domain
Madame Alexander First Lady Jane Pierce, Public Domain Image

Sunday, December 4, 2016

December: An Interview with Josephine Smith, Doll Collector from Down Under

Below is our December interview with Josephine Smith, doll collector, artist, seamstress, master gardener, and all around Renaissance woman!

1. When did you start collecting?

 I actually started collecting in around 1995. over a period of several months I bought 3 home art dolls. very pretty to look at but of no commercial value I guess. I added these to a Maori doll given to me after I visited a friend in N.Z.

I also have my first and one of only 2 of my childhood dolls. She is 24"tall and is a papier mache walking doll. Her original hair is a reddish mohair , as are her eye lashes. ( One of them anyway. The other is missing).

Lack of finances prevented me from buying any more dolls until after I collected my meager superannuation payout and a small inheritance from my parents.   Then about 2013,  I started collecting in earnest .

The first 2 dolls are rare  Australian wooden Carter dolls from the 1970s.

2, Have your tastes changed?

 Yes.  I started off only collecting antique German and French dolls, but later realized that dolls from the 30's through to the 50's are also beautiful dolls which I enjoy collecting.

Beautiful Felted Diorama Jo helped to create

3. What are your favorite dolls?

 My favorite dolls? That is hard, as I think all dolls are beautiful, but as mentioned before, I love the old antique dolls, especially porcelain / bisque  and composition. Within that group, I especially love to collect the small dolls from a few inches tall, up to about 13 inches. I have one little 7"A.M.390 that came with a head injury and no lower legs or feet. She was in original clothes. I have kept them, but made her new ones in the same style. It was a challenge making her legs and feet ,but I am quite proud of the end result as she can stand by herself .Also my repair abilities are self taught. I also love to collect baby dolls.  I forgot to mention that I also love the modern reborn dolls and would love to have a go at making one some time.

On the left is my papier mache walking doll. She has no markings but have been told she is also Australian. I have had her for 62 years.  Recently I made her new fingers on one hand and a new  thumb on the other. The girl next to her is also paper mache. Her head is marked 301 Paris. Neck  10 and her shoulder is stamped 4222.She has sleep glass eyes and tin lids. Her hair is stuck directly to her head and is made of imitation raffia.

4. What do you look for in a doll?

Characteristics that draw me to a doll are the facial expression, especially the eyes.
I also like a nice,  clear complexion  and well formed hands and fingers. Clothes also add to the overall picture, but if they are not dressed it doesn't matter

This is my  little 7"A.M. 390 that I made new feet and legs for

This is my first repair. She is an A. M. 390.
 I found the beautiful purple silk fabric that I made her outfit from ,in an op shop. ( thrift shop

5. Do you sew for your dolls?

 Yes , I do sew for my dolls. I started doing so when I was about 10. I  used to love designing clothes,  making the pattern , and then the clothes . I still do it when I have to, but these days I do have books and magazines with patterns included. I have also taught myself to make shoes.
Recently I purchased  a lovely Belgium  composition doll that was naked, also a French composition that was also naked, and I made them complete outfits. If I didn't make the underclothes first; they probably wouldn't get any. The very first doll I repaired and dressed was a lovely A.M .390. I bought her in an antique shop in pieces. I was asked if ,when I finish, could I please take a photo so that it could be shown to the 90 year old lady who previously owned her.  Apparently she was delighted with the end result.

She is a lovely James Taft doll from 1905. She is wearing a lovely home made smocked frock

6. What are you looking for?

 I am not looking for anything in particular , but one day I would  love to be able to afford a Jumeau.


Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Anatomy of a Doll Show by our Guest Blogger, Sandra Birkett Kean Bullock

My definition of a show is basically a twice a year mass business venture that usually takes six months to plan for a one day to set up, only for it to close 6 hours after opening the next day.  Average Promoter recovery time…one week.       

With 10 shows now under my belt, I initially believed that in order to promote a show, one only needed to love the product.  How dumb I was!  As many promoters may relate, what can go wrong often does.  Many times we attempt to do the best we can to overcome seemingly impossible odds.  One of my worst personal experiences was being notified a week before a show that the hall was 80 tables short and that I need to “go find some”.  That in itself caused me to question my reasoning in even taking on this effort.  We all live with anticipatory grief and do the best job we can to make the best of any bad situation because we know that some ill-fated “surprise” is right around the corner.   At the last show, my Porters did not show up and we all stood outside the building after 7:00 a.m. show day waiting for doors to be unlocked when the person with the keys decided to sleep in.   

Photo by Sandra Birkett Kean Bullock, of Alora's  Dolls Booth

I truly thought this idea of managing a show would be a wonderful challenge.   After all, how hard can it be???  As I trudged on in my ignorant bliss, it did not take long to feel my initial self-confidence slowly slipping away.  I assumed my company work experience of 35 years in Systems, Marketing, and being a dealer would be enough to pilot my “wonderful new show”.  I quickly learned that much more was involved then just love.  I also realized technology got ahead of me and when it became time to build a web site, enlisting the help of the 16 year old kid next door was imperative.    

Behind the scenes, one would never believe the battles that occurred when the booking agent replaced my first show date with a wedding while I was out passing out flyers & dealer contracts.  This is when I learned that my new show life was totally at the mercy of the “Hall Sargent” and that sending flowers went a long way in securing my future dates.  I do have to add that this is a very difficult thing to do when one would rather do great bodily harm to that person instead.        

After paying for the bride’s wedding cake in trade for that first show date and the “Great Hall Battles” subsided, a new realization quickly set in called “COST”.   Hall and table rentals, delivery fees, hall set up, and catering food guarantees, and l .  Health inspection fees all come into play.  Aside from that, my biggest prayer was that the Fire Marshall would not walk in and shut me down because a 36” doll was covering a fire extinguisher.   Locking in hotel rates also requires a contract agreeing pay 80% of each room’s cost that is not booked.  Hiring security a must to help offset the high price of liability insurance.  Developing magazine ads, printing contracts, flyers, and post cards as well as thousands of stamps are just the beginning.   

I like most dealers started out as collectors and my first experience at being a Dealer was sometime in the early 80’s.  Throughout the years I met many of the dealers that did the show circuit.  Thankfully, several jumped in for my very first show.  I give them credit for having faith in me to pull it off and still wonder if those friends actually did that first show because they actually felt sorry for me.  Something did work and about 600-700 people showed up.

Would I do it all over again and would I encourage others do this?  Absolutely!  Seeing all the eager customers coming through the door and seeing all the wonderful Dealers putting their fabulous displays together is such an indescribable and rewarding experience that I would not give up for anything.             


Dr. E's Doll Museum Blog: MIkki's Mysteries!

Dr. E's Doll Museum Blog: MIkki's Mysteries!: Look for more soon on unusual German character babies, which are becoming a great love of mine, but here are two unusual examples that belo...

Thursday, November 10, 2016

With Love from Tin Lizzie, Prof is Doll Collector, Academic Renaissance Woman by A. Miller, Shared Here by the Subject Herself

Below are excerpts from a very kind, and flattering article my school had written about me.  I am an administrator and teacher in legal studies, criminal justice, and English when I'm not "Playing Dolls."  She writes very well, and once wrote for Newsweek.  I was terribly honored by this, and touched, so I reproduced some of it for everyone to enjoy, and it is sort of an early Christmas card from  me. Seasons Greetings to all, and Peace in 2017!

With Love from Tin Lizzie
Prof is Doll Collector, Academic Renaissance Woman
When Dr. Ellen Tsagaris was a toddler in her native Greece, her mother presented her with a rubber yellow bunny doll that squeaked.  “I liked it very much,” she recalled.
Two Greek dolls dressed in national costumes followed that present. “By then, I was hooked. I remember as a child saying, ‘I’m going to collect dolls.’”
And collect she did.

Today, some ... years later, Ellen . . .  is not only the chair of multiple academic departments for KU. . . , but also one of the nation’s foremost collectors of and authorities on antique dolls.

“When I was young, I loved portrait painting and I was interested in photography, costumes, and textiles, too. I found that doll collecting encompassed all those interests.  I’ve always loved having dolls, collecting dolls and reading about dolls,” she said.
Wooden dolls, porcelain dolls, dolls made of china and wax, Ellen has them all. And this year, she authored the first definitive book on dolls made from tin.
Entitled With Love from Tin Lizzie, A History of Metal Heads, Metal Dolls, Mechanical Dolls, and Automatons,” the book addresses the way dolls reflect cultures and civilizations, and how they have given rise to an international “doll economy.”  
Reviewers have described the book as an “academic text, a photo album, and book of memories all in one.” 
Ellen’s dolls hail from 50 U.S. states and most of the countries in Europe, Asia and South America.

Her Greek family, world travelers, have continued to bring Ellen antique dolls, folk dolls, costume dolls and souvenir dolls from all parts of the globe.
One of her favorites is her ‘Vogue Baby Dear,” the type of doll that Communist Party Secretary Nikita Khrushchev took back to his grandchildren in Russia after his iconic “shoe-banging” speech to the United Nations in 1960.

She received a Japanese Ningyo doll made of papier mache and covered in white oyster shell when her Uncle Tom visited Japan. At Knott’s Berry Farm in California, her father presented her with a strawberry blonde doll designed by celebrated ballet dancer and artist Suzanne Gibson.

When she’s not collecting dolls, Ellen is something of an academic renaissance woman. She holds a law degree, a doctorate in Modern British Literature, a Master’s Degree in English, and a Bachelor’s Degree in English and Spanish. She is a member of the Phi Beta Kappa.

Her interest in dolls has dovetailed seamlessly with her academic interests.  she has researched and written about dolls in literature and about Anne Rice, who was an avid doll collector.

Ellen's next frontier:  When she retires, she hopes to establish a nonprofit doll museum similar to the one Rice established at the former St.. Elizabeth's orphanage in New Orleans.  The museum will tell the story of human history though dolls, doll houses, and related objects.


Sunday, November 6, 2016

November Interview with Caroline Johnson

I'm very privileged to have as our November interviewee, my good friend Caroline Johnson, who has lived as a citizen of the world, and who has collected the magnificent dolls of the world's cultures, her entire life.  I started collecting cultural dolls and international dolls, then branched into antiques.  Like Caroline, many of my dolls were purchased all over the world.  We follow the tradition of former Pan Am Vice President Sam Pryor, who founded his own International Doll Library with dolls collected on his travels, and early doll author, Laura Starr, who wrote The Doll Book (1908).  Where international dolls like these are concerned, their popularity as collectibles continues, in art fueled by the love of the Disney Its a Small World Attraction. Shankar's International Doll Museum has a collections of them.  So do The Smithsonian and The British Museum.  For dolls, it is indeed a small world after all.
Close up of a Papier Mache War Memorial Doll, French.  Similar
Dolls are marked "Eden Bebe." Caroline Johnson Collection.

When did you start collecting?

 I always have loved dolls. My official collecting started when I was eleven and growing up in India. For my 11yh birthday my parents gave me 6 Indian dolls. Muslim dolls, Hindu dolls and my favorite, a snake charmer with a cobra in his basket. My mother grew up in India too and when I was 12 we went to the States on furlough and my parents bought me dolls all across Europe & Scandinavia. Then mom gave me her original collection. That's how my eclectic collection began.

Vintage Dolls from Asia
Caroline  Johnson Collection

 Have your tastes changed over the years?

Yes, I love cultural dolls, but have expanded to collecting vintage &  antique dolls. Dolls that have stories are my favorite.

Vintage Ad for Baby Blue Eyes; Caroline Johnson Collection

What are the characteristics that attract you to a certain doll?

 The workmanship and uniqueness attract me the most.

Unique Dolls from Mallorca

Do you sew for your dolls?

Yes I do sew & repair dolls.

Vintage and Antique Kitchen Toys
Caroline Johnson Collection

Dolls Commemorating a 2016 Expedition to Mt. Everest

Are you looking for anything in particular?

 If I stumble on an antique doll at a good price I buy it, but I'm very intrigued in small vintage & antique dolls

A&M German Bisque

Hertwig China Head

Friday, November 4, 2016

Rendezvous Celebrity Dolls, November 9th

Our friends at Theriault's never disappoint.  Here is another wonderful Rendezvous Auction coming up Novemberr 9th, this one on celebrity dolls. For more on celebrity dolls, you might like books like those once written by my friend, John Axe, or this short article from Atlas Obscura: Mears, Hadley, The peculiar history of celebrity dolls. Retrieved from

Photo below, courtesy, Theriault's

Monday, October 31, 2016

Monday, October 24, 2016

October Interview with Rachel Hoffman

Below is this month's interview with Rachel Hoffman, 

When did you start collecting?

When I was a child, I remember collecting Barbies and Polly Pockets. I had a lot of fun with those. I was so fortunate as a child to be surrounded by dolls. I have fabulous memories of going to the Madame Alexander conventions. They had a lot of great events for children. I think I still have the Madame Alexander doll that you could buy at Saks Fifth Avenue and get the matching dress to go with it. Walking around the Madame Alexander convention in the same dress as my doll was a thrill. As I grew older, I started getting out of the ‘doll thing’ and gravitated more toward the Ninja Turtles and less frilly dolly things. I still love turtles and have my Ninja Turtle action figures. I was surrounded with collecting parents. I love the magazine article I pictured here with my mother and I in one of her doll rooms when I was about one year old.

Have your tastes changed over the years?

My taste in dolls has definitely changed over the years. I used to only really LOVE Raggedy Ann and homemade type cloth dolls. That was the only thing I really studied and knew about. As I have grown older, I really have an appreciation for every type of doll. My most favorite are still early Volland Raggedy Anns and German bisque K*R character dolls. It is a great time right now to buy both. I do have to say that I stay antique and vintage. The modern doll world is something I have not discovered. I really have so much to learn in vintage and antique that it would take lifetimes to discover it all so I see myself staying in antique and vintage dolls for a very long time.

Rachel with Bears

What are your favorite types of dolls?

Honestly, my favorite dolls I have received from doll world are the people I have collected. Real people are my favorite dolls. I wish I could order a doll in my favorite people. (Actually, I am pretty sure you can do that now.) People that collect dolls are just awesome people. They are whimsical and open and loving. The people are what I have collected in the last several years that I love the most. I have met wonderful friends that I would have never met otherwise if I wasn’t involved with dolls. I wish I wasn’t as shy as I was when I was younger so I could have met them sooner but that confidence just comes with life experience. If I had to say my favorite type of actual dolls are antique quirky dolls. I really enjoy dolls that were made with very little experience or crude materials but lots of love. I also enjoy dolls that were controversial at the time of production 100-150 years ago. I imagine the person that they would appealed to and think that type of person I would be great friends with.

With Kewpie

What are the characteristics that attract you to a certain doll?

Personality, craftsmanship (skilled or untrained, I love them both), and how they feel. When you look at a doll, it’s really not supposed to sit there and look pretty and do nothing else. It’s supposed to make you feel something. That is after all, the purpose of any art.
Rachel with Peyton Marie

 Do you sew for your dolls?

I do not but I have access to the best seamstresses in the world and I am lucky for that. I don’t handle a lot of the costuming but do give my input here and there. My business in the doll world is promotion and sales. I work for Turn of the Century Antiques and Ruby Lane in promotion and sales. I get dolls out there so people can see them. I promote doll culture. Through social media extensions, I have been able to connect the world with some of the most exceptional and knowledgeable people in the doll industry. I have worked very hard to be where I am and I am grateful everyday that I can make a job out of promoting something I truly love. I believe in the importance of dolls as teachers and the importance of them in our culture. Through dolls we can learn about our history and the history of others. The fact that I get to get up everyday and help educate, preserve, and promote dolls for a living is truly a dream.

Rachel, hard at work setting up at a doll show

Are you looking for anything in particular?

I would love to stumble across an Izannah Walker doll at the local thrift store sometime. 

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Doll Museum: October 19th Rendezvous by Theriault's

Doll Museum: October 19th Rendezvous by Theriault's: October is Doll Month, or at least Theriault's has made it one with several terrific auctions this month.  Here is information for the l...

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Roger Daltrey Auction features Automata, a "Who's Who" of Mechanical Figures!


Who knew?  A Rock and Role Legend, Roger Daltrey of  The Who, was an aficionado of automata.  He and his wife Heather collected seven unusual automata, and then decided to auction them with Lyon and Turnbull, September 28, 2016.  The Daltreys join several other celebrities and historical figures who have collected or admired  automata of all kinds, including Charles Lindbergh, former Vice President of Pan American Airlines, Samuel Pryor,  and Walt Disney. 


Androids are automatons that are made to resemble humans, but automata can be animals, like Vaucanson’s famous “digesting duck,” or robots.   60 Minutes recently featured a story on the future interaction of robots and automata with humans on Sunday, October 9, 2106.  The 2016 September Vogue published a story on a scientist who was conducing studies on whether robots could actually be programmed to feel human emotion.  Certainly the movie Hugo, and the book The Invention of Hugo Cabret, promoted a renewed interest in mechanical figures and dolls, and my own scholarship has focused on them extensively.


By the same token, Antique Doll Collector Magazine frequently publishes stories on automata, and they grace the cover of our October 2016 issue.


Results of the Daltrey auction are printed on Lyon and Turnbull’s website.  The

Jean Phalibois automaton  'The Monkey Conjuror' sold for £8,125 , while Leopold Lambert’s(1854-1935) , Aubade a la Lune  sold for £13,750.   The site also contains a brief, interesting history of automatons and mechanical figures.

October 2016 Issue

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Visiting Gigi's Dolls and Sherry's Teddy Bears, Doll Repair, Doll Friendships, Doll Colllections, and More!

On September 26th, I boarded the Illinois Zephyr and took a train ride to The Windy City herself, Chicago.  I have to say that I love Chicago, and it is still one of my all time favorite cities, even those I have been privileged to visit overseas.  The train trip alone would have been enough of a thrill for me; I always feel like I’m living “Murder on the Orient Express” when I ride one.  I definitely think there is an advantage to being “the girl on the train!”


The destination, however, made it even more of a good time. I, and my friends in the West Central Illinois Doll Club, was headed to the legendary Gigi’s Dolls and Sherry’s Teddy Bears, doll store, doll museum, toy store, and doll hospital all in one location. This is the third year we have taken the trip, and it won’t be our last!

French Papier Mache purchased at Gigi's on an Earlier Trip

The gracious mother/daughter team of Gigi and Sherry open their shop on Monday just for us.  Waiting for us are home-made cookies, goodie bags, and a free doll or doll artifact that needs a good home.  One highlight was a seminar on restringing dolls.


Doll repair is another specialty of the house, and Gigi’s and Sherry’s ship all over the world.  One entire room consists of doll clothes form every era in every price range.  Another section consists of international costume dolls.  There is an entire library of books on dolls and related subjects and yet another area filled with doll houses and miniatures.


Gigi’s and Sherry’s feature Steiff and magnificent antique dolls.  Their own unusual collection is on permanent display.  Those who love artist dolls won’t be disappointed, and vintage doll collecting interests are well represented, too.
Eclectic Display of Dolls, including Lestat of
Anne Rice's Interview with the Vampire, Top Right
Vintage International Dolls on Display at
Gigi's Dolls and Sherry's Teddy Bears

Lovely Thank you Sent to the Club from Gigi and Sherry

Two Great Shows Coming Up!! Let the Season Begin!

Fall is a special time for doll shows and auction.  An amazing auction just took place, hosted by Theriault's.  More and more fantastic events are happening, or are in planning stages.  Witness the mechanical magic of the Roger Daltrey Automaton Auction last week, featured by auctioneers Lyon and Turnbull.  It must be the crisp air, and the promise of caramel apples and pumpkin ice cream waiting after a hard day of packing and sorting choice dolls.  Here are two fantastic doll shows coming up for collectors:

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

September 2016: An Interview with Laurie McGill

Laurie is a member of the Dallas Doll Club, which received its charter in the United Federation of Doll Clubs, Inc. in 1959. She is a former editor of DOLL NEWS (2013-2015)—UFDC’s quarterly journal. Laurie is the editor of the DOLL COLLECTORS OF AMERICA, INC.’s bi-monthly BULLETIN (2003-Present); and she is proud to state she is a Charter Subscriber to ANTIQUE DOLL COLLECTOR magazine…



When did you start collecting?


I segued from playing with dolls to collecting dolls  formally the summer I turned ten. The Junior level of Girl Scouts offered a badge then called the “Collector,” and I earned it with my array of dolls, which by that time included my mother’s childhood Patsy doll, my own beloved childhood dolls and various souvenir dolls I had acquired on family vacations. Around that same time, I earned the “Book” badge by reading all of Johnny Gruelle’s Raggedy Ann books and Mariana’s Flora McFlimsey books, among others.

Laurie Windham (McGill) sits amidst her burgeoning childhood doll collection, December 1962.

Then the summer I turned twelve I seriously considered putting my dolls away as I entered junior high school, but I met a new friend that autumn whose grandmother had owned a doll repair hospital. Recognizing my unusual curiosity in the stories behind the dolls, her grandmother nurtured my interest by introducing me to her early copies of the Janet Johl and Clara Hallard Fawcett books along with publications such as Kimport’s DOLL TALK and Elizabeth Andrews Fisher’s TOY TRADER. Much later my friend gave me her grandmother’s doll clothes patterns and tools that she had used in her doll repair shop.


The year after we first met, my friend and I started a two-girl doll club (“The Dollers”) that we patterned after the United Federation of Doll Clubs, Inc. My friend’s grandmother was our advisor. We met every other Saturday. One year my friend would serve as President and Treasurer, and I served as Vice-President and Secretary. The next year we traded offices. Dues were 10-cents a meeting, which we diligently saved to help finance our spring break conventions. Our banquets always consisted of my mother’s meatloaf, baked potatoes and green beans with chocolate roll for dessert. Our convention souvenirs were purchased from Paul Ruddell’s doll book company – the source for doll books back then. The club lasted throughout our eighth and ninth grade years.

After all this time, my friend and I are still the very best of friends, although she went on to other things, leaving me to continue doll collecting on my own. I eventually joined the United Federation of Doll Clubs in 1978.



What are your favorite dolls?


My favorite dolls are far too many to list here. I prefer antique dolls, but others have crept into the collection for various reasons. If I am asked which dolls I would save should—heaven forbid—a fire occur, I always state I would sweep up my mother’s childhood Patsy doll, my aunt’s childhood Patsykin doll, my own childhood Sweet Sue doll as well as my childhood Madame Alexander “Kathy” baby doll (which I named “Debbie” after my little sister) and my Teddy-Bear-with-the-Jingle-Bell-Eyes. I am extremely sentimental, and these toys have been with me the longest. Seniority rules!

In the forefront is Laurie’s mother’s Eff-an-bee Patsy doll (right) with her Aunt Betty’s Eff-an-bee Patsykin doll (left). Behind the dolls is a photograph of Laurie’s mother (right) and her aunt (left) as children.


Have your tastes changed over the years?


Oh, yes, my tastes have vastly changed as I’ve learned about different dolls over the years. When I was still in high school, my mother subscribed to not only DOLL TALK and TOY TRADER for me but also HOBBIES: A MAGAZINE FOR COLLECTORS. It was in HOBBIES that I began to learn about antique dolls in the “Dollology” column. I remember seeing advertisements where a Jumeau might be priced at $500—a vast amount to me as a teenager.

There was a doll museum in Wisconsin that I would visit each summer during my high school years. Our grandparents lived in Minnesota and my father would drive me across the St. Croix River and into Wisconsin so that I could see the museum. I remember a woman who was working in the museum one day telling me that “any serious doll collector has a Bye-Lo Baby in her collection.”

I took that remark to heart and a brown-eyed, bisque-headed Bye-Lo Baby was the very first purchase I made upon entering the workforce out of college. I still have this doll today.

After entering the workforce following college, Laurie’s first antique doll purchase was a brown-eyed, bisque-headed Bye-Lo Baby. It’s a Boy! The doll came with its original blue flannel Bye-Lo Baby blanket.

I remember buying a lot of composition dolls during the first five or so years after I began working. Many varieties of Madame Alexander’s 1940s Scarlett O’Hara dolls and many versions of Ideal’s 1930s Shirley Temple dolls entered the collection. I knew of Shirley from seeing her movies on television, and I knew of Scarlett because the movie, GONE WITH THE WIND, had just been reissued in 70mm in the late 1960s. In my early days of buying dolls, I felt most comfortable in purchasing familiar things.


As I reached my thirties, though, I sold most of the compositions and began purchasing china, bisque and cloth dolls. Later I grew interested in the very early dolls of papier-mâché and wood, and I seem to lean toward those now. Perhaps my favorite doll of this type is a Queen Anne which came with a provenance. The doll stayed in the original family for generations; then went to a dealer who kept it for a while; and then to me. Affectionately known as “Anne in the Van,” upon completion of purchase, the dealer kindly drove the doll to me from Kansas to Texas.

One of Laurie’s prized possessions is a Queen Anne doll which came with a provenance. Resting in a bureau drawer carefully wrapped in black paper—and kept in the same family for generations—the doll’s original gown is trimmed in silver.


I’ve veered off onto other doll-related by-paths and have a sincere appreciation for the delicate, early hand-colored paper dolls as well as children’s story books about dolls and paintings of children with their dolls. Dollhouses and miniatures are another interest.



What are the characteristics that attract you to a certain doll? 


A doll has to “speak” to me. It doesn’t need to be in mint condition. In fact, I actually prefer dolls that have been loved and played with (albeit gently) by a child. I dislike bringing a doll back to its “original condition” as though it just popped off a store shelf. A doll’s personal patina is important to me. That tells me the doll has a story to share—would that it could.  A doll with a provenance or with an original-owner photograph is always irresistible.



Do you sew for your dolls?


While I do not sew for my dolls, another side-interest is antique sewing things. My husband built a set of shelves for me on the back wall of my laundry room to house my collection of child-sized sewing machines. Beneath the shelves stands my grandmother’s early twentieth century treadle sewing machine. Baskets overflow with doll patterns dating from the late 1800s through the 1960s. Buttons are another passion. Rarely do I visit New York City without stopping into Tender Buttons on East 62nd Street, and rarely do I leave this charming shop without making a purchase from their antique/vintage drawers. (Ask me how many 1920s-era dolly-faced Flapper—Garter—Buttons I own, and I will have to admit: Too many!) I also love antique doll quilts—especially those made by a child—many of which are framed and hanging in our family room as art!

Child-sized sewing machines decorate an entire wall in Laurie’s laundry room, helping to make laundry day not so laborious! Pictured is just one example with other vintage sewing-related objects.


Are you looking for anything in particular right now?


Rarely do I attend a doll sale with the purpose of seeking a particular doll. With that being said, I would love to add an Izannah Walker to my collection one day. Various things, though, influence me on the dolls I choose to add to the collection. Perhaps it is a well-researched article in a magazine. Perhaps it is a presentation given during a monthly doll club meeting. Perhaps it is a segment on ANTIQUES ROADSHOW. This past summer during the annual UFDC convention in Washington DC, I came home with a lovely papier-mâché nun that called to me the opening night of the sales room. I abstained from buying her, though, until I heard Friar Francois Sainte-Marie’s engaging program on the history of nun dolls later in the week. Once I learned the fascinating story behind dolls-in-habits, I felt the papier-mâché doll dressed as a nun was a must-have.


Laurie’s most recent purchase is a 15-inch papier-mâché doll dressed as a nun. The doll is pictured in Danielle Theimer’s book, The Encyclopedia of French Dolls Volume 2 – L-Z on page 506 (Gold Horse Publishing, 2006).




I am grateful that even after fifty years of collecting dolls, there are so many things still to learn. I think back to my mother and to my grandmother who instilled the love of dolls in me as a very young child. I remember my mother patiently helping me pair up the 8-inch doll shoes before she tucked me in each night. I remember the day my grandmother gave me my mother’s Patsy doll. I think back to my friend’s grandmother with her doll repair shop, and I realize how extraordinarily fortunate I was that she nurtured my interest in the history of dolls at such an early, impressionable age. That serendipitous encounter put my life on a path that has been rewardingly rich in history, literature, fashion and art.