Sunday, March 20, 2016

An Interview with Collector Laurie Baker




I started collecting antique dolls about 15 years ago, after deciding that making antique-reproduction dolls was not the best fit for me.  First of all, I was not all that good at it, and second, the real antique dolls began to show up in my life as an option.  Attending my first Theriault's auction was a real eye-opener--I still get chills when I recall the heady feeling I got while waving my paddle around like a crazy person, with Stuart putting up with the "newby" with his usual patience and humor. Over the ensuing years, my collection began to take shape.  Though I had many lovely German dolly-face girls, and a nursery of Dream Babies, my focus began to shift toward lady dolls.   I bought the lady dolls I could afford:  German china dolls.   They were dressed as women, in elegant gowns trimmed with laces and with ruched trains, fitted bodices, and matched underthings. I dove into collecting them with the same enthusiasm I showed at that first auction. 

Laurie Baker Collection

But as you all surely know, a collection is not a static thing.  One day, as I entered the doll room,  125 little faces looked back.   They stood so tightly packed into their cases,  their detailed gowns and individual modeling were hidden from view.   And coincidentally, a doll collector who had just sold all her dolls at auction, sent me "a special doll"  in the mail.  That doll had escaped the sale, due to an eye repair.  Lo!  She was a strikingly beautiful, French fashion doll!  I had an epiphany! less is more! Everything in the doll room had to go!   I was ruthless.  I sold all of those 125 dolls, except the fashion doll.  I never looked back. I was off on the grand adventure of collecting French fashion dolls, their accessories, and their furniture.

Laurie Baker Collection


The doll room is now exclusively populated with French fashion dolls, each with their own salon and accessories.  It is compelling to find a rare accessory or piece of miniature furniture, in scale! 

Laurie Baker Collection


Recently, my first poupĂ©e bois arrived, and took up residence in her own salon, accompanied by her "visiting German cousin," a Simon and Halbig Little Women doll.  The Simonne-type doll has posable arms and a rare, wooden body with lateral joints that would allow her to cross her legs while sitting in a chair, though she prefers to stand.  Her bustled, silk gown is more easily appreciated in that position.  Opportunities for her and her sisters are endless:  gowns, corsets, gloves, parasols, hats, sewing tools, vanity sets, jewelry, shoes, luggage and hatboxes, fans, purses, vitrines...oh my.  Such wonders!   So much for "less is more." 

Laurie Baker Collection


I am sure that my collection will continue to evolve, but I am equally certain that French fashion dolls will remain my primary focus.  Still playing with dolls?  You bet!  Any regrets? Not in this lifetime. 

Laurie Baker Collection

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