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When he was young, a favorite aunt who worked at a major department store gifted R. John Wright on special occasions with wonderful toys from Europe. So it should be no surprise that he developed a love for toys which grew into his well-known vocation, making marvelous dolls. Not known by many is the fact that John and his wife Susan also collect antique cloth dolls. The couple share some of their favorite dolls in this article.
Some dolls can help a child survive against incredible odds. Susan Foreman tells the story of Felicia Brown and her family’s flight from Lithuania which during World War II became occupied by the Soviets, then the Nazis and the Soviets once again. Her article illustrates how dolls can transcend playtime activities.
Steiff expert Rebekah Kaufman salutes Steiff’s men in uniform. These magnificently constructed soldier and police dolls made their relatively brief appearance in the Steiff line starting in 1903. They are best known for their well tailored and authentic clothing, extraordinary to-scale accessories, and, of course, their perfect posture.
Lynn Murray discovered that transferware children’s plates with pictures of dolls were contemporary with her collection of dolls. By the 19th century Britain’s Staffordshire potteries numbered in the hundreds. You’ll enjoy learning about this delightful cross-over collection.
For our fans of dolls’ houses, Susan Milmore’s article on a house she restored is fascinating. Purchased at the sale of the Mary Merritt Museum, its 1950’s and 60’s re-decoration made it a great buy. With her expert finesse, the dolls’ house is now tastefully and appropriately decorated.
The recent TLC doll tour conducted by Lynn Murray took us to Spain with its beautiful cities and towns, Roman ruins, fabulous art and architecture. Yours truly shares some of the highlights of this adventure.
We also take you to the recent Gaithersburg doll show and bring you a preview of the upcoming Morphy doll auction and the Northern Ohio Doll & Bear Show.
I was honored when I was asked to
write a little about myself. I've been part of the Valley of the Sun
Doll Club for about eight years now, though I've been collecting for as long as
I can remember. As the daughter of parents who collect antique
trains, clocks, and buttons, it was almost expected that I would start
collecting antiques as well. My childhood summer vacations were
spent driving from one historical site to another, with pit stops at antique
stores and flea markets.
Lenci Teenager and Steiff Peasant
Jennifer Craft Collection
Left to right: ED Jumeau, 1934 Prototype Shirley Temple in "Got Milk" dress, Martha Chase, DEP Jumeau. Jennifer Craft Collection
I have loved dolls for as long as I
can remember. As a child of the 1970s, I was surrounded by friends with
Superstar and Malibu Barbies. At that time, I had very little
interest in Barbies or other play dolls, but instead, desperately wanted a
"real" doll. When I was about 6 years old, I received my first
Effanbee. As I got a little older, the gifts of Effanbees soon
turned into gifts of Madame Alexanders. I still longed for a
"real" doll...an antique doll.
Simon & Halbig
Jennifer Craft Collection
My first antique bisque doll was a
German dolly-face, George Borgfeldt import, with a poorly repainted body in
desperate need of restringing. I was 18 years old and paid $325 of my own
hard-earned money for her. I loved that doll as if she were an Albert
Marque! I still have her, too. Though she is homely and still needs
that restringing job, she is the doll that started my collection and I will
always keep her.
Jennifer with Depose Jumeau
Immediately after college, while
working, yet still living at home, I was able to buy a few lovely French Bebes,
a couple of which I still own. As I got a little older, the
addition of more if those desired French dolls had to be put on
hold. I got married and had a beautiful daughter. Also,
as the years passed, I found my tastes changed. I went through a period
where I was obsessed with Lencis and all things cloth. I also had a
Shirley Temple phase. I always aim to keep a few favorites from the
latest doll phase, while selling some to earn money for the next
interest. I smile when I think of a conversation I had with an elderly
dealer when I was still very young. She had a few French Fashions on
her table, along with the Tete Jumeau I was looking at. I told her
I had no interest in Fashions. "You will," she
replied. At the time I thought she didn’t know what she was talking
about. Boy, was I wrong.
Verdier and Gutmacher
Jennifer Craft Collection
Though I have yet to purchase
my first French Fashion, I will. I now appreciate their
beauty. Right now, Im very interested in papier maches, cloth, and
china heads of the 1840s through 1870s. This same time reflects the growth of
early photography. In fact, my latest interest is in antique
photography: daguerreotypes, ambrotypes, cdv's, and cabinet cards of
children with dolls. I've uncovered some amazing dolls within some
amazing images. Finally, at least through antique photography, I've been
able to own a few Brus, many more Jumeaux, and even an A.T. I'm searching
for my own Izannah Walker daguerreotype (a daguerrian collector I know has an
amazing one), and my absolute dream would be to find a cabinet card of a young
girl with her Albert Marque doll. The search is part of the fun of
collecting! I smile when I think about what my interests will be in
another 10 years.
Cabinet Card of Girl with AT
One of Jennifer's favorite daguerreotypes....hand tinted, circa 1855.
Here is a pic of Jennifer's Incised Depose Jumeau.....her eyes are two different sizes, which wasn't that uncommon.