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: