Thursday, October 30, 2014

Happy Halloween Almost, Mary Hoyer, Sandra Sue, Hoseley and More!

Have a wonderful Bootiful Halloween!  Here is today's tidbit of info:

We have heard from two individuals who have researched the pin-jointed walker 14”dolls used by a number of doll producers in the 1950s.  Susan Piefer has researched Mary Hoyer dolls and Ruth Hoseley dolls and Peggy Millhouse has extensively researched Richwood Toys, Inc., the company that sold a 14” doll as Cindy Lou.  Richwood could not have sold 14” doll molds to Hoseley, the only molds they owned were for the 8” Sandra Sue dolls.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Correction for the Hoseley Party Dolls

Correction for the Hoseley Party Dolls Article:  Errata-
We have heard from two knowledgeable sources that Ruth Hoseley never purchased molds from the Richwood Doll Company, in fact Richwood never owned doll molds, but bought from several companies.

Vintage Dolls Group on Facebook

For anyone interested in Vintage Dolls; here is a great book on FB; I often share our posts, there.  Very nice people and many interesting Vintage dolls.  Also, look at our current and past issues on our website at Antique Doll Collector for articles on great Vintage dolls like Alexander, rare Hoseley, Ginny, and more!

Here is the link:

1950s Hard Plastic Vintage Italian Doll, near Mint
Sleep eyes and wig.  Has original tag and Japanese Costume.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Video of the Month: Wax Doll History

Enjoy, and don't miss the wax doll in the costume of Brittainy in our November issue!

Hoseley Party Dolls

I knew there was a reason why I liked McGregor, Iowa so much!  It really is a wonderful place for dolls and antiques. For example, there was the "land of 6000 dolls," housed in one very large antique shop that also had a soda fountain, and another quaint shop where I bought several Schoenhut items. McGregor is also the home of the super rare Hoseley Party Dolls, featured in our upcoming Novemeber issue. According to an article published on historic McGregeor: there is a walking tour that includes Ruth Hoseley's home where she "hand-crafted dolls." Historical Walking Tour of McGregor Brochure - Northeast 
"You may have come across a Hoseley Party Doll, but unless
 it had an original tagged outfit, you would never know it.
The mold for the dolls was purchased from the Richwood Doll
 Company and was the same as that used for Mary Hoyer and Cindy
 Lou dolls.  Jane Foster shares some of these seldom seen beautifully
 dressed hard plastic dolls with our readers." (

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

My Visit with Gigi and Sherry!

This past Monday, I joined my friends from the West Central Illinois Doll Club to visit Gig's dolls and Sherry's Teddy Bears, Inc., a store where doll dreams are made.  Did I say store?  I mean haven for doll lovers everywhere.  Visiting was a doll dream come true for me, as was taking Amtrak to reach our destination.

From Amtrak, we took a limo, with champagne furnished by a member's son, to a restaurant for lunch, Norwood, and then to Gigi's Dolls.

The store is 5000 square feet of lovingly displayed and beautifully organized dolls of every type.  There were tiny vinyl babies of Raggedy Ann for .25 and wonderful Bru and French bisques well above $1000.00.  A wonderful room is filled with racks of doll clothes, all pressed and hung on apprpriately tiny hangers. At least three levels of doll outfits circle the room on each side, and there are hats, shoes, and accessories to match.

Vintage dolls abound, with cases full of composition dolls, vintage Barbies, Nancy Ann Storybook Dolls, ceulloid dolls and more. An entire wall featured various Santa dolls, and another room full of displays contained Steiff bears and animals, and stuffed animals of every type.

The people of the world were represented in doll form from nearly every continent. Only in books have I seen so many antique vintage and Japanese dolls.  In one room the vintage and costume dolls were buy one, get one free.  

Another room of this wonderful shop had dollhouse after doll house, and miniatures of all types, both new and antique.  Japanese re-ment minis are a shore speciality, as are stands for tiny dolls, only 1 inch or so high!

I found a 1930s cloth Egyptian doll, very rare, and a large, over 2' high Ravca fisherman.  Also joining my doll "family" was a 14 inch SFBJ papier mache in perfect shape with a lovely old dress.  These will be pictured in future blogs when photographed.

19” cm Bru Jne 8
Brown paper weight eyes, shading above eyes,
 antique dress, undergarments, socks & burgundy leather boots 
Regular Price: $13,850.00
On Sale For: $10,995.00 
Curtesy, Gigi's Dolls and Sherry's Teddy Bears, Inc.
There is a veritable library of books and paper dolls for doll scholars, a room of parts and bodies for doll makers, cases of antique doll heads in bisque, china, celluloid, and metal, and half dolls by the dozen, all in well-lit gorgeous displays.
In the middle of the main room is a large curio full of the dolls that comprise the shops Doll Museum.  French Fashions, bebes, tiny glass Christmas lights shaped like dolls, a  super large Penny Wooden, china heads and other rare and unusual dolls of all sizes make up the shop's personal collection, which is worth a trip all by itself.

The owners opened the shop just for us on a Monday, and could not have been more gracious.  They provided cookies and coffee, and outside, there was a table of "freebies.'' Gigi's Dolls and Sherry's Teddy Bears ships all over the world and US.  They advertise in Antique Doll Collector Magazine and also carry the magazine in the shop. They have a wonderful website from where one can buy dolls as well.

Visiting this wonderful shop was like visiting a doll museum.  It is a place where all dolls are loved and appreiated, and a place to learn and add to doll collections.  Thanks, so much, for a memorable day!  We will definitely be back!

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Vintage Halloween

Courtesy, Keith and Donna Kaonis
Halloween as we know it has origins in Ancient Egyptian, Celtic [especially Irish],  and Hipanic culture. James Joyce wrote a story about it called "Clay." An excellent and entertaining review of Halloween's history is found in the Ray Bradbury classic story The Halloween Tree, also an animated film by the same title which Bradbury narrates. The old Celts believed the year ended around October 31st by our modern calendar, and they also thought spirits walked the earth that night to settle unfinihsed business.  Mortals with a guilty conscience wore masks to that the spirits couldn ot find them.  This holiday was called Samhain in the Celtic world, and it is still marked today by serveral cultures.

Vintage Halloween decorations have been popular collectibles for many years. Dolls are part of the collectibles enjoyed.  Sharon Fiffer, mystery novelist and collector, features them in Scary Stuff.

Antique fortune teller dolls, with papier mache witch heads or delicage French Fashion heads, had skirts folded into leaves that when unfolded, foretold one's fate. Hex is a famous German bisque antique depicting a witch, and many penny dolls and vintage wax candles are shaped as witches, scarecrows and pumpkins.

Several articles on Halloween dolls, old and new, are featured on the site Doll Collecting at;

Here, featured are figures from the Kaonis family collection, shares with their compliments.

Safe Trick- or -Treating, and I hope The Great Pumpkin brings you at least one doll!

Fabulous Finds under $500

Now that Christmas and the holidays are nearly upon us, we may want to take note of the many doll related events taking place, as well as the various types of dolls available on the antique and secondary markets.

Antique Doll Collector Magazine is a great place to look for additions to your own collectins and for gifts for your doll collecting friends.  A subscription alone makes a wonderful gift for a doll lover.  Also there are beautiful, quality ads from top dealers in the doll world, all with prices and contact information in their ads. You can also read about upcoming auctions and exhibits. 

Antique German Bisque head, mohair wig. Marked "Germany." $85.00

Antique carved bone doll, wooden and wire armature.  From Theriault's Monday Rendezveous
Auction, this August 2014. $300.00.
Feature articles are also great ideas for buying dolls.  For instance, the March 2009 issue included a story calle "Doll Finds Under $500!" by Julie Blewis.  This well-written, color illustrated article included wonderful celluloid twins in Asian dress, three WPA puppets, Molleye Goldman dolls, composition Three Little Pigs, German all bisque animal dolls, a Heubach girl,  a vintage Eruopean cloth doll, a Madonn and Child of wood by NIADA artist Helen Buller, a wasx doll by NIADA artist Gladys MacDowell, an aritsts pair depicting Alice and The Mad Hatter, a miniature display case, and crepe paper over wire mannekins representing a family of four.   Blewis also mentions metal dolls, among my specialties, as dolls readily available in this price range. Another hint:  check out our magazine; you can buy back issues which also make great gifts for doll lovers.

The truth is that antique dolls are available in all price ranges, and there are still many wonderful dolls to be had for under $500, $100, $50.00, even under $25.00!

To prove my theory, I did a search on Ruby Lane,, and came up with the following information. My search took place October 13, 2014. There were 5,720 dolls and doll related items listed for under $500. There were 4,019 in the under $25.00 price range.  6,006 dolls were listed in the under $100.00 category, while there were $5,032 in the under $200 category. There were 5,761 dolls and doll items in the under  $50.00 price range. By way of contrast, there were $1,977 items in the less than $1000.00 price range.  Dolls in the over $1000 and over $5000 categories were listed as follows: $1000 - 4999: 1,685 and over $5000: 316.  The total dolls and doll related items listed was 30,067.  Of the 7,606 antique dolls  listed on October 12th, only 316 were over $5000! 

These figures should enourage everyone who does not have a huge budget.  While dolls that near $400,000.00  price tags get a lot of publicity, they are not the norm.  Our editor, Donna Kaonis, wrote a wonderful post for this blog on affordable dolls.  I urge everyone to reread her wise words.

If you are careful and diligent in your doll searches, you will be rewarded.  Within the last two months, I was able to purchase a 14 in. Simon and Halbig bisque headed little girl on a ball jointed body for under $150.00.  I found wonderful Japanese "frozen" dolls and penny dolls, two mint in their box wearing painted bathing suits for $20.00.  The little penny dolls cost between $1-$5.
Common china heads, blonde and bisque, can be found for under $30.00, with cloth body, and clothing.  Some have china limbs.   Nancy Ann Storybook dolls, collectible vintage dolls, can be found for $15.00 in great shape with wrist tag but no box; boxed examples can sell for $25.00.

I have found wax over composition dolls on eBay for $40.00, handmade cloth dolls for under $100 on eBay and other online auctions, Armand Marseilles dolls for around $50.00 for 11 inch examples at estate sales, and $95.00 for a 390 head on a ball jointed body, dressed in appropriate clothing at a local shop.  At one show, from a private colletcor's booth, I was able to buy a Joel Ellis doll in great shape for $375.00.

So, this little post is meant to get everyone out there looking, online, in stores, at auctions, and dol shows.  Theriault's Discovery Day and Monday Night Rendezvous auctions are wonderful plays to look; there are many fantastic dolls that are auctioned for $300 and under. The variety is endless, the bargains abound, and we collectors "toy soldier" on!

Friday, October 17, 2014

Photo Gallery of our November Issue

Vintage Betsy Paper Dolls

 Admit it; you're one of us!  Those of us who are a certain age remember the thrill of receiving "McCalls Magazine" in the mail.  I, for one, used to flip through the pages  eagerly, looking to see, "was she there, or wasn't she?"   After awhile, she would appear every month, but that wasn't always the case.  Of course, I mean Betsy McCall, the paper doll, and her various friends.  I saved many single pages, now preserved in my doll scrapbooks, and sent something ike $.32 to get the special set of paper dolls that were offerred.  You sent the money to a P.O. Box in Rock Island, IL, the town where I grew up went to school. Betsy appeared in McCalls in paper doll for 44 years, beginning in 1951. Various companies soon offerred her as a hard plastic or vinyl doll including American Character, Allison Corp., and Tonner.
McCalls Magazine featuring Betsy Paper Doll on its Cover

60s Vintage Betsy

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

November Issue Sneak Peek!

Our cover is a rare 201 Jumeau character flashing her beaming smile, one of only two known to exist. It is among the exceptional dolls to be offered at Theriault’s November 22nd sale at the Waldorf Astoria in New York City. According to an 1899 inventory, only eight models of the 201 existed in size 11 at that time. It sounds like an exciting auction! Stay tuned for more news of this important sale.

Was there a reason that Jumeau registered patents for sleeping eyes long after his fellow dollmakers? Samy Odin addresses this question and shares his conclusion along with sleeping models made between 1885 and 1890.

You may have come across a Hoseley Party Doll, but unless it had an original tagged outfit, you would never know it. The mold for the dolls was purchased from the Richwood Doll Company and was the same as that used for Mary Hoyer and Cindy Lou dolls. Jane Foster shares some of these seldom seen beautifully dressed hard plastic dolls with our readers.

French doll cloth expert Dominique Pennegues provides us with an in-depth article on Lenci-type Nicette dolls. Many of Nicette’s beautiful creations are mistakenly attributed to Lenci or Raynal. You will learn the characteristics of each and how to differentiate between these manufacturers.

Elizabeth Schmahl and Carmen Farrell have written a fascinating article on doll treasures from Brittany, France. The area’s rich history and culture are reflected in the variety of dolls, miniature furniture and earthenware pottery produced here. I loved this article and I know you will too!

Although this year’s UFDC is another wonderful memory it is fun to look back and take a longer look at the rare dolls seen in the competitive exhibit. In this issue, we bring you the modern categories.

Two fairytale villages, one in Switzerland and one in Germany, were on this year’s TLC itinerary. Studio dolls from Sasha Morgenthaler and hand carved dolls and toys were among the images I photographed at the museums we visited.

Margaret Kincaid, an expert seamstress, has shared a pattern for a simple dress with lace-edged pleats from the wardrobe of a 16-inch first series Jumeau. It’s going to look wonderful on one of your doll treasures!

Happy Collecting!

P.S. Check out our new blog at

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Monday, October 13, 2014

Antique Doll Word Search to Print and Enjoy

A T N U T P K E L R W D H S D 
X L R O L D S E E E O A I N O 
J B A M I U R D S L N M X E L 
Q O R B R T N A L T O C N D L 
U J E K A A I H H N N O I O C 
E U I L X M O S A N T E K O O 
E M L E E U A N O A I E R W L 
N E L L S L D R M P W E E Y L 
A A U E I H L O A P M D R N E 
N U H P A E T I I G E O C N C 
N X T L L U N E S N B R C E T 
E C B M A S C O T T E A Z P I 
K I R E T C A R A H C G B X N 
G C H A R L O T T E R U H Y G 
R E K L A W H A N N A Z I G Y 



28 of 39 words were placed into the puzzle.



New Video: China Heads and Glazed Porcelain Dolls

 Here is a study of china heads, china dolls, and china figurines.  Some photos from Antique Doll Collector Magazine, and others from the author's archives and courtesy Theriault'

Also, Be sure to look into TLC Doll Tours, led by Lynn Murray.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Interview with ADC Writer and Noted Collector Lynn Murray

Huret with Accessories, Courtesy Lynn Murray
When did you start collecting?

My collecting began at age 6. My Mother and Grandmother both loved dolls and while they combed the thrift shops for Chinas and Parians, I fell in love with bisque. When I found my Mom’s childhood dolls in the attic, I was well and truly hooked. Throughout school my interest in dolls never diminished. My fascination with social history, fashion, textiles and porcelain came largely from the connection with dolls and early childhood life. 

For a few brief years in senior highschool and college, my dolls were packed away, but when my husband and I got our first house there was a place for the dolls and out they came. Surprisingly, he never questioned that drive to collect or why I focused on dolls. He was very supportive and came to enjoy our travels in France and Germany on a quest for dolls. When I joined UFDC in 1979, Dean encouraged me to travel to the US to attend conferences and conventions, realizing that the best dolls in the world were now to be found in the US. The only advice he ever offered was, “Buy the best of what you can afford, so you will be able sell them when you feel the time is right.”

Premiere Jumeau, Courtesy Lynn Murray

Have your tastes changed over the years?

Most certainly my interests in various kinds of dolls have changed many times over the course of nearly 50 years! As a young collector I preferred bisque children, collecting character children from Kammer & Reinhardt, Kestner and SFBJ. I have always had a passion for English wax dolls and Grodnerthal wooden dolls. For many years French bébés drew me with their huge eyes and perfect complexions. I have an affection for Kathe Kruse dolls, similar to what one might feel for a teddy bear. The artistry of Lenci and Norah Wellings draws me, as does the primitive early appearance and feel of Izannah Walker, Columbian and Philadelphia Babies. All these have passed through my collection at some time and most have gone on to other homes as my tastes changed.
14 inch Fashion, Courtesy Lynn Murray

What are your favorite types of dolls?

The dolls that have fascinated and pleased me continuously all my life are fashion dolls. Whether they are milliners models of the 1830s, Hurets and Rohmers of the 1860s, composition dolls of the 1930s, hard plastics of the 1950-60s or the modern and avant guard fashion dolls of current times, I am enchanted by fashion dolls.

5 inch Barefoot All-Bisque, Courtesy Lynn Murray
What are the characteristics that attract you to a certain doll?

Probably the most important attribute is originality. I am drawn to almost any doll that is in original condition. The next things I would consider important are quality and condition. Rarity is a term over-used and it is, after all, very subjective. For example, what seems rare to a collector living in Canada, may be less so to a collector attending weekly doll shows in California. However, when one has studied specific categories of dolls for many years, rarity becomes more objective. In my decades long quest after French fashion dolls, it might be fair to say that I could recognize rarity. Having said that, the appearance of an extremely rare face or a rare body style would probably make me overlook the lack of original clothes. 


Do you sew for your dolls?

Bru, Courtesy Lynn Murray

Though I spent many happy years sewing for my dolls and even buying dolls specifically to sew for, I no longer sew.

Very Early Doll, Courtesy, Lynn Murray

Are you looking for anything in particular, etc. 

Though I have never been a methodical or organized kind of collector, my attention is always drawn to fashion dolls. Fashion dolls of every era seem to be the dolls that stay with me for a longer time than any other. I particularly love the dolls of the 1850-60s. If I were to find a Clement fashion with the correct face, I would be very happy indeed!

 Be sure to look into TLC Doll Tours, led by Lynn.  What a Treat!



Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Quick Survey of China Heads

Very rare china head with molded bonnet.  Theriault'
Over time, like many collectors, I've gathered many unusual dolls to add to my collection, including dolls with china heads.  The humble, so-called "low brow" was for me, the iconic antique doll. These dolls are still plentiful and affordable, and come in a variety of sizes.  I have an example that is three feet high with provenance because she survived the 1906 San Francisco Quake.  I survived the 1989 Quake.  That give us something in common.  My first antique “low brow” doll was five inches high, all cloth, with cloth arms and legs.  Mom sewed her a yellow eyelet and batiste dress she still wears.  My first large low brow with black hair was a name head, “Helen,” and I got her at 15.  Many whole and fragmented “low brows” joined the collection, many doll house sized, some replicas I made from kits created for doll houses by my friend Violet Page.
Brown Eyed China head from the Blackler Collection,
While damaged dolls and vintage reproductions are not great investments, they do allow young collectors the opportunity to study how dolls are made.  Also, they are a great way to elarn to make dolls. 
As a teen,  I found a Marie Antoinette Sherman Smith doll, and two other Smith dolls on wooden bodies, 1940s china head Christmas Angels, including Holt Howard choirboys, in sizes from 3 inches to 9 inches.  There were more and more half dolls to explore, including some with Medieval headdress Eleanor St. George considered china heads though they were pincushion or half dolls.  Another grey haired doll form the 40s is now vintage; her glazed hair is braided and gray.  This style is also called “Marie Antoinette,” though we don’t know how many actually resented real women.  Others in Noble's works are called Maria Pavlova, Adelina Patti, Jenny Lind, and Highland Mary.  Some old heads have braids worn on their heads as a coronet. My largest ceramic head is about 12 inches high with such a style, she is an artist head by my friend Violet, and she “nodded” forward in the kiln due to her weight.  She makes a doll nearly 4 feet high. There are also Spanish china heads with wigs and painted features from Balos, and some from Capo di Monte and Marin, Italy and Spain.
Morning Glory China Head, Theriault'
I learned of Rohmer dolls, with zinc bodies, and Huret dolls, with glass eyes and wigs after reading John Noble's Beautiful Dolls and The Collector's Encyclopedia of Dolls, volume I..  I added a Patti Jene artist doll of a china head with a wig.  She was assembled with old limbs and clothes, and has re-1860 colored flat boots.

My rarest is a man’s head, with black hair, painted eyes, goatee and moustache.  I think he may represent Napoleon III, husband of Eugenie, and I have an old head representing Eugenie herself.

There is a Queen Victoria doll from Shackman, and several Jenny Linds, one by Emma Clear, one an antique. One small antique  doll has a waterfall hairdo in a net.  Some have molded ribbons.  There are swivel necked chinas, and I have one in bisque from Japan with the curly lowbrow hairdo.  I think these dolls are meant to have a Gibson girl type hair do with the rest of their hair pinned up in back.  They are the most common and plentiful, and cost pennies.  Many were made by Hertel and Schwab, and some were found intact after the Iron Curtain came down, in their original East German Factories.

Shards of these and other bisque dolls that were thrown out are still buried in the soil and turn up.  I have a box of them, sent from Germany, with the dirt in which they were buried clinging to them.  The box still has its German label.

Allegedly, more than 1 billion china heads were made in Germany during the 19th and early 20th centuries.  Rare examples, some wth glass eyes, sleeping eyes, glass eyes and even teeth show up every so often.  There are affordable examples of china heads for everyone, and they inspire colletors of lady head vases and assemblage artists, too.   They are a great way to introduce new collectors to the world of antique dolls.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Ellen's Mystery Doll

Below is the description of this doll that I recntly purchased.  She has a very expressive face, and I don't know anything about her. She has an interesting molded hat, which to me looks Asian, perhaps, Thai, but her face reminds me of some of larger Barrois dolls with glass eyes, or of some of the later SFBJ characters.  Any ideas, anyone?

 A "very unusual black bisque head doll with some type of head dress on a carved wooden body. This one, I have never seen before. She head is made of bisque with her hair sticking out of the head dress. Her body is carve with breasts and a very large and prominent back side. She has extended feet at the back of her heels to allow her to stand up straight. She can be posed sitting or standing. Her arms can move up and down. She does have some minor paint rubs, however nothing significant. She measures only 9" tall.
This is one doll that not everyone has in their doll collection. She came from the Franz Museum in Washington, D.C., which closed in the 1940's. " Photos and text courtesy Nostalgic Images, Gale LeDeux, Ruby Lane.

Overview of A Visit with Ann Meehan, Part 2


I haven’t met a doll collector yet who didn’t also have an interest in doll houses and miniatures.  After all, how could we house those small dolls of ours, or accessorize them, if we didn’t have doll houses and miniatures.  In fact, miniature items, dolls, and houses have existed since at least the Ancient Egyptians, though many of the miniature rooms and items found in tombs may have been religious or ritual objects, not toys.   Paintings from the 16th century on have portrayed girls and dolls with elaborate costumes and sometimes small dishes.  The 17th century Dutch baby houses, often meant for adults, were the first types of doll house we are familiar with today.  Ann Sharp's 18th century doll house, a gift from her godmother, Queen Ann [of doll fame, too!], still exists with original dolls and furnishings.

Meehan Doll house Featured in August Antique Doll Collector.

The October 2014 Issue of Antique Doll Collector features an article by Donna Kaonis titled “A Visit with Ann Meehan, Part 2” that covers the world of antique doll houses beautifully.  The story of collector Ann Meehan and her dedication to finding and preserving antique doll houses is also inspiring and enjoyable. For those interested, Part 1 was featured in the August 2014 Issue of Antique Doll Collector.  The August Issue discussed an American house, originally from Long Island, dated 1903, as well as a special dollhouse from Spain, which is considered a Spanish National Treasure.

August Cover

As with the houses written on in August, the October article, “A Visit with Ann Meehan” also discussed the exquisite furnishings of the houses covered, an impressive 6.5 foot Regency and a circa 1880 house built by the son of a sea caption for the Russell family of Duxbury, MA.  The dolls, alone, could constitute a miniature museum of antique dolls.  A wooden tuck comb doll once belonged to Peggy Shippen, Benedict Arnold’s wife. Frozen Charlottes, Parian, wax, and Milliner’s Model-type papier mache dolls also populate the house.  One highlight is the miniature painting of a colonial family that hangs on the wall, but each room of the Regency Doll House these dolls live in is fully and lavishly furnished to appropriate scale.  Lucky dolls.


The story of how Ann Meehan came into possession of this wonderful Regency house is also entertaining.  The story behind how she bought the house involves Sotheby’s, a seat next to Malcolm Forbes, a call to legendary collector Lucy Morgan, a shuttle flight and a final exam.  Hint:  Ms. Meehan, like many doll and doll house collectors, is a teacher.

Rare Dressing Table from the 1880 House

The circa 1880 house has nine beautiful rooms, including a complete music rooms.  There is a black, ebony piano in the music room that originally belonged to the Fairie Doll house, built around 1780. Vivian Greene wrote about Fairie House in her book, English Dolls’ Houses from the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries.


This well-written informative article is lavishly illustrated with photos of the Regency and 1880 houses; if you love miniatures and dolls, as well as doll houses, don’t miss it.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Interview with Ellen Tsagaris, Social Media Director for Antique Doll Collector Magazine

Flat-top china head, original dress, orange boots.
When did you start collecting dolls?
I began collecting dolls when I was three years old.  I won’t tell you how many years ago that was!  I spent a lot of time at my grandparents’ house, and they and the rest of my family travelled all over the world and the United States.  Their house was full of souvenirs and dolls from nearly every country on the globe.  My first collectible dolls were two Greek dolls representing Amalia, first modern queen of Greece, and the Evzon, or guard of the Royal Palace.  I also commandeered a wooden, hand carved Sudanese man playing a drum from my Uncle George.  I saw my first antique doll, jointed German bisque with open mouth, probably Armand Marseille or Kestner, when I was five at Fantasy Land in Gettysburg, PA.  I was hooked after that on antiques. Reading and writing about dolls is a close second as far as favorite pastimes go.  The first doll book I read was John Noble’s Dolls.  I got it when I was seven years old from my mother.

Diminutive F.G., photo courtesy Fiona Jackson, Ruby Lane
She reminds me of Marchpane from Rumer Godden's
A Dolls' House

Have your tastes changed over the years?

 Like Genevieve Angione, I have to admit that I think all dolls are collectible.  If am being honest, I have to reply that I never met a doll I didn’t like. Having said that, however, I’ve come to focus on metal and mechanical dolls especially antiques.  This interest came as result of researching and writing With Love from Tin Lizzie; A History of Metal Dolls, Dolls With Metal Parts, Mechanical Dolls and Automatons.  I also try to zero in on unusual china heads, French Fashion dolls, especially Huret, wax dolls, Alice in Wonderland Dolls, and international costume dolls before 1960.  But, I confess to having a fondness for many vintage hard plastic dolls, all Barbies, and folk dolls of many kinds.

Unis Late French Bebe, all original

Do you sew for your dolls?

The Coleman Walking Doll with cage body on display. 
Just behind her is a vintage automaton.  They were
part of a museum display of my metal and mechanical
dolls called "Hinges and Hearts," based on my book,
With Love from Tin Lizzie . . .
Vintage Japanese Dolls
 When I had the time, I sewed for them quite a bit.  I learned to make bodies for antique dolls from my friend, Violet Ellen Page, who was a doll artist and doll maker, and I learned to make doll clothes from my mother and grandmother.  I love patterns, but learned from another friend who was a theater major how to create doll clothes without patterns.  I prefer hand sewing doll clothes, but love sewing machines, too.  I have an antique one I used to use the years I was in graduate school.  My late mother loved to dress dolls, and started a tradition of taking one doll from the colleting to redress each Christmas.  Sometimes, she would use my old clothes, too.  I still love collecting vintage and antique lace, clothing, pieces of jewelry, buttons or trim for doll dresses. My grandmother dressed many dolls for me; if I left a doll without clothes lying around the house, the next morning, it would have an outfit.  She couldn’t stand to see an undressed doll.  When she was a little girl, my grandmother didn’t have dolls.  Her father died when she was around six.  They were living in Calamata, Greece, and didn’t have much money.  She, her mother, and her sister wore black for a good part of their lives.   Both of my grandmothers went to school to be seamstresses; they dressed dolls as well as people, and both loved them.

What doll is on your want list?
I would love to find the pewter headed Huret, a Rochard, and an Edison Phonograph doll.  I’m also looking for an old Bunraku Japanese puppet.  I always look for antique dolls, whatever their condition, because they are finite in numbers.  Though there are many of them, they will never be made again.  Good wax dolls are always on my list, too. Vintage dolls from 1930 to about 1970 interest me and I’d like to find Hugo the Man of 1000 faces and certain Ruth Gibbs and Nancy Ann Storybook dolls.   Also, the dolls Kimport sold through Doll Talk fascinate me, especially their dressed fleas from Mexico!  Really, I hope to have a Doll Museum in a few years, so I  have a detailed business plan complete with wish list for the dolls I’d like for the museum.