Wednesday, May 6, 2015

An Interview with Collector Rebecca Hawkins

When did you start collecting? 
I have always loved dolls and, as a child, took very good care of them. Then, as now, I find magic in each one. I can remember the excitement of receiving a Barbie doll for Christmas sometime around the third grade. It was my most exciting gift ever. I still have her and all of her clothes. She just happens to be the #1 Barbie. The excitement never went away and after college, marriage, and children I found dolls again. I have been seriously collecting for 20 years.
Milliners Models: all original wigged African American milliners model with brown leather body and black wooden arms and legs. The shoes are painted blue. To the right is an all original boy with molded hair with a side part.

Have your tastes changed over the years?
My first antique doll was a JDK baby doll. I then found dolly face dolls, but the love of my original Barbie and her clothes peeked my interest in fashion and china dolls. I fell for the older dolls and their beauty. As much as I loved the dolls, their wardrobe fascinated me. In addition to fancy lady dolls, I also collect cloth dolls. I was born and raised in Alabama, so I was naturally drawn to Ella Smith’s dolls. The artistry and construction of her dolls are wonderful, and the Alabama doll is definitely my favorite cloth doll.
An 1840's exposed ear China lady. She is on a leather body

What are your favorite types of dolls?
I collect antique dolls of all types, and do hunt for the unusual and odd. Early bisque and china dolls are a large part of my collection, but I do have cloth, wooden, and papier-mâché. Since male dolls are more rare they appeal to me in a unique way and I collect them in all mediums.
Izannah Walker boy doll. He is original in his boy outfit of the time. To the right is an unusual one of a kind Alabama Baby. When purchased from the family, it was said that the doll was made to look like the grandmother’s son. She was from Roanoke, Alabama and worked for a lady who made dolls.

What are the characteristics that attract you to a certain doll?
I am drawn to the unusual or different, but first it has to “speak to me”. I love to find a doll that has the look I want, and then find clothes to bring her (or him) back to the way they originally looked.

French fashions: a character Terrene poupee with kid over metal body and bisque hands. To the right is a Clement poupee with a hollow leather body.

Do you sew for your doll?
No, but I do repair their clothes. I like to keep them as original as possible.

An 18 inch "so called" English China child. She has China arms and legs. It is now believed these dolls were made in Germany. To the right is a swivel neck Rohmer poupee.

Are you looking for anything in particular etc.?
I’m always looking for unique dolls. My next purchase will be a surprise to me, and I won’t know until I see it!  

On the left,  a hand carved wooden doll. Her arms are cloth with a metal slave band on one arm. The body is wooden and jointed at the hip and knee. To the right is a male Mason & Taylor. It is believed to have been made to drive a buggy.

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