Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Bebe Gigoteur

This is Ellen, Dir. of Social Media for ADC Magazine.  I guess it's true good things come to collectors who wait.  

At a recent antique show, I found my dream doll at the booth run by Summer Kitchen antiques.  She is a mint Bebe Gigoteur by Steiner.

I pause here to mention that anyone who wants to learn more about Steiner doll should consult Dorothy McGonagle's amazing book about them, "The Dolls of Jules Nicholas Steiner with Historical Perspective."

Bebe Gigoteur dates from the 1880s, probably 1885 or so.

Jules Nicholas Steiner, 1832-1902, was a clock maker by trade.  As early as 1855, he received patents for mechanical dolls. 

The doll pictured could be a twin to mine; we thank Theriault's for allowing me to use their photo.  My doll has a light brown wig and white bonnet, as well as her original shoes and stockings.  These white dresses are lovely and appear on several of these dolls.

For more on Steiner, see Carl Fox "The Doll", and the entry on Steiner in Vol 1, The Collector's Encyclopedia of Dolls by the Colemans.

Courtesy, Theriaul's

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 poupée 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

Monday, March 14, 2016

April Sneak Peek!

For fashion doll collectors Paris was and remains, even to this day, as the magnificent focus of our collecting.  As a student Samy Odin would walk the area of Paris where the fashionable doll shops once catered to the children of the well-to-do. If only the doll collectors of today could be transported back to the 1860’s!  Exquisite dolls and accessories from this magical era accompany his look back in time.
If you thought you knew everything about the doll maker Bernard Ravca, this article by Dominique Pennegues, a noted researcher on cloth dolls, will surprise you! No articles about Ravca were published during his time in France and this is where the author begins her search. The results are fascinating.
Linda Holderbaum focuses on 14-inch and taller unmarked composition dolls dressed in handmade ethnic costumes.  Past research suggests that these dolls were purchased undressed and then dressed to raise monies at charity bazaars during the 1930’s and 1940’s. Although these unmarked dolls were not expensive, their dressmakers spared no effort in their costuming.
Étuis, small ornamental cases for holding sewing implements, were not only made for seamstresses, but also for dolls who had everything their young owners possessed.  Laurie Baker takes us on an adventure as an 1870’s Jumeau fashion doll travels to the homes of her wealthy clientele to create the finest in couture fashions. 
Dolls’ house and miniature collectors have an important date to mark on their calendars, May 20 and 21st, when Rhoads auctions will present an important sale featuring many rare and desirable items, among them the collection of Elizabeth Bentley Hamilton whose articles have graced these pages. 
A look at some memorable auctions, news and wonderful dolls await your reading pleasure.

Happy Collecting
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