Thursday, July 14, 2016

August 2016 Interview; A Visit with Jennifer Craft

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" antique doll.

Simon & Halbig
Walker Kisser
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.

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