This was a mystery doll until earlier this year when I found photos of an identical one published by the Rockefeller Folk Art Center in Williamsburg, VA. Their book Dollhouses Miniature Kitchens, and Shops (1996) contains three photos of the 15 in. cotton stuffed doll with an embroidered face. It was described as being made in Brazil, possibly as late as 1930. A very odd feature was the applied celluloid fingernails on each hand. Not knowing her identity, I made the mistake of removing the nails because they were so “creepy.”
The 8.5 in. rabbit has a carved head and torso. Carved lower “arms” are attached with a wire through the torso. She is set on a stand with a dowel. Her felt skirt under the apron opens in the front and can be used as a container for candy, etc. She is marked, Made in W. Germ. The 3.5 in. rabbit is a miniature of the larger one. I gave her a red cape and a basket.
This 12 in. couple are the husband and wife of the Pinn Family, circa 1935. They were the last wooden dolls produced by the Schoenhut Doll Co., which began making dolls in 1912. Their original clothes were missing even though they were originally nailed to the body. There were four Pinns: Hattie, Ty, Bobby, and Baby.
On Christmas day in the late 1930’s there was a dollhouse waiting for me. It was filled with Tootsietoy metal furniture. The bureau drawers all opened up. There was a radio with doors, a tiny metal sewing basket, a tiny metal cradle with an even tinier doll inside. My sisters stood by and watched me. I could not have imagined the Tootsietoy furniture would be a valued collectable. Shown here is the dollhouse, inside and out. To date I have been unable to find the original furniture. Meanwhile it is furnished in a cheerful Swedish style.
I wonder where my mother bought this 7 x 4 in. Noah’s ark. Was it at a gift shop at Rocky Neck, Gloucester, MA? She and my Aunt Sue would often walk there at the end of a summer’s day. I used to take out all the animals and make them stand in line. The monkey was my favorite. These popular arks of the 1930’s were made in Germany, probably in the Grodner Tal region, home of many skilled wood carvers.
As a child I received early Madame Alexander composition dolls as gifts at Christmas or birthdays. Sometimes I had a special doll request. There was a summer shop at Rocky Neck, Gloucester, MA. It smelled of rose potpourri inside and there was a special room with dolls for sale. Mrs. Parker, the owner, handmade all the Dream Baby christening outfits. These dolls had German bisque heads with sleep eyes, celluloid hands, and stuffed cloth bodies. The heads are marked AM (i.e. Armand Marseille) Germany. These heads were made from 1926 to 1930+. I chose one of the Dream Babies for my birthday when visiting the shop in July. When I came back in September for my birthday doll, I was disappointed to find that my first choice had been sold. But I soon found another that I loved just as much. Mrs. Parker’s embroidery is an inspiration.