A nearly forgotten purchase came in the mail today, one that was a late night bid and went to bed to find the next day I won her. I rarely win bids anymore because I can’t put the money into it. It wasn’t a dream doll I was lusting after, so I promptly forgot about her and then she arrived!
This little one is 7 inches, listed as having a china head, arms, legs and wooden body. She was only £5 and so I bid. The seller only had one photo of her and it wasn’t very clear. When she arrived, I thought what fun it will be to see if she is an antique or a reproduction of some sort. She was merely wrapped in bubble wrap and put in an envelope. Seems they don’t use boxes on fragile items here. Out of the wrapper:
My first impression…she looks dead! So pale, mottled and the black lips didn’t help.
Her hair is coarse and stiff. She has some staining and dirt on her face. Her gown is completely hand sewn. The gown is silk and has holes and disintegration. There is discolouration on the gown that is yellowish-olive, much like the stain on her face. It was a lovely lilac colour at one time. I believe the dress was made in the 1920’s. Undressed, I was very surprised to find out she has a bust and waist! My guess is she was made between 1890 and 1920. She may have had previous clothing. There weren’t any undergarments.
Her arms and legs are painted wood, not china. Large spoon hands and tiny booted (with heels) feet. One foot has been mended. Whenever I see a mend on an old doll, it makes me think someone cared enough about the doll not to throw it out. These type of dolls were not meant to be fine or lovely, just cheap playthings. Her china head is not even glazed, and is strangely painted, such as the lips and nose holes are black, not red or coral. The eyebrows are brown, so it would seem odd not to have the nose and lips another colour. Her arms are limited in motion, the upper arm can only move forward or backward, the lower arms move only in towards the body. She is well painted on the body, not just dipped. Her head is immobile and probably glued into the body. There is always a possibility this is a replacement head, but I have no indication it is, it seems to be the same wear/dirtiness of the limbs. The body is better quality than the head. Wood peg joinings, no nails or wire.
I gently washed her hair with conditioner and gave her body a bees waxing. I used a cotton swab to clean her face, but very little of the discolouration came away, she seems to be stained with an olive coloured something and I am hesitant to try and get it out.
Her hair may have been in pigtails at one time, but with a woman’s body, I decided to roll the hair and sew it up. It was too stiff to let hang. My best guess is that it is horsehair.
Sigh. Not sure why I bought her. I am still unsure of my dolly direction these days. I am definitely more interested in antique dolls than ever before. I am fascinated by the history and life they may have once had. I am excited to be able to make her some clothes and revitalise her, but what then? I guess just wait and see.
Certainly not a beauty. She looks pretty rough. I may dress her in a peasant costume, or a maids.