Hello! When last we were together, it was February and cold and snowy. It is now early in March with the hope of spring being around the corner!
As thoughts come to me that I want to add to this blog, I jot them down in a notebook reserved just for those thoughts. I sat down to organize my thoughts into a cohesive article and upon looking at it objectively, it was a MISHMASH of various things none of which were very big, but all being things that I felt were topics to share. The meaning of mishmash is a confused mixture of things. So….here goes….
First on my list of thoughts – At some point in time, all doll collectors have purchased a doll that we have absolutely no idea who she is, who manufactured her, when or where she was manufactured, for how long she was manufactured, and the list of unknowns goes on and on. Yet, we purchase the doll because there was something about her that appealed to us in some way. It made no difference that we knew not who she was. In today’s world we have the internet, scads of older reference books and old photographs plus the advantage of older collectors. Our resources are almost limitless. I have done this on numerous occasions. While researching a doll late one evening, I giggled to myself wondering if the designers, manufacturers of that doll that is 65+ years old ever had any idea how we collectors would struggle with the identification of some of our dolls. They, without a doubt, had no inkling that we would pour over old photos, old catalog pages, old advertisements, etc. for some identifying mark or similarity to another doll that might help us in the identification of our new acquisition. The struggle is real to us until we can come to some sort of conclusion as to the beginnings of this precious doll. The more information we can acquire about her, the better. We want to know all the THINGS there are to be known about THIS doll. I think the part that is most humorous to me was that I viewed it as “doll genealogy.” According to Wikipedia, genealogy is from the Greek language meaning “the making of a pedigree.” It is the study of families, family history, and the tracing of their lineages. In a loose form of the word, we as doll collectors are researching the doll’s genealogy in order to find out the history behind her. I feel as though this might be a source of amusement to many makers and manufacturers to know that we in the year 2021 are grappling to know more of this doll’s background. Yet we are more than pleased to dig through information until we believe we have the true identity of our doll. So am I the only one who finds this humorous or have you ever really given this any thought?
This, friends , is one of those dolls I was talking about. I know nothing about her other than I liked her and I wanted her to be mine. Any information you can contribute is appreciated! Photos are of her being unpacked.
Next on my list of thoughts – Properly storing your older dolls when you no longer want them on display. Oh my! This is something that I see regularly and as a person who restores old dolls, I deal with it often. It always saddens me because so much damage to the doll could have been prevented with just a few easy steps. These things will not totally keep the doll in pristine condition, but they will certainly preserve it for your children/grandchildren. The thing I see most often is people become tired of the dolls being on display so they heap them all into a big box, which by the way is over stuffed, tape it shut, and heave it into the attic or push it into the darkest, most damp corner of the basement. Either way the doll will be exposed to poor conditions such as extreme heat in the attic or wet, damp basement floors. Vintage dolls of any kind were not made to be exposed to extreme temperature conditions. Those conditions can cause composition to crack and flake, vinyl to break down and form in odd ways such as pressing the doll’s chin into its chest, clothing to fade onto the plastic/vinyl skin of the doll leaving it permanently dyed the color of the clothing, and the rusting shut of sleep eyes, or even worse become moldy and crack. These are just a few of the things that can happen to that doll while in that box for just a few years, let alone that many are stored for 20-30 years under those conditions. I’m sure you have all seen dolls in these conditions.
After all, we are custodians of these objects for the next generation. Let’s take a minute and do this right. If you have a doll still in the original box, take the doll out of the box as the dyes in the cardboard of the box can transfer to the doll’ s skin. Consider removing the doll’s clothing and shoes to prevent dye transfers and wrapping the doll in unbleached cotton muslin cloth (can be purchased in most fabric departments) and then put her back into the original box. Never wrap the doll in newspaper as the ink also transfers. Wrap the box to keep out the dust and store upright to prevent crushing if stuck at the bottom of the pile.
I’m sure you have heard it said that humans begin to die the minute we are born. The same can be figuratively said of dolls from the 1950s. They will begin to degrade in a way that emits a vomit-like smell or have a stickiness to the vinyl. Their elasticity slowly begins to seep out over time. Once the plastic is made, it starts degrading. Storing at a constant temperature slows this process drastically.
Both these dolls had been stored is drastic heat in cramped conditions. The one on the left had developed a jowley appearance and her face was flattening. With a lot of work, those things were corrected and now she appears as the doll in the blue dress. The vinyl doll in the right was stored in bad conditions also. He was beginning to mold slightly inside and his chin was literally resting on his chest. Both of these instances were preventable had the dolls been stored properly.
When storing antique porcelain dolls, store them face down. There is a lead weight in their head that performs the opening and closing of the eyes. If stored improperly, it can cause pressure to the doll’s head and cause it to break.
Rather than move your dolls to the attic or basement, find a spot out of direct light in a closet. Also be sure that the temperature is fairly constant rather than extremes either hot or cold.
Also, when you clean up that old doll, sometimes you have to accept damage, flaws, or soiling. It is part of that doll’s history.
Last on my list of thoughts – We doll collectors love our dolls. We love them all, but some more than others. We tend to give them their own personalities. I smiled to myself when a fellow doll collector said to me that she liked a particular doll in her collection because to her, the doll ‘just looked as if she had something to say.’ I loved that thought and gloried in her courage to say it. I guess if we were honest, we all have a doll or two in our collection that just looks as if she has something to say!
SHE has something to say….I think she has a secret…..
Now, after reading this, I hope the title of the article made more sense than when you began reading. Let’s talk dolls again soon! Until then, stay well! Please feel free to leave your comment below.