Saturday, 19 January 2019

Costume Dolls

Years ago when travelling at home and abroad collecting costume dolls was something that people tended to do. I say home and abroad because I do have a selection of British dolls too. However, as a consequence we have a cabinet full of them. Will they ever become desirable objects? I have my doubts, but having said that one or two do stand out as being quite unusual or special. One doll in our collection is the same as one I saw recently being sold as a 'vintage' sailor boy. My sailor boy was bought for me as a six year old by my grandmother. 
She purchased it on the Empress of Scotland when she sailed to and from Canada where she stayed for a few months with my aunt, her daughter. 
He is certainly not in mint condition as he has been greatly loved and sadly has lost the ribbon around his cap which read The Empress of Scotland. However, I would never part with him as he brings back fond memories of times spent with my grandmother. These sailor boys were made for cruise ships by Norah Wellings a talented artist and designer of cloth dolls. She started her career with Chad Valley becoming their chief doll designer. Eventually she left and began her own business called The Victoria Toy Works.
The doll below is from the Japanese Meiji period, and is well over 100 years old. 
She is a Geisha girl wearing a lovely red hat. Her silk kimono is hand painted with trails of wisteria blossom, and my understanding is that her hands and face are glazed with crushed oyster shells (Gofun) which creates the bright white finish.
The way this doll is dressed is both authentic and accurate.
Maybe I will open the cabinet doors again one day and have another exploration.

57 comments:

  1. Beautiful! Everyone collects something, don't they!

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  2. Dear Rosemary,
    I hope that you will open that cabinet again and again. I love these two dolls. You have taken such good care of them. Besides loving these beautiful dolls I also love that you are sharing their history with us.

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    1. Dear Gina - thank you very much, you may just have encouraged me to open the doors again sometime. I had forgotten what a variety of them we have got - may be about 100.

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  3. Hello Rosemary, What a great souvenir the sailor doll was for a ship. These days it is hard to find appropriate souvenirs that really have a function or appearance that reminds you where they came from. As for the Japanese doll, imagine all the hard and detailed work that went into painting and dressing her. And her condition looks perfect!
    --Jim

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    1. Hello Jim - the sailor boy holds fond memories for me, but the Japanese doll is indeed exquisitely made with many layers of the correct fabric and padding which have all been executed correctly.

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  4. The Japanese doll is absolutely gorgeous! Mum and Dad used to collect little cream crockery type souvenirs, usually with a little scene and the name of the town painted on it. I had a few dolls in kilts, tams and with bagpipes from our holidays to Scotland. Best, Jane x

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    1. Yes, I remember those little cream jugs etc showing scenes and the name of the town on them which you don't see anymore except in vintage shops. Perhaps souvenirs like that were seen as being little treats following the austerity of the two wars.

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  5. What a cute doll to remind you of times shared with your grandmother. How tall is the beautiful Japanese lady? Everything about her is exquisite. She too is a treasure.

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    1. The Japanese doll is about 8 inches (20cms) so not very large. All of our costume dolls are roughly the same size with some a bit smaller and some slightly larger.

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  6. The Japanese doll is gorgeous and the little sailor boy a lovely reminder of your grandmother.

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    1. It appears that both of these dolls are collectible but I am sure many of the dolls in our collection are not.

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  7. Really nice detail. I watch Antique Roadshow type programmes on and off and the prices for beautiful objects has really dropped, presumably due to so much internet trading. Really fantastic items with untold hours of work in them and I always think nowadays "is that all!!?. That's shocking!" when I hear the final bid. Much better to treasure them instead.

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    1. I saw a Japanese doll on the Antique Roadshow similar to ours, and I was very surprised at its value, it was much higher than I had ever imagined. However, it is well over 100 years old.

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  8. The Geisha is especially beautiful - a treasure whether it's valuable or not.

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    1. When I was looking at them I realised that you do not tend to see things like this anymore when travelling.

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  9. What a treasure you have in the little sailor boy, Rosemary. He is cute and a special link to times gone by and your grandmother. The Japanese doll interests me very much, as we have one almost identical, with the same red hat, and I did not know anything about it. We also have a tall porcelain Japanese lady doll in a glass case, with an elaborate wig. Husband brought it home from a business trip years ago. I do hope you share more of your wonderful doll collection - I am sure they are all interesting!

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    1. Dear Patricia - it is my understanding that Geisha girls wore a red hat such as these, and that they were also used for a particular dance. If you look here you can see a photo of a girl, not doll, doing the dance.
      https://www.deviantart.com/andyserrano/art/Red-Hat-Dancer-120618128

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  10. Oh, I like them, it brings back such sweet memories of your grandmother.

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    1. Thanks I am pleased that you enjoyed seeing them.

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  11. Oh these two dolls are so lovely. So much work has gone into the Geisha outfit especially. To me the entire Geisha culture is interesting - I just pulled out some the beautiful postcards of these women purchased when in Japan (a future post perhaps!), and their costumes are awesome.

    How about the cute little 'doll' in your first photo - Rosemary. I believe WE looked a lot alike as children, even the same hair - long plaits held back with slides, now called barrettes I think.

    Hugs, Mary

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    1. They are still called plaits here Mary, but I think that my SiL in Canada also calls them barrettes.
      Do show your postcards of the Geisha girls Mary, I am sure that they would be lovely to see.

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  12. Dear Rosemary, I love that first doll most of all...the one with the cute pigtails on top of her head,

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    1. Ah Gina! you have caught me out, I just found that photo and added it later as an after thought,

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    2. I'm so glad you did. I thought it was so special when I first saw it, and I still do.

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    3. I don't enjoy having my photo taken Gina, and distinctly remember not wanting to have it taken on that particular day either - I was at school.

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  13. Dearest Rosemary,
    That is a lovely picture of you at the time when you received your dear Grandmother's precious sailor boy doll! An emotional piece but still memorable for the ship.
    As for the Japanese doll dressed in authentic silk Geisha dress, that is museum worthy material and so educational.
    We have known several of our friends that had such a doll collector glass chest for display. Both of us have never done so.
    However, Pieter's adopted daughter Liz once received a fabulous doll from a Czech scientist friend, wearing authentic clothes. Hope she still has that!
    Hugs,
    Mariette

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    1. Dear Mariette - We must have at least 100 small dolls that we have collected. My husband bought the majority of them when he travelled with the UN. He used to bring them back so that our sons would have a flavour of the lifestyle and people that he was seeing in so many of the diverse countries he visited. Back then there was very little on TV, in fact we didn't have one, and of course no internet.

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    1. It is worth looking closely at the Geisha girl she is really beautifully made.

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  15. Real beautiful dolls, so open again your cabinet and enjoy the sweet memories they bring you.

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  16. These are treasures that bring us joy. I collected a few dolls while traveling myself and my oldest daughter has them now. I would enjoy seeing them again too. A favorite was a doll from Belgium...an elderly woman seated and making lace.

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    1. I don't think people collect these dolls anymore, and as far as I can recall I haven't seen any to buy for a long time.

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  17. This Japanese doll is a treasure , really beautiful craft. I too have a cabinet filled with dolls from all over the world , never thought they would have any particular value, but maybe I should open the cabinet doors again for another look : -))

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    1. Yes do Jane - I think that some of the most collectible ones are those that were made by the local people as they no longer make them.

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  18. It's nice to have such memories. The first doll is loved and evokes family memories. The second one is beautiful and beautifully made. It is nice to have a wardrobe with such dolls that are associated with some events. Greetings.

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    1. Memories become more and more important as we get older, and these tangible little reminders are an important part of that.

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  19. They all look quite lovely and the fact that they evoke many happy memories makes them special. Be sure not to delay too long openeing the cupboard again to see what you can find,

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    1. Thank you David for your visit - I might just take you up on that and have another opening of the cabinet doors again.

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  20. The Japanese doll is so beautiful.
    It reminded me of my childhood, when I was a child I also came to collect dolls from different countries.
    Warm hugs
    Maria
    Divagar Sobre Tudo um Pouco

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    1. Perhaps we should all dig out our collections and remind ourselves of times past. Take care Maria.

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  21. I’d love to look inside your cupboard... Each doll has such a special story to tell... I’m so happy that you shared the dolly memories with us all today... I found your posting so delightful...incidently, I collect dolls too (Ha Ha)..perhaps I should take a quick peek into the attic . ..Hugs

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    1. Dear Zaa - thank you for your visit. There must be more doll collectors out there than I imagined, and here was I thinking that it was a long lost pursuit.

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  22. I presume that is you in the first photo - what a lovely smile and a sweet girl.
    The sailor, so well loved..interesting what we find it cupboards.

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    1. Yes, that is a six year old me Margaret, and the photo was taken at school.

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  23. These samples of your doll collection are beautiful. I love the story behind the little sailor boy and you spending time with your grandmother.

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    1. Thanks Lorrie - when I found the doll nestled on one of the shelves the memories of my sweet grandmother flooded back immediately.

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  24. When I was a little girl I loved my dolls. I had the usual baby dolls that I could wheel around in a doll's pram and also had a collection of souvenir dolls from different countries dressed up in national costume. I continued collecting or being given them when in my teens. They're packed away in a big box in the wardrobe. At one time my mother kept them in a cabinet, all labelled. She even saved them for me when we've moved around a lot so I've inherited them back. Your examples are older and, therefore, very interesting. I must get out my costume dolls as they're authentically dressed, but I think they might make me feel emotional thinking of my mother and relatives who gave them to me and are no longer with us. By the way, I do like that photo of you. My hair was done in a similar fashion tied back with ribbons and secured with hair slides.

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    1. Dear Linda - I actually enjoyed being reconnected with my grandmother by holding this doll again and remembering what a sweet lady she was.
      My photo was taken at school - I hated having my photo taken and still do for that matter.

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  25. ├ë bonita a boneca! E a fotografia tamb├ęm. Um abra├žo!

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    1. Obrigado pelo seu comentário gentil - Estou muito satisfeito que você tenha gostado de ver as bonecas.

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