Saturday, April 25, 2009

Ada Lum DiDi

I believe this to be an Ada Lum DiDi (literally translated "little brother" but also used for any very young boy) doll. He is 18" in size with individual fingers, attached ears, and carefully embroidered features. He also has the Chinese style ponytail or cue. Even little children in China today often have part of their heads shaved in warm weather. Usually now, however, a small patch in the front is left unshaven. The interesting thing about this particular doll is that he is wearing split pants. These are typically worn by Chinese children before they are potty trained (which is fairly early), but are fast disappearing in cities with the common use of disposable diapers.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Large Chinese Cloth Doll

I recently acquired this Chinese cloth doll which is a bit of a mystery to me. The seller said he was purchased from people who had lived in China during the 1940's. He is about 21" long and has attached ears and individual fingers. His facial embroidery, however, is unlike the unique small full lips and sweetly upturned smile line of a typical Ada Lum face. His eyes are also thin, but not slightly slanting and lack the large Lum pupils. His carefully constructed outfit (vest, tunic, pants, socks, shoes, and hat) shows wear; and he is one of the few dolls that I have seen sporting western-style short hair.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Small Pearl Gets a Cleaning

I normally wouldn't wash any part of a vintage cloth doll, but Small Pearl is already so damaged; I didn't feel I could hurt her more. Her outfit is already faded and I can see places were the red edging has bled on to other parts; so I will hand wash it in cold water. I also read an article that said I could, rub cornmeal, cornstarch or talc into the fabric to "clean her." Then I'm supposed to let her sit for 2-4 hours, followed by brushing her well.

Small Pearl's powder "bath" didn't really seem to make much difference (although she has now acquired a nice talc smell). So I am considering plan B. I have also read that I can open a seam, de-stuff her, and then wash her body material. I am considering amputation - doing one leg at a time and seeing how she does.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Dream World Dolls

Dream World Dolls are lovely composition dolls from around the 1940's with painted side glancing eyes and sweet expressions. They have mohair curls and usually some kind of hat or veil - as they often represent a nation, storybook character, historical figure, or bride. Around 11" or 12" in size, they were mass produced fairly inexpensively. Their clothes are stapled on and most wear socks and cream colored shoes. They are unmarked, but can some times be found with their original blue tag. Dolls with their original box and tag are more valuable. My doll is a Dream World oriental.

More information on Dream World Dolls

The following is some more information that I gleaned about "Dream World Dolls" from the article "DOLLS IN 'FOREIGN COSTUMES' AT TOY FAIR IN THE 1940'S" written and photographed by John Axemore. (DOLL READER, Hobby House Press, Inc. Cumberland Maryland 13:2 Feb/Mar 1985: 126-133. Print.) Mr. Axe notes that foreign costume dolls, in general, tend to be dressed in representative regional costumes that are associated with a country. While the authenticity of the doll costumes is questionable, the dolls themselves possess a beauty of their own and are helpful in allowing little girls to see that there are other peoples and cultures out there.

These 11in or 27.9cm dolls of the 1940's were actually distributed by several companies. Their figures being identical, they are acknowledged to be of molds coming from a single source. (It was common practice in the 1940s for one molding company to make composition dolls from identical molds for various firms to market and perhaps finish a little differently.) Two companies, in fact, Herbert H. Krause & Associates (Chicago, Ill) and National Costume Doll Co (New York, NY), distributed the same doll, in almost identical costume, and with like names. Unless accompanied by the "Dream World Dolls" blue tag with the moon, the dolls are almost impossible to differentiate. This fact raises the possibility that the dolls were even dressed and processed by the same source. "Dream World Dolls" distributed by Herbert H. Krause & Associates were advertised in Playthings magazine from February 1944 to June 1947. National Costume Dolls distributed their dolls around the same time period under the names "Dolls of All Nations" & "Fairy Land Series."

Characteristics of "Dream World Dolls" include:
*made of composition and fully jointed, unmarked
*head slightly molded with a strip of waved mohair (not true wig, although one advertisement noted that the their coiffs were styled by Armand)
*blue painted side-glancing eyes (my doll's eyes are an exception)
*stapled clothing
*stiff cheesecloth underclothing, braid trimmed
*white leatherette shoes with a shoe string across the instep

Another company using this particular doll mold was Mary Ryan Company (NewYork, NY). They called their line "La Madelon Dolls" by (not made or designed) Madeleine Frazier. Advertised as better quality dolls with a "french touch," these dolls have removable clothing often tagged with the "La Madelon" name. Their costumes are said to be of little girl length with skirts and dresses falling at either the knees or the ankles. In 1944 these dolls sold for $5-6.

Two other more famous companies also used this particular 11in, 27.5cm mold. Madame Alexander made a Scarlett O'Hara doll and (according to the article) Arranbee, a Nancy Lee. These dolls, however, had cut out sleep eyes and were painted and finished with more detail and care.

Modern Dolls