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Antique Primitive and Vintage

It has often been said that dolls were not made of fabric before the nineteenth century as cloth was too costly for such use bears little examination. From the time when man first wore woolen cloth there were rags that could be rolled or roughly sewn into a doll like shape for the pleasure of children. Cloth is much more fragile than wood during time the cloth would become useless and the doll would be thrown away. Another ole piece of rag would then be shaped into another doll such was the life of a rag doll.

Those that have made it down through the centuries are much cherish today. Antique collectors often tended to neglect the rag type dolls they were not very pretty and did not survive very well but America dolls are based on rag dolls. If we could just hear the stories these dolls have to tell about crossing the Rockies going out West the secrets of their owners that was shared with them these dolls would be able to tell us a lot of history.

Cloth dolls have been made out of all kinds of fabrics the Lenci dolls were made from felt their faces where molded then the Columbian doll was made out of muslin and oil painted. Cloth dolls have been stuffed with sawdust straw cotton wool and today a lot of doll maker stuffed their dolls with polyester. Depending on the doll maker and their talent for drawing the faces cloth dolls could be very cruel and primitive or very elegantly done not that the children would notice for the time the mothers diligently worked on these precious gifts for their children were much appreciated in those days. I have read stories that when a family decided to move out West the child would have to make a choice which doll she would take with her for she was only allowed one most of the time it was a rag doll unless it was a doll that has been handed down in the family.

Cloth dolls could be dressed plain or fancy they were usually dress in the era of that time. Some doll clothes have elegant needlework or embroidery crocheting edges even knitted ones it all depended on the experience of the doll maker. There were all kinds of cloth dolls different shapes and styles the printed rag dolls were sold in sheet form in the last quarter of the century revolutionized the traditional methods. These dolls would be cut out and carefully sewed up then they would embellish them. The Ladies magazines also sold doll and clothes patterns to encourage adults and children to make dolls. The Housewife in 1890 commented that of all dolls the rag doll is most beloved as they can do with it as they like with out fear of injuring the doll or calling down reproof upon themselves. It was suggested that dolls were best made of old flesh color silk underwear though white twill was considered to make a more substantial doll.

The American maker far more than the English and European saw the need to create sturdy dolls that would stand up to nursery and frontier life and their must successful products are those of papier mache wood and fabric which did not need the careful handling that the European porcelain and wax dolls demaded.

As you go through the pages of the History of Dolls or visit my Antique Primitive Vintage gallery I hope you will admire and appreciate the doll makers before us the time they put into their dolls to create these works of arts that we admire today.

Art Fabric 24inches cloth doll early 1900 face view

Cloth Dolls From Ancient to Modern A Collectors by Linda Edward
American Rag Dolls by Estelle Patino
The Collectors Encyclopedia of Cloth Dolls by Johana Gast Anderton
Cloth Dolls Identification and Price Guide by Polly Judd
The Collectors Encyclopedia of Dolls by Dorothy S. Elizabeth A. Evelyn. J. Coleman
The Cloth Doll magazine Spring Summer 1990 Vol.7 No.4
Early American Dolls in Full Color by Helen Nolan
The Collectors History of Dolls by Constance Eileen King
Dolls and Puppets by Von Boehn

Izannah Walker cloth doll
Izannah Walker was born in Bristol, Rhode Island, in 1817. At the age of 7 she lost her parents. Izannah and her sisters went to live with her mother relatives in Somerset Massachusetts. We do not know much about her early life but in 1865 the Census of the State of Rhode Island she was listed as a doll maker residing in Central Falls. In 1873 Izannah obtained a U.S. patent for making rag dolls. The patent stated in the dies I place several thicknesses of cotton or other cheap cloth treated with glue or paste so that they will adhere together and hold the shape impressed upon them by the dies. When these cloth forms are dry a layer of cotton batting or other soft filling is carefully laid over them covering the whole or the head and neck portion only and then in turn covere with an external layer of stockinet or similar webbing. The latter is then fastened to the features of the cloth forms by stitches or paste and they are then placed again in the press. After they are taken from the press the forms are filled with hair cotton or other stuffiness and a piece of wood having been centrally and longitudinally laid between the two for stiffening they are tightly pressed together and secured by sewing pasting or gluing their edges to each other. The finish is then done by painting the face and other parts neatly with oil paint. Izannah Walker claimed in her patent that her dolls were easily kept clean which she considered an important fact. The doll bodies were made of heavy cream colored sateen where firmly stuffed and the joints were sewn. Some dolls are barefooted and some have painted boots.

Columbian Rag cloth doll
The Columbian rag dolls where created by Emma Adams of Oswego New York in 1891 or 1892. They were made of muslin and had a flat face which were oil painted by Emma. The eyes where painted blue or brown. Their bodies were stuffed with cotton or excelsior with an inner core of sawdust in the heads and torso. The limbs were painted flesh color and were stiffened with sizing. By 1903 the bodies of the dolls are merely stuffed sacks with extensions upon which the arms and legs can be sewed. These dolls were available in different sizes ranging from 15 inch to 29 inches. They came as boys, girls, or babies a few black dolls where also made. Emma sister Marietta soon joined her in this venture and contributed by designing and making the clothing for the dolls. The dolls were available wearing pink or blue gingham dresses white dresses a boy suit and a white baby gown all made in cotton. A few were also available wearing only a simple chemise. In 1893 the doll received the name Columbian when it gained admittance to the Columbian Exposition of the Chicago World Fair. In 1894 the Columbian Commission awarded a Diploma of Honorable Mention to Emma. The Columbian was never patented. It was simply umbian Doll/Emma E. Adams Oswego Center New York after 1906 and the death of Emma the mark was changed to The Columbian Doll Manufactured by Marietta Adams Ruttan Oswego New York. Saying has it that there were many dolls made before the stamp came into use. It is not unlikely therefore to find an early doll with no mark.

Edith Flack Ackley cloth doll
Edith Flack Ackley a doll maker designer and writer who was born in Greenport Long Island New York. In the early 1900 she studied portrait painting after high school. Following the death of her husband she gave it up for marionette making which provided the subject for an early book MARIONETTES Easy to Make Fun to Use. In 1936 she met and married Stow Wengenroth an artist lithographer renowned for his beautiful prints of the New England coast. During her lifetime Edith Flack Ackley made hundreds of dolls all cloth stuffed with cotton and thread. In the 1920 and 1930 many artist and crafts people published books and patterns for making rag dolls. In 1934 Edith Flack Ackley doll kits included unbleached muslin with the doll pattern stamped on the fabric instrustions and patterns for the clothing. This doll was to have yarn hair and embroidered features. The kit was offered through the magazine Woman Home Companion. Edith Flack Ackley has published several different books during her lifetime PAPER DOLLS Their History and How to Make Them. A DOLL SHOP OF YOUR OWN and DOLLS TO MAKE FOR FUN AND PROFIT plus some children books she wrote with her daughter Teckla Ackley and she was also an accomplish poet too. Edith took great pride in her doll encouraging others to make dolls and to sell them too.

Book Cover of The Doll Book
Estelle Ansley Worrell was an enthusiastic seamstress even as a young girl in Mount Pleasant Tennessee. Growing up she left the world of dolls behind and turned to other interests. After receiving a B.A. in art education from George Peabody College for Teachers in Nashville she taught art in Atlanta and later at the exclusive Barstow School in Kansas City. It wasn't until Mrs. Worrell own two daughters started to play with dolls that she began to again make the doll clothes that had so fascinated her as a child. Mrs. Worrell love of history her experience in sewing and art seemed to lead all at once to the writing of her first volume THE DOLLHOUSE BOOK and then naturally came THE DOLL BOOK she has also published another book DOLLS PUPPEDOLLS and TEDDY BEARS.

Victorian cloth doll
Now when it comes to the 1882 doll information is limited. In the book HOW TO DRESS AND REPAIR DOLLS by Audrey Johnson her only comment about this pattern is this Is drawn from an old Victorian patterns for a rag doll. Like so many Victorian things it is a little over complicated but it makes an interestingly shaped doll that could only be from that era.1882 cloth doll picture The 1882 Cloth Doll picture is from the book CLOTH DOLLS FROM ANCIENT TO MODERN COLLECTORS GUIDE by Linda Edwards. I actually made this doll she is my 1882 Butterick Challenge Doll named Ada Mae the shape of this doll is amazing. This doll has a lovely body nice curve hips and a cute little bottom. Now the foot on this doll is something else I made several dolls before I was satisfy will should I say sorta satisfy. This doll is put together with darts I learned a lot from this doll she has turned out to be my favorite doll of all the other ones I have made from patterns. Below is a picture of the Butterick Catalog that this doll was in or dolls similar to this one.
1882 butterick catalog sample
As of this time this is all I know about this 1882 doll pattern. From my experience she was a delight and a real challenge to make a learning experience.

Making American Folk Art Dolls by Gini Rogowski and Gene DeWeeseMAKING AMERICAN FOLK ART DOLLS
by Gini Rogowski and Gene DeWeese
The simplicity of doll making folk art according to the difinition is simply art of the folk. The author of this book takes one back to the days when people then and some now still make dolls out of nuts and seeds corn husks wishbone gourds spool egg shells bread dough dried fruit rawhide papier mache and molded felt. It is up to the doll maker imagination as to what kind of a doll they will make out of what ever object that is on hand. Reading through this book has open my eyes and imagination what a doll could be made out of. Some would call this primitive doll making which in a sense may be true what I do know that this is part of American heritage in doll making. Let your imagination fly.

Prairie People by Jarji Hadley and J. Dianne RidgleyPRAIRIE PEOPLE
by Marji Hadley and J. Dianne Ridgley
This is a delightful book that is dedicated to generation of pioneer women who saved fabric and basting thread to be used again in dolls quilts these pioneers did not realize what a heritage they were handing down to generation yet to come. This book is divided into two parts basic dollmaking which contains general dollmaking direction then which ever doll you decide to make from this book there will be complete direction for that doll. This is a wonderful way to learn more about American cloth dolls there is a little bit of a story that explains how this doll came to be also through this book will be bits of history of our Pioneer Women of the past.

How to Make Upside-down Dolls by John Coyne and Jerry Miller
by John Coyne and Jerry Miller
In the mountains of North Carolina craftsmen there were known for these up side down dolls. They use these doll as their character in a story. In the story of Cinderalla there would be a doll set representing Cinderalla and her two wicked step sisters then there would be another doll set representing the step mother and the fairy god mother as the story teller was telling the story he or she would hold up the doll representing the character he was telling about. A fantastic way of keeping the children focus on the story. Every effort went into these dolls making each one special and unique. Some of the dolls would have 2 characters some would have 3 characters all into one doll set it depended on the story that they were telling. At one time in our history Mothers or Fathers maybe Sisters or Brothers would sit down to tell a child a story using the topsy turvy dolls as their main chacater.

There are so much more to learn about dolls and their makers as I learn more I will be adding to this page. Thank you for stopping by hope you will visit again.