Saturday, July 2, 2011

Well Hello Dolly!

Yesterday, I took my Mother-in-law on a road trip to the infamous town of Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, where Al Capone is rumoured to have hid from the US Marshals, and, incidentally, my home town. My Mum-in-law is a doll fashionista which is to say she enjoys creating clothing, specifically for 18" grown lady dolls.  She doesn't just play with them, she really seriously dresses them.  Some of her dolls have full wardrobes that Jackie Onassis would appreciate.  As well as a series of replica costumes from a production of Anne of Green Gables, and on the upcoming list, costumes from the Nutcracker Ballet.

We heard that someone in Moose Jaw had amassed a collection of 1800+ collectible, antique toys and dolls and that they were going on auction beginning today, Canada Day.  The previewing was yesterday.  Mum decided it was much better to just look than buy as she lives in a small seniors apartment and must exercise her extensive hobby mostly in her imagination, rather than in reality.  So we made the hour drive and bought tickets to go to the viewing.

I have 3 topics in regard to this show:

1.) The oldest dolls are the best. 
This is an Eaton's Catalogue Doll, probably 100ish years old.  Porcelain head, hands, and feet (at least) and maybe even real hair.  The hair was thin, you could see where the strands were poked into little holes in the porcelain.  But she is painted so beautifully!  Such delicate features and so lifelike it was a little eerie.  I think her eyes were like glass marbles.  I wish I knew more about these dolls.  This one would be a candidate for the Antiques Roadshow!
We didn't touch her hair to see if it was real because there were signs everywhere, EVERYWHERE, saying not to touch.  My Mum inadvertently touched a couple of things while trying to look at the item tags and she was immediately barked at by the "red hat" biddies who were guarding the event.  Seriously, people need to learn the words customer service and what they mean.  All they would have had to do is to have the old biddies wearing gloves (such as plastic, vinyl, or even purple velvet) and have them offer to pick up the item for you.  "May I help you with that.  It's helpful to be able to see the detail on some of these amazing items, so that you can make notes on your bidding sheets."  I was proud of Mum though, at one point she turned to one of the biddies and said, "are you going to follow me around the whole show?"  You do not want to go toe to toe with her!  I have had to pull her off shopkeepers before.  Not pretty.

2.) You don't have any hope of turning out normal if these were your childhood toys.
Dr. Gil Grissom's childhood toys
Here is a collection of photos in the "what were they thinking" gallery.  I wish I had taken a general photo of the whole hall where the preview was taking place.  There were 40ish tables lining the walls.  Each table was completely covered with rows and rows of dolls lined up with little white tags tied onto their extremities.  It was like the aftermath of some vast make believe natural disaster or something.  Add to that the number of dolls who closed their eyes when lying down, and the number of dolls with some terrible injury like a broken arm or leg, dented head.  Everyone is whispering.
Look at your nose, say "Cheese!"

It wasn't until I saw the box of body parts that it dawned on me.  It seems like they are all dead!  Then you start to think of all the children who might have received these toys as Christmas gifts and their joy and delight to play with them.  And how many of those people are old, or gone now.  It just all seemed kind of sad.

Then I saw the doll in the green dress!  She made me laugh.  It is such a homely little creature.  I guess everyone likes to have a doll that is just like them!  But really, how does a kid have a chance of turning out normal after spending days, weeks, months staring lovingly in this face?  or this next one...
New from Mattel, Creepysena!  Girl of your dreams, bad dreams!

A gift for Mary?

If you had asked the child who got this one how many nice toys she got for Christmas, she would have replied, "None". 

3.)  Things are lovely for different reasons.
1640. 2.5in. doll made in Japan & 3in. Bisque German doll with one broken foot
I was fascinated with the little tiny dolls.  They don't appear to have any moving parts, but have a lot of detail on their little painting faces.  They are just so unlike the icky plastic toys we have now.  I really did want to touch them but managed to obey the red hat biddies.
The one with the dress you could hold in your hand or pocket.  I think she would give you courage if you had to stand up and give a speech at school or something.  Nobody would know how you managed to do so well, and only you would know that you had a tiny little friend in your pocket.  She reminds me of a tiny doll that my Mom made for me that fit in the pocket of a dress.  She made a matching dress for the doll.  Very cool.

818. 3in. Porcelain doll, crocheted outfit

And I have saved the best for the last.  This last item is not the best because it is the oldest, nor is it really outlandish, unusual, or even noteworthy.  In fact it is really neither ugly nor beautiful, but when I saw it my heart skipped a beat.  I could hardly believe it.

It could be possible that other children thought the long soft blond hair looked hot, and would look better as a bob anyway.  It is common for children to learn the hard way that doll's hair does not grow back.  But do these same children apply a dab of lipstick to the dolls lips, and have their grandmothers make nighties out of scraps of fabric and lace.  Do all these children have dolls that look just like my baby dolly?

My Dolly
Though I could not hold her little cloth body with the smooth plastic hands and feet, and touch the sweet rosy cheeks, I knew she was my very own baby.  I got a taste of what mothers who are separated from their birth children may feel like when they see a photo or meet this child later on.  I don't mean to belittle the experience, though mine is only with a doll.  I savoured some real emotions for some time as I stood there and remembered learning how to diaper a little tiny bum.  Experience which came in handy when the real children arrived.

This little dolly had a little motor inside her body and a string which you could pull which would make her arms and legs slowly and mechanically churn.  Shortly after acquiring the doll, I had pulled the string right out and broken the motor, but all was not lost for the charm of this feature was that it gave this little baby her centre of gravity and a bit of weight that made her feel real.  Her arms and legs flopped like a baby sound asleep, she was as real as can be to a three year old girl.  Her delicate little hands had separate little fingers with little tiny fingernails which I often painted with my Mom's nail polish.  Little Dolly was a tough little one surviving sandboxes, and sleeping in purses, riding in carriages with cats, aforementioned haircuts, makeup sessions, and the odd drawing on of insidious diseases such as chicken pox.  A little Mr. Clean and she was as good as new.  She was the first one, for whom I made clothes.  I loved her.  I hope she is loved just as much in her new home.

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