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Saturday, June 18, 2011

It Gets Curiouser and Curiouser!!

Now, in the course of unstuffing the now headless body of this old doll, which was stuffed with a combination of household rags and sawdust, I find a couple of pieces of old wadded up newspaper with the date 1873 and Winona, Minnesota on it! These I will iron flat and include in the scrapbook that I will send with this cleaned up and reassembled doll to our local museum.  She is truly an unravelling story!

Oh, Wow! I'd heard of this but never encountered it for myself!!

Two heads!! She has two heads--one sewn right over the other. This was often done in the "olden days" to extend the life of a doll. Her arms have also been recovered, I think to make the doll look "cleaner" without washing it. Depending on what it has been stuffed with, washing might have been impossible w/o destroying it.
   I am planning on taking her down to the original, unstuffing her, washing her (very gently) and then restuffing her with clean stuffing. If it appears that the head/body fabric won't hang together, I'll cover it with new similar fabric, and put the face on with pen, just as the original had. I am wondering if this doll originally had a china head; if I look under the bottom-most face and see that the head has been sewn to a headless body, I will presume that. The body is made of a different fabric than the head; it is more coarsely woven and the head fabric appears to be regular old muslin.
   I will also wash and preserve the second head/wig so that it can be pulled over the original--the second face, with it's 3D nose WAS something of an improvement, and the original head has a glue stain (I guess) on the back of the head, so I'm sure the maker of the second head/wig considered she'd improved the doll. It was probably a birthday or Christmas present for some little girl. I'll tell you, people "back in the day" wasted NOTHING, and nothing was ever thrown away until it had gone through every transformation possible.

Very Old Doll, I Think.

    My cousin found this old doll when they were cleaning out her mother-in-law's home recently. The doll is quite large, about 28" tall. I believe she is quite old because of several things:
1.  The fabric of the clothing is deteriorating, with several holes. I also don't recognize this fabric as any commonly used today.
2. The doll appears to have been handmade, and one-of-a-kind, rather than made from a conventional pattern. If it IS made from a commercial pattern, it's not one I've seen around.
3. The hair is very unusually applied. It appears to have been crocheted, perhaps, and then sewn to the cloth head by hand; the doll's maker probably came up with the method on her own, as I've never seen hair done this way.
   I haven't yet removed this doll's clothing, so I can't say yet whether she was sewn by hand or machine, but even if she WAS sewn by machine, sewing machines have been around since around the Civil War, so that would not necessarily preclude her being quite old.
   I just now removed her cape, and I'm still not sure if it was handsewn or machine sewn, because it is very well-made--there are no seams visible. All are enclosed or covered. I'll keep removing clothing. I'm hoping I can wash her, but not sure what she is stuffed with, so that is iffy. I wish this doll could talk and tell me about herself. I can hope that the maker signed the doll somewhere, but usually this was not done, leaving us to wonder.
   I will frinish undressing her, take more photos, and post again soon. Stay tuned.