Sunday, July 24, 2011

Why I No Longer Collect Porcelain Dolls

If you've been following this blog, you know I am in the process of finding new homes for some of my larger dolls through eBay.  I have not shared the reason, but it may be obvious.

Over the past 20 years, my doll collection has grown by leaps and bounds.  My doll enthusiasm has shifted from artist to manufactured play line dolls, to vintage, back to artist, back to play line, to fashion, to a combination of all genres that pull at my heartstrings at any given time.  I am admittedly an unfocused, incurable black-doll collector

In the process of creating space in my doll room using strategically placed book shelves in the center of the 18 x 20 feet space, my "helpful" husband removed doll beds (still occupied by dolls) from the doll room into the adjacent room.  He then brought in three book shelves he constructed and placed them in the center of the room with enough space left for me to navigate around the shelves.  Next, in his "helpful" manner, he retrieved the first of the four doll beds from the den to return them to the doll room.  Just as he was about to retrieve the final bed, a double-decker (that still contained dolls), I shouted, "The doll on the lower bed is porcelain!"  Too late, the big 22-inch baby that I named Precious fell to the floor and I heard the unpleasant sound of shattering porcelain! 

I was too outdone.  To prevent myself from going straight off like an extremely agitated, black-female doll collector whose doll had just been broken due to the carelessness of another (okay, I'm counting to 10 and taking deep breaths as I type this), I didn't say anything... then.  In his way of never admitting to a mistake, he tried to make excuses for his blunder, the weakest of which was, "I see why people don't buy porcelain dolls."  (I won't write what I was thinking.)  But just picture Florida Evans (played by the late actress, Esther Rolle) preparing to drop that crystal punch bowl  in the episode of Good Times after the loss of her beloved husband, James Evans (John Amos) finally sets in.  

Instead, I'll just write, "Man!" 

I couldn't even bring myself to look at Precious... made from the Dianna Effner "Sleepy Head" mold by a then-novice doll artist who did a fabulous job creating her first African American doll at my request in 1998. Here's a scan of Precious from my first black-doll reference, which may be the only picture I have of her in her original state.

Scan from page 106, The Definitive Guide to Collecting Black Dolls (Hobby House Press, 2003)

For countless years and particularly when I was heavily into baby dolls, Precious was one of my favorites.

"Helpful" swiftly picked up the pieces, removed Precious from the doorway, and I vacuumed the spot of what I considered her demise.  (She's useless now, I thought... I'll just throw her away.)  He returned to the room and said, "It was just her hand.  I can fix it." 

Silence from me. 

Finally after a couple of hours, I built up enough courage to examine the damage.  I gently lifted her other extremities and was happy to discover they are indeed okay.  Her body is cloth, so no damage there.  Gingerly,  I lifted up her beautiful head and heard rattling underneath her wig.  In addition to the lower arm and hand fractures, her head is fractured, too.  Big sigh.  I wrapped her arms and legs with wash cloths and secured those with rubber bands to protect the porcelain from banging together when "helpful" husband decides to repair Precious. 

Damage proof:
Precious with fractured arm and cloth-wrapped extremities

Remaining pieces of fractured forearm and hand

I know it was an accident, but I'm still grieving her loss. 

dbg

PS  When I photographed Precious for this blog, which was written prior to taking the photographs, I was happy to discover that the repair process has already begun.  As I photographed her, Helpful asked, then cautioned, "What are you doing???  Be careful; don't you see I've already started repairing her arm?"  Upon closer inspection, I noticed he has glued a portion of her forearm back and you can barely see the break.   He has already begun the repair on her head, too.  


Precious, still sleeping peacefully throughout this traumatic event.

After taking the pictures, I said, "Look at her, she doesn't even know what's going on."  He replied, "She's under anesthesia."

Can I tell you my disappointment has lifted by 1000%?   Well it has.
:-)

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16 comments:

  1. I feel your pain. I have a "Helper" myself. I have never bought anything delicate for this reason and the fact that I'm clumsy.

    I hope she will be as close to where you want her to be when he finishes ;O)

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  2. I knew fellow doll collectors would understand, Dollz4Moi. Thanks for the well wishes. I hope she will be close to where she was, too.

    dbg

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  3. Debbie, I can't tell you how excited I am to find the 27 inch AA Mi Bebe doll on ebay. She's going to be mine! I bought her this afternoon. Way back in 1984 I bought one of these dolls for my two year old son. I'm pretty sure your doll is the very same one since our doll had the pacifier hole in his/her mouth and came with a pacifier.I bought it with every intention of giving it a sex change! We removed the earrings and simply dressed "Joey" in my son's baby clothes. Whenever we would take the doll out in public and I held him like a baby, against my shoulder, I would get remarks such as, "Oh I didn't know you adopted a baby!" I loved it and then the person would be embarrassed to see that it was a doll, not a baby.He/she was so lifelike. Later "Joey underwent another sex change and became a little toddler girl again when my son gave him to his little sister. Then...tragedy struck. Our yellow lab got the doll early one morning and chewed on its face. It was irreparable damage. I was heartbroken, way more so than my daughter, actually. Now, almost 20 years later I have found a very similar dolly. Now she will be mine! I kept all the darling little girl clothes I had saved from my daughter's wardrobe so she will be well dressed. I have no grandkids so I guess I am bit goofy. One day I will give the doll to a grandchild. I thank you from the bottom of my heart.
    (yes, it's pure nostalgia that is motivating me! It's hard when all your kids have flown the nest.)

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  4. Oh, Debbie, I should explain that after a lengthy battle trying to log on to ebay I had my hubby use his account. The doll will be sent to me under his name, Robert xxxxx in Colorado. (Just in case I caused any confusion) Can't wait!

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  5. Hi Catarina,

    I am so happy that my little girl will be going to a home where she will continue to receive lots of love and attention. It's good you saved your daughter's clothing because, as you know, the MiBeBe dolls can wear infant's clothing. Sure you don't need two? I have a boy that ended yesterday without bids.

    :-)

    Thanks again for opening up your home to this big baby. You will love her and I hope she brings back many fond memories and creates additional ones for you in years to come.

    dbg

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  6. I am sorry for misspelling your name, Caterina.

    dbg

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  7. Very sorry for the damage Precious suffered. Playing with dolls develops fine motor coordination and teaches us to touch everything with reverence. I'm often dismayed at how "ham fisted" people who don't play with dolls can be.

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  8. Thanks, Limbe Dolls.

    Non-collectors are usually clueless about the possible fragility of a doll or other collectible. In their minds, they are just useless things that occupy space. Factoring in a collector's attachment to the collectible is usually never a consideration for the misinformed.

    dbg

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  9. I love how you refer to your family members. I have to say I love your husband. He is so funny to me. I always felt blessed when I had a "helper", who didn't mind my doll craze and didn't even flinch when I would carry dolls around.

    I do feel your pain. I have only had a couple of porcelain dolls broken, but not to the point that they needed to be thrown away. I have a doll downstairs now, who has a big hole in her head, and I love her even more. Most people say, why don't you just make another one? Because it is not the same. Once you bond with a doll, there is no throwing it away. That would be like throwing away your own child.

    Give your husband a hug for me. I am sure that is not what you had in mind.

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  10. Thanks, Vanessa. I love him, too and will happily give him a hug for you (now that I know the repair process has begun and it's not something that will be on his long to do list).

    One thing I know for sure: He will be more careful if he ever "has" to handle my dolls again.

    dbg

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  11. You know me - playscale and plastic all the time - that is playscale, plastic dolls and action figures!

    ... but I winced when I heard of Precious' fall. Oy!

    However it's touching and good to hear your Helper understood the way the accident (shudder) affected you.

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  12. I envy (I think) your focus, D7ana.

    I crave variety, otherwise, I would be bored or not intersted in dolls at all. My variety, however, does not include porcelain or anything that I or others can easily break.

    dbg

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  13. Ms. Debbie, I was holding my breath as I read your post. It was so well written that I felt like I was there with you and Mr. Helpful. Well, he did a GREAT Job putting Precious back together again. And NO THANKS, I will not be adding porcelain Dolls to my collection.

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    1. Thanks, Sandy! I'll have to give Mr. Helpful a pat on the back from you and watch his head swell before my eyes.

      No more porcelain for me either.

      dbg

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  14. Aw, Precious is just adorable! I think we all had our hearts in our hands while reading this. I do collect porcelain, bisque, composition, and fragile old celluloid dolls. No one touches my dolls - NO ONE!

    To think, I came here to share what I believe to be a beautiful porcelain doll with you and your readers. She's wearing a watermelon hearts dress and is just gorgeous. Take a look: http://www.ebay.com/itm/230981556217?ssPageName=STRK:MEWAX:IT&_trksid=p3984.m1438.l2649#ht_25wt_1153

    I know she'll never be the same but believe, the love and care with which Mr. Helpful put Precious back together are demonstrative of the love and care he has for you - That makes him pretty precious too! SO what if his head swells up a little - That smile on his face is all you, girl!

    God bless.

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    1. Thanks for sharing the eBay listing, LatinLatin. I believe the doll is porcelain as well and not hard plastic as the seller describes. Theh doll is also not vintage either.

      dbg

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