Monday, January 16, 2017

First Doll to Arrive in 2017

19-inch doll with papier-mache head, cloth body, animal-hair wig

This interesting circa 1950s doll, presumed to have been made by the person whose handwritten signature is on the bottom of both shoes, was the first doll to arrive in 2017.  She stands 19-inches tall and has a papier-mache head; cloth arms, body, and legs.

Her distinct facial features include hand painted eyes, broad nose, full lips, and open nostrils.  The seller described her wig as being made of horse hair with visible hide.


She is dressed in heavyweight cotton floral-print dress with fabric-belted waist.  The dress appears to have been hand made just for her.

She wears white hand-knit undies and white nylon socks that I hand washed.  



The all-leather, hand-stitched brown shoes have a pearlized button closure on the front of the ankle straps. The bottom of the shoes are each signed "Hanna Fuhrer, Zürich."  Reminiscent initially to me of a Sasha Morgenthaler Studio Doll, but with broader facial features, I was intrigued upon first seeing the doll online and desired her presence in my collection.  Morgenthaler was also an artist from Switzerland.

Wendy Frank Native Australian doll (left) compared to the Fuhrer doll (right)

After her arrival and studying her facial features and overall construct, I came to the conclusion that this doll reminds me more of a Wendy Frank doll than a Morgenthaler Studio Doll.  My doll, however, was made long before Frank began making dolls.  Perhaps Frank was inspired by this artist and decided to fashion her dolls after a Fuhrer doll.  Frank's dolls have mask faces with several layers of paint applied, which gives the appearance of papier-mache. The hands of both artists' dolls are similarly stitched.   Frank's dolls have stitched toes, whereas the Fuhrer doll's feet are toeless (see next image).  As illustrated in the comparison photo, the facial similarities are too close for there not to have been a Fuhrer influence upon Frank's work, but perhaps the similarity is coincidental.

Fuhrer's doll's toeless feet and stitched hands are shown here  (There's a name for this type doll foot, but it escapes me.)

The doll's hair is very straight and thin.  Due to the thinness, my husband does not think it is horse hair ("unless it's from a Shetland pony," he said). 

Exposed animal hide has a folded area in the center of the head

Because I found the exposed animal hide a bit unnerving, shortly after her arrival, I made Hanna (I have named her after the artist) a knit hat using an infant-size sock.  Photos of the cap-making process follow:

The cuff of the sock was unfolded and cut just below the ridged area (as shown on right).   The cut area was bunched together and sewn to close the top.

After stitching the top of the sock closed and placing it on Hanna's head, the bottom was cuffed.  Now a cap, it needed some form of embellishment.
The Mod Podge-coated flower cutout is pinned, suspended, to a sponge makeup wedge as the Mod Podge dries.

I drew a flower onto card stock, cut it out, decoupaged it using Mod Podge, and glued the flower to a piece of brown felt.  The edges of the felt were trimmed to create a border for the flower.  Finally, the flower with attached felt was glued to the left side of the cap.

Drawn and decoupaged flower, glued to a piece of felt, which was later trimmed

With Hanna still wearing the cap, I glued the flower appliqué directly to the side of the cuff.  While the glue dried, several pieces of paper placed between the cuff of the cap and more placed underneath the cuff prevented the glue from seeping through to unwanted areas.

I think I love her.  No, I know I do.  She has a very solemn face and appears to be in deep thought.  I would like information about the artist and the exact time frame the doll was made (she could be from the '60s or as late as the 1970s).  Unfortunately, googling the name, "Hanna Furher" was unfruitful.


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14 comments:

  1. First, congratulations on getting her. Second, the way you made the hat is super creative! I love it! I actually love her hair. My opinion is that it makes her scalp look real. I also love how straight it is. Very nice addition to your doll family!!

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    1. Thank you, G.G. The exposed scalp does add realism, but it's a little too much for me. I guess if the slight hump in the scalp wasn't there, I wouldn't mind so much. Otherwise, I love everything about her.

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  2. I like how realistic her face is. She makes me think more of a beautiful sculpture than a doll.
    I've seen those hands and feet in vintage French/Belgian dolls but they were created for Huard heads that were sold in the 30s and 40s and meant to be put on home-made cloth bodies. The patterns for the bodies were in magazines as were the ads for the heads.Then there would be patterns for a trousseau to sew or knit at home in later issues. I don't know exactly when that stopped being done but it seems as though once the 50s started those magazines just sold entire dolls.
    I hope you find out more about your doll's maker. She was a talented artist. Thanks for showing us your new arrival.:-)

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    1. Her facial sculpt and hand painted eyes are what drew me to her. I found the wig description fascinating as well. I have written a couple of toy museums in Switzerland to inquire about the artist. Hopefully, they will know more about her or can point me in the right direction to someone who does. It is possible that she worked independently and made only a few dolls from patterns as you have described. The head, however, does seem to have been hand sculpted and not made from a mold.

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    2. I sure hope those museums can help you. Someone this talented must have made enough dolls to capture interest.

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  3. She has such an interesting face! I love seeing dolls like this that are such perfect works of art!

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    1. jSarie,

      It's good to know you enjoyed learning about my little doll that I hope to learn more about.

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  4. Hanna is precious. I love her face. I'm always amazed at what great doll makers from the past could do without all the technology and tools with have today.
    Arlette

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  5. She does have pretty eyes.

    Have you checked for information about that doll artist in older doll books and/or magazines. You're the expert here - of course - but I thought I'd mention that. Some older dolls and/or doll artists can be found in out-of-print books and magazines more than they can be found online. I look forward to hearing about your doll investigation ;-)

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    1. Hi D7ana,

      I have an extensive doll reference library. All books have been checked. As it would be too time consuming for me to check non-indexed references, I have not checked old magazines or other periodicals, most of which focus on American-made dolls. The doll has Switzerland ties. My best bet is to begin with European doll resources, which is what I have done. Hoping the museums I have written will reply.

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    2. Sounds fun ... requesting information and hearing back from museums. Research is part of the fun of collecting. Good luck with your quest!

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  6. She looks well made and in very good conditions for year age. I hope you find out more information on her because I know she has an interest backstory. I'm so glad she found her way to you too.

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Thank you! Your comments are appreciated!