Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Doll Gifts Part 3

A gift of dolls from Leslie Foster includes a Topsy Turvy doll, three souvenir dolls, two Black Americana dolls, a composition doll, and an oilcloth mask-face doll.

This is part 3 of a 3-part doll-gifts series to acknowledge dolls that I have received recently from doll friends and people who do not know me personally.

These eight dolls were a gift from Leslie Foster, who happened to find me through this blog.  These were purchased, she indicated, over several years because she found them interesting.  I also find them interesting.

Each doll has been photographed individually and its description recorded in my doll inventory workbook.  They are as follows:

Topsy Turvy, also known as Two-Sided and Double-Sided Doll
Circa 1940s Topsy Turvy, black side up

I was pleasantly surprised to discover that this 11-inch circa 1940s doll is a Topsy Turvy.  The black doll has a machine-painted face that is made of black cloth.  She is dressed in a red and white polka dot dress and wears a red headscarf tied in a top knot.  She is missing one of her gold-tone earrings.

Topsy Turvy, white side up

The white doll has a lithographed/screen printed face and yellow yarn for hair that is underneath a blue and white gingham sewn-on bonnet.  Dress color and fabric match the bonnet.  Both dolls' eyes side-glance to their left.

Spice Lady Caribbean Souvenir Doll
Spice Lady Caribbean Souvenir Doll
Still enclosed in a sealed plastic bag, this circa 1960s 7-inch cloth doll has a spice-filled skirt.  A faint scent of the mixed spices is still apparent.  The face is drawn with black ink.  She wears a red bonnet that is tied on with a piece of rust-colored yarn at the neck.  A tag stapled to the end of her scarf reads, "Sunny Caribbe" with "Spice Lady" written below that.

Black Americana Cotton Picker
Black Americana Cotton Picker

Circa 1930s-1940s 9-inch doll has black cloth head with lithographed eyes, nose, and mouth.

He has salt-and-pepper hair.
Black and white yarn create the "cotton picker's" salt and pepper colored hair. His arms are made of wire with black felt used for his hands.  His body, legs, and feet are black wood.  He wears a striped cotton shirt with blue cotton bibbed pants, no shoulder straps. Clothes are stapled on.  

There is real cotton is in his burlap bag.
The Cotton Picker carries a burlap cotton-filled bag.

Trinidad and Tobago Lady Souvenir Doll
Trinidad and Tobago Cloth Lady Souvenir Doll
This circa 1940s 11-inch cloth doll made from heavy canvas-type brown fabric has painted eyes and mouth and a sculpted nose.  

There are creases in her lovely face and some of her lip color has faded.  I want to remove the creases, but I am not sure how.

She has short hair made from black yarn.  Silver beads are sewn to her ears for earrings.  Different cotton printed fabrics were used for her headscarf, shawl, and dress.  A yellowed slip shows underneath the dress.  Trinidad and Tobago is stamped over St. Thomas near the bottom of the slip.  Apparently, this doll or the fabric used for the doll's skirt was also used for St. Thomas souvenir dolls. 

This Trinidad and Tobago Souvenir Lady carries a basket on her right arm that has red, orange, and blue pieces of felt glued to the outside.   Heavy cardstock creates soles which are glued to the bottom of her brown cloth feet (not shown).

Black Americana Boy

Circa 1940s-1950s cloth boy
This 16-inch circa 1940s-1950s Black Americana cloth boy made from black fabric has handpainted side-glancing eyes, a red-painted nose, and a circle-shaped mouth.

He has half-moon-shaped sclerae and seems to be surprised about something.

He has copper-colored yarn hair underneath a red felt cap.  His overalls were made from mattress ticking.  There is a floral fabric patch on the right knee of his overalls that can be seen in his first photo above.

Composition Topsy

Circa 1920s 9-inch unmarked composition Topsy has three yarn braids with yellowed ribbons on the ends.  

Topsy has painted side-glancing eyes (the paint has faded).  She is spring jointed and wears a pinned-on white jersey-knit diaper.  The top layer of the composition has flaked off in several areas and continues to flake.  I plan to apply a sealant to prevent additional flaking.  The right arm will not remain inside the socket.  I will try to remedy this as well. 

Jamaica Souvenir Doll

Jamaica souvenir doll

This 9-inch circa 1940s Jamaica souvenir cloth doll has a basket of faux fruit attached to her head.  The fruit is made from balls of colored tissue paper.  

A closer look at the fruit basket

She has a hand-painted face.  The head, arms, legs, and body are made from black cloth.  Multiprint fabrics create the headscarf, dress, and apron.  "Jamaica" is written on the waist of the dress.  This doll is similar to two others that were given to me in 2015 by another woman named Lesley (different spelling, however).  The other two are a couple of inches taller than this one.  This doll is also made similar to one of the dolls given to me by Ms. Grace Anderson.  All three similar dolls can be seen here.

Oilcloth Mask-Face Doll
Circa 1930s Oilcloth Mask-Face Doll
The final doll from Leslie is a 12-inch circa 1930s oilcloth mask face doll with painted facial features.  

She has a charming face.
The eyes glance to the doll's right.  Mohair bangs are underneath a light pink headscarf which is tied in a knot at the top of the doll's head.  Underneath the pink scarf is a red, white, and blue striped scarf made from the same material as the skirt of the doll's dress.  The doll's arms are made from blue fabric that has multicolored diamond shapes.  She wears a white blouse with a red, white, and blue striped skirt, and red felt sewn-on shoes.  She is now my second oilcloth mask-face doll, the other one having been purchased many years ago.


Thank you again, Leslie, for your generous gift of dolls.  I had actually forgotten how many dolls you were sending.  My mind was focused on receiving only four dolls from you.  After I opened the package and continued unwrapping the well-packed dolls beyond four, I realized I had received a double blessing!

Related Links
Doll Gifts Part 1
Doll Gifts Part 2
Topsy Turvy dolls (recently updated)


There are countless items to collect and write about. Black dolls chose me.

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Friday, September 13, 2019

Doll Gifts Part 2

17-inch handcrafted Caribbean souvenir doll and 14-inch handmade cloth doll circa 1940s

This is part 2 of a 3-part doll-gifts series to acknowledge dolls that I have received recently from doll friends and people who do not know me personally.

On June 5, 2019, I received an email from Ms. Grace K. Anderson asking if I knew of anyone or if I would be interested in accepting the above two dolls as a donation.  Ms. Anderson indicated this pair had been owned by her mother-in-law who passed away recently.  The dolls were discovered during the process of cleaning her mother-in-law's house and the family wanted to find a place to donate the dolls, either with a collector or an institution.  Very little was known about the dolls other than the fact that they belonged to Ms. Anderson's mother-in-law.

After extending my condolences to her and her family, I thanked her for writing to me and indicated I would be happy to accept the dolls.  I asked if she knew if her mother-in-law made the dolls since one of the two appeared to be handmade based on the photos she shared.  I also asked if she could tell me something about her mother-in-law.  Specifically, I wanted to know if she owned other dolls and how old she was when she passed.

Part of her reply is copied below:

Dear Debbie,
Thank you for such a quick reply and for your condolences. Both my husband and sister-in-law don't have any recollection about these dolls. My mother-in-law was an artist and also a collector in many ways, but she did not own any other dolls. My sister-in-law thinks these dolls may have been acquired at an estate sale. I wish I had more provenance for you.

As for my mother-in-law, her name was Carola Penn and there is a nice obituary and link to her website here:
https://www.orartswatch.org/carola-penn-longtime-portland-artist-dies/ She was quite a disciplined artist and remarkable as she raised two kids on her own while getting by as an artist. She was really a beautiful person and had many close friends who were truly amazing during the last year of Carola's life... She was only 74 when she passed.

I am happy these dolls will have an important home to go to. Thank you so much! If you learn anything further about these dolls, I'd be curious to learn more about them...perhaps on your blog? :)

Thank you again and please let me know if I can assist with this in other ways.

Warm regards,

I made an entry for each doll in my Excel doll inventory workbook under the 2019 tab.  What I wrote under the Year of Manufacture, Name, and Description columns for each doll is copied below.

Circa 1940s / Handmade Cloth Souvenir Islander Doll
16-inch Caribbean souvenir doll, circa 1940s

16-inch handmade cloth doll from the Caribbean Islands uses black twill fabric for the face onto which simple features are painted.   Black cotton was used for the body, arms, and legs.  Arms and legs are jointed.  The doll has a mature bosom.  Her headscarf and dress are made from a variety of floral-print cotton fabrics.  The back of the blouse uses madras fabric which has deep West African and Caribbean roots. [https://face2faceafrica.com/article/how-the-colonial-madras-fabric-played-a-role-in-transatlantic-slave-trade] She holds a basket of fruit or food that a woman she represents would plan to sell in the tourist sections of her town.  The fruit or food is represented by red and yellow cloth-covered balls.  She wears an apron over her skirt and madras undies.  Her body appears to be stuffed with paper.  Dolls remain a huge tourist commodity in the Caribbean.  Some are sold in tourist shops while others are sold by street vendors in tourist areas.  

Additional pictures of this doll are included next:

This close-up of her face illustrates her hand-painted facial features.  Two red dots represent her nose.

She holds a basket of fruit.  Black cotton fabric was used for her arms.

Black twill fabric was used for her face, body, and legs, which are machine stitched.  Madras fabric was used for her undies.  The same fabric was used for the back of her blouse, which is illustrated next.
The back of the blouse is made from madras plaid fabric.

Circa 1940s / Handmade Cloth Doll
14-inch circa 1940s handmade cloth doll

14-inch circa 1940s handmade black cloth doll was made from black cloth and cotton stuffing. Simple facial features of eyes and mouth are stitched with embroidery thread. 17 knots of black yarn frame the top and sides of her head. She has no hair in the back. She wears a sewn-on tan and beige floral-print dress, a blue and white plaid apron, and white cotton pantaloons. Her right arm was detached from her body upon arrival but hanging inside her sleeve. I restitched it to the body to make her whole. 

Additional photos of this doll follow:

Her tiny eyes and mouth are stitched on.  She does not have a nose.

This profile photo illustrates her Nubian- or Bantu-knots hairstyle created with knots of black yarn.

She wears full-length pantaloons, no shoes.

The Caribbean souvenir doll displays well with similar dolls that I own.
As illustrated in the souvenir doll's last picture above, she displays well with similar dolls.  The two smaller dolls that accompany her were gifts from a Candian woman, who sent them to me in 2015.  They belonged to her grandfather, who she indicated was born in the late 1800s.  He is believed to have purchased them during a 1940s trip to Jamaica.

The other cloth doll has found a display companion.

The smaller cloth doll is made on a very similar style as a larger cloth doll that I have owned for several years.  She now sits with her larger doll companion.  

Thank you again, Grace, for contacting me and for allowing me to provide a new home for this pair.

Related Link:
Doll Gifts Part 1 


There are countless items to collect and write about. Black dolls chose me.

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Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Twin Towers Backdrop

Janay Princess Delight by Integrity Toys, 1999

In remembrance of those who lost their lives on September 11, 2001,  and the survivors of the World Trade Center (WTC) attack, Janay Princess  Delight by Integrity Toys, 1999 is shown in her original box that has a backdrop of the Twin Towers.

Janay is Integrity Toys' first 12-inch fashion doll.  This particular doll uses the original Janay head sculpt.   She is dressed in a black velour gown with a silver cape and silver high-heel shoes.  Princess Delight Janay wears a silver ring and a rhinestone choker.  Her black hair is styled in an updo.  She has painted brown eyes.  Other versions of Princess Delight Janay were made, the same doll dressed in red or blue gowns.  Another (deluxe version) was made wearing a variety of gown colors (red, blue or black) that came with an extra knee-length silver dress.

Little did Integrity Toys know that within two years after the various versions of Princess Delight Janay were produced, the Twin Towers in New York would be destroyed on September 11, 2001.

The original World Trade Center complex in March 2001 is shown. The tower on the left, with antenna spire, was 1 WTC. The tower on the right was 2 WTC. All seven buildings of the WTC complex are partially visible. The red granite-clad building left of the Twin Towers was the original 7 World Trade Center. In the background is the East River. (Photo and caption from Wikipedia.com).


There are countless items to collect and write about. Black dolls chose me.

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