After enlarging the Ruby Lane image and reading the dolls' description, entitled black bisque doll, it became apparent that the doll was fashioned in the likeness of a Leo Moss doll and quite possibly, according to documented information about his dolls, was molded from an original sculpt. The indicator of this was the seller's description that the doll was signed "B. Formaz." (Oh-my-goodness, I thought.) This revelation took place during the wee-wee hours of the morning while still in bed, surfing the Internet with my Kindle Fire during an episode of insomnia. I immediately went to the doll room to get a better look at the images, to read the description, and to make the purchase on a safer device (my desktop computer) before going back to bed, happy about the find.
|Leo Moss-type doll by B. Formaz|
After the doll arrived, I photographed her, as usual, and entered the purchase information in my Doll Inventory Excel spread sheet as follows:
Description: Probably made from an original, circa late 1800s through early 1900s Leo Moss mold; 15-inch character baby has porcelain head and hands; brown stockinette body, legs, and feet; brown inset eyes with tear stained cheeks, typical of Leo Moss dolls; open/closed mouth with molded tongue; frowning eyebrows; black molded tightly curled short hair; wears pink and white gingham dress, matching bonnet with ruffled trim and floral appliqué, matching panties, white socks, pink felt Mary Janes with black soles; signed B. Formaz on neck.
Under the heading, Other, I wrote:
B. Formaz is most likely Betty Formaz who, according to Black Dolls an Identification and Value Guide 1820-1991, "brought Moss's dolls to the doll collecting world after having visited the home of Ruby Moss, daughter of Leo Moss. Betty purchased 39 of the Moss dolls and acquired most of the information on the artist." Described by Perkins as a collector and restorer, it is safely assumed that Formaz used one of those 39 original Leo Moss dolls to create the mold for my doll.
Moss used family members and friends as subjects for his dolls. Research shows if a child cried during the sculpting process, he included the tears. A twist to this story is Moss added tears to child dolls after his wife left him and all, except their youngest child, a baby, to run off with the NY toy supplier!
|Close-up of Hattie|
I am uncertain what caused my doll's tears. The doll's original name also remains a mystery. What I do know is that it was made by the woman who brought Moss's dolls to the doll community. Initially I was going to name the doll Betty, but I kept hearing the name Hattie in my head after she arrived; so Hattie she is.
In searching the Internet for additional Leo Moss-type dolls made by Betty Formaz, I was able to find only one other. Described as a circa 1974 doll, it is not as distinctively Moss as my Hattie. This other doll did, however, win a first place ribbon at the United Federation of Doll Clubs' 25th Annual Exhibit in Miami, Florida and can be seen here.
For more information about Leo Moss dolls, the reader is referred to my prior blog posts at the following links:
An an in-depth article on Leo Moss dolls resulting from months of research, can be read here.
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