Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Lithographed Dolls That Piqued My Interest

After receiving catalogs from the two Theriault's auctions that took place on October 4th through 6th, I updated my Proxibid account with intentions to bid on one of two actions.  I did place an early online bid on one auction:  a set of two lithographed cloth dolls.  The auction also included the antique Pony Express cart in which the dolls were seated (seen and described below).
Lithographed dolls from the Blackler collection sold in a Theriault's auction for $1100.00 (photo is from the catalog).

The above pair was given an estimated value of $400 to $600 and are described in the auction catalog below:

Two American Lithographed Cloth Black Dolls in Pony Express Wagon
17" (43 cm.) A pair of matching dolls are of lithographed muslin, that is cut, stitched and stuffed, depicting little black girls with artfully-printed features and having enhanced color detail of lips, each with printed lithographed undergarments. Condition: generally excellent. Marks: Feb. 13, 1900 Art Fabric Mills (printed on foot). Comments: Art Fabric Mills, the doll was presented in the company catalog as Topsy, circa 1900. Value Points: wonderful pair, one with attached wool yarn looped hair, and having antique woolen costume, shoes; and the two dolls presented in a wooden toy wagon labeled "Pony Express".

The second auction that interested me consisted of a trio of lithographed dolls.  These were as desirable as the pair and wagon, but my desire for the others was more intense.

Three Babyland Rag dolls, by Horsman, circa 1915

Three Rare Models from the American Babyland Rag Dolls Series
15" (38 cm.) Each has silk screen printed face stitch-attached to firmly-stuffed muslin head form, with artfully-depicted facial features and complexion, and with muslin body with stitch jointing at shoulders and hips (the boy with stitch-jointed knees also). Condition: generally excellent. Comments: from the Babyland Rag Doll series of Horsman, circa 1915, the trio includes dark brown-complexioned boy with checkered suit, brown-complexioned girl with sewn-on fleece yarn wig and costumed as Native American (costume may not be original); and light brown-complexioned girl with black fleecy curls framing the face and wearing striped nursing costume. Value Points: rare models with variations of facial mood, each artistically rendered, and with original costumes (except as noted).  

The trio was given an estimated value of $600 to $1100.  They sold for $300.

I didn't win either auction.  In hindsight I might have been able to win the less desired trio had I chosen to bid on that auction instead of the other.  The trio sold for a steal, in my opinion, while the pair sold for several hundred dollars more than I was willing to pay.  It is just as well, but I am confident that I will add at least one lithographed doll with realistic-looking face to my collection eventually (not just any lithographed face will do).  It is out there, waiting for me to find it, or it to find me; and if that doesn't happen, I can always make one myself.  (I have already done something similar with my Maya doll).  

The prices realized for all dolls sold in the Blackler collection can be seen here.  




  1. These are all nice dolls and I like their costumes. I'd love to see you make one yourself.

    This reminds me of an art project I had as a child. I only vaguely remember it. I remember my art teacher giving me the supplies an instructions, and I drew the pattern of my doll. I wanted my doll to look like me. I drew and colored my doll's face, hair, and clothes with these thick crayon-like things, and I wrote my nickname on my doll's shirt. I think that I made the drawing on something that resembled wax paper, and when it was ironed on to the cloth, my nickname was backwards. My teacher sewed most of my doll together, and I stuffed it and sewed the last little bit. I wish that I still had it. If I could remember the tools that I used to make the doll, I'd probably give it another try.

    I hope that they still teach art and music in most elementary school. Those classes have given me some wonderful memories of my childhood.

    I hope that you're soon able to add lithographed dolls that you love to your collection.

    1. Hi Roxanne,

      Your art class doll sounds interesting. I wish you knew the exact method used to make.

      I enjoyed art class more than music -- I found music quite boring, at least the songs that were chosen for us. I did love band, however, when I got older. I attempted to play the flute initially but I guess my lungs did not have enough wind for that instrument. I eventually switched to clarinet, which I played for several years in both the marching band and a bit in our classical band. Don't ask me if I can play it now, though.

      My son went to the arts magnet in middle school, which served him well, it was like a baby Julliard. He had an opportunity to attend the high school arts magnet, which is our Julliard (where Eryka Badu attended), but because he would have had to be bused there his "mama" convinced him to attend the Science and Engineering Magnet (which was within my driving range). I didn't want him way across town where the arts magnet was located. The SEM was closer to me. Divisions of it remain one of the top US public schools (it is in a multi-school complex: TAG, Business, Health, SEM). I often wonder if the arts magnet would have been a better choice for him, but I think things work out the way they are supposed to in the end. He enjoys his profession, so it's all good.

      I don't think art is offered at my grandsons' school. Music is. What a shame. I think children need to explore their artistic skills.

      Hope I get an antique, well-preserved lithographed doll, too, but I will probably eventually make one for myself (who knows, I might even use one of my son's pictures for it)!


    2. Just remembered: Art is offered at Grandsons' school, at least at the middle school level. I just remembered my grandson's experience with his art instructor last year, the weird assignments he had to complete, and her harsh grading system.


    3. I remember my elementary art class. Our project was to make paper mache puppets or marionettes. My puppet was pink in color with pink yarn hair! Mrs. Mossman, the art teacher, tried to talk me out of the pink hair but I kept it! She was plug ugly but I made her and I wish I still had her!

    4. You were a very creative child, Bonnie. I imagine that your puppet was cute.

      We made papier mache animals. I just remember it being a messy task and not something I would ever want to do again outside that setting. I don't even remember what my animal was. This was in 2nd or 3rd grade.

      We also used Ivory soap to create some form of inanimate object. I can't remember if it was an animal or if mine represented a person. I believe an image from a magazine was attached to the top of the soap and we carved out the shape of the image. I enjoyed that.

      We created a binder for our artwork using construction paper for the front and back covers. Manila paper in between the construction paper was used for drawing and coloring. The last thing one of my classmates drew was a tiny angel in the top corner of one of her pages in her binder. She died of scarlet fever the weekend that followed. After we learned of her death, another student thumbed throughAlicia’s binder and showed the angel to us. We were all amazed.


  2. Sorry you did not win the auction. Thanks for sharing about the lithograph dolls.


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