Thursday, February 11, 2016

Two Souvenir Dolls from Jamaica

Jamaica souvenir dolls

In the summer of 2015, I received the following email from a blog follower:

Hello Debbie,
I have two Caribbean dolls and could freely send them your way if this interests you.  I think that my grandfather who was born in the late 1800's bought these dolls on a trip.  The aprons on the dolls say Jamaica on them.  I have no idea about how old they are.  They seem old to me.
Let me know.  Your blogspot site is amazing.
All the best,
Lesley from Canada

I offered to pay shipping, but Lesley insisted she would send the dolls to me free of charge and she did.  They arrived shortly thereafter.  I believe the two probably date back to the 1940s, possibly earlier.

Almost identical, these approximately 12-inch dolls have hand-painted facial features.  The clothing and bodies are machine sewn.  Faded, but still visible, "Miss Jamaica WI" is written on their aprons. A combination of black twill, muslin, or silk was used for the heads and extremities of both.  It appears their makers used what was available, mixing and matching these black fabrics to create the dolls' complexions.  One wears two gold-tone hoop earrings.  The other wears only one, having lost the other as evidenced by the remaining straight pin that once held the missing earring in place.

They are both well endowed and have baskets of fruit made of ball-shaped materials wrapped with colored corn husks.  One basket also includes multicolored pieces of straw or raffia.

As I prepare dolls for an upcoming event, I have decided these two Miss Jamaica souvenir dolls will be included.

I would like to express a long overdue public thank you to Lesley for sending them to me and making their debut at this event possible.  Thank you, Lesley!

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  1. Nice! I love seeing tourist dolls, and vintage ones are even better. Love the different fabrics that were used on these two!

    1. You're welcome, jSarie! I should have posted about these two sooner, but better late than never.


  2. These little misses are adorable. I can't help thinking of the time, effort, love and care put in the making of them. I am sure they have lots of stories to tell us.

    1. Thanks, Arlette. I would love to hear some of their stories.



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