Saturday, June 10, 2017

World Doll Day

Friday evening, June 9, 2017, I received the following request from a dedicated blog reader who wrote:

Hello Ms. Garrett, tomorrow is World doll Day! I would love it if you would post some pictures of your most interesting dolls to celebrate! You are my doll hero! Have a great day!
At the reader's request, I scanned the doll room, viewed photos, and narrowed my selection of interesting dolls down to those shown below for this post, which celebrates World Doll Day.

Circa 1940s Smoking Doll
This 3-1/2-inch wooden doll was made in Japan post WWII when dolls depicting African Americans or other Black people were often caricatures. The torso and base are detachable.  The bored hole in the mouth is designed to accommodate special perfumed "Magic Cigarettes."  The doll's carved-on clothing  are African tribal in style.  The accompanying instructions illustrate the doll with the addition of a fruit basket on its head.  The instructions, which contain spelling and punctuation errors read:  “Decorate your home, bar or drawing room, with this smoking doll.  When your guest smokes, just say ‘one cigarette far my pet’ and light the doll’s cigarette.  The smoke of the doll will create a pleasant atmosphere.  How to use; Put a cigarette in the doll’s mouth, and then light the tip of the cigarette in a little while, the doll will be Puffing. PATENT no. 465031 JAPAN.”  Included are several 10-packs of “Poffy Magic Cigarettes,” made in Western Germany. (The cigarettes were made in Western Germany; the doll was made in Japan.)

Very rare 1938 Black Snow White by Ideal, redressed in a more contemporary-than-the doll, Shirley Temple "Little Princess" fashion

This all-composition doll stands 16-1/2 inches tall.  She has the usual five points of articulation.  Her molded hair is accented with a molded red bow.  Unmarked, black Snow White by Ideal is documented in Black Dolls an Identification and Value Guide, Book II, by Myla Perkins (pages 16 and 124) as well as in Collector's Guide to Ideal Dolls:  Identification & Values, first edition, by Judith Izen (page 61).

Kimport Dolls, Huckleberry “Huck” from the Huckleberry and Rizmatiz collection, circa 1939, is accompanied in the above photo by an unmarked circa 1950s “Nuthead Schoolgirl.”   Both dolls have heads made from nuts.  Huck’s hands and feet are whittled from paw-paw wood with a buckeye seed used for his head.  He carries a buckeye seed in his overall pocket for good luck.  He has wooden lower arms and feet.  Pipe cleaners were used for his upper arms and legs.  The School Girl’s head is made from a pecan.  She has leather arms and legs and a stuffed cloth body.   The girl holds an apple in one hand and two school books in the other.  Her manufacturer/artist is unknown.  They are 7-1/2 and 6-1/2 inches tall, respectively.

Huck has painted facial features with over-sized red lips.  The girl either once had facial features that have faded or has always been faceless.

Huck's story card

Ruby Short McKim, 1891-1976, founded Kimport Dolls, a worldwide distributor of dolls of all ethnicities.  Well-known for her artwork and quilting, Ms. McKim also published Doll Talk, a bi-monthly publication for the doll community.  Huck, represents a cotton picker from “Akansas” (as it is spelled on the accompanying story card).  According to his story card, Huck had a mate named Rizma.   Huck's original owner received him for Christmas as indicated by the handwritten notation at the bottom of his story card:  “1939 Christmas present.”

Squalling babies...

...are they upset, or what?
These are two squalling babies, circa 1949 and 1950s, respectively.  They are 20- and 16-inches tall.  The larger one is attributed to Lastic Plastic, but could be Horsman's Bye-Bye Baby as both dolls used the same head sculpt. The smaller one is unmarked, but might also be a Horsman doll as well. Both have cloth bodies, and both are quite unhappy about something. This link to a Pinterest board has images of white versions. I have never seen another black version of either.

Tuesday and Tuesday by Gladys MacDowell, 1950s
Tuesday, by National Institute of American Doll Artists (NIADA) artist, Gladys MacDowell, circa 1950s, is a 15-1/2-inch wax doll with brown cloth body.  After seeing a Tuesday owned by MacDowell's niece, who was not willing to part with her doll to sell it to me, I later found my Tuesday #1, shown on the left above.  My first Tuesday is actually the first Tuesday made by MacDowell.  Low and behold, a year or so later, her wax sister found me.  (For the full Finding Tuesday story, navigate here.)  While the girls look alike, they are not identical, having been handmade by the artist who, I am told made a small edition of approximately 10 Tuesdays (and I own 2!).

Before acquiring MacDowell's Tuesday, I met online another collector who owned another Tuesday.  I tried desperately but failed miserably to convince the collector to sell her Tuesday to me. She, however, had other black dolls that she was willing to part with.  Elizabeth by Elaine Lim from 1996 was one such doll that came to live here.

Elizabeth by Elaine Lim, 1996

Elizabeth by Elaine Lim, 1996, is 7 inches (seated); 11-1/2 inches with legs extended.  This cloth- with-painted-face doll has molded/painted facial features.  She has a black mohair wig and brown painted eyes.  Elizabeth wears mauve jersey knit shirt, hand-knit mauve pullover vest with pastel knit balls on front and a white kitten pinned to vest; multicolored swirls of mauve, green, and peach patterns on cloth skirt. Her legs are made of green floral print fabric.  Elizabeth's fingers are delicately separated with the palms of hands a lighter color than the dorsal surface.  Dark brown cloth was used for the body onto the front of which is sewn a black satin cloth bearing the artist's hot air balloon logo and name:  Elaine Lim.  The outside of the hang tag reads Elizabeth ©1996; inside of hang tag reads:  Handmade contemporary fabric dolls Elaine Lim.  This interesting one-of-a-kind (OOAK) doll was the first doll owned by me whose legs were made of a fabric that did not represent her ethnicity.  Her floral fabric legs, to the average collector or other observer, represent the tights she wears, but in the mind of an artist creating an art doll, they might actually represent her legs.

Ndebele Dolls made in South Africa

Women of the Ndebele tribe of South Africa make these dolls.  Their costumes represent their meaning or status.  The tallest doll shown above is an Initiation Doll, made in 1996.  It is given to a girl after the initiation ceremony that celebrates her reaching "teenage hood," which means, according to the accompanying card, "she is now old enough to be a mother.  It is wished that she should marry a man as handsome as the doll.  The glass, beaded apron symbolizes the happy marriage.  The blanket is for warmth in the future."  The dolls to the right of the Initiation Doll are a Ceremonial Doll and a Linga Koba.  The smaller, Linga Koba doll is given to a mother as comfort when her son undergoes his initiation rites.  The rings around the dolls' necks symbolize the Ndebele's use of neck rings to stretch their necks.

Dolls by Carla Thompson:  On the first row are: Sun Klub Kid toddler (Carla's first-ever AA Sun Klub Kid toddler made at my request), Ruthie, Callie, Liberty Jane Harris, and in the back is a 17-inch Sun Klub Kid.
My online doll group is currently discussing black cloth dolls. With the exception of one of the dolls in the above group photo, all dolls have molded cloth faces and cloth bodies.  The second one from the left, Ruthie, is made of a composition Latex.  Ruthie, Callie, and Liberty Jane Harris are some of Thompson's early dolls made during the 1990s before she retired as a NIADA artist.  They have more expressive faces than the Sun Klub Kids made during the mid 2000s when, for a short while, Thompson created this new line of dolls.

Liberty Jane Harris by Carla Thompson is such a happy girl!
It is always difficult for a doll mother to choose a favorite, but if I had to narrow it down based on facial expressions of Thompson's dolls, I would choose Liberty Jane Harris, hands down.

17-inch Sun Klub Kid by Carla Thompson arrived with two side twists and loosely hanging hair in back. I twisted the back as illustrated on the right.
Of Thompson's two Sun Klub Kids, the larger one is my favorite, solely because of her hair, but I love the fact that the toddler has jointed knees.

Sun Klub Kid toddler by Carla Thompson has jointed knees.  The toddler and the taller Sun Klub Kid are made of doe suede.

More Contemporary Interesting Dolls

Little Miss Sunshine by Bo Bergemann, shown above, is a ray of sunshine.  She is an 11-inch ball-jointed doll with removable dread lock wig.  Introduced to the market in 2012, I purchased her from the estate of Michelle Y. Fontenot who succumbed to a long-time illness in 2014.  Little Miss Sunshine's prototype photo can be seen here.

Libbie is a carved wood doll by Kor January.
The above shown 14-inch doll by Kor January is constructed of poplar wood for the body, lower arms/hands, and lower legs/feet.  Oak was used for her upper arms and legs.  Libbie is spring jointed and quite poseable as illustrated in her blog post introduction published in September 2014.  Of the wooden dolls in my collection, she is my absolute favorite.

This OOAK photo face doll by Judi Hunziker is quite interesting.  Using the face from an Internet-found photo of an actual child (that Hunziker thought was a boy), she created this doll in 2010 and named her Laura. After purchasing the doll on the secondary market in 2015, wanting to know more about her, I found Hunziker's contact information, wrote, and asked if she could offer additional details about the doll.  Because it had been so long since the doll was made, Hunziker could not offer much beyond the fact of finding a photo of a "cute little baby boy" and using it to create the doll, changing its gender to female.  About a year later, she contacted me to share that this photo (which is clearly a baby girl and not a boy) had been used to create the doll.

Just because the wig makes all the difference in her stunningly beautiful appearance, Barbie Basics Model 8 from the Denim Collection is included here.

Beckoning in Blue and Ravishing in Red by Annie Lee
Faceless dolls are always interesting.  It takes a special collector, however, to invite them into a collection.  Many doll lovers desire dolls with completed faces.   Once the opportunity presented itself for me to add some of Annie Lee's 17-1/2-inch faceless divas into my collection, I did not hesitate.  Beckoning in Blue and Ravishing in Red are two of the four Sass 'N Class, Girls Night Out dolls that I own.  Inspired by Lee's painting, High Roller, as illustrated here, where doll's reenact the people in the High Roller painting, several other dolls in this collection exist.

Dolls by Black doll artists and manufacturers
The dolls in the above group photo illustrate a variety of dolls made by Black doll artists and black-owned companies.  Lying down in front is Kayla, a limited-edition resin doll by Lorna Miller-Sands from the Lil' Bitties Collection. Standing/seated from left to right are:  Kemi, an all leather doll by Lorna Paris; Lou-Ellen (in wicker chair) by Gloria Rone; Walnut Baby by Floyd Bell (seated in white dress); Kayin, a trunk doll with wardrobe by Goldie Wilson; and Baby Nancy, the first doll made by Shindana Toys, Inc.

Kayin, the trunk doll by Goldie Wilson
Kayin, is a 14-inch full-bodied porcelain doll by Goldie Wilson.  She is shown above and in the group photo of dolls made by Black artists/manufacturers.  In this photo, her entire wardrobe, which was made by Goldie Wilson, is illustrated.  Goldie also made Kayin's trunk, which is adorned with hand painted flowers on front and on the front of the two storage compartments where Kayin's additional shoes, socks, and tights are kept.

Friend of Hitty by Gloria Rone of Massa's Servants Collectibles
The above 6-1/2-inch Friend of Hitty appears to have been made of wood, but she was not.  Using a twist of polymer clay that resulted in a wood grain/marble appearance, the artist, Gloria Rone, fashioned the doll of clay.  Gloria dressed the doll in a hand-sewn peach/white/brown plaid dress with matching bonnet, while eyelet apron and white under garments.  She arrived in her very own travel case, the front of which reads:  Good things are going to happen.

Hallelujah! Ester, Vesta, and Rose by Wyatt Hicks
Esta, Vesta and Rose, made of sculpey and cloth with wire armatures are 6 inches and poseable. Their artist, Wyatt Hicks, was inspired to create them after viewing an Alvin Ailey dance performance.  He has made several sets of three Hallelujah! dolls; the colors of their dresses vary.   See more of his work here.

Artist dolls by Heidi Pluszcok
The little girls shown above were made by Heidi Pluszcok.  From left to right they are:  Ashley, Joanne, Ruby, Anisha, and Patsy.  They range in size from 9-to-11 inches.  Heidi P. is one of my favorite doll artists.  Dolls that capture the innocence of childhood are among my favorites.

Cecelie, another, but much larger doll, by Heidi Pluszcok was also acquired from the estate of Michelle Y. Fontenot.  This 32-inch lovely girl arrived shortly after Little Miss Sunshine by Bo Bergemann.  They both serve as beautiful reminders of Michelle and our shared love for dolls.

A variety of beautiful artist dolls
From L-R and top-bottom, the dolls in the above collage of vinyl artist dolls are: Angelica and Aaron by Philip Heath, Shawanna by Bettina Feigenspan for Zapf Designer Collection, Alicia by Elissa Glassgold, Ayoka by Annette Himstedt, Lelia by Elisabeth Lindner, Tamina by Elisabeth Lindner, Matoka by Annette Himstedt, and Smiling Debbie handcrafted by Woelfert-Puppen.  Like most high-end artist dolls, these dolls were made from the finest materials with close attention to detail.  Most of the dolls in the collage (if not all) interestingly, were made in Germany.

Leather doll pouch by Lorna Paris and me wearing it in 2007
I met Lorna Paris or learned of her remarkable leather dolls at the 2004 Philadelphia International Black Doll Show.  Kemi (shown in the group of black dolls by Black artists) was my first Lorna Paris acquisition.  I added the leather doll pouch shown above later and have since acquired a few of her other beautiful dolls, which all fall into the unique, interesting, one-of-a-kind category.  All her pieces are completely hand made and quite exquisite.  See more of Lorna's work here.


Thank you, dedicated reader, for requesting this post.   It was fun choosing which dolls to share, but difficult to end as there are so many other interesting dolls here, but I had to stop somewhere. Reconnecting with those that were included and remembering what inspired the purchases or from whom they were purchased was a treat.  I hope you and other readers find these dolls interesting, too.


From the World Doll Day Facebook About Page:  "The First World Doll Day was June 14th, 1986 with a letter by Mildred Seeley & created to spread a universal message of happiness & love through dolls." For me this post shares my ongoing passion for black dolls.  When created to adequately portray the people they represent, black dolls renew my spirit.  

To learn more about World Doll day, visit the World Doll Day website here.


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  1. Thank you for sharing part of your collection. The dolls are all beautiful, and I loved seeing the variety of materials used to make them.

    1. You're welcome, Gini. It was my pleasure to do this.


  2. Hello! I've just recently found your blog and it is beyond amazing :D I know you're probably busy, but I've been looking into why black kids favor white dolls, and I thought you'd be the perfect person to ask! :)

    1. Hello and welcome, agfruitycutie. Thank you for reading this post.

      I do not think there is any one reason black children might favor white dolls. Individual preferences will vary, and do note that white-doll-only ownership is not isolated to black children. Children of other non-white racial groups are often seen with white dolls as well. Some reasons why non-white children might be seen with (but not necessarily prefer) white dolls include:

      1) Exposure: Lack of availability of black dolls on store shelves or other sources of parental purchasing and parent/child opts for white dolls instead.
      2) Parents are unwilling or unaware of the possibility to shop at specialty stores either locally or online where black dolls are more plentiful than in local markets.
      3) The child was indoctrinated early on with white dolls due to numbers 1 or 2 above. Blame must lie with the parent and not the child.
      4) The white version costs less and/or includes more accessories or wears better clothing.
      5) A black/Asian/Latino version of a particular doll is nonexistent (has not been made).

      If a child truly prefers white dolls over those that represent his or her ethnicity, this usually stems from:
      1) Not being taught to appreciate/love their own natural beauty/characteristics: darker skin, versatile hair that can be worn in its natural curly/coily state or temporarily straightened (if desired); luscious lips and natural body curves.
      2) Not being positively represented in books/educational materials, on television, film and other media -- positive representation matters. If a child only sees positive images of people who do not look like him, it is natural for the child to gravitate toward the positive and also feel a sense of inadequacy as a result.

      These are just a few reasons a black child might favor white dolls. Ultimately it is the responsibility of a parent to instill into their child a sense of self-worth by exposing the child to positive images of self and dispelling the fallacy that only one standard of beauty exists.


  3. Your collection is just amazing. I love its diversity. (The squalling baby on the left! :D ) Thanks to the blog reader for suggesting this post and you for sharing all these pictures and information about their makers and history.

    1. Hi Maricha,

      That squalling baby on the left is something else! She has a face only a mother could love.

      Thanks for enjoying and for letting me know you did.


  4. These are beautiful (and thank you for alerting me to World Doll Day). I am in the hunt for a Madame Alexander "Cynthia" from the 1950s (she is like a black church girl from the turn of the century). I keep tellingmyself, "Someday ..."
    Again, thank you for sharing.

    1. Hello and you're welcome - (I wish I knew your name).

      I wish you good luck in finding Madame Alexander Cynthia. She is a lovely doll and was a must-have for me in all three available sizes. It took years for me to find all three or for them to find me. You can see my three by clicking this link.

      Check eBay as they show up there from time to time.


  5. As always an amazing peek into your collection. It's nice to see done if the dolls I've read about make a reappearance here, as well as new ones I haven't seen. It always inspires me when I get to see the breadth of dolls you have collected over the years. I love that there is international dolls day. A nice way to celebrate dolls and their owners! :)

    1. I think it is a wonderful idea to set aside at least one day a year to celebrate dolls globally. The entire premise is to give a doll away, but they can be celebrated in any way. As collectors, most of us are celebrating our dolls daily.

      Someone recently asked me which dolls are my top 10 favorites. It was hard to choose only 10. In fact I chose 12 and after doing so, I thought about others that could have easily been added to the list. Maybe I'll post some of my favorites in a blog post soon.


    2. That would be awesome I know I'm always looking through the group shots of your doll room to have a look to see what I haven't seen before! It's always tough trying to narrow it down to a top 10. There are sentimental choices, holy grail dolls, rare ones...the list goes on...even thinking myself most would have to be those I grew up with or wanted as a kid but missed out on and of course that doesn't even cover some of the recent additions to the family! ;)


Thank you! Your comments are appreciated!