Friday, January 19, 2018

Circa 1940s Papier Mâché Mammy

Circa 1940s papier mâché mammy

Found on eBay in November 2017, this circa 1940s one-of-a-kind, hand sculpted, unmarked mammy is made of papier mâché and cloth.

Closeup of circa 1940s mammy

Because her head sculpt reminds me of dolls by the late I. Roberta Bell, I added her to my collection.  She is unmarked, but her 1940s origin predates Bell's dolls.  Her entry in my Excel doll inventory workbook fully describes her as follows:

Circa 1940s Mammy:  13 inches tall, made of a papier mâché or clay, one-of-a-kind mammy with hand sculpted features. Facial features are painted.  Black mohair used for bangs and hair at shoulders underneath red bandanna headscarf that is tied at top center of head. Has brown cloth body with mature bosom; cloth arms, and legs.  Feet and hands are same material as face.  Wears blue floral dress with white (yellowed with age) organdy apron trimmed in red rickrack with pocket that holds a red bandanna handkerchief; wears white cotton slip and matching pantaloons. Has painted-on black shoes.

This photo illustrates her white pantaloons, her mostly brown cloth legs, lower papier mâché legs, and painted-on black shoes.
The seller indicated the firmer surfaces of the doll are possibly made of clay; however, her face, hands, lower legs, and feet are very lightweight, much lighter than a clay that would have been used in dollmaking in the 1940s.

Mammy has a bent (to sit) posture.

Her body was crafted for sitting, but she can also stand with the assistance of a doll stand and still appear to be standing.

Mammy's dress might have been made from flour sack or feed sack material.
The fabric of her dress appears to have been made from flour sack or feed sack material, which was often repurposed to fashion into every thing from dish towels to clothing in the early-to-mid 1900s.  See another doll that wears a dress made from feed sack here.

In the group photo above, Mammy fits in quite nicely with other, mostly early 1900s dolls with a few modern girls and guys thrown into the mix.  Can you find her?

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  1. She’s behind Patty Play Pal! This follows on from our offline conversation about cloth dolls with little provenance. She just is. Who made her, who for, what has she seen in her travels. Definitely an intriguing doll.

    1. You found her, Julius!

      I wonder all that about her. But one thing I know for sure... she's here with me and the others. She has found a new home.



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