Thursday, January 31, 2019

The R.Q. Five

Five R.Q.-marked dolls - Photograph courtesy of eBay seller, shadowsam
The above five Leo Moss-type dolls were offered recently on eBay.  They sold for $395.00.

After the auction ended, the doll historian in me contacted the seller to ask if I could use the auction pictures for this post.  Seller, shadowsam, graciously agreed.  In return, I offered to extend a photo courtesy for the use of the photos and a link to their current listings, which can be found at the end of this post.  I also asked the seller if additional information beyond what was written in the auction description was known, and if so, could it be shared.

The seller did not know very much about the dolls other than "they were acquired at an auction house."  The auction description was written as follows:

Up for auction are 5 Vintage Black African  American Artist Made Dolls Resin Cloth Bisque OOAK.
These dolls are in used played with condition and would be great for parts/repair or to restore.
We are not really sure what they are made of, the heads feel like resin but we did see cloth bodies and the legs and arms feel like bisque.
They are homemade but they would need some work as you can see in the pictures, they have been in storage for quite awhile.
The only mark we saw was RQ on the neck.
The clothes show lots of wear also.
The dolls range from about 17" to about 28" tall.
Don't miss out on these dolls, bid now!
The R.Q. mark is illustrated on this doll's neck.  Photograph courtesy of eBay seller, shadowsam.
Because I am familiar with the R.Q. mark and own one doll with it, I knew these dolls were made (or refashioned) by Rubin Quintano, who is known for making dolls in the style of Leo Moss, whose dollmaking preceded Quintano's by several decades.  Moss made dolls from the late 1800s through the early 1930s, but his dolls were not discovered by doll collectors until the 1970s.  

Quintano’s Moss-type dolls can be traced back to at least the 1980s and possibly prior.  He used Moss’s dollmaking technique of applying papier-mâché-type material over the heads and sometimes bodies of already manufactured dolls, resculpting the faces and hair, and changing the eyes to achieve the Leo Moss doll appearance. 

This close-up includes two Rubin Quintano dolls fashioned in the style of Leo Moss dolls.  Photograph courtesy of eBay seller, shadowsam.
Most Quintano dolls look similar to the two shown in the above picture. 

Leo Moss-type crying doll and smiling doll with teeth are shown in this photo.  Photograph courtesy of eBay seller, shadowsam.
The doll on the left in the above photo has the signature Leo Moss tears.  Moss is said to have added tears to portrait dolls of children who cried as they sat to have their dolls made.  Of the five dolls in this auction, it was the largest doll, seated next to the crying doll, that really interested me.  I had not seen one by Quintano like this one.  It reminds me of a Leo Moss doll that recently sold at auction for $7000. 

This doll met with some misfortune that I hope is repairable.  Photo courtesy of eBay seller, shadowsam.

The doll with the broken-off head, shown above, has a unique face as well. 

This cloth body appears to belong to the unfortunate doll with broken head/neck attachment.  Photo courtesy of eBay seller, shadowsam

One of the dolls in the auction had a painted-over- or papier-mâché-covered body.  Photo courtesy of eBay seller, shadowsam.

As shown in the two photos above, in this auction, the seller illustrated the cloth body of one doll and the painted body of another.

Others have attempted to recreate Leo Moss dolls.  Quintano’s dolls are, however, by far the closest in appearance to an authentic Leo Moss.  Because his dolls are usually marked R.Q. in red paint, this indicates he in no way attempted to deceive the doll collecting community about their authenticity.  He simply utilized his artistic ability to fashion dolls in the likeness of Moss dolls.  Other than his dolls, additional information about Rubin (sometimes spelled Ruben) Quintano is not known.  Dolls by Rubin Quintano are featured in part three of my article on Leo Moss dolls published at Ebony-Essence of Dolls in Black.

As promised, here is the link to the seller’s current eBay listings.

It would not surprise me if some or all of these dolls show up on eBay once again but individually.  Kudos to both the seller and buyer.  

There is always something to collect and write about. Black dolls chose me.

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  1. You have some of the most extraordinary black dolls here. These types of dolls have such strong personalities that seem to reach out and grab you. Even though I don't collect these dolls, I really enjoy your blog!!!

    1. Thank you, April. I wish these were mine. Unfortunately, I did not win the bid for them. I appreciate the seller's permission to write about them.



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