I think I've written about this before... wondering in whose hands or in how many hands my preowned dolls have been prior to arriving here Knowing a doll's provenance is important; however, sometimes, based on the doll's age, that is impossible.
One of the reasons I wrote, The Doll Blogs, When Dolls Speak, I Listen was to document the chosen dolls' experiences with me and the origin of their acquisition. Their source and experience(s) here with me, partially document their existence in the doll world.
I have an extensive collection of dolls that date back to the late 1800s. These include, among others, dolls made of cloth, bisque, composition, rubber, and hard plastic mediums. I am especially fond of dolls from the mid-1950s, most of which are made of hard plastic, which was popular in doll making during that decade. My 1950s dolls originated from US and European manufacturers. Most European doll makers used the darkest coloring for their dolls as illustrated in this group photo of a variety of dolls from England, Ireland, and New Zealand, while American-made dolls, like Madame Alexander Cynthia, were usually medium brown in color.
I am also just as fond of the dolls made before I was born. Those from the 1930s (and prior, like the lovely couple in the first photograph) represent the era of my mother's doll playing years, although I am sure most of her dolls were hand made. The popular medium used for manufactured dolls in the 1930s was composition, a mixture of sawdust, glue and other materials that were compressed together to create a sturdy composite.
Recently, one of the members of my doll group asked, "Do you ever wonder about who may have originally owned your antique or vintage dolls?"
I answered, "With every vintage doll I acquire, I often wonder about her previous owners and what 'life' she led before she reached me." To reiterate, for all dolls, vintage-to-modern that I purchase on the secondary market whose origins are unknown, I wonder about their provenance.
A day after the above question was posed, I received an email from someone seeking identification and value for a black doll she inherited. The doll in question was a circa 1930s 9-inch composition black baby with three tufts of hair. The owner was told by a family member that "the doll was very racist and was called a 'beater' baby because it was given to the children so they would play with it instead of the more expensive white dolls back in the day."
Until receipt of that email, I had never in my lifetime heard of a doll referred to as a "beater" baby or a doll that was specifically used for abuse.
|These Feel Better Dolls were pulled from the shelves of a New Jersey store because they are considered racist.|
The above text regarding a doll's provenance and "beater baby" dolls was written in early 2011. It had been kept in draft mode since that time. I decided to publish now after reading about the "Feel Better Dolls" that were recently pulled from a New Jersey store following customer complaints that the doll is racist. It encourages people to whack the doll "on a wall" to release their frustrations (and feel better, as the label on the doll's stomach instructs). Because the doll is black and because dolls represent people, rightfully so the doll is highly inappropriate. In addition to urging people to use the doll for battering, the doll's yarn hair colors of red, green, yellow, and black are closely related to the red, green, gold, and black colors of the Rastafarian flag (gold is often mistaken by non-Rastafarians as yellow). Red, green, and yellow are the flag colors of many African nations, specifically Ghana.
While the doll came in two other fabric body colors (green and yellow), who in their right mind thought this concept was a good idea?
When I ended the original blog some 8 years ago, I wrote, "Have you ever heard of a beater baby?" If you too read about the Feel Better Doll, I, unfortunately, know the answer to this question.
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