|17-inch handcrafted Caribbean souvenir doll and 14-inch handmade cloth doll circa 1940s|
This is part 2 of a 3-part doll-gifts series to acknowledge dolls that I have received recently from doll friends and people who do not know me personally.
On June 5, 2019, I received an email from Ms. Grace K. Anderson asking if I knew of anyone or if I would be interested in accepting the above two dolls as a donation. Ms. Anderson indicated this pair had been owned by her mother-in-law who passed away recently. The dolls were discovered during the process of cleaning her mother-in-law's house and the family wanted to find a place to donate the dolls, either with a collector or an institution. Very little was known about the dolls other than the fact that they belonged to Ms. Anderson's mother-in-law.
After extending my condolences to her and her family, I thanked her for writing to me and indicated I would be happy to accept the dolls. I asked if she knew if her mother-in-law made the dolls since one of the two appeared to be handmade based on the photos she shared. I also asked if she could tell me something about her mother-in-law. Specifically, I wanted to know if she owned other dolls and how old she was when she passed.
Part of her reply is copied below:
Thank you for such a quick reply and for your condolences. Both my husband and sister-in-law don't have any recollection about these dolls. My mother-in-law was an artist and also a collector in many ways, but she did not own any other dolls. My sister-in-law thinks these dolls may have been acquired at an estate sale. I wish I had more provenance for you.
As for my mother-in-law, her name was Carola Penn and there is a nice obituary and link to her website here:
She was quite a disciplined artist and remarkable as she raised two kids on her own while getting by as an artist. She was really a beautiful person and had many close friends who were truly amazing during the last year of Carola's life... She was only 74 when she passed.
I am happy these dolls will have an important home to go to. Thank you so much! If you learn anything further about these dolls, I'd be curious to learn more about them...perhaps on your blog? :)
Thank you again and please let me know if I can assist with this in other ways.
I made an entry for each doll in my Excel doll inventory workbook under the 2019 tab. What I wrote under the Year of Manufacture, Name, and Description columns for each doll is copied below.
Circa 1940s / Handmade Cloth Souvenir Islander Doll
|16-inch Caribbean souvenir doll, circa 1940s|
16-inch handmade cloth doll from the Caribbean Islands uses black twill fabric for the face onto which simple features are painted. Black cotton was used for the body, arms, and legs. Arms and legs are jointed. The doll has a mature bosom. Her headscarf and dress are made from a variety of floral-print cotton fabrics. The back of the blouse uses madras fabric which has deep West African and Caribbean roots. [https://face2faceafrica.com/article/how-the-colonial-madras-fabric-played-a-role-in-transatlantic-slave-trade] She holds a basket of fruit or food that a woman she represents would plan to sell in the tourist sections of her town. The fruit or food is represented by red and yellow cloth-covered balls. She wears an apron over her skirt and madras undies. Her body appears to be stuffed with paper. Dolls remain a huge tourist commodity in the Caribbean. Some are sold in tourist shops while others are sold by street vendors in tourist areas.
Additional pictures of this doll are included next:
|This close-up of her face illustrates her hand-painted facial features. Two red dots represent her nose.|
|She holds a basket of fruit. Black cotton fabric was used for her arms.|
|Black twill fabric was used for her face, body, and legs, which are machine stitched. Madras fabric was used for her undies. The same fabric was used for the back of her blouse, which is illustrated next.|
|The back of the blouse is made from madras plaid fabric.|
Circa 1940s / Handmade Cloth Doll
|14-inch circa 1940s handmade cloth doll|
14-inch circa 1940s handmade black cloth doll was made from black cloth and cotton stuffing. Simple facial features of eyes and mouth are stitched with embroidery thread. 17 knots of black yarn frame the top and sides of her head. She has no hair in the back. She wears a sewn-on tan and beige floral-print dress, a blue and white plaid apron, and white cotton pantaloons. Her right arm was detached from her body upon arrival but hanging inside her sleeve. I restitched it to the body to make her whole.
Additional photos of this doll follow:
|Her tiny eyes and mouth are stitched on. She does not have a nose.|
|This profile photo illustrates her Nubian- or Bantu-knots hairstyle created with knots of black yarn.|
|She wears full-length pantaloons, no shoes.|
|The Caribbean souvenir doll displays well with similar dolls that I own.|
|The other cloth doll has found a display companion.|
The smaller cloth doll is made on a very similar style as a larger cloth doll that I have owned for several years. She now sits with her larger doll companion.
Thank you again, Grace, for contacting me and for allowing me to provide a new home for this pair.
Doll Gifts Part 1
Doll Gifts Part 1
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