Monday, May 11, 2020

Norah Wellings Doll Gift

A beautiful, circa 1940s Norah Wellings Doll

She arrived having been loved for over 40 years by her former owner who offered her to me as a gift. This 13-1/2-inch Norah Wellings doll is very similar to the two shown here. My initial email from her former owner, KL, is copied below for provenance purposes.

On Mon, Apr 27, 2020 at 4:36 PM -0500, "xxxxxx" wrote:

Hello Debbie,
First off, I hope this finds you well. I want to get to the point and then explain in hopes to limit wasted time on your part, I was wondering if my beloved Norah Wellings doll could find a good home with you? No charge, I would very much like to find a loving and caring home for her. I've enjoyed her company for far too many years to feel right selling her and I don't have anyone in my life who I feel would appreciate her as much as I have.

When I was much much younger my mom found her naked in a thrift store, she brought her home and put some clothes on her. I saw her and asked if I could have her. She was mine but placed out of reach with visitation rights. 😉
Now, after having enjoyed her sweet smile and company for decades, as an adult I'm making changes and would like to send her on a new adventure. It really seems like she would be in good company with you and your collection. (I read a little about you online.) All I would ask of you is that you never sell her. (If you find a new home and give her away, that's totally fine!) If you have a better idea of a home for her I'd love to hear it. Please see attached photos for condition.

Thank you so much for your time,

Being the black-doll enthusiast and rescuer that I am, I gladly accepted KL's offer to provide a new, good home for her beloved Norah Wellings doll and promised to never sell her.  My two other Norah Wellings dolls became as excited about her arrival as I did.

My new girl sat for this photograph where a portion of her cloth foot tag can be seen.

After having been packed with extreme care for her trip to her new home, my new-to-me Norah Wellings doll arrived swiftly. I used my hands to smooth her black mohair wig and to tuck in some areas of the bun. I applied clear fingernail polish to the raw edges of the hem of her handmade skirt to prevent it from fraying. I took photos and documented her in my doll inventory workbook.

Standing photos from the front and back

My doll inventory Excel description entry reads as follows:

13-1/2-inch doll, made of velvet has mask face under velvet with side-glancing, painted brown eyes; a smiling mouth with six painted teeth; black mohair wig styled in an upswept bun; marked on the left foot: MADE IN ENGLAND/BY/NORAH WELLINGS. Has sewn-on cowrie shell and bead earrings and multicolored strung wooden beads that accent her bun (both earrings and hair beads probably added by her former owner), wears original gray marble-colored bangle bracelet and anklet on left arm and ankle. Bracelet and ankle indentations on the right arm and ankle indicate she probably wore bracelets and anklets there. Redressed by former owner's mother using yellow fabric and a multicolored scarf to create a sarong.  The former owner's mother purchased the doll secondhand during the 1970s. 

The cloth tag on her left foot reads:

My Norah Wellings gift doll is accompanied by my first and second circa 1930s dolls. The one on the far right is a Dudu model 119; the other is a souvenir of Nassau Bahamas.

After I fussed over her, she was next greeted by her two sisters. The three fell in love immediately. It was a joy to imagine how they would actually interact with one another. Because they are about the same height and wear coordinating colors, they will display well together in the cloth-doll section of my collection.

Their close-up illustrates their different eyes and complexions. The newest girl has a deeper complexion and painted eyes. The older two have glass eyes.
The newest doll is my first Wellings with painted eyes (the other two have brown glass eyes).  According to Gillian Trotter, the author of the Norah Wellings Journal blog, glass eyes were used between "1927 and mid-1930s and the later ones had painted eyes." In an email reply from Trotter about the new girl and dating of the eyes, she indicated, my new girl's original clothing was probably a grass skirt, "the earrings do not look original ... some had hoops like the ones on her arm and others had beads or none at all." She also confirmed the new girl's era as being the 1940s and she feels the Nassau doll was probably sold on a cruise ship that docked in Nassau, Bahamas. Trotter is also the author of Norah Wellings Cloth Dolls and Soft Toys.

Thank you again, KL, for your kind gift. I will cherish this beautiful doll forever.

Related Links
First and Most Recent Norah Wellings Dolls
Norah Wellings Journal


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  1. Hi Debbie, your new doll is absolutely lovely! What a beautiful gift, she definitely arrived at the right place: your collection. :) Your 3 dolls are all beautiful, and it's very interesting to have so much information about them. I especially admire the faces and hair of the trio! Congratulations!

    1. Thank you, Linda! I think they all have their own personalities and I am very grateful to have been chosen to care for this new sweetheart.


  2. Their faces are amazingly realistic. They make feel like singing and smiling. I'm glad you were able to take this little princess into your home. Being reunited with her two sisters was the cherry on top.


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