Saturday, January 23, 2021

Sue Johnson Doll with Doll

A Sue Johnson doll with a doll from 1991 is shown above.

I began collecting Black dolls in 1991. At that time, I was not familiar with many doll artists or manufacturers other than the playline manufacturers of dolls I had purchased for my daughter. A member of my doll group owns at least three Miss Baby Heirloom Dolls by Sue Johnson. Johnson's dolls, from my research, date back to the 1980s. The group member's ownership of Sue Johnson dolls is how I became aware of the dolls in 2018. But it wasn't until I saw actress Tatyana Ali on a recent episode of The Talk that I really paid attention to this artist's dolls.

On that episode of The Talk, Ali shared that actor James Avery gave her Black dolls for Christmas during the years she played the role of his youngest daughter on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. See a video of that segment of the interview next.

The doll on the far right in the video piqued my interest. I immediately went to eBay and searched for "Sue Johnson doll." There my doll was waiting for me to "make an offer." I did and the seller accepted it.

While waiting for my 16-inch resin doll to arrive, I searched for an archived article from 2004 about James Avery. The article describes his penchant for collecting Black Americana. I could not find that article on my computer. However, about a week after I opened the shipping box of the Sue Johnson doll, the article, which I had shared on Facebook a few years ago, was listed in my Facebook Memories. The article is illustrated next.

Click, tap, or stretch to enlarge this article from episode CHS-108 Collecting History, "Celebrity Hobbies," which aired on the DIY Network in 2004. It featured Avery and his Black Americana collection.

This close-up photo of my Sue Johnson doll illustrates her sculpted and painted facial features. Sue's dolls are reminiscent of Izannah Walker dolls from the 1800s.

My doll arrived in excellent condition but without her Miss Baby Heirloom hangtag that would provide her name. She has sculpted and painted facial features, painted black hair on the head, one painted spit curl, two side sections that have two black yarn braids, and one section in the back that has two black yarn braids. The ends of the braids are accented with light blue ribbons. Her body, upper arms, and upper legs are cloth. The rest is wood resin.

She wears a burgundy and beige nineteenth-century-style dress that is trimmed with lace in a V-shape on the bodice. A beige half-slip and pantaloons, and resin molded-on black mock-lace-up boots complete her outfit.

As illustrated next, the back of one boot is signed,
Sue Johnson

and the other is numbered,


The doll's molded-on boots bear the artist's signature, year made, and the numbered edition as illustrated and described.

An armless and legless 4-inch Black cloth doll with painted hair and face, wearing a blue polka dot dress is stitched to the larger doll's dress. 

(Since taking the above photo, I have tucked the smaller doll inside the larger doll's dress pocket.)

It wasn't until I viewed Tatyana Ali's interview a second time after my doll arrived, that I was pleasantly pleased to discover our dolls are identical! Imagine that.

While writing this post, I searched Google for "Sue Johnson doll" and found a Worthpoint page for a past eBay auction of an identical doll. According to the eBay description, my doll's name is Moselle.


There are countless items to collect and write about. Black dolls chose me.

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