Thursday, December 29, 2005

Martha Thompson's beauties reach out to us from the 1950s and 1960s

Today, I was reading an article in Doll Collector Magazine about Evelyn Green and came across a reference to "renowned" doll artist Martha Thompson. Since I am relatively new to collecting I had not heard of her work before. So I went up to Google and quickly found some pictures of her beautifully-detailed figures. My research revealed that Martha was a doll artist from Massachusetts. She was one of the founding members of the National Institute of American Doll Artists and most of her work I have found on the web was created in the mid-20th century (1950s - 1960s). I thought this portrait doll of Jenny Lind was particularly nice. She has glass inset eyes and her face is framed with delicate porcelain roses. I also noticed that a number of her pieces have sold for $1500 to $3500 so apparently collecting her work is not for the faint of heart.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Cleabella offers 1850s Christmas Caroler Costume for their historical line

Christmas Carol - Historical 15 1/2" Fashion Doll Costume: "The Industrial Revolution of the 1800's made England and France wealthy nations with expanding trade connections and growing empires. By 1850 American cities were growing and this young country became on of the major suppliers of raw materials such as cotton. But Europe also looked to the east for cashmeres, silks and fine woven cottons.

The typical style of the early to mid 1850's was a wide dome shape skirt over a caged crinoline with a separate well fitted bodice. Printed and plaid cotton from the Americas was the most popular fabric choice for day wear. The bodice modestly covered a women's entire chest and either gathered in ruffles or a tailored collar around the neck.

This costume was based on a compilation of historical costumes from England circa 1855. The big dome skirt was very popular in Europe and America during the beginning reign of Queen Victoria."

Derdriu Dolls Offers Historical Doll House Miniatures

Belgian doll artist Deirdre Wilgenburg produces one-of-a-kind dollhouse-sized (5 1/2" to 6" adults) fully poseable dolls from the Medieval, Renaissance, Tudor, Stuart, Rococo (pictured left), Regency, Edwardian, and Victorian periods as well as figures dressed in fashions from the 20th century. Deirdre lives in Zemst and has been creating dolls since November 2000. With prices averaging below $200 each, these works of art are affordable for many collectors.

Friday, December 23, 2005

Lady of Finavon Creates Museum Quality Dolls with "Groundbreaking Artistry"

Lady of Finavon: In my unending search for quality historical dolls I came across this website featuring the stunning artistry of Victoria Cairns. With Victoria's early training in fashion design coupled with an inherited talent for modelling and painting, she has produced a collection of figures representing some of the most famous royals of Europe with remarkable detail. Victoria not only personally sculpts the faces and creates the molds, but constructs such delicate accessories as corsets and shoes, reproduces meticulous embroidery on elaborate costumes, and styles the wigs into fantastic coiffures.

"The ruins of Finavon castle in Angus, Scotland tell the story of a turbulent past. Once the stronghold of the Lindsay Earls of Crawford, Thomas the Rhymer - a famed Scottish seer in the 13th century - predicted

'When Finavon castle rins to sand
The end of the world is near at hand'

With an unmatched combination of costuming, modelling and design skills, Victoria Cairns, who is a fellow of the Scottish Society of Antiquities and the present Lady of Finavon, draws on this history to bring kings and queens to life.

After a successful exhibition at the Shambellie Costume Museum of the National Museum of Scotland in 2002, Lady of Finavon dolls can indeed be described as 'museum quality'. With a commitment to accuracy and the flair to bring a historic character to life with each creation, Victoria has been garnering praise for her groundbreaking artistry."

Monday, December 19, 2005

Esther Brassac's creations feature Handmade lace and carved ivory

I was researching dolls created by a different doll artist and came across these lovely meticulously detailed dolls produced in France by Esther Brassac. Like me, she combines her love of history with a love for figural art and the results are quite spectacular and unique.

"[Esther Brassac's] dolls are one-of-a-kind and carved in box wood, vegetal or synthetic ivory...

My dolls are created with various artistic techniques like marquetry, bobbin laces, embroidery, oil painting... and they requires three months of work.

My favorite subjects are costume history, particularly Middle Age, Renaissance and the eighteenth century, country sculptures, mythology and fairies. I like creating miniature scenes too..."

I could not find any price information about her dolls, only books about doll making. Perhaps they are crafted for museum pieces.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Eubank family dolls still sought after 75 years

Today I found a website developed by descendants of the Eubank family that discusses the origins of Eubank dolls. I'm always excited when I find out new information about dolls in my collection. It confirmed that Eubank Dolls were originally made in Hannibal Missouri and a Mark Twain Eubank Doll is in the Mark Twain Museum in Hannibal. The Museum inscription states that this doll was made in Hannibal, Missouri in the 1930's or early 1940 by Wilma Eubank Pulliam. Site publisher Bert Eubank also said that he believes the Doll Company was sold and later moved to Branson, Missouri.

Like Mr. and Mrs. Eubank, my favorite dolls are the older composition dolls. My first Eubank doll was Abraham Lincoln. It is quite similar to the doll in this image except it has a gray plaid shawl. The next three Eubank dolls I purchased were Buffalo Bill Cody (the vendor called it General George Custer but I'm pretty certain it is Buffalo Bill Cody), that looks like the middle doll in this image, Andrew Jackson, that is a very good likeness of Old Hickory, and Betsy Ross. These three dolls were simply sold as vintage composition dolls. I did not know they, too, were Eubank until I saw this picture.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Zanverdiani dolls of Venice offer historical characters

Another doll that came to my attention was a Marie Antoinette designed by Italian artists for Zanverdiani dolls of Venice. The Ebay vendor said she purchased the doll in Venice about eleven years ago. This ornately costumed doll with a beaded brocade bodice features porcelain head, hands and legs with a soft body and stands 12" tall. The vendor asked a hefty $350 for the doll and I could not find any others on the web to compare it to for price. As my display space is almost nonexistent, I let it pass. I noticed no one else bid with that starting price either. I have a Showstoppers doll costumed in a similar fashion including the beaded brocade gown but paid less than $35 for it (if I remember correctly). I bought her as one of a pair along with a boy in a brocade 18th century costume. I do think the Venetian doll has a sweeter face though.

Historical dolls from Klumpe and Rodan worth a look

One of my Ebay alerts sent me a notice about a Klumpe doll dressed as an Edwardian Gentleman coming up for bid. I have never encountered Klumpe dolls in my collecting experience so I was curious about these dolls. I found the following information in a web search.

"Two companies in Barcelona, Spain, made dolls with felt bodies over wire frames. Klumpe, founded in 1952, made dolls until the mid-1970s. Roldan made dolls from the early 1960s until the mid-'70s. The dolls manufactured by both firms represented professionals, dancers, historical characters and people doing daily tasks, such as walking a dog."

I also checked some completed auctions to get an idea of price. Most of the dolls seem to sell in the $25 - $35. The doll I was particularly interested in was a whimsical Roman Musician. However the vendor set a starting bid at $65 which I think is a bit steep considering some small holes in the sandals, leg and wreath. I noticed there was only 8+ hours left and she had no bidders. I think I'll wait this one out and see if she'll consider less if there are no bidders at the end of the auction.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Manitou Free Traders Offers Corps of Discovery Figures

Manitou Free Traders, LLC. In conjunction with the bicentennial celebration of Lewis and Clark's exploration of the lands encompassed by the Louisiana Purchase, a new historical figure producer has announced a line of 12" figures of members of Lewis and Clark's Corps of Discovery.

"The Corps of Discovery opened the way for westward expansion, with a good map and detailed knowledge of the rigors facing the courageous undaunted opportunist. Each detail of the figures and their equipment has been researched ad nausea. Credit is due to the writers and illustrators of the various books and movies that have appeared around the Corps bicentennial. Without the research these people have completed this project would still be in development. The box illustrations are used courtesy of Michael Haynes, and can be found in the book "Tailor made and trail worn". The head sculptures of Lewis and Clark are modeled after the portraits painted by Peal. The likenesses of Sacagawea, Charbonneau and York are conjecture, although Sacagawea is based on contemporary bone structure of people from the Shoshone nation."

Although Meriwether Lewis and William Clark are both dashing in their period uniforms I think my favorite figure of the line is Sacajewa's husband, Pierre Toussaint Charbonneau. However, at $79.95 he is a bit spendy compared to the Lewis and Clark figures priced at $59.95. This puts them in the range of the Ignite figure line even without real metal weapons. I can't help but be tempted, though, as each figure has a production line of only 1,000 pieces.

Ultarama. Action Figure Display Systems - Action Figure Display Systems: Since I include historical action figures in my historical doll collection, an article on the Ultrarama action figure display system in my monthly toy directory newsletter caught my eye. Although the system was designed with Star Wars and Star Trek action figure collectors in mind, it could be easily modified to accomodate Papo and Schleich historical action figures as well. The feature that appeals to me the most is the ability to incorporate your own background images. I see that one toy vendor provides web space for enthusiasts to share backgrounds they have developed for their display systems that can be downloaded and printed by other enthusiasts. I like this kind of creative collaboration!

"The Ultarama™ is a complete action figure display system that is both flexible and customizable. With the use of the Ultarama's™ molded plastic platforms that contain 80 pre-molded peg holes and its proprietary pegging system, collectors can display their collections in three totally unique ways: stacked two levels high in the shape of a semicircle, clipped back-to-back in the shape of a circle, or configured as two separate and complete one level displays. With the purchase of additional Ultarama™, collectors can build their display many stories high! The Ultarama™ also includes four unique 8 X 10 background scenes, 48 pegs for 3 3/4' figures, and 24 pegs for 6' figures. The 6' pegs also fit most 4 3/4' figures and most vintage 3 3/4' figures."