Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Oren Village offers beautifully detailed medieval dolls

A couple of weeks ago I received a sale flyer from The Doll Market and was excited to see that the beautifully detailed dolls from Oren Village were offered for only $29 each (They normally retail for $120 each). These beautiful little dolls are dressed in detailed clothing from the Middle Ages and are presented in a display box that resembles a large leather-bound book that reminds me of Frodo's "A Hobbit's Tale". Naturally, I could not resist and ordered both Aidan and Lilly!

Welcome to Oren Village - About Us: "Oren Village is a collectible doll company featuring dolls and accessories based on an enchanting medieval story. A new book will be released each year, and with it a new line of dolls. Each doll is limited in production to the year it is featured as a character in the story. Two specific lines of dolls are offered, the Collector's Series and the Travel Dolls.

The Collector's Series offers a product specifically designed with the collector in mind. Ranging in height from 10' to 12', these finely handcrafted dolls feature beautiful outfits, an identification medallion, saddle stand and unique accessories. In addition, each will come with a CD featuring a beautiful song from the book. All of this is wrapped up in a package as unique as the product itself - a book box bound with the look and feel of real leather, uniquely printed with gold lettering to identify the specific doll that is entrusted with. The book box is conveniently stored just like a book on a bookshelf, and will make for a fantastic collection.

The Travel Dolls offer a product designed to meet the increasingly popular demand for smaller, portable dolls. These 6.25' - 8' dolls are smaller replicas of the larger Collector Series dolls, and are made with the same dedication to quality and detail. They each come with a handy travel journal to document the exciting destinations to come, all packaged in an adorable leather like trunk."

Making Memories Patterns by Ellen E. Thomsen

Today I was searching for a website I have visited in the past to purchase historical fashion patterns for dolls and found this site that offers patterns for wonderfully detailed historical costumes as well as patterns for shapely cloth dolls. They even have a pattern for a life-sized mannequin that you can make constructed on a PVC framework.

The patterns feature fashions from the 18th to the early 20th century for men, women, children, and infants. The patterns are sized for dolls 12" to 36" tall. The 36" patterns are designed for porcelain dolls. Most patterns are priced at $12 each.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Carlson costume dolls surprisingly detailed

When I first began collecting historical dolls, I made the arbitrary decision not to purchase dolls with child-like faces. But, I noticed that a line of dolls produced by Carlson, although having rather bland childish faces and open and shut eyes, were actually quite detailed in their historical costuming. Carlson dolls was initially a cottage business of a Maple Lake, Minnesota Indian tribe. Beginning in the 1950s, they produced a variety of dolls dressed in costumes to represent various Indian cultural groups. However, in my Ebay searches I discovered that they produced non-Indian dolls as well, often dressed in period costumes of the Revolutionary War but encompassing Frontier figures, Civil War figures, and even military personnel from various branches of the service and the military academy cadets as well.

The diminuitive size of Carlson dolls, 7 1/2" to 8" tall, makes them a perfect cabinet doll and selling in the range of $12 - $22 makes them relatively inexpensive to collect as well. Perhaps the most rare Carlson doll I have in my collection is a Spanish conquistador. In the last five years I have seen only one other like him. The pirate doll pictured here is also relatively rare. These modest dolls have even made their way into collections in other parts of the world. My Carlson cowboy and cowgirl were purchased from a collector in South Africa.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Mundia Dolls Are Keeping The Tradition of French Dollmaking Alive

I have Ebay alerts that inform me anytime a doll comes up for bid that refers to King Louis. The day I received an alert about a Mundia doll of Louis XIV as a child I was thrilled. His costume was highly detailed and you could easily see the flamboyant future King in his delicate porcelain face. Best of all, I was able to add him to my collection for less than $75 thanks to a winning bid on Ebay.

Louis's costume includes little heeled shoes embellished with lavish bows. This 18th century shoe style was a departure from the previous male fashion of wearing a boot. A poem in a 1760s fashion catalog sums up the new style:

"Heels to bear the precious charge
More diminutive than large
Slight and brittle, apt to break
Of the true Italian make."

He also wears a high-crowned beaver hat that was gaining in popularity at the time over the longtime three-cornered tricorne hat, swathed with a rakish ostrich plume. His costume is further accented by a dramatic abundance of lace.

"Lace enjoyed a popularity in the Rococo period unprecedented in history. Where the wearing of lace during the 17th Century was restricted by law to the nobility, and during the 19th Century, by custom, to women, its use knew no such bounds during most of the 18th Century. Anyone who could possibly afford to, wore lace as a status symbol. The more money, the more lace.

"Alencon" lace was considered the most elegant and aristocratic, due to its rarity and high cost. Brussels, Mechlin and Binche laces were very popular until the 1750’s when they were eclipsed by Valenciennes lace and Blonde lace." - The Costumer's Manifesto

I searched the web for more Mundia historical dolls and found that they also produced a doll of Louis XVII - the son of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette who was wrenched from his doomed mother on July 3, 1793 and is said to have died in the Temple prison on June 8, 1795 of tuberculosis. However, like the report of Anastasia's death a little over a century later, this report was viewed with doubt, especially by monarchists who wished to believe the Bourbon dynasty did not die with him.

"At first, it was widely believed both in France and Britain that the Committee of Public Safety (the radical governing body of the revolution) had murdered the child. Later public opinion came to favor the escape theory. In 1814 the historian of the newly restored French monarchy announced that Louis Charles had escaped and was still alive. He would not reveal his location however. The most common rumor was that royalists substituted another child in his place and spirited him to America where he would be safe.

The rumors did not fade with the passage of time. In 1846 authorities exhumed the mass grave where the child was buried. Only one showed evidence of tuberculosis. But he wasn't a perfect fit. The body appeared to be that of a slightly older child, in his middle to late teens. Of particular interest was the fact that the boy had already cut a wisdom tooth. In the years that followed, at least a hundred men claimed to be the ill-fated prince.

The most intriguing candidate was famous naturalist John James Audubon. Although he never publicly claimed it himself, Audubon was thought by many to be the real Louis. He was adopted at about the right time, if indeed Louis had escaped, and was the same age. On a visit to France in 1828, Audubon wrote an intriguing letter home to his wife. In it he said that, "patient, silent, bashful, and yet powerful of physique and of mind, dressed as a common man, I walk the streets! I bow! I ask permission to do this or that! I… who should command all!" - History Wiz

Again, I was very lucky and found him on closeout at The Doll Market for only $60 plus shipping. Mundia also offers a beautifully detailed doll of Louis XVII's mother Marie Antoinette.

I found an interesting article on About.com that provides a history of Mundia dolls. Here's an excerpt:

"In the late 1800s, France ruled the world of dollmaking--their fashion dolls and later bebe dolls by firms such as Jumeau and Bru are some of the most prized dolls in the world. However, the end of the 1890s saw the beginning of the demise of the French dollmaking industry as France handed the porcelain dollmaking baton to Germany (the dollmaking baton was later passed on to the United States...but that is a topic for another article...). Throughout most of the 1900s on to this day, very few porcelain dolls have been produced in France that have been intended for worldwide distribution.

The Mundia company was founded by Gerard Hadijan in 1949. In the beginning, the company focused on the making of children's toys. Later, his wife Marita became interested in dollmaking. Their first efforts were antique reproduction porcelain dolls, costumed by Marita, whose own grandmother worked for a Parisian haute-couture house at the turn of the last century. Marita combined her love of haute-couture with her love of antique dolls, and wanted to create dolls that were affordable by many more people than could afford the actual antique dolls. This is why Marita started her dollmaking with antique reproductions. The Mundia line of dolls, as it exists today, has been in production for over 20 years, and today, Christine and Cécile, the children of Gerard and Marita have become noted dollmakers and the creative force behind Mundia. Today, the line-up of dolls includes original dolls made by many artists as well as antique reproduction dolls." - Keeping the Tradition of French Dollmaking Alive