Monday, August 29, 2011

The Doll Enthusiast Part Three

I still remember her telling me how much her hand shook when she wrote a check for 1500 dollars for a doll. She wasn't just any doll. She was a very large 1159 lady and worth every penny and more, but how far we had come from that 50 dollar check to this. I was always so proud of how she loved and cared for all the wonderful things in her home and she was proud of how I loved and cared for the things in my home. In springtime when I would change things up in my large doll room, I would always call her to come spend a few moments with me and we would discover new things in my collection. It is amazing how just moving a doll from one spot to another, adding different accessories will sometimes make you feel as if you have a whole new doll:-)

We spent a lot of our free time in education and sharing of this thing we both loved. I still remember the first time Irene called and said that the St. Lawrence Historical Society would like for us to do a “talk” on dolls. We were both busy in our work lives but when an opportunity came to share our passion, we would jump at that chance.

I had done several “shows” for the children in my daughters and sons school over the years. One of them in particular was a huge hit. It consisted of old timey(sic) toys. I had a large collection and took in marbles that I had dug up from my garden, dominoes, checkers, a toy piano, Bugs Bunny Jack in the box, pinball games, a top that is no longer available for play as it has a nail on the end for spinning, a yo-yo, Hula Hoop, and many that I played with as a poor kid growing up in the South. One was to take a large button and put string through two of the holes in the center. You make the string long enough that you can turn it over and over in your hand, winding the string up. When the string is wound tight, you gently pull the string away from the center of your body and you have a twirling thingamagig(sic) that is good for hours of play. The other one that they were fascinated with, was a plain piece of string about 30 inches long and you tie the ends together to make a circle. You take that string and with a series of movements you can make a cup and saucer, a crows foot, and Jacobs Ladder if you are very good. Children of the video game age still loved the hands on toys of yesteryear, I discovered and I loved sharing what it was like to grow up as a child of the 50's . Many of them had never played hopscotch, or dodge ball, or tether ball and I was determined that the children of the 90's would recognize these games when they encountered them and that they would also carry the games on into other generations of their own children when they grew up:-)

We readied ourselves for our first sharing together.

We decided to take about 100 dolls and accessories of all kinds. I took Emily my 30 “ Jutta and Irene took her amazing parian and several cloth dolls of the 1900's such as Bruckners rag doll, some earlier photo faces, and we took our story dolls. I had my childhood Polly Ponds Beauty doll and told her story to misty eyes as I held her lovingly in my arms. I overheard someone say “look how gently she cradles her in her arms” And I do cradle her. She is the only doll I ever received and the memory of the day I opened her box is still fresh in my mind.

Irene told of the Papier Mache and how when I came to visit, she was on the floor and shared with them her lovely mommy made outfits which were impeccable because women and children of that day learned to sew. She told them of the day she found her in the drawer. Her Uncle that she loved had died and left her his home because they were so close and there were several pieces of furniture left in the home. She had spent time cleaning up and cleaning out the things that she wanted to keep and this dresser was one of the things to keep. Her family had moved the dresser to its place and Irene was tired after a long day of work and moving, but her curiosity got the better of her and she opened the drawers just to see if anything was inside. The top drawer was empty and the second drawer was empty, BUT the third drawer had this wonderful doll in it with clothing and she held her in her arms like the treasure that she is. I wish all of you could see this lovely dark haired 24 or 26 inch doll as I am seeing her now surrounded by her calico printed day dresses that were probably flour sacks:-) She is so beautiful and I believe was an Omen of the dolls that would one day make their way to Irene's home.

 St .Lawrence Co. Historical Society Doll Sharing

St. Lawrence Co. Historical Society Sharing

The next display that I did alone was as a Resident of DePeyster. The present Historian Adelaide Steele called and said she had heard I had some dolls and would I come bring some of them to the round building in town to celebrate the 100th birthday of its being built, and of course I said Yes, I will come. I knew that I had Agnes' Doll in the box from the year 1896 which was the exact year that this unique round building had been built and along with her I brought at least 100 other dolls, clothing, toys, and things of that time period. As you will see from the pictures that I have shared. I never do anything half way and it was a huge amount of work with the labeling and carrying of things to share but it was a huge success. I stayed behind the fence I had erected to keep prying childrens hands away, and talked with everyone that came to visit. So that the young ones would have something to play with , I had brought some sturdy dolls and toys to share with them, so that they too could discover the thrill of holding something 40 or 50 years old. They loved the squeak dolls of Sun Rubber and Ruth Newton and I was glad that I remembered to bring something for them to play with. Little did I know that I would be asked to be Deputy Historian and then later when dear Adelaide passed to be the Historian but things happen for a reason, and I accepted and relished the opportunity to share my life, my collections, and my love of all things old with the generations that would visit my displays over the next few years.
 DePeyster Sharing 1996

The highlight of my years and the doll gatherings was no doubt the Winter Tea Party. My birthday is in February and Irene would plan this amazing tea party and invite the entire neighborhood to visit with the only criteria being ,to bring a doll or bear to share. She wanted it to be a personal treasure from you so that we could all hear “your” story and so that these stories could be kept alive.

I have to say that Irene outdid herself in these meetings. She brought out her best dishes with Kewpies on them, hung paper dolls up and down the doll cases, made areas of interest for people to discuss, opened her entire home to multitudes of people with the only thing in common being that we loved dolls. We set up the dolls that we had brought on a beautifully covered antique pool table, and I had a little area set off to the side in which I brought a few doll books and would value or Identify your dolls for you.

There were many stories that touched my heart so much that sometimes I cried when I heard them. Such as the 94 year old lady that had brought her childhood doll, a large Simon Halbig that her Daddy had bought her. They did not have much money, but he sacrificed to make sure that his beloved daughter had the largest doll in the store window.
Dads and Moms of all time have sacrificed to make their young ones happy and her parents were no exception. She had arranged for “ Tilde” short for Matilda to be donated to a local Museum after her passing as she wanted everyone to see her beloved doll everyday and remember that she was so loved by her owner.

We talked dolls, we sipped tea, we ate tiny snacks laid out on beautiful dishes and we shared our hearts, our love of dolls, and how they had changed our lives. The one prevailing theme was that our dolls or bears had made our lives better. They had brought people into our lives that remained with us as they had done for me and Irene. We would also share our story and it always seemed like such fate that we met as we did and that we lived where we did. The Doll Lady from California met the Doll lady from NY and our intertwined lives began.

I hope that all of you know me and my friend Irene a little better now, and just how much dolls have brought people joy and happiness since time began. Parents have always made toys for their children and dolls have been a prevailing theme through the ages..

It does not matter if a stone doll was made for a child or if a famine was happening and a cloth doll was made, or if the stock market crashed, or if WWI and WWII happened; children of all ages have wanted something to hold in their arms at night and parents everywhere have obliged.

I am thankful to Irene for not only sharing her dolls with me, but for shaping the 17 years that I lived in the North Country. She gave her time, often times bought dolls from me to help me out, took me to her family outings on the lake, traveled with me to meet other doll enthusiasts and she loved me as I loved her.

Thank you all for reading and the many beautiful comments that have been sent my way. I love dolls but as a friend of mine says, “ Dolls are nice but the friendships that you make along the way are the real treasure of doll collecting” and I agree whole heartedly...

Til next time.
Love to all, Kimmee

The Doll Enthusiast Part Two

We played for two hours that day and she told me she had never seen a collection like mine.

When I first became interested in antique dolls, I studied them up close and personal. It is best to train your eye and the only way to do that is study them. When you do this studying of faces, you start to see the subtle painting techniques, which one has good bisque- versus late bisque. Which ones have little imperfections on the face and what constitutes a character face versus a dolly face. Which body is supposed to go with which doll. Which manufacturers made complete dolls such as Kestner. If the eye cuts are strange on the doll, a nick to the eye may have been shaved off. I started sharing these techniques with Irene and she was fascinated with how much I had studied before I started looking for an antique doll and she was like a sponge wanting to know everything I knew so I began to talk.

We set a date for the next week for me to come and see her collection which she said was nothing like mine. What an understatement. Yes my collection had more bisque dolls in it with characters etc, but HER collection was amazing.
I drove over to her home on a wintry day and arrived at a white farm house set in the midst of tall oak trees. It was like something out of Currier and Ives and she welcomed me into her home. It was filled with many treasures and my eyes flitted from one corner to another as if I had just entered a Museum. I was enchanted with her decorating ideas as everything was old and I always feel better when I am around old things and not just because I am older myself. Old things just seem to be better quality. There is always good wood used on the furniture and my eyes took in the oak dressers, Cherry bookcases, ebony floor units that came from a shop, and all the other beautiful pieces of furniture. All of her rooms were displayed with antique paintings (fantastic), books, duck decoys, and of course my main objective dolls. We started with the downstairs to see the dolls. There was a main foyer with 2 rooms, and case after case of Vintage dolls that would knock your socks off. Original Shirley Temples in all sizes, Judy Garland, R&B's, a paper doll collection that was bar none, & hard plastics original and beautiful. I saw Toni, Ginny's of every kind including a rare Nurse display behind glass, Little Miss Revlon, and on and on more than the eyes can take in for one meeting. It took many visits to her home to really see all that she had and she was kind to let me poke around, look at anything I wanted, and ask questions.

Irene has an incredible mind for details and remembers the stories of her dolls with great accuracy. She was one of those special caretakers that loved and kept the stories of her dolls with them. She documented all purchases, cost, who and how they came to be in her collection and any family references to them in little books that she kept. It was fun just to read those books!

Nothing was off limits in her home, and I was dazzled by her bedroom collection of Quilts, and the bathroom which was a marvel in itself with the claw foot tub and other things of the 20th Century.. We went downstairs to the Game room where the old Dentist chair and jukebox garnered my attention, then back up to the Main floor to see her Chalk ware collection of children and animals.
We moseyed upstairs to see her Schoenhut pianos, her bride doll collection and then I asked if she had dolls that were older and she said a few.
Then I saw sitting on the floor a stunning Pre Grenier. We talked about the doll and she told me of it being in the chest dresser drawer in the home, which is a family home, and how it had 4 outfits with it. I cautioned against leaving it on the floor and in the light of the room and she listened to everything I had to say especially when I told her the worth of this beautiful large doll.
The next time I visited, she had her own case with her 4 outfits displayed around her like the Queen she was!

She showed me a small case of antique dolls that included Wax Over Twins in their carriage, a couple of dolly faced bisque of good quality, and some small all bisque that made me smile. She also shared with me that she had never written a check for more than 50 dollars and I smiled and told her that she would in time:-)

She had such an interest in learning and I am one wordy doll history teacher when given the opportunity so we began to share and I continued to share with her for the next ten years as she built one of the finest antique collections I had ever seen.

She learned to search for those sleepers and find them she did. Her husband supported her collecting and expressed that he would rather she spend more money on a good doll than buy 5 mediocre ones. He was great, and listened and learned also. They took me along on excursions for dolls and learned which ones were the buy or which ones should be left. I kept expanding the knowledge and one show that we were at had a Hawkins doll available. Neither of them had ever heard of it, but they valued my friendship and opinion and the doll became her along with 4 Door Of Hopes and various other dolls that day.
When we would enter a doll sale, we would go in opposite directions to find the doll deal of the day and report back. One time she found Handwerck Twins, and I found a painted eye character. We did this so that both of us would not see the same doll and both want it at the same time. This gave us an opportunity to find a steal of a deal and then share with each other our finds.

We met up with some Internet friends and visited Doll Museums, visited private collections in Canada that made me gasp and we shared our lives with each other.

Life was just better because she was in it.

I continued to buy dolls and one day I had ordered a set of paper dolls from the Collected United with very little descriptions but they were from my birth year of 1953 and that was good enough for me. When they arrived , I examined them as I always do and the handwritten names on the back made me choke on my laughter. I called my doll buddy and said do you have a few to come over and see something that just arrived and like any good doll buddy, she said I will make time.
I took her up to my small doll room where I kept the vintage collection and she and I sat on the floor in front of the antique sofa as I showed her the ballerina paper dolls I had just received. She said these are very nice and then she turned them over.. On the back of one was the name Gloria and on the back of the other one was the name Irene!!!

Simpatico, she and I.

The next 30 minutes was spent changing and playing paper dolls just like the two little girls did when they received them in the 50's. We would exchange knowing glances at each other as we played and for 30 minutes our 2nd childhood came full circle. The world was outside, and we were inside playing and dreaming and recognizing how special our relationship was.

 To be Continued.. Kimmee
Sweet Rosemary

Lovable Louise

Judy Garland Paper Dolls

Victorian Girl Paper Doll

Victorian Girl's Germany Doll

Ballerina Paper Doll

The Doll Enthusiast Part One

We are not related by blood but we walk a same path as surely as you are reading these words.
She and I “met” each other when I had just moved from California to Upstate NY in 1989. I had owned a home there for a few years prior to moving and now a divorce and new romance led me to my refuge in the secluded hamlet of DePeyster. The next 17 years were filled with many adventures, not all of them good. My new romance turned out to be “jumping from the pan into the fire” but I met someone there that made it possible for me to survive and her name was Irene.

I became a part of her family. I loved her children, I loved her husband, I loved her parents and sibling, and I loved her dolls.

I had just moved to the North Country and almost immediately started scouring the local antique and flea markets for my passion, which was dolls. I had a few hundred of them but was hoping to open a Museum in my big old farm house, and never knew that I opened something much bigger than a Museum, when I met Irene.

The local little Flea Market in De Kalb had a charming array of vendors that offered a smorgasbord of items for sale. I bought little things that first day and got to know the owners. I always like to get to know who I am going to be doing business with because when I buy dolls, I like to “like” the owners of those dolls. I know , it's probably weird but I love sweet spirited dolls. I am very empathetic and although these are inanimate objects to many, they are not that to me. I feel deeply. I care deeply, and I want things that live in my home to make me feel good about them being there.

On this wintry day with 6 feet of snow on the ground, I was inside cupping my cold hands around a strong cup of coffee and then I saw him. A Uneeda Biscuit Kid. He was off in the far corner and I scurried over there almost spilling my coffee to get him before anyone else saw him. Of course there were few people there but I did not want to chance missing him. He does not come up often for sale in good shape and this one was really nice. I picked him up, tucked him securely under my arm and a few minutes later noted the price tag of 55 dollars firm. That price tag is the only thing that kept him there for me. For what I did not know is that this was Irene's stomping ground and she got first choice of all dolls that came in But she NEVER paid more than 50 dollars for them:-) So that was why he was still sitting there awaiting ME!

I could see a man watching me as I roamed around the store and I saw at one point that he had a wife with him but neither approached me and I smiled and kept looking around. I was told that the conversation went something like this when I got to know them later.

She: She is carrying a doll!

He: Go over and say Hi

She: Awww she probably lives up in Canada or something. Everyone I meet that loves dolls live everywhere else but here.

He: well she is carrying a doll and I am going to go over and say Hi..

And he did. He introduced himself and Irene sauntered over. She did not want to be disrespectful because she knew that as a collector herself, when she was looking, She was looking, and she wanted uninterrupted time to LOOK.

I was happy to meet another collector. We exchanged small talk about our dolls. I told her I had a few hundred dolls of all materials, and invited her to come see them. She said she had a “few” (what an understatement that was) and then we got down to business. She hesitantly asked where I lived. I said DePeyster and she asked me to repeat it, not believing her good fortune because she lived in Heuvelton, only 5 miles away. Just a hop, skip, and a jump and I was at her home or she was at mine. Eureka we had finally found someone to share our love with that was nearby. I should tell you that I had only been in DePeyster a few weeks so it was very serendipitous to meet her so soon.

We were both so excited and so was her husband and we set a date for the following Thursday for her to come to my home. When you are talking dolls, you never know what type they will be. There could be 500 of those porcelain ones you see on home shopping networks, or there could be 500 Antique Bisque, Wax, and Papier Mache. I had the latter but I did not know what her collection entailed.

I gussied the house up and readied the dolls for viewing in the downstairs formal dining room with French Doors, and walked outside the doors and announced to the dolls that they looked ready and I better hurry, because a doll friend was coming to visit.

I hurriedly dressed and just as I finished I heard her Van coming up on the snow in the driveway. I rushed to the front door like a little kid hearing the Ice Cream truck, and there she was, carrying a Box. She had brought something to share!!!

I invited her in, offered her tea or dolls. She giggled and said Dolls.. We went into my doll room and I watched her face as she took in my collection. I could see the emotions on her face. The delight at my large ABG sitting at her dressing table with all her little accoutrement, the tiny all bisque darlings with tea parties, stores of merchandise, and the Uneeda Biscuit Kid sitting in his new place. She said Ohh, and ran to get her box and handed it to me. Inside was the Antique cardboard Uneeda Biscuit Kid Box of crackers to go with the doll. I thought she was just sharing with me, but she gave it to me. I was overwhelmed with this gift and teared up a bit and we hugged,like long lost sisters or kin. We were “Doll Buddies” in that moment. Simpatico and although I felt it at the time, I did not know at the time, that we would be tied to the hip from that moment forward.

 To be Continued.. Kimmee

The Dolls as she saw them that day!

From My Book "The Ripples In The Lake" .. Crazy Betty (Mild Language)

My sister sometimes managed to get me in trouble at the theater. She was almost 3 years younger, and would always tell any bully, that you better leave me alone, or I will tell my big sister. The big sister, being me. One time, in particular, she was sitting down front in the theater, and a big tall girl was kicking the back of her seat. She was getting really angry and told her to stop, repeatedly, but she would not. In her frustration she said, "I am going to tell my big sister on you." The big chick said, "Tell her to meet me outside, and I will kick her ass." My sister just smiled because she knew that I was as tough as nails, having been beaten on a regular basis, and suffering beatings at the hands of my brothers too.
My sister came and told me about it and I walked outside without fear. When I saw the girl across the street, she had 6 of her cohorts with her, all of them ready to hurt me. I said, “you need all these behind you to kick my ass?" 

I really had no fear at all, and she saw it. I said, “which one of you wants to get your ass kicked first?" And then I saw her look over my shoulder at something. I stepped back, and turned to look myself fearing a trick, but then just turned back and smiled.
Coming across the street was "Crazy Betty". She was a friend of mine, if you could call her that. She was older, street wise, mad at the world, and because I was kind to her, she had my back that night. She had a beer bottle in her hand, although she was only about 17. She proceeded to break it in half on the sidewalk, and then came across the street to where I was. I just stepped back, because I knew she would have no compunction in taking a life. The lead big girl saw her walk across the street, and I could almost smell her fear. Betty had quite a reputation and no one wanted to tangle with her, not even 6 girls on a Saturday night. The big girl turned around to tell her friends to back her up, and in that moment realized that she was standing there alone. I had a "shit eating “grin on my face, and Betty and I smiled at one another, as she asked me. “Got some trouble here, Glorann?" I told the girl that she and I would have a go at it, and I asked Betty to step aside, which she did. By this time the big girl had lost all her penchant for fighting, and she turned and ran. You might think that was cowardice, but it was actually a smart move. Betty may have killed her, if she had laid a hand on me.

Life is funny, in that you don't always know that how you treat someone will come back to roost. That night, the way I treated Betty came home to roost. She threw down her bottle, and walked away into the night, a sad alone creature, until the next time she was needed to defend someone’s honor. I saw her years later during one of my visits home, and she was still on the streets, never having known anything but hard times, and it sure showed on her face.
Growing up on Saturday night at a movie theater is a unique experience. We were given a dollar and that was a fortune for that day and time. It cost 25 cents to get into the movies and candy, popcorn and soda were a nickel. We could eat all night for that price. I actually would pay for someone else to get in, if they did not have the money and my sister and I would eat less that night. That is how Crazy Betty and I knew each other. I had done that for her and bought her a candy bar one night. She took kindnesses very serious, as her life was filled with hardship. Mine was too, but I had my sister, and we were kind and supportive of each other most of the time.

Rain On Me

This lesson came to me a long time ago, but I was thinking of it this early morning. I have shared some of my personal book with others and wanted to talk about why I called it "The Ripples In The Lake". I started writing this book over 25 years ago and it did not have a title until the entry below happened. I knew in that moment that was what the book was about, becoming who I am today. I want to be that ripple in the world and I hope that all of you do too!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008
Hi all,
I was going to journal this and decided I wanted all to share what nature taught me today.. I normally have my walk , but something this morning led me to the lake,.. I am watching it dry up with the current drought in Florida and my heart is heavy... But the Blue Heron was there, so majestic, feeding in the water with a perfect reflection of him/her in the sun on the water.. It took my breath away in its perfection....Then as if by magic soft little sprinkles began to fall on the lake and as I watched the ripples , my heart filled with tears and I cried for the promise that this gave me..

The Blue Heron with its perfect reflection is the hope for all of us that one day we will find another , that mirror reflection of love and faith..

Ahhhh but the rain.........The sprinkles falling gently with hundreds of ripples coming out from each drop.. That is each of us. with one kind word or one shared experience, that will create a ripple effect felt by many.. the power we all have to do good and spread good is in each of us.. We make a choice every day to be positive or negative.. I make a conscious choice every day in every way to be positive and it comes back to me ten fold.......

My challenge today is for each of us to be a ripple.. Change someones life today with a positive attitude, a smile , and power in your walk.. Let them know that you are walking in the light and that the sun keeps your heart warm and open... .. Love to all, Kimmee

Friday, August 19, 2011

The Wonderful Dolls Of ABG

Hi all,
I was thrilled when asked to talk about ABG dolls as that is my very favorite maker of German dolls. The fact that these dolls are so good may have something to do with the fact that Carl Halbig used to work for this firm, before he started his own factory with Willhelm Simon that became S&H dolls.. Both factories were located close to each other.
Simon and Halbig had their firm in Grafenhain and ABG had their firm in Nauendorf, a hop, skip , and a jump away from each other. It is not surprising that they both produced dolls of high quality.
The ABG firm was actually a factory producing firm in 1854, but doll heads were not mentioned according to the Ciesliks until 1882, and were in business by some accounts until 1953.. The numbers of the dolls start with 222 (Ciesliks) but a doll has not been found with this number and they continue into the 1400's.. The most commonly found closed mouth dolls are 639 and 698 which are on kid or cloth bodies and the 1000, which is a painted or glass eyed parian. They made china , bisque, and parian dolls in their factories, as well as dolls for many other well known companies. They made the famous
Bonnie Babe and the Bye Lo baby along with Kestner for export by the George Borgfeldt Company in NYC. Borgfeldt was only a Verlinger, not a producer of dolls.. He helped get the dolls from Germany to the US for the greedy doll market here..

My interest in ABG dolls came in 1982. She caught my eye along with other dolls in the cabinet when I was frequenting an antique shop in Ca. I knew nothing about antique dolls but had a general knowledge of antiques and knew that she was old.... There were many dolls lying on their backs on the shelf and I was drawn to her because of her stunning outfit. The card attached said AM Doll which I knew nothing about.... I just had to have her and examined her as best I could and took her home.. Then the fun began. I did not know what she was other than the card that said AM but she had numbers on the back of her shoulder plate and I went to the local library and borrowed a book...there I found that she was not an AM but that she may be what was known as a Cross hatch child by a company named Alt Beck and Gottschalck from Germany. She was certainly a lovely doll with pale bisque and such a beautiful outfit. I studied for years and found out a lot about these dolls which have become a favorite of mine to collect.....She was made in 1893 according to the Cieslik’s book and still is a favorite in my collection. She is 26 inches tall so makes for quite the presentation with her accouterments that I have added for her....Her name is Samantha and she surveys all my dolls as the Queen in my collection.....

My daughter loves an ABG 1235 and claimed it as her own at 4 years of age. She is now 27 and still loves Miranda

One of the most famous dolls from this company is the Blue Scarf. This was a doll that I looked for over 20 years and one finally made it's way into my collection.
The Blue Scarf doll was thought to be named after Louisa of Prussia. Louisa was born in 1780 and married Frederick William, Crown Prince of Prussia when she was 17 years old....She had eight children and died when she was 40 years old.... Portraits of her show a scarf draped around her neck. It is theorized that she had a bad goiter, hence the use of the scarf to disguise this fact. She was the best known and loved Queen that Prussia ever had and there are many stories of her kindness... The one I like best was that she was visiting a small town and the children gathered to present her with flowers. She remarked that they were all such beautiful little girls. One little girl spoke up and said that only the pretty little children were chosen to greet her... The Queen sent for the poor little discards and made each of them a gift....that is why she was so loved. She loved all people.

This doll was reproduced by Emma Clear , Humpty Dumpty Doll Hospital in California and I have one to share with all of you here so that you can compare the two faces.

ABG marked their dolls with a mark sometimes called a crosshatch and they were called this in 1968 when the Coleman's Encyclopedia came out as they were not positively identified as ABG products.. It was not until the Ciesliks found a registration for a doll number for ABG that these dolls and others started to be identified as ABG dolls. The closed mouth dolls are marked with a number such as 698 and a crosshatch. the open mouth dolls were marked with the number and then a 1/2 to delineate an open mouth version of the earlier
marked doll.. I have several of the open mouth dolls in my collection beginning with the earliest one which is 1235 1/2 . this is my middle daughters favorite doll and she is shown with her when she was 4 years old..

My favorite doll is marked 1278 no.9 Dep which just means that she was made after 1891 and when the laws were changed that all entries into the country had to be Identified as to country of origin. The Ciesliks have her number as being registered in 1892 but this is the only doll I or anyone that I have ever talked to has seen with this number.. I bought mine from the original owners son after she had died, in a doll shop in ca. Before I got there, the shop owner had taken her wig off, her original dress was torn apart to make a pattern for a new dress and she was given a new wig.. I retain the old dress and have put it back together to display with her when I have her out.

In this photo, you can see her vibrant Cobalt blue eyes.

Here are some marks that you might see on the earlier ABG dolls...
The later marks shown such as the ABG intertwined is seen on the dolls marked with 1362 and known as "Sweet Nell". All of the pictures below are taken from the "German Doll Encyclopedia 1800-1939 by Jurgen and Marianne Cieslik".

Here are some of the dolls made by ABG and in the Cieslik German Encyclopedia.

Here is my example of an ABG parian or untinted bisque doll. She is no longer in my collection but went back to the lady that I purchased her from when my health became an issue for me. She is one of the more scarcely found mold numbers for this company.

Here is my example of a Sweet Nell Doll that I obtained from an original owners Niece.. I traded jewelry for 10 dolls from this lady in Canada and this doll was one of the ones that I call my "Jewelry dolls"..LOL.. I have a picture of the owner with her doll that is displayed with her.

To the right of the above picture you can see an early closed mouth 639.. She was so beautiful when I received her , but her body was tearing apart and her eyes were cracked into several pieces.. I returned her home and have never found another that makes me sigh like she does.

In this photo, you can see how the doll shop owner had redressed my favorite doll in blue , Victoria and you can see some of her original dress hanging on the wall behind her.

Here is my 1322 character boy.. He has such a different look than the other characters from this company.. I just love his pudgy cheeks and toddler body..

I hope that all have enjoyed learning a little about my favorite company and will share any or all ABG dolls that you may have in your collection and I would be happy to try and answer any questions... Kimmee

Saturday, August 13, 2011

The Homely Rag Doll

I have been asked to tell the story of Miss Mary and I tell it in the hope that doll collectors everywhere will cherish that “less than perfect” doll.

I first saw her at a flea market- junk type store. You know the type, so much STUFF all over. They advertised antiques and had all kinds of items from floor to ceiling mixed in amongst each other, so that nothing could be found. The place was run by a lady named Anne and she and I had become friends with my many excursions to her shop. I had found some really neat things there and she saved stuff that she thought I might like.

I bought a little all bisque Simon and Halbig from her and got a great deal on an 1832 copy of the Ulster Gazette that proclaimed George Washington had died. I thought it was an original newspaper at first and wrote to the Smithsonian where a very nice man shared with me what I had to look for, if it is a real one. Mine proved to be the first copy made of that fateful newspaper and from 1832 and worth a couple thousand dollars, which on a return of 150 dollars was great for me:-). I had bought other bisque dolls, compositions dolls, and on this day I was looking for something else special to add to my collection.

I had moseyed up to the top floor which was chock full of furniture, baskets, old papers, and such and spotted what had to be the ugliest cloth doll I had ever seen. She was about 24” tall with a shock of black yarn hair, or at least what was left of it. It is very ragged around the edges. She is made of a pink cloth and it is not very soft. I think she was made to be durable. Last but not least, she has this weird pointy face.

As she sits here on my desk watching me write this, I can hear her saying, “ come on, get on with the telling.” She is just a little impatient as she always likes this story.

She has mitten hands with just the hint of a thumb, and her feet are pointing forward and have just been soft stuffed. They don't resemble feet but that is what she has!

She was sitting in a box upstairs where it is cold and her head just peeked out over the top of a box that she had been placed haphazardly into. She had this forlorn look on her face as I made my way in between the boxes and chairs to try and reach her. I picked her up and looked at that pitiful face as my mind raced with “ Gloria, hold on, wait just a minute, what are you THINKING?” I looked at her price tag of 9.00 and thought to myself, she is probably worth a tenth of that so it must have been a pretty bad first impression. LOL.

I placed her back in her box and I know that it must have broken her heart to have yet another rejection. I continued looking around the upstairs that day, for anything Worthy to take home, as she seemed to watch me and say “ is she the one? Is she going to take me home with her?”

I was thinking that there is no way that this doll belonged in my collection so I went home without her but I could not get her out of my mind. I chastised myself for being such a doll snob and for leaving this poor much loved doll in that cold damp atmosphere.

A couple of weeks later, I went back to the shop with a mission. My now ex-husband thought I had lost my mind but we made our way out to the shop with the intent of getting the doll because something about her had wormed its way into my heart. I did not think that anyone else would take that pitiful thing home so I had no worries as we started out.

We arrived and I made my way upstairs to find that everything had been changed around since my last visit and my heart almost stood still as I looked around the very large two roomed upstairs area for her. I searched through the boxes and could not find her. Mild panic ensued as I kept thinking, how could I have done such a thing, to not take her home when I had obviously connected on some level. Then I thought that someone had actually taken her home and felt happy for her but sad for me. I looked all over that shop, and still no pointy faced doll.

I finally asked Anne “where did that cloth doll go?” and she knew which one I meant because I had talked about her before. Anne told me that she was still here somewhere and the hunt began. I went back up those crooked stairs, among dusty furniture, past boxes filled with odds and ends of everything imaginable, before I finally saw a leg sticking out of a box in the back corner of the room. I had to pick my way gingerly past so many objects that I was afraid to fall over or fall into. I did not even know if it was her, but I think I held my breath all the way across the room. I finally managed to get to the leg and saw a dozen items packed on top of her. Really trashy items. A birds nest, crinkled newspaper, and debris from the floor where someone had swept. I forged ahead into the box without gloves and that is saying something because I am a Nurse and used to washing my hands. When I saw her blue dress, my heart did a little flutter. I managed to pull her out of the box she was buried in and there she was with her funny pointed face, and with a smirky smile that said, “ I knew you would be back” I hugged her to me as I picked her up; so thankful that she was still there and quietly asking her forgiveness.

She came home with me that day seeming to admonish me a little for taking so long to bring her home and I think she was trying to decide if I was worthy of having her in my home, as I had procrastinated bringing her into my life.

My search had ended and it didn't seem to matter anymore that she cost 9 dollars or that she was homely or anything else. I had my prize that day and it felt as good as a fine bisque because I had rescued a doll that someone had loved.

She became Miss Mary, named after my very fine daughter who is my Hero. It is not that my daughter is homely or plain, it is that she is always good, always giving to her friends. She is that friend that you can count on in a pinch and the one that you can talk too, when no one else cares to listen. I talk with Miss Mary a lot and she is a good listener;-)

We have been together since 1991 Miss Mary and I, and I have never regretted the day I pulled her out of that box. I only regret my thinking that she did not belong in my collection.

Here are a couple of pictures of her. Perhaps others in the group will see her charm or perhaps you may think I am “touched” but to this day she has a special place of honor in my large doll room.

Til next time, Kimmee

She is a doll with an attitude and shows it when I made her model these glasses for a friend.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

For My Brother

My brother went to Vietnam at the tender age of 19

He came back a man changed for all the things he had seen

He walked off that plane proudly, ready to kiss the soil

They spit in his face and jeered, as he thought about what he had toiled

His wife left him for another, as he served his country dear

She took that hope that kept him safe, and made him feel most near

But still he gave some of himself, though they tried to take that too

And when he stooped to kiss the ground; that hope left him anew

He lost himself in a bottle, and trust deserted him

He tried to clear his head, but could not find the way

He had no one to turn too, certainly not the VA

He felt alone and found a cell, the only way to cope

Would he give his life for county again, my guess is that it would be nope

We who stay safe in our homes, and live without a care

Never know the ramifications, of what they lose to dare

To feed the dream we were raised on, and taught back in the day

That thing that became known as, The American Way

He lives in solitude, he cries when he is alone

He asks for nothing, and gave all that he could

I wonder if we were asked to serve

If our answer would be, we would

Now he is but a shell, of that teen who went to fight

To save our freedoms for us, and to give us the right

To vote, and walk on the street safe from all strife

To live and love inside your homes, with children and a wife

So this is for all them serving, and the ones that have fallen too

may you find it in your hearts, to shake a hand and say

thank you for giving to your country

and saving the American Way

We failed these brave Soldiers and my prayer is that we do it better this time. Give some of your time to a Veteran, just listening, walking, or caring. It will make a world of difference in their life but it will change you forever.