Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Barrels: not just for monkeys anymore!

A friend contacted me with a question: would I be interested in his mother's dolls from the 1930-40s? They were taking up space in a storage unit and he'd be glad to have them in the hands of someone who would appreciate them.   I said I didn't know much about doll value, but I'd take a look. Because there's nothing I like better than rummaging through boxes of old stuff, it's true. So we drove over to the unit and there was a literal barrel that held treasure once we got the lid pried off.

There was more in the barrel than just dolls, and I'd like to spread them out in a couple of posts so things don't get too long-winded around here.

Too late, you say? Hush, you. Let's look at the doll stuff first.

What is it about tiny clothes? They're just so darn cute! Imagine if you tripped on a stone in the pathway in a forest, and landed flat on your face in the dirt. You turn your face to the side and start to get up, and that's when you see the tiny door in the side of a fallen log.

"That certainly is unusual," you might think (or maybe not, depending on your acquaintance with wee folk), and scooting closer on your belly, you open the tiny door. Peek inside, then, and observe the home of a woodland elf: a miniature table, set with an equally miniature mug and plate; a hearth rug that would fit in the palm of your hand; and on the bed, laid out as if ready for a special occasion, some wee outfits knit in wool...

To give you an idea of scale, that red jacket is about four inches tall (10 cm). And don't you just love the tails on the blue coat? There were four dolls in the barrel, and none of them were tiny enough to fit these clothes, so they must be for an elf.

I really wish these socks were big enough to fit one of my dolls, but alas, they are made for someone bigger than our elf, and daintier in foot than my girls. I love how they open down the front. I  wonder if they were meant to be turned down and cuffed like a boot? Maybe? They're the only wee socks in the bunch, about three inches long (8 cm), and I'm keeping them just because they're so stinking cute I can hardly stand it. Can you imagine the slender needles used to knit these? What intricacy!

There were many handmade dresses, and once they're washed and pressed, I'll take some pictures of them, too. I thought this commercially-made dress was interesting, though. It's a Madame Alexander and besides the usual delightful attention to detail that is the hallmark of that company's vintage items, it has a feature that I've never seen before: The underpants are attached to the dress!

That's a way to keep your bloomers from falling down! Look at the detailing on the cuffs, and the rickrack decorating the neckline. Too cute! Too, too cute!

But the sweetest things I found in the doll clothes were these:

At first I thought they were just scraps, but on closer inspection, I realized they were a little girl's handiwork. Wobbly white stitches on a folded-over hem of blue cotton made a little cloak and a hood that ties on with a bit of ribbon. Absolutely precious. This is what I'm talking about, you guys, about little girls learning to sew! This is where it all starts!

And here she learns how to manage a mistake:

"Mama, I made the neck too big!" And she just put in some shoulder straps and pretended like she meant for it to look that way! I love that one buttonhole is done, and the other two are marked but not started. Buttonholes are yucky, kid; I agree.

Pictures of the dolls? I haven't taken any because those ladies look pretty wretched. Once I get their clothes tidy and on them nicely, I'll take a group shot. I've always thought that vintage dolls have kind of a creepy look to them, so I won't be keeping them. Except for a few things I'm keeping because they work for my dolls or are just too adorable (socks!), I'm going to help my friend find a buyer for these items.

I have to go put some more Woolite in the machine and send another load of tiny things through a delicate cycle. I'll show you more things from the barrel next time!

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