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Sunday, 27 September 2009

My doll cabinet - middle shelf part 3

Back to a posting about my doll cabinet after a spate of nostalgia regarding my first play doll.

Beside the German band set sits a pippa type doll with no name. She is wearing an overall suit that belonged to my sister's Pippa doll Laura. I came across this doll in a junk basket of dolls on a stall a few years ago, the lower part of her torso is missing, so she has to wear overalls to cover her exposed ball jointed legs, a skirt and blouse just wouldn't work.

My Pippa doll Jasmine sits alongside the nameless non pippa. I got Jasmine almost by accident. We had come to the UK to spend Christmas with my grandparents in 1978, and I had brought my Sindy doll with me as we couldn't bring bigger dolls due to weight and space in our luggage. So Susie did not make that journey. For Christmas my sister was given the Ballerina Sindy whom she named Sue (I had a plain one that I had bought with birthday money) and we were each given Sindy related furniture, I remember receiving the Sindy orange tent and a plastic sleeping bag for Sally (the name of my Sindy) whilst my sister was given a Sindy sideboard and crockery. However I was also given the Sindy dressing table but when it was removed from the box we found it was broken. My Granny was very upset as this my Grandparents gift to me, so she promised that we would return it to the shop and I could choose something else.

Taking me to a toyshop (Tunbridge Wells) just after Christmas was perhaps risky, and for me was a very exciting experience, I couldn't believe my luck in being allowed to select something. I think Granny thought I would choose an alternative item for my Sindy (the dressing table was out of stock), but as soon as I saw Jasmine I just knew I had to have her, despite this being 'yet another doll'!

Jasmine is a Japanese Pippa - she came dressed in a duck blue kimono (which I still have) and I think I fell for her because she looked so exotic and different from anything familiar (well who was going to be tempted by domestic equipment for a Sindy when you could have a far eastern doll who could add a whole different flavour to play story lines). I was soon making additional outfits for her, and did buy one outfit in that shop (of the few that remained after the Christmas rush - yellow and purple football kit of all things when I'm not into the game!). My sister was given her Pippa doll Laura at her next birthday. I made a brown felt trouser suit for that doll that my sister didn't appreciate! (Laura was a sophisticated doll, in my sister's view the suit made her look frumpish).

Jasmine is displayed in her straw hat that I got from somewhere and a dress I made out of scraps of stretch jersey fabric. I've still got a few of her original bought and home made outfits.

Jasmine wearing a home made dress, black shoes and a straw hat

Jasmine has thick (now rather wiry) jet black hair
which means the hat perches rather than sits.

Friday, 25 September 2009

Identifying Susie (and Chrissie)

Posting up photos on Flickr has had some amazing consequences - I've succeeded in tracking down the pattern for Susie's clothes which inspired me to track down her coat pattern, and now another person on the other side of the world has realised that her doll is very similar to my Susie and wants to repaint her doll (Chrissie) using Susie's face as her model (Susie is flattered!)

However this has once again set me on the trail of trying to identify Susie. I suspect she may be a very late Roddy/Bluebell (Roddy Dolls were taken over by Bluebell Dolls in the mid 1960s), but have never been completely convinced because I haven't yet discovered a doll with a similar body shape, none of the Roddys I've seen online are exactly like her, as although some on ebay appear to have very similar length and shape arms, their legs and torsos are different from Susie's. See my post about Susie being restored for a photo of her body shape.

Susie has a vinyl head, a hard thick plastic torso and vinyl arms and legs. The only marking I thought she had on her head was a sort of G symbol near the air hole in the back of her head, but I've now discovered that she has "Made in England 18D" stamped on the back of her neck. She also has "14" stamped on the sole of each foot. Roddy dolls tend to have Roddy stamped on them and apparently Bluebell Roddy's have a distinctive circle around "Made in England" (which Susie doesn't have), but unless this has somehow rubbed off, I can't find such a clear identification mark of her maker.
Made in England 18D (but not in a circle)

The G type symbol (this photo is the right way up,
the G is on its face when Susie stands upright)

The soles of her feet with "14" stamped on them

The top of her feet, showing the detail of her toenails

A close up of one of her hands

I've found a small reference to the Roddy factory (in Tulketh Street, Southport, Lancashire) on a Southport forum but there is little else in the way of information about the firm online that I've been able to unearth. So I've sent off for a couple of doll identification books, and hopefully one or both of these will be able to help me identify who made my Susie.

Susie's face and shoulders in profile

Thursday, 24 September 2009

Susie's vintage knitted coat

I've located the original knitted coat pattern of Susie's pink coat and hat, thanks to ebay. The pattern is a Bairnswear pattern, with the coat knitted in yellow. I'm glad my Nanna decided to knit it in deep pink instead, as the yellow with a dark green hat is rather a strong combination that wouldn't have suited Susie (well maybe the yellow, but not the dark green).

The Bairnswear pattern, with the coat and hat on the middle doll

I was pretty sure when bidding that the pattern was the right one, and this was confirmed when it arrived today as I was able to tell from the stitching details shown in the photo on the front cover.

Comparing the detail on the pattern picture

with the actual knitted pink coat

I tried the coat on my Gotz Anna and as I had thought the sleeves are the perfect length for her (too long on Susie), and what is more it suits her beautifully. The shade of pink does look good on her, but I'm tempted to knit the coat in a slightly darker pink or a smart navy or royal blue (to match her eyes). But this won't happen for a little while, as my elder daughter is still waiting for a jumper I started last year, which she has probably outgrown, so I shall have to start that again!

Susie and Anna with the coat and hat pattern,
currently being worn by Anna

Thursday, 17 September 2009

Susie and her vintage knitted clothes

My doll Susie was given to me in 1970 by my Nanna who knitted clothes for her (I do not recall an original 'shop' outfit). The first photos of me admiring her are a bit blurred, but do show that she came to me in her knitted coat and beret, with white shoes and socks. However they don't show the dress, knickers and cardigan which could have been concealed by the coat.

Susie with her original hair - quickly getting messed up!

Certainly the photo taken a year later when I had a Triang pram show that Susie was wearing her green knitted dress.

Not the greatest photo of me,
but it clearly shows Susie in her green dress

Whilst browsing photos on Flickr at the weekend I came across a Gotz Sarah doll wearing a knitted dress, which although in a completely different yarn, was clearly the same pattern (though lenghtened a bit), and the description explained that it was from a vintage pattern - see so I searched through Clothkids photos and found two further photos of the dress in progress and and I instantly recognised the green dress on the pattern book in these photos. I made contact with Clothkids who told me it was a Hayfield pattern often available on ebay, and 3 days later I had my own pristine copy bought via ebay.

Susie in her green dress with the pattern
showing the green dress in the centre of the picture.
This photo doesn't show how close the green
is to the pattern photo colour, in reality they are the same shade

Susie wearing her cardigan over the dress, with my Gotz Anna.
This cardigan is the one on the bottom left front cover of the Hayfield pattern

I had noticed on the front cover of the pattern another dress that I remembered - the white yoke neck with pink pom poms - this was a dress that went missing during my childhood. On receiving the pattern I was able to confirm that the short sleeved white cardigan was also from this pattern book, as were Susie's green knickers that match her dress. It seems that my Nanna knitted the clothes using the colours shown on the pattern book.

Knitted knickers on Susie, and on
the boy Kathe Kruse doll in the pattern photo

However her pink coat and beret are not included in this pattern, so I'm now on the look out for the right vintage pattern. Her coat sleeves are actually too long so have always been rolled up, which means that the coat would fit the Gotz girls (I haven't tried). It would be nice to knit it for one of them, though in a different colour perhaps.

Pink coat and beret, not included in this pattern

Thank you Clothkids on Flickr for your help in finding the original pattern for some of Susie's vintage clothes.

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

My doll cabinet - middle shelf part 2

Beside Matilda and Judith on the middle shelf is my comic Germanic band set. These little characters were given to me by an elderly German woman who was slowly dying of cancer in her spine, and we used to visit her after Church on Sundays as she was bedridden and could no longer get to the service. She had all kinds of curiosities on display in a cabinet in her bedroom and they were a good distraction for two little girls while our parents were talking with her. She always took an interest in which dolls or toys we had brought with us (more about that in a future blog, as she named some dolls for me) and was unfailingly kind, despite the pain she was in. We loved this little band, and she must have remembered that because after she died this little set was presented to us and eventually became mine.

Unfortunately the paint is flaking off in places in the 30 years or so that I have had these little figures and the guitar player's arm has broken so is held on badly with glue. The labels on the underside of their bases are in English, but they are in German style costumes, so I can only assume they were made for English tourists visiting Germany, Austria or Switzerland perhaps. They are wooden, but with springs for their necks which means their heads can wobble (I don't attempt this now, but we did when we were children) and their expressions are so entertaining. I think this little band is quite a hilarious combination - on the one hand there is the smart conductor and cellist, but the remaining players are playing folk type instruments and are wearing national costume not concert dress.

Accordian player

Guitar player
Guitar player from above



Trumpet player
(we used to bend his head down to play the trumpet)

Violin player

Violin player from above

If you can put a name to these figures, or tell me where they came from, I'd be really pleased.

The label on their bases says 'fine quality woodcraft handmade'.

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

Harriet's new violin

My elder daughter is a young violinist, and recently did very well in her Grade 4 violin and Grade 1 piano examinations. Months ago she told me that she wanted her Gotz doll Harriet to have a violin, but Gotz do not have such an accessory for their dolls. I scoured the web, and of course found that American Girl dolls have violins and music stands, but the cost to ship from the USA was just too much. Eventually I found an equivalent violin on ebay from a US seller, who was also able to sell me a My Twinn doll music stand. The music stand is able to extend higher than Harriet needs, as My Twinn is about 3 inches taller than Gotz. It also came with some miniature sheet music.

Harriet, her violin, stand and the violin case

I bought these items months ago so they were put away. When my daughter's examination results came through earlier this week, I presented her with the violin and music stand. She was delighted and became absorbed with getting Harriet to hold the violin just right. She discovered that the moving turn-key for the music box in the violin resulted in the violin suddenly falling out of Harriet's arms as it caught on her clothes, but as it is a music box sound rather than a violin sound, it isn't very authentic anyway. I've discovered an Australian Girl Doll photo on Flickr with an audio file uploaded that plays violin sounding music, see which is much better.

Harriet is wearing a summery set from the 2009 Gotz catalogue, and the crocs / ducs came from the USA via ebay.

My doll cabinet - middle shelf part 1

In the left corner of the middle shelf sits Matilda with Judith on her lap. Matilda is a Pippa type doll with long blond (rather frizzled) hair. She originally belonged to one of my school friends but we did a swap. She got her name from the book 'The Ship that flew' by Hilda Lewis, which was a favourite of mine at the time (and years later I bought a copy as the version I read when a child was a school library book). The Matilda character in the book was a girl from the middle ages whom the four children with the magical ship visited when they went back in time, and she had long hair. I think it was this and the shape of her face that prompted me to give her that name.

She is wearing a dress I made from material that was left over from a dress made for me when my father remarried. I've still got the full size dress!

Judith is very small, just under 2 inches tall (about 48mm). When I was about 7 or 8 I had private Art lessons from the mother of a pupil at school, who ran the group lessons in her garage which she had turned into a wonderful studio. We did some great projects in those lessons, including making puppets for a show which was put on in her living room for all the parents at the end of term. I can remember two of those shows, the first was done with glove puppets, and was Jonah Man Jazz, and the second was a made up story about two children going in a rocket to the Moon with their mouse that got enlarged by a ray gun. They had a grandmother who got left behind. I was given the task of making the two children, the grandmother and the giant mouse. These were all marionnettes, and I think I've still got some of them. One day my Art teacher sent me from the studio to fetch something from her living room (probably some material or a source book, I can't recall) and I spotted little Judith lying on the dining room table. She had no clothes on and was the dearest little doll I had ever seen at that point, though not in great condition even then. I took her back to the studio along with whatever it was I had to fetch, and showed her to my Art teacher who told me I could keep her as I had been doing such a good job with my puppets.

I made the little felt dungarees for Judith. She has been through the wars though, as at one stage her leg was broken, so I glued it back with epoxy. She also has a rather unsightly piece of wire sticking out of the back of her head, which I left alone rather than try to saw it off. Earlier this week my elder daughter expressed an interest in looking at her, and while I was removing the dungarees, both her arms fell off as the elastic band had turned black and disintegrated. I did a careful repair by using twisted doubled over cotton thread from the hooks on her arms. Fortunately they are not too loose. Her legs are not jointed. I used to take her to school in a little box in my blazer pocket and was teased mercilessly by some of the other children for doing so. To me she was a little mascott, something to help get me through the school day.

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

My doll cabinet - bottom shelf part 3

The next character on the bottom shelf of my display cabinet is a little plastic boy costume doll in his green lederhosen, red tie, leg warmers and rucksack. He also has a cheerful green hat with a feather, so is probably meant to represent the same region as the bigger girl with a green hat.

Hiking boy

Beside him is a rather sinister looking little girl. Her eyes are sunken into her severely painted face, and her clothes are also quite dark, so she is rather spooky. I can't recall where I picked her up from, probably another market stall. Her mohair wig is glued on rather badly.

Spooky girl

The bigger costume girl beside her was bought for me from an antique shop by the same aunt who had sent me the American/Canadian Indian boy several years before. This was because while we were browsing, I couldn't put the doll down, so she decided to buy her for me. I named the doll Anastasia because she looked sort of Russian to me, and at the time I was reading about Anna Anderson by Peter Kurth.


Joy stands quietly in the corner. She is the same size as a Pippa doll, but is earlier and has rubbery bendy legs. She came with a single record and a special stand that fixed on the centre of the record when revolving on the record player, so making her appear to dance to the music. She is actually my sister's doll. The stand and record are long since lost, but amazingly Joy still has her original clothes, although has worn various Pippa doll clothes. The back of her head has been glued where the vinyl eventually split, her long sweeping beautiful blonde hair has been cut very badly and the rest of her body has been quite punished by small girl rough play. Poor Joy was one of our earliest dolls, and the scars she bore served to remind us to treat our subsequent dolls with more care. I could never bring myself to throw her away, I think she deserves a gentle peaceful retirement and I always liked her face.

Joy the disco diva

Beside Joy is a doll I picked up on a market stall for a pound. She is a Dear Judy doll and is still in her original packaging. I decided to keep her this way, so she has never been played with and is rather scantily dressed in a bikini.
Dear Judy

In front of all the dolls on the bottom shelf is:

my collection of frogs (a family of six) and two dragons,

my mother's three brass monkeys (see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil)

and my miniture snow globe 36 mm (1.5 inches) high in total


This little snowy scene belonged to the person who tested my for my Brownie Flower Arranger badge. I had to telephone to make the appointment (terrifying - I still dislike making phone calls to strangers), cycle to her house with all my flowers, do the arrangements in vases on her table, have my test card signed and then take everything back home again! While I was there I spotted the little snow globe in her display cabinet. I thought it was wonderful and said so. I was amazed when she gave it to me (didn't know the flower arrangements were that good!). I still find this whole experience surprising as nowadays for child protection reasons Brownie badges would never be judged by a Brownie visiting a private house (even if the judge was CRB checked, in those days the testers were approved), and the fact that it also resulted in me receiving an unexpected gift from the tester would also not be considered advisable or ethical in these Politically Correct times. But that was a different era in so many ways. The little snow globe reminds me that being brave enough to speak out in admiration for something can sometimes result in unexpected rewards. For a shy child this was a particularly nice way to learn to be a little bolder.

Friday, 4 September 2009

My doll cabinet - bottom shelf part 2

This little girl is a costume doll, though I'm not entirely sure which country she represents. Her costume looks sort of Bavarian to me, but I may be wrong. I bought her probably in a table top sale or charity type shop quite some time ago. I think she has a rather fetching green hat with a feather sticking out the top.

Next to her is a much newer doll, though dressed in clothes of 100 years ago. She came from a small gift shop and there must be thousands like her: a fairly cheap, porcelain doll for a dolls house. I think I bought her because I liked the fabric of her dress and her little yellow plaits!

Beside the porcelain girl is a little Spanish girl. Well either Spanish, or a gypsy girl on account of her large earrings. She was also a table top sale acquisition. She has little wooden clogs glued to the bottom of her feet (well they aren't really clogs because they don't slip on to her feet). Her clothes are very creased and really need washing and ironing, but this would be difficult to do as the dress appears to be nylon like fabric and glued on.

A view of her glued on clogs - maybe
to make her taller, as her dress is really too long for her

The last one for today is my adorable baby in her cradle. I bought this little treasure of a doll in a large Antique shop in Bath in 1985, along with a little wardrobe and bedside table that live in the Triang House. All three items came to £6.00, which was a lot to me at the time, but they were worth every penny. The cradle was given to me soon after, and is a perfect fit for her. I've never made it a coverlet, as I rather like to see her than have her all covered up. Her little check outfit is glued on. She is made of plastic with moveable arms and legs, and is the right sort of scale for a 1/12 th scale dolls house. She doesn't have any markings on her body that I can see, I'm not sure how old she is and would love to know.