Doll News Summer 2020 - 14

"Izannah Walker"
postcard, from the
same set, states:
Izannah Walker
of Central Falls,
Rhode Island,
obtained a patent
in 1873 for making
oil painted cloth
dolls with molded
features. Her dolls
are highly prized
by collectors.
"Alabama Baby"/Martha Chase is the
title of this postcard. The description
reads: Ella Smith, of Roanoke, Alabama,
designed Alabama Baby (pictured
left) in the early 1900's. A patent for
her Alabama Indestructible Doll was
granted in 1905. Pictured with Alabama
Baby is a classic Martha Chase doll.

"Raggedy Ann" included the following
description on the back of the
postcard: This very popular American
rag doll was designed by Johnny
Gruelle. This example pictured was
made in 1938 by Georgene Novelties.
14

SUMMER 2020

get scolded. Many a doll repair could be done at home: wash her
off, mend a seam, sew on a button. Unbreakable and soft, they were
the ideal companion for even the youngest child to dress, carry,
and take to bed at night and naptime. The "Alabama Indestructible
Doll" professed her durability right in her name!
Buyers were attracted to these plain-seeming playthings that
reflected everyday American life. Most of the cloth dolls on the
stamps-as well as other cloth dolls-were fashioned by many
hands in bootstrap cottage industries or small industrial factories.
A number of them bear clues to what was women's work, dolls
that could be made at home while tending to domestic duties. Cut
from readily available and relatively cheap fabrics, some appear to
have been made from cast off textiles in American housekeeping.
Frequently they remind us of the Depression era clothing made by
resourceful homemakers from flour sacks, and, even earlier, from
grain sacks. Moreover, the stamps' and other cloth dolls especially
resonate today with honesty. There's no falsifying here: muslin and
cheap broadcloth is often the overdress, not hidden underneath
as underwear. Perhaps they identified American values with
plain-seeming dolls like the ones on the stamps, identifying the
characters and materials with what they believed to be grassroots,
wholesome ideals, good models for their children. Several types
of these cloth dolls became immensely popular and went on to be
made in quantity and sold in large, upscale marketplaces-as well as
more modest shops-across the country.
The stamps' cloth dolls were chosen for their special qualities, not
least, it seems, for women providing the creative and business energy
behind them. At a time when women were often missing from the
work force, the dolls draw attention to these intrepid entrepreneurs.
Emma and Marietta Adams' Columbian Doll gained fame at the 1893



Doll News Summer 2020

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http://www.brightcopy.net/allen/doln/69-04
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http://www.brightcopy.net/allen/doln/68-04
http://www.brightcopy.net/allen/doln/68-03
http://www.brightcopy.net/allen/doln/68-02
http://www.brightcopy.net/allen/doln/68-01
http://www.brightcopy.net/allen/doln/67-4
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http://www.brightcopy.net/allen/doln/67-2
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https://www.nxtbook.com/allen/doln/64-4
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https://www.nxtbook.com/allen/doln/64-1
https://www.nxtbook.com/allen/doln/63-4
https://www.nxtbook.com/allen/doln/63-3
https://www.nxtbookmedia.com