Doll News Summer 2020 - 86

them to nursery room appeal. Often, my interaction
with a doll - my restoration work, featuring the doll
in my writing, and displaying the doll in community
(or larger) presentations - becomes part of the doll's
provenance. Sometimes, on rare and happy occasions,
I find hidden treasures that reveal provenance from
before the doll came to abide with me. Such is the case
with the delightful Abigail Brownell. She has quite
a story by now, that I know of. And she keeps some
secrets that she is reticent to reveal.
Of course, there are many different antiques and
objects of reverence beyond dolls that carry provenance,
as well as secrets. I recently saw the film, The Red Violin,
which is based on information of the Mendelssohn
Stradivarius violin, and creatively adapts the story
with speculation on the violin's unknown history. The
elegant instrument, which is the inspiration for this
film, was created in 1720 in Cremona, Italy by Antonio
Stradivari, who remains the most celebrated violin
maker of all time. Soon after it was created, this violin
vanished from sight, and was lost for 200 years. The

This close-up of Abigail Brownell shows her detailed facial
features, including her brown eyes, molded eyelids, and
painted lower lashes.
86

SUMMER 2020

violin finally surfaced in 1930 in Berlin, was owned by
an heir of the great composer Mendelssohn, and then by
another owner in New York, before coming to auction
in 1990. It is now owned by the renowned violinist,
Elizabeth Pitcairn. The story of the red Stradivarius
violin confirms for us, the guardians of antique dolls,
how even some of the world's most celebrated antique
objects can carry secrets of their past.
In 2012 I was eager to learn all I could about my
favorite antique dolls, the china shoulder-heads. I had
a Hertwig similar to the one my grandmother had as
a child, my coveted Highland Mary, several flat tops,
and an older doll, a covered wagon hairstyle from the
1860's, on a new body and redressed.
I had recently discovered the Portland Oregon
Crossroads Doll and Teddy Bear Show and had
attended several times. Sometimes there were unique
and interesting china dolls there. At the autumn 2012
show, I was thrilled when I found a table sparsely
populated by a few very nice china dolls who appeared
to be in original condition. I was drawn immediately

The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams was originally
published in 1922.



Doll News Summer 2020

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