Doll News Summer 2020 - 88

I was quite surprised to find an index card rolled up in
her neck! How exciting to find provenance when I knew
nothing about her from the seller!
This is what is typed on her provenance card:
Aug. 20, 1951 This day, I Mrs. Mary Emilia Dutra 179
Hart St. Taunton, Mass. Bought this 24 inch brown eye
(cloth body) mark on body 1864, we think she is much earlier
then [sic] this (Abbagale Brounell) china head doll from Mrs.
Freddrick Harrington 129 Bay St. City. $ .00 First owner Miss
Abbagale Brounell from her father when she was a little girl.
He owned a Tin Shop on Main St. Taunton, Mass. This china
doll was given to Mrs. Harrington's little daughter many years
after. Miss Brounell's sister was Mrs. Hatty Leonard part
owner of Leonard and Baker Stove Co. City Cushman St. I am
naming her after (Abbagale Brounell) (worth a lot today)

The gathered hips are evident on the back of the cloth
body. "1864" is printed in pencil on the back hips as
well as on the front.

This doll came dressed in closed-seam cotton drawers
with two tucks and eyelet lace, and a petticoat with
deep hem and net lace, both closing with large hook and
thread bar. Her dress is two-piece brown silken fabric
with velvet, button, and cream lace trim. It fastens in
back with black metal snaps and has a separate sash that
ties at the waist. She came with grey stockings made
from a slippery double-knit fabric, maybe silk, and with
a machine stitched seam in back. Her light brown leather
boots have oval buckles. Since she didn't have one, I
made a new white cotton chemise for her with vintage
lace at the neckline. The wide black lace at the bottom
edge of the bodice seems out of place. It seems like mid20th century hem binding lace to me. I put the skirt over
the bodice, and it looks more like the proper way for the
dress to fit.
Since I had been reading about markings on the inside
of china shoulder-heads, I wanted to know if this doll's
head had markings inside, and what they might reveal. I
decided to snip the threads to unfasten the tapes holding
the doll's head on her body to see if there were any
markings. When I lifted her head away from her body,
88

SUMMER 2020

And I did, indeed, find markings inside the shoulderplate. The number "12" is scratched into the inside back
of the shoulder. Marked in pencil on top of dried-on glue
inside is "PP over T 00." In pencil, on the cloth body
under the shoulder plate in back, she is marked "RV,"
and in front, "9." I do not know how to decipher all these
marks, yet the historian in me is glad to know that they
are there.
It would be fascinating to know what name Abigail
gave her china doll when she was a child. It is a common
practice to name an heirloom doll after the doll's original
childhood owner, as Mrs. Dutra named Abbagale
Brounell. I wondered if the unusual name spellings were
actual, or Mrs. Dutra's invented spellings? My thought,
like Mrs. Dutra, is that the shoulder head is older than
1864, and that the body was made shortly before or in
this year, as it is machine stitched. (Sewing machines
became available for home use after 1857.)
I replaced the card into the doll's neck so it stays safe
there with her provenance. Mrs. Dutra did neglect to
disclose what she paid for Abigail in 1951. To be sure,
if I had been more perceptive, I would have asked for
information from this doll's seller when I bought her,
and I would have photographed the index card before
replacing it in the head and re-sewing the tapes in
place. Even so, more clues were forthcoming, and more
chapters of the story unfold.
It was closing time at the Elaine Annen Doll Museum
shortly after I finally found it at Octoberfest in Mt. Angel,
Oregon in 2013. Yet the two curators did not hurry me
out. Being the last visitor, I had the chance to speak with
them about the china dolls there, and about my doll
passions. Honestly, it would have been gratifying enough
to have finally found this charming little doll museum



Doll News Summer 2020

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