Doll News Summer 2020 - 90

90

This brown eyed Covered Wagon hairstyle china doll resides
in the Elaine Annen Doll Museum in Mt. Angel, Oregon.

Doll Values, 12th Ed. by Linda Edward contains a photo of
Abigail Brownell from before she came to live with me.

but it is actually her. I can tell because the top edge of her
unique dress shows in the photo, and because her hair
rubs are identical to those in the photo. My extraordinary
doll is a cover girl, and a prime example for china doll
identification. I can also deduce from the book photo
caption, "Photo courtesy of Richard Withington, Inc.,"
that Abigail was sold at auction some time before the
book was published in 2012. Perhaps her buyer at that
auction was the seller (or her client) from whom I bought
the doll in 2012. The caption lists her as 23 inches, which
is the measurement that I get for her. Mrs. Dutra's note
lists her as 24 inches. She may have compacted a little bit
with age in the past sixty years.
For several years I admired Abigail and basked in her
gently unfolding story. Then, last year, I finally attempted
to find Mary Emilia Dutra and Abigail Brownell of
Taunton, Massachusetts with a computer search. A link
appeared right away for Mary Emilia Vargas Dutra. It
was her burial information. I now knew that she was
born in 1897 in Portugal, and died in 1988, aged 90, in
Taunton. She was becoming more of a real person for me

with this information. It now made sense that her name
spellings were invented spelling because, most likely,
English was her second language. I was still curious
about whether she was a doll collector, possibly an early
member of UFDC, or whether this special doll came to
her just on the basis of social connections.
I could not find an Abigail Brownell, nor a Mrs.
Frederick Harrington or Mrs. Hatty Leonard, who
seemed of the right age to be the people who Mrs. Dutra
listed in her provenance. However, every "Abigail" and
"Brownell" I found associated with Taunton is spelled in
the usual way, which reinforces my idea that Mrs. Dutra's
spellings on the provenance card are invented.
Then, I was struck with an epiphany! Mrs. Dutra lists
Abigail as "Miss," which perhaps means that she never
married. I could not find "Mrs. Hatty Leonard," but as
Abigail's sister, her maiden name would be "Brownell."
I tried "Hattie Brownell" and like magic, I found a
biographical reference to the Brownell family. Fortunately
for me, Taunton is an important historical location, and
there is written information available about its history.

SUMMER 2020



Doll News Summer 2020

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Doll News Summer 2020

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http://www.brightcopy.net/allen/doln/69-04
http://www.brightcopy.net/allen/doln/69-03
http://www.brightcopy.net/allen/doln/69-02
http://www.brightcopy.net/allen/doln/69-01
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
http://www.brightcopy.net/allen/doln/67-3
http://www.brightcopy.net/allen/doln/67-2
http://www.brightcopy.net/allen/doln/67-1
http://www.brightcopy.net/allen/doln/66-4
http://www.brightcopy.net/allen/doln/66-3
http://www.brightcopy.net/allen/doln/66-2
http://www.brightcopy.net/allen/doln/66-1
http://www.brightcopy.net/allen/doln/65-4
http://www.brightcopy.net/allen/doln/65-3
http://www.brightcopy.net/allen/doln/65-2
http://www.brightcopy.net/allen/doln/65-1
https://www.nxtbook.com/allen/doln/64-4
https://www.nxtbook.com/allen/doln/64-3
https://www.nxtbook.com/allen/doln/64-2
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