Doll News Summer 2020 - 92

which remind me of the opaque thicker stockings that
older ladies wore in the mid-20th century. She may have
even made her soft leather boots, which fit the doll's
narrow feet perfectly.
Mary Emilia Dutra had the social connections within
Taunton, and the knowledge about dolls, to have the
foresight to leave provenance - albeit, hidden - for the
special doll who came to her on August 20th, 1951. It is
the more recent research about dolls, its trickling down
to more widespread availability, and the wonders of
internet research, that have allowed access to information
to piece together provenance for this doll. It also takes
a sense of wonder and curiosity to bring the correct
information together in the essence of storytelling to
realize that a doll is Real within her own history.
At this time, I have a much clearer picture of the
families to which the doll, Abigail Brownell, belonged,
which makes her positively glow in her "Real-ness."
Abigail still holds some secrets behind her gentle and
pensive brown eyes. She, of course, knows her own
history, and the value of loving spirit that she brought
forth for the little girl Mary Abbie Brownell, for Mrs.
Harrington's little daughter, for the doll maker Mary
Emilia Dutra, and now for me. Surely Mary Abbie
loved her as a child and made her Real then. The doll is

certainly old and wise now, just as the Skin Horse was in
The Velveteen Rabbit, to know how Nursery Magic works.
In this time, the doll Abigail Brownell's stories make
her Real for us, those who come to know her in the 21st
century. She is just that sort of special doll whose stories
continue to grow as she perseveres in bringing her tender
loving spirit forth into our midst with her gentle brown
eyes and her knowing Mona Lisa smile.

Reference:
Borden, Alanson. Our Country and Its People: A Descriptive and
Biographical Record of Bristol County, Massachusetts, Part 2. Boston
History Company: 1899.
Coleman, Elizabeth Ann and Kathy Turner. Inside Porcelain
Doll Shoulder Heads: An A - Z of Porcelain Shoulder Head Doll
Producers. Lawrence, Kansas: Allen Press, 2018.
Edward, Linda. Doll Values, 12th Ed. Cumberland, Maryland:
Reverie Publishing Company, 2012.
elizabethpitcairn.com/stradivarius/. "History of the 'Red
Mendelssohn' Violin," 2014.
Girdard, Francois, Director. The Red Violin. Canada, Italy,
UK: 1998
Krombholz, Mary Gorham. A Pictorial Reference Guide for
German Chinas. Nashville, Tennessee: Cummings Photography
and Design, 2009.
Williams, Margery. The Velveteen Rabbit: How Toys Become Real.
(Illustrated by Michael Green) Philadelphia: Running Press, 1981.
(Originally Published in 1922.)

Little Cotton Print Dresses:
A new cotton
dress allows
Abigail Brownell's
antique dress to
have a rest from
display.

Clothing Girls, Boys, and
Dolls in the mid 19 th Century

W

hen we collectors of antique dolls think of dresses for our dolls,
what often comes to mind are the elaborate French fashions
for poupées and bebés. Silks, bustles, and yards of ruffles, lace, and
embroidery were all part of high fashion in the 19th century. Yet there
is another vision for clothing children and dolls during this century;
the clothing for every-day wear, and that of less affluent people.
Simpler cotton print dresses are often seen on china, early papier
mache, and cloth play dolls.
Before the sewing machine became available for widespread use
for home sewing after 1857, most garments were sewn by hand at
home. Sewing was a standard and essential part of a girl's
education. While a tailor or dressmaker may have been
employed for dress suits, evening gowns, and coats for more wealthy
patrons, most articles of clothing, from underpinnings and baby
clothing, to every-day dresses, aprons, men's shirts and trousers, and
clothing for girls and boys, were sewn at home. A woman educated
92

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DOLL NEWS * UFDC.ORG

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