Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Meet Martha, My First Schoenhut Doll

Well, it's time for the big reveal! I have a little girl here, who is waving excitedly, so happy to finally say hello!

I'd like to introduce you to Martha, my first Schoenhut doll. I named her Martha in honor of Marty C, a dedicated, long time Schoenhut collector, who the doll community will dearly miss. My prayers are with her family and friends.

Come on in and find out more about this amazing little girl, Martha.

Where do I start? Well, if you haven't read my introduction to Schoenhut Dolls, called "My Secret Is Out", click here to read that first. As you probably already know, she is an all wood doll with metal spring joints made between 1911 and 1928. The innovative spring hinge joints gives these dolls the ability to be posed in some amazing ways.

Martha is making herself at home, playing with her little wooden bunny train, while we talk.

Since I bought Martha on eBay, I don't know a lot about her history. The seller said she purchased her from an antique doll auction. The previous owner had her dressed as a boy in a little sailor suit. This is a picture of her when she first arrived at our home.

You can tell from the way her hair lays (or rather sticks up on top), that it should be pulled to the side in a bow. This means she is a girl, not a boy, since her original wig is a girl's short bobbed wig. She either lost her bow somewhere in her past, or her previous owner removed it when they dressed her as a boy. It took a little work, but I restyled her hair, retying it on the side with a 100% silk ribbon bow.

She still has her original mohair wig, which is the softest hair I have ever felt. Here you can see how the mohair was tied to the wig cap and how the wig cap was nailed to her head. 

Martha was so relieved to finally be a girl again, and she asked for a new dress. I got this wonderful dress, custom made in the original Schoenhut style, from Sharon in Alabama. Thank you Sharon!!! Martha loves her beautiful new dress, and so do I! 

Schoenhut dolls originally came with one-piece underwear, called a union suit. Sharon also made her a lovely union suit like she would have originally had. The front has a sweet v-neck with lace and a bow.

It closes in the back with 3 buttons.

Schoenhut dolls came in sizes ranging from 11" to 21". There were dozens of different face molds, called character faces that were carved to look like real children. Each face mold has a different number that can be used to identify the doll using Carol Corson's book, Schoenhut Dolls A Collector's Encyclopedia. Martha is a 16/301, which means she is 16" tall and is a model # 301. Dolls with model numbers in the 100's are carved hair girls, 200's are carved hair boys, 300's are wigged girls, and 400's are wigged boys. Infants and toddlers also have numbers in the 100's range.

Schoenhut dolls are marked with their patent information. The earliest dolls had an impressed mark carved directly into the wood on their back. From around 1916 on, they used a decal mark.

They are jointed at the neck, shoulders, elbows, wrists, hips, knees and ankles.

Here you can see the metal springs in the elbow joint.

This is the back side of the knee, where you can also see the spring joints. The groove above the knee is called a stocking groove. The sock would come up just above that point, where it would be tied in place with a ribbon, tied tightly in the groove to hold the sock up.

Here you can see how this amazing all wood doll uses her spring joints to hold this pose on just one foot.

You might have noticed her grey circular stand in some of the pictures. Schoenhuts can stand beautifully without a stand, but they originally came with a round metal stand that had a short pin to fit into one of two holes on the bottom of either foot. Here you can see the two holes in the bottom of each foot. One foot is closer in the picture causing it to look bigger, but they are actually the same size (my camera does weird things like that).

Most dolls do not still have their original stands, but I was able to buy a nice replacement stand on Etsy from LovesofLisa (not my shop, but a sweet lady from Texas who is also named Lisa). Click here to go to her Etsy Shop. I would highly recommend her stands. In this picture of the stand I got from her, you can see the pin that is just 3/4" high that fits into one of the holes on the bottom of her foot.

When the pin is placed in the front hole of either foot, it goes in at an angle, putting the dolls foot in a walking position.

When the pin is in the back hole of the foot, the foot sits flat on the stand, giving the doll an upright pose.

Notice that there are two coordinating holes on the bottom of the shoes. I purchased the replacement shoes made in the original style from a very sweet lady, Maureen aka old_dolls on eBay. Click here to go to her eBay store to see some of her available shoes, but she will make any size and color you want. I would highly recommend her wonderful custom made leather shoes. 

I love the little buckle that gives them the look of the original shoes.

One of the most remarkable things about Schoenhut dolls is their amazing ability to hold any pose you put them in. Martha can't wait to show you some of her feats.

She is either part gymnast or part ballerina. She can even stand on her head!

I am told that Schoenhut dolls and toys were once placed in elementary schools as a teaching tool to help children learn about the science of balance.

She never drops anything that I give her to hold either. My other dolls seem to just throw things down. 

Doll Comparisons

Martha is all wood, just like my other wooden doll, Hitty Etta. Click here to read about Hitty. At 16" tall, Martha is much larger than Hitty Etta, who is only 6 1/2" tall. 

Martha thinks Hitty Etta is the perfect size doll for her to play with though.

Here's Martha with American Girl Samantha. At 18" tall, Samantha is just a couple inches taller, but her build and proportions are much larger than Martha's. 

 More to come...

A few things you should know about these little wooden knot heads... they are very sweet, playful and demanding. Right away Martha wanted a sister and a baby brother to play with. She said she would get lonely if there weren't more knot heads around to keep her out of trouble. I'm not sure if that will work, but we shall see...

I'd love to hear your thoughts and questions. Please leave a comment below.

 - Lisa

Monday, March 23, 2015

My Secret Is Out

Hi Doll Friends,

I thought I should confess um... share with you about my new doll obsession oops I mean collection. It all started about six months ago. But this story actually begins even before that. As you can tell if you've read my blog, I love all kinds of dolls. Over the years, I've collected a variety of modern dolls including American Girl, Tonner dolls, Pullips, and Asian Ball Jointed Dolls, just to name a few. I also enjoy collecting with my younger daughters, all kinds of dolls that are currently available on the store shelves. Plus I love dollhouses and miniatures.

Local Doll Clubs

Almost a year ago, I found out that there was a local doll club in my area. I called to get some information and was invited to attend a meeting as a guest. After that first meeting, I submitted my application to become an official club member. I just want to pause here long enough to recommend joining a local doll club. You can go to the United Federation of Doll Club's website at and contact the director in your region to find the club closest to you. My local club holds a meeting each month at a different member's home, where I have seen the most wonderful doll collections. The members collect a variety of dolls, and at each month's meeting, members do a show and tell of their choice. There is also an educational program featuring a different type of doll each month.

The more I learn about dolls, the more interests I develop in an even wider variety of dolls, including antique and vintage dolls. I got my first antique doll, a Kestner #154,  back in May 2014 (click here to read about her). As I researched antique dolls, somehow I learned about another kind of antique doll called a Schoenhut.

Schoenhut Ad from 1922 Ladies' Home Journal

Schoenhut Dolls

Schoenhut wooden dolls were produced in America from 1911 to 1928 by the Albert Schoenhut Company of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Schoenhut company is well known for their toy pianos and the Humpty Dumpty Circus. Schoenhut dolls were carved of solid wood and had metal spring joints. This was at a time when dolls were imported from Germany or France, and they were made of highly breakable bisque. I can't imagine what it must have been like for little girls to play with their dolls, having to be so careful not to drop them because they would shatter into a million pieces. Plastics were not used in dollmaking until after World War II (1945) and vinyl wasn't used until around 1960. When Schoenhut dolls were invented in 1911, they were the only unbreakable dolls of their time other than cloth dolls. Their unique spring jointing, which made them more posable and more realistic, set them apart from all other dolls made then.

I was fascinated by Schoenhut dolls, and my first purchase was this book, Schoenhut Dolls A Collector's Encyclopedia by Carol Corson.

This is a big, beautiful hardcover book with 272 pages chock full of information about the dolls, the Schoenhut family, and the company history. It contains over 500 pictures to help identify and date these dolls. I would highly recommend this book to anyone interested in learning about Schoenhut dolls.

A note about provenance

If you look up the word provenance, you'll find this definition.
     prov-e-nance - noun - the place of origin or earliest known history of something;  a record of ownership of a work of art or an antique, used as a guide to authenticity or quality

I just love to know an item's provenance! It's like the feeling you get when you finally read the last pages of a great mystery. I was so excited to be able to purchase a copy of the Schoenhut book with a special provenance. My book was autographed in 1994 to Susan Manos from the author, Carol Corson. Susan Manos was a doll collector of who lived from 1928-2003, and she was actually the author of another book about Schoenhut dolls back in the 1970's. I purchased this book from her daughter, who was raising money for animal rescue. I will cherish her special copy with this sweet inscription.

Classic American Dolls

In the late 1980's, the US Postal Service decided to print a set of stamps featuring Classic American Dolls. To be considered for this honor, the doll must have been designed by an American and they must have been manufactured in America. It took nearly 10 years to settle on the 17 dolls that would grace the "Classic American Dolls" 15 stamp panel that was finally released in 1997. The dolls pictured on this set of 32-cent stamps were gathered from collectors and museums around the country.

A pair of Schoenhut dolls were chosen to adorn one of these 15 stamps depicting Classic American Dolls. They chose a rare bonnet head girl and a carved hair boy.

If you were a doll collector back in 1997, you might have this set of stamps, or you might even have some of the reproduction postage stamp dolls that were the USPS remade version of the originals pictured on the stamp set. I even have a few of these in my collection.

These are not real children, but Schoenhut All Wood Dolls

reads this ad from 1911. Schoenhut dolls are carved to look like real children. Around the border of the ad, there are dolls showing off some of the many poses that these dolls still perform beautifully today thanks to their innovative spring joints.

Do you know of any dolls today that can pose like this?  Schoenhut dolls can hold this pose.

Below is just one snapshot from the wonderful Schoenhut book by Carol Corson. It says this doll held this pose, balanced in this precarious position, for six weeks in the Delaware Art Museum. Amazing, isn't it?

In this old advertisement, it describes Schoenhut Character Dolls as being "modeled in real character style, more natural and lifelike than anything ever attempted. The lifelike expression makes them very appealing to children, they look like real folks" (quoted from the ad). The character faces were carved to look like the Schoenhut family children and grandchildren.


Until now, I haven't had a chance to post here on the blog about the doll that I so desperately searched for, yet still remained elusive to me. If you follow my Pinterest Doll Boards, you might have noticed my Schoenhut board where I've collected lots of lovely Schoenhut pictures.

The Search Began...

Around August 2014, I started searching eBay daily for a Schoenhut doll. There were some Schoenhut dolls listed, but at the same time, I was still trying to learn about them and figure out exactly which one I wanted, and what was a good deal. I let some beautiful dolls and some amazing deals get away while I was learning. Well before Christmas, I decided a Schoenhut doll was what I wanted for Christmas (since my husband kept asking what I wanted). At that point, my searching became more desperate frantic focused. Of course, by that time, other people must have had the same Christmas wish, because prices were higher than I had seen in the months before. So no Schoenhut for Christmas. After Christmas, I continued to search every day.

By the middle of February, I had searched for so many days months that I was almost ready to give up. There were Schoenhut dolls being listed, but at that point I had not been able to successfully bid on one that I loved and win it at a price I could afford. It seemed that acquiring a Schoenhut would take a lot of work plus a bit of luck and good timing, unless you [A] were not choosy or [B] had unlimited funds. But I was choosy and funds were limited.


After more than six months of searching, I finally have my first Schoenhut in March 2015!  YAY!!!

Watch for my big Schoenhut reveal coming soon. Until then, here's just a tiny sneak peak at my treasured first Schoenhut...

 - Lisa

Friday, March 20, 2015

Another Doll Show, More Fun Finds

Hi again,

I'm back with another Doll Show report.  My daughters and I drove 3 hours last Saturday to Fairhope, Alabama for the Eastern Shore Doll Study Club's Annual Doll Show & Sale. We had a great time and saw a huge variety of dolls. So without further ado, here are lots of pictures of what we saw at the show. Click on the pictures for a larger view. There was a lot to see there.

Here's a peek at what we brought home with us.

My youngest daughter got a Mini American Girl Molly wearing a pink nightgown, an Effanbee Patsy Babyette, and a mini Madame Alexander Cruella De Vil.  Patsy Babyette came with her original box and hang tag.

My middle daughter brought home another vinyl Kewpie doll. She's a bigger Kewpie at about 13" tall. She is marked Cameo 1965.

My oldest daughter got a large Harry Potter Hedwig Owl pillow, a Harry Potter castle, and 4 little bears.

The castle opens up to look like this.

This little vintage bear is made by Knickerbocker. He is about 9" tall. The tag doesn't have a year so I don't know how old he is but he looks old. Knickerbocker has been making Teddy Bears since the 1920's.

My oldest daughter is developing quite a love for teddy bears. The small panda bear on the left and the bear holding it's own bear in the middle are both Cottage Collectibles by Ganz. Their limbs and necks are attached with a tiny metal or wire connector, making them super floppy. The jointed bear with the plaid bow on the right is a Mohair Bear from Boyd's Bears. 

Lastly is my little group of treasures from the Doll Show.

I met a friend from the Montgomery Area Doll & Toy Club to pick up this adorable little doll. I was not able to attend their Luncheon last month in Montgomery, Alabama, but I was able to purchase one of their Luncheon Souvenier dolls and help support their club.

She is a precious little all bisque Googly made by doll artist Glinda Martin of Florida. The theme of their Luncheon was "Mother Goose and the Victorian Era", so she is dressed as the Mother Goose character, Mary Mary Quite Contrary.  She is wearing a lovely handmade green floral dress with an eyelet pinafore, pink shoes, and carries her flower basket and metal watering can.

Her sweet Googly face just makes me smile! I love her size too. At just under 10" tall standing, she's small enough to brighten a spot just about anywhere.

I also got these little miniatures, a tiny framed picture, a heavy silver metal watering can, a blue splatterware metal watering can, and a very old tin cup and saucer.

I just love the old fashioned picture in the tiny frame.

I also got two tiny Ganz Cottage Collectibles Bears and a Boyd's Bunny. I thought these would be the perfect size accessories for dolls to hold.  The tiny Bunny is just under 4" tall and the bears are just a little bigger. 

Don't these make a cute line-up?  My three on the right are a little smaller than my daughter's three on the left.

I hope you enjoyed our pictures from the doll show. There are no more upcoming shows that are close to my area, so this will probably be our last doll show report for a while.  Don't forget to look for shows in your area by checking the UFDC Event Calendar and Doll Show

 - Lisa