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.


Hugs  
 - Lisa

21 comments:

  1. Oh, I love your Martha! She is precious. I didn't realize there were people out there recreating copies of their original shoes or stands--good to know! I didn't know about the stocking grooves, either; I had to run and check if my Schoenhut has them, but she does not. Thanks for all the great information. Learning more about one of our favorite hobbies is the best!

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    1. Thank you Angela!!! I just read your post about your little girl and baby boy, and I love them too. They are precious!!! Do you have the Schoenhut book by Carol Corson? In case you don't, I looked up your little ones, and your little girl is a 14/107W Toddler and your little boy is a 15/108 N.L. Baby. It says that William F. Schoenhut, the 13th grandchild of Albert Schoenhut was the original model for the infant dolls designed by his uncle Harry E. Schoenhut. William was about 9 months old at the time. It says Model 108 is a larger, more detailed version of model 107. Oh, and it also says that the 107 was produced on a fully-jointed toddler body that was slightly chunkier than the child body with no stocking groove (just like you said). There is so much more history and stories about them in this book. You have to get this book if you don't already have it! I'm afraid I'll wear my book out, but I love learning about them too! :)
      Lisa

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    2. Wow, thanks for all the additional info! I will definitely have to get this book!

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    3. Angela, I loved the part in the book where it was talking about the infant dolls. It says "William F. Schoenhut (Bill) told the Schoenhut Collector's Club Convention in October 1986 that he was the original model for the infant doll designed by his Uncle Harry. Bill showed the original plaster model of the bust submitted with the copyright application. It bears a remarkable likeness to him even 75 years later, although Bill told us that at the time his mother complained that her son did not have all those bumps on his head." I laughed out loud when I read this. Love this book!!! :)

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  2. What a lovely little girl with so much personality. I love her dress and shoes.
    -Laura-

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    1. Thank you Laura!!! She definitely has a personality all her own! :)
      Lisa

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  3. Such a great find! I love her posing ability. Yes, I agree...she appears to have a lot of personality already...fun :)

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    1. Thank you Farrah! She has the best articulation out of all the dolls in my collection, including my BJD's. I think she's pretty amazing. Shhh... don't tell the other dolls. :)
      Lisa

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  4. You sure have put a lot of work into this blog, Lisa! It is really informative and very interesting. I can't wait to see your next post.

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    1. Thank you sjstrick! That is so sweet of you to say! Made my day!!!
      Lisa

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  5. Martha is wonderful! As I was reading I started thinking that her dress was something Samantha would wear - then boom there was your picture comparing them. Much more historically accurate.

    Th joints are amazing! Things were made so much better in the past. It is awesome what craftsmen could do without the power tools and computers and robots we use today.
    ~Xyra

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    1. Thanks Xyra! You are right, it's amazing what craftsmen accomplished without modern day tools and conveniences. Schoenhuts dolls were innovative in their time and even still today, there's nothing else like them. The dolls were only made for such a short time because the Schoenhut Company went out of business due to the Great Depression. I don't know of any other doll with this level of articulation and balance. I loved that picture of Samantha and Martha because the print and style of their dresses were so similar. :)
      Lisa

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  6. That's a pretty cool doll! Thanks for the close-ups on the joints, it's really fascinating to see how they're made. There's some great attention to details here, like the different pins on the stand, and the shoes to go with it.

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    1. Thanks! I'm so glad you enjoyed reading about her. There is actually only one stationary pin on the stand. The pin is not movable, which makes it even more secure. The different posing positions only depend on which one of the two holes in the foot you use. The front hole is angled and the back hole in the foot is straight. Isn't it amazing that a single pin that is less than 1" tall can help them stand so stable?

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  7. She looks very happy and well cared for. Maybe once she settles in and makes lots of friends in her new doll family, she won't need any other Schoenhuts... yet.

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    1. Hi Barb, yes Martha is a very happy girl. I'm finding out that she is way too sweet and endearing to be described as demanding, it's more of a pleading as she looks at you with those soulful, puppy dog eyes. :)

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  8. Congratulations on Martha, what a really beautiful first Schoenhut to have! I can see already that she has won a place in your heart - I am sure you will get much enjoyment from her. Enjoy and if you feel like joining in our FB Schoenhut Cafe Group, we would love to welcome you there!

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    1. Thanks Serenata! Martha has won a huge place in my heart!!! She is very special to me!!! Thank you for mentioning The Schoenhut Cafe group. I have thoroughly enjoyed the group for these past few months, and I'd like to recommend anyone interested in Schoenhuts, please join The Schoenhut Cafe group too!
      Hugs,
      Lisa

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    2. Wonderful! I did wonder if you were one of the Lisa's we have on the group! So glad you are. Lorraine

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  9. Hi Lisa,

    I love Martha and she is darling. I've always wanted a Schoenhut doll. Years ago I passed on one because I couldn't afford it. I recently acquired a couple of Schoenhuts from a private seller. I am so excited. I love them. Now I want more. Thank you for your wonderful saga about Martha.
    Kerry

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    1. Hi Kerry,
      Congratulations on getting your first couple of Schoenhut dolls! Once you have one and play with them and see how they pose, you definitely want more in your Schoenhut family! :) They are wonderful dolls!
      Hugs,
      Lisa

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