This post first appeared in May 2013 and was the second post I wrote for this blog. As this will be the 500th post on the blog I thought that it would be nice to update it and post it again.
When I was a little girl mum often used to tell me about her dolls. She always regretted that she had not been able to save any of them to give to my sister and me.
Mum was born in 1921 so the dolls she had were very different to the ones that Naomi and I played with many years later.
The first doll she could remember having was given to her by her grandmother when she was three or four years old. Mum said that when she was nursing the doll a spider came out of its open mouth. She was so frightened that she dropped it and its china head broke. What a scary experience that must have been for a little girl!
Above is a German bisque doll from around 1920 perhaps mum was given something like this.
Our grandfather was in the British army and when mum was four years old the family went abroad. Over the next eight years they lived in Jersey, Malta, Egypt and India before returning to England when she was twelve.
During that time she had several dolls which she loved and learned to make clothes for. One of them had a wax face and unfortunately although mum was careful with her dolls this one melted in the hot Indian sun.
Valerie was the name of mum’s last doll and I believe she may have been a doll with a china or composition head. Valerie may have been a double jointed doll as mum often spoke of having one but I can’t remember if this was Valerie or her waxen faced predecessor. When mum got Valerie she was about fourteen and she knew that this would be the last doll she would be given so she wanted to save her for her own children. However Valerie also suffered a sad fate. She had been left sitting by an open window in the bedroom and if I remember the story correctly a cat knocked her off the sill and she fell to the ground and was smashed.
Mum never mentioned having owned a Shirley Temple doll but our Shirley would be contemporary with mum’s last doll Valerie.
While mum was alive I always hoped that I might find another doll from the 1920s or 30s to give her to remind her of her childhood companions but I was unable to find one I could afford. One day I hope that a vintage baby will join my doll family. Perhaps I will call her Valerie, or maybe Carol after mum.
Even though I never saw the dolls themselves mum and I shared many happy times talking about them and I am sure that is the reason that she gave us dolls and encouraged us to keep them safe.