Unpacking the Porcelain Dolls


On Sunday it was too wet to do anything outside. It’s nearly winter here and we’re having a rainy spell. Anyway, I decided to dust the shelves in my bedroom where I keep my national costume dolls. I took them all down, dusted the shelf and the dolls and then I started to think about whether, if I rearranged things a bit, I could fit more dolls on the top shelf. Many of my dolls are still packed in boxes due to lack of shelving and space; which is how the costume dolls ended up in my bedroom. This is how the shelves looked before, more or less. I had moved a few things and added a few things but basically it was national costumes at the bottom and historical costumes up top. I quite liked this set up. I don’t like having dolls so close together that you can’t see them properly but I’m really pushed for space.

The costume dolls in their new home.

Recently Naomi’s friend Annie gave her a porcelain doll for me. I don’t collect porcelain dolls really. The ones I do have were either gifts from people who I care about, came in lots of dolls or were given by friends and acquaintances who didn’t want them anymore and thought that as I collected dolls, I might like them. Well, what are you going to do? Tell someone, “No, I don’t want your childhood doll.” It would be sad if they ended up at the Op Shop or the tip. So, I adopt them anyway. I do like porcelain dolls, many of them are very pretty and have lovely outfits but they are dolls for looking at not playing with so they are not a priority for me.

Annie’s Doll

The dolls in these next pictures were special gifts. Angelina, on the left was a present from David years ago and Gillian, on the right was a present from my friend Gillian. The boy doll is Jack, who was a gift from Naomi when she went to Singapore one time. He’s a modern doll and I don’t think he is porcelain but he has always lived with the display dolls until now.

I went downstairs and got the box where most of the porcelain dolls were and brought it upstairs. While I was looking for the others I also found Giggles who was sent to join the other Ideal dolls and a few other small hard plastic and vinyl dolls I need to find spots for downstairs.

It was not so easy to place the dolls as the upper shelf is quite high for me to reach. I had to get my stepladder. Angelina has bent legs and has always had her own special chair but another doll is using it now. Luckily, I found her another but I am a bit concerned that she may overbalance and fall which would be disastrous for her so I may not leave her where she is. My room is tiny though so there are not many other places she can go. Gillian had a stand but that wasn’t in the box so I think some other doll has it now. These dolls mostly have cloth bodies so they don’t stand well and I had some trouble getting them all balanced. However, eventually I succeeded.

Porcelain dolls shelved

I’m sure many of you have recognised American Character Sweet Sue and thought “What’s she doing there?” Sue is of course made of hard plastic, not porcelain. She should really be downstairs with the vintage Ideal, Pedigree, Roddy and other old dolls but there is not much room on that shelf for her in her elaborate outfit. Sue lived with the porcelain and composition dolls when I kept them in my old TV stand because like them, she is a bit fragile and she just fitted in with them better I felt. So at least for now she’s here with the other well-dressed dolls. Sue’s outfit is not original. When I got her she was wearing a short dress that I felt didn’t really suit her so I got this one at a doll show for her.

American Character Sweet Sue with a friend

There are a couple of other dolls who really belong with this group. Naomi bought one who she calls Twinkle who needs to be restrung and there are a couple of others who were donated to me who are a bit smaller. If I can rearrange the shelf a bit more, I may add them, not Twinkle, she will stay where Naomi can see her. She did suggest getting a display unit to put in the living room for some of these and other dolls that are more fragile. We may do this in the future. I never had dolls in the living room when David was alive and only a couple in the bedroom as I didn’t want them to take over the house. I had a whole bedroom for dolls in Geeveston so I kept them out of the rest of the house so it didn’t look too girly. Now, I suppose it doesn’t really matter. Naomi and I both like old dolls, bears and other toys so if we want them in our living room then why not? We don’t really care what anyone else thinks anyway. So that may be a future project. I have already ordered a couple of dolls stands and if they fit well I’ll get a couple more for the rest of the group. I have a lot of fashion doll stands but not so many of the ones for larger dolls and these ones really need them. By the way Jack went downstairs to be near the other boy dolls. He may move again later too.

5 comments

  1. I think most doll collectors can identify with this post – the dolls we are given that don’t fit into our collection, but are given to us as gifts, the dolls that we are given because their owners want them “to go to a good home”, the dolls that have mainly sentimental value because of our relationship with the giver. If we cull them from the “herd” it is done very sparingly. And it is the same with teddy bears. There are so many emotions tied up with dolls and bears, almost as if they were live creatures.
    As for where to display your dolls, you and Naomi are right. It is your house and should reflect your tastes. Put your dolls (and bears, etc.) wherever they give you happiness.

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    • It is a difficult subject. What to do when people offer you things that you don’t collect. A non collector doesn’t always understand that you may only collect a very specific type of doll or bear. I collect many kinds of dolls as you know but the main criteria is that they are or were play dolls not display dolls. However, sometimes the giver is more important than the doll.

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  2. Love these type dolls, I used to want the inexpensive mass marketed ones if they had a pretty face or hair, Some time later if they looked like my daughter I’d seek them or if they looked like some one I knew.Now I have enough to go on a table top xmas tree or overstuffed tree…I love your dolls on display. I love mixing the porcelain and hard plastic.Fun blogs.

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    • In my old display area, I had these dolls with the composition and celluloid dolls. I thought it was a good idea to keep the fragile dolls together. If I get a display unit, I may do the same thing.

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