Vol. VI, No 5  April - June 1999


Inside this edition of Small Wonders...

The museum is proud to announce it is offering a
special scholarship to the NIADA School for Doll Artists.

Curator's Corner


When the last visitor leaves the Doll Museum, the last employee and the janitor, I take command. I am the Iron Maiden of Dolldom. (Not to be confused with the Iron Maiden of Nuremberg, the infamous instrument of terrible torture!)

Perhaps I should introduce myself. No, I am not a “heavy metal” rock group, I am the “heavy metal” pewter-head doll upstairs in the Museum’s galleries who keeps all of the other light-headed dollies in line. They ‘cut loose’ and party, I believe that’s what people call it today, until the wee hours of the morning; all the rest of the day we must be silent and motionless for our Museum duty.

As for myself, I must stand sentry: the guardian of the security system, the watcher of the fire alarms, and the keeper of the doll first aid kit. I guess you might call me the Museum’s “dorm mother,” or, in scouting terms, the “troop leader.” Some of the cherubic-faced, angel-haired bisque girls across the aisle giggle behind their chubby hands and call me the “drill sergeant.”

I was christened “Iron Maiden” by the Museum’s photographer, Charles (“Charlie”) Backus, who is guaranteed to always make you laugh. I rather liked the name, even if I did find out later it was also the name of a rather scruffy looking, long-haired rock group. From the Curator, who knows all of these things musical, I understand that their type of music would be better appreciated by the wild long-haired rock star of the upstairs gallery, “Struwell Peter.” But, that is another story. . .

Born in Prussia—today Germany, probably in the 1860s, almost 150 years ago, I don’t recall who made me, and he did not impress me at all with any marks, so neither Susan nor Jill or Rosalie can look me up in a doll book. In fact, they have never met another doll just like me. Made of pewter (or a similar metal) cast into a mold, I was painted a pale flesh tone, but with rouged cheeks and stern burgundy lips, and inset black glass eyes that stare right through you. Molded hair, black as night, is pulled back in a strict bun at the back of my neck. A molded and painted upper blouse is set off with a merry note, a pink painted bow at my neck. Someone later dressed me in black silk and velvet with jet sequin trim; no frothy pastel confections and bonnets for me!

I sneaked into the Curator’s office one night to check my “cataloging sheet,” where they wrote down all of the known information abut me. Some of the dolls have reams and reams of writing and information and papers; for me there is very little: “maker unknown,” even a “circa” on my date which means “about” the 1860s (based upon dolls like me made in other, more “common” materials from that date), and my eyes are described as “bulgy.” Excuse me! I must be eagle-eyed to keep those boys and girls in line upstairs; even the recently acquired “wooden” ladies in a new case at the top of the stairs, who put on airs because they are so “old” (17th and 18th century) and lord it all around—even they party hard when the lights go out!

For those who think that the “EAGLE EYE” G. I. Joe in the case next to mine is the leader and Head Master, I have news for them. He is stuck in his original “bubble pack” and I have no intention whatsoever of letting him out!

I am the accepted Head Mistress, and even the busy automata in their own case to my left must bow to my authority. They are a noisy lot, one fellow swaying and spitting out whistles, a lady plunking her guitar and tapping her foot (not in time, by the way!), a little girl weeping over her broken doll and then, oh dear, there is the lady that ‘harps’ all day long. She and I have had a few confrontations when her strings went flat and I was the only one who would dare to tell her. Ah! And the hoity-toity lovely lady who powders her nose and looks in the mirror all day long does so only on my sufferance! I certainly wouldn’t bother to do that myself; in fact I have a worn spot on the end of my nose—the very tip, that matches my coal black hair; I consider it to be an unusually-located beauty mark!

I have a gentleman friend, a little older than I—well maybe by a hundred years or so, but amongst dolls that’s not too bad an age difference. I mean, for example, the 18th century ladies are amongst the first to troop, giggling, downstairs to “ogle” Galia Bazylko’s “Ivan Tzarivich,” that gorgeous hunk that the artist created in 1994. My own “young gentleman,” very tall and lanky but beautiful, is seated, deep in thought, across and to the right of me in what we call the “Early History” case along with his wooden, papier mache and wax friends, looking forever like Rodin’s sculpture “The Thinker.” Probably once upon a time a near life-sized puppet—we don’t know for sure, he sits underneath one of the Museum’s ‘monitor’ lights set high in the lofty ceiling, his large hat and poetic face and arms sometimes bathed in the soft, filtered light of the Northwest. His clothes are frail, his painted face even frailer, but there is a gentleness in his expression, a thoughtfulness and contemplation in his pose that has never failed to move my heart. You see, I am only iron to the bottom of my shoulders; the rest of my body is cloth and there is a big heart there. But! Don’t tell the rest of the dolls that!

-- The Iron Maiden as told to
Susan Hedrick, Curator

from the Director

Throughout the twenty-some changing exhibits we have presented at the Museum in the last 6 1/2 years, none has brought forth such emotion as our current exhibit, “Moccasins to Mukluks — Dolls of the First Americans.” As I closed the exhibit doors following our Members’ Private Opening, a rush of feelings, from sadness to apprehension, loneliness to satisfaction, filled me and for the first time during that hectic week of installation, my tear-filled eyes reminded me of the power and importance these dolls held.

Susan’s and Jill’s months and years of research building to this exhibit led us to an inevitable path, the one that our first Americans took, and some of these dolls with them, to a near extinction of identity.

Forty-eight tribes and sub-tribes represented therein are just a portion, and sadly the best known part, of this land’s earliest history. What of all those cultures which are lost or nearly so? Who will remember them? In the end I must feel gratitude that the dolls have survived to tell some small part of these peoples’ histories. Please do come and share this unusually colorful and moving display. The last day of exhibit will be May 2nd. We thank all those who shared their precious dolls, artifacts and knowledge to make this happen.

On a “lighter” note (though no expectant mother of twins or more would probably agree with that choice of words) we are delighted to announce our long awaited “Twins — Room for One More.” In the days before fertility drugs, such an event was truly remarkable. But the event of the century, until the McCaughey’s septuplets in 1997, was, of course, the successful at-home birth of the little Dionne Quintuplets. A media event of such joy at such an economically ravaged time in this country and Canada (the home of the Dionnes) gave downhearted people something wonderful to embrace.

Naturally the doll world is always one to take advantage of such “blessed events”. But you may be surprised to see just how far back this practice goes! The Museum Collection will display dolls of nearly every material, size, period and type — guaranteed to make you smile because if one is cute, two is cuter. Don’t forget to bring your twin, maternal or fraternal, to get free admission to the Museum. And “then” and “now” photos for our exhibit background are welcome anytime throughout the exhibit. If you belong to a “Multiple Birth” Organization, please let us know, too. Yes! We are Y2K compliant: Thank you to our assistant accountant, Cristina Miller, who gathered our computer information, researched and worked with professional consultants to get our house in shape in short order and quite painlessly. If everyone “keeps his own house,” hopefully we will glide into the next Millennium with no hitches... if not, we can just play dolls, I guess!

Bellevue is fortunate to be the venue for the National Association of Miniature Enthusiasts’ 1999 Region N-3 House party Convention this May 14, 15, and 16. And, the Museum is thrilled to present a mini-show (get it?) of our own Rosemary Zilmer’s new works, on exhibit from May 9 through May 17. We welcome the N.A.M.E. attendees and invite everyone to view Rosemary’s 1/4” scale “Ye Olde Curiosity Shoppe” from Charles Dickens and other 1/8”, 1/4” and 1” scale pieces including a 1920’s Doctor’s Office and Brambly Hedge. Rosemary, as you will remember, is the architect of everyone’s favorite house which graces the Museum Atrium. Just imagine works like that in 1/4” and 1/8” scale!

Once again the doll world has lost another memorable friend and historian. Mary Hillier from Surrey, England passed away suddenly on February 14th. Mary’s by-line could be seen over the years attached to many wonderfully researched and interesting articles on a wide range of doll subjects. She was a great correspondent, always sharing information and supporting other research. Though I never met her in person, we have corresponded many times since the Museum opened and I feel a great loss in her youthful and whimsical outlook on life. Our sympathy goes out to her family and many friends.

If you love Lencis, I surely hope you had the opportunity to see the exhibit at the Museo ItaloAmericano at Ft. Mason in San Francisco. Curator Valentina Fogher, assisted by Nancy Lazenby, presented the most extensive and well documented display of Lencis I have ever seen. The accompanying ephemera was remarkable and the variety and time span of dolls was “mouth watering”. We were proud to have a couple of our Museum’s dolls represented there among the very best of company. A small number of dolls were additionally offered for sale and I was excited to find a small doll, dressed in the costume of my Grandmother’s home in Italy.

Often I am asked for advice by beginning doll collectors on what to collect for the best value. While I stress that all collecting is “trendy,” there are certainly some dolls which have enjoyed a steady if “spiked” increase over time. Right now the dolls of this century, mostly the compos, hard plastic and early vinyls are seeing a great boost in popularity. This is a result of so many of us trying to recapture the dolls of our youth or at least enjoying them for the second time. Naturally, with the great numbers competing for pristine dolls, the availability is small. Now, I would suggest, is the perfect time for those of you who thought you could never own a wonderful antique bisque, china or wooden to make inquiries and let the word out that you are interested in this area.

Some amazing and truly antique dolls are trading at prices very competitive with some of the newer dolls of the 1940s, 50s and even the 60s. We all know that these materials have been proven since they have had one or two hundred years to do so. I believe they will continue to hold value and certainly are a joy to own in any event. Seek out reliable and knowledgeable dealers and do your homework. Always buy the best you can honestly afford. Better yet, if you are a “fixer upper,” you have a broader field to pick from.

Happy shopping!

- Rosalie A. Whyel, Director

Welcome to Our New Members:

Jim and Adeline Belden
Susan Dunham
Marella Francois-Griffin
Betty Fronefield
Janis Gangi
Merry Christine Harris
Valerie M. Hoff
Janis Joslin
Carole D. Kipp
Janet W. MacKenzie
Kate McComb
Jane McCormmach
Mary Ann Navitsky
Teri Newton
Cindy Schmitt
Erin Snow
Anna and Ted Tavener
Jane T. White
Liesel Woll
Carolyn Zefkeles

News From Rosie's Too

Good News!—We’re happy to report that the temporary openings on Saturdays during January and February were very successful and have now become permanent! Yes, Rosie’s Too will be open every Saturday from now on from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. New items this quarter include: Nice older doll clothing, miniature and doll-size chinaware (sets and pieces), compo body parts, and many bisque heads, eyes (on eyebars) for hard plastic and compo dolls as well as more wigs—newer, but a wide variety of colors, sizes and styles.

And, don’t forget the staple items: doll stands in almost every available size and our new preservation supplies: acid-free tissue and acid-free boxes in multiple sizes, even large enough to store wedding gowns or treasured heirloom clothing. And, everything you need to protect your ephemera collection. Thanks again to all our faithful clients and welcome to our new friends who have discovered us on Saturdays!

We would like to thank the following people for their generous donations during the last quarter:

Eleanor Jane Anderson estate
Collection of all-bisque and small bisque dolls

Daniel Codling
Child’s wicker doll carriage

Mark Crispin & Beckeye Walker
in memory of their mother,
Lucille W. Hafer
Bisque head French Fashion doll
circa 1880

Linda Hamburg
Ethnic dolls for Education program

Carl L. Haynes
Horsman doll circa 1911

Sandra Jaech
Doll magazines

Jean Kraft
Nancy Ann Storybook Dolls

Sarah V. Nelson, in memory of her
mother Colleen J. Voshall
Doll clothing and hats, late 1910s

Karen G. Prince
Child’s shoes, circa 1900

Karen Story
Vintage 1920s dress and bag

We sincerely hope we have not excluded anyone.

The Museum Store

Featuring Sylvia Natterer

We are proud to announce the addition of a new line of wonderful, high-quality dolls by artist Sylvia Natterer. From darling babies to sweet little girls and boys, Sylvia’s “children” are sure to tug at your heartstrings. Their appealing European look is combined with expertly designed and sewn clothing. The Museum Store is pleased to be able to offer these fine dolls at prices that allow for both collecting and giving a treasured gift. Sylvia’s dolls won the 1st Annual “Most Adorable Doll” award at the Grand Opening of the Sekiguchi Doll Garden in Izu-kojen, Japan. They were chosen by Mr. Sekiguchi, the founder of our new Sister Museum.

And of course we are excited that the other fabulous lines we carry have presented their new designs. Vogue honors the millennium with their wonderful “Century Collection” featuring chic fashions of each decade of the 20th century. Be sure to drop in for a peek at the darling new outfits for Betsy McCall and friends by Robert Tonner. See what the stork is bringing from Corolle - many sweet new babies and gift packs! Their soft beanbag bodies make them irresistible to hold and cuddle. Madame Alexander continues with their fabulous haute couture “Cissy” collection with some dazzling new creations by well-known designers such as Jessica McClintock, Josie Natori and James Purcell. In addition, surprising new faces and lovable babies join the scene.

Brush up on your research with our newest book arrivals... “Composition and Wood: Dolls and Toys” by Michelle Karl; “Composition Dolls 1900-1950” by Ursula R. Mertz — these are both great identification and value guides — and, “Madame Alexander Dolls: An American Legend” is a wonderful book, complete with a history of the company, old and new dolls, and production information.

Last but not least, the doll we’ve all been waiting for—Tyler Wentworth, a 16” fashion by Robert Tonner and her Incredible Limited Edition wardrobe will be making her debut this year—you’ll not want to miss this beauty! And, we suggest you make your selections early as we predict these will sell out quickly.

Call or stop by for more details or call the Museum Store: (425) 455-1116 or toll free at 1-800-440-DOLL.

Featured Antique Doll

An adorable little flirty-eyed character, this coy toddler by Adolf Hülss is patiently waiting for someone to take her home. She has blonde hair, beautiful blue, flirting, sleep glass eyes and a lovely antique factory dress. On a five-piece toddler body, she has the store paper stamp on her back—“Matthes Berlin” and a crier (right hand has some damage and crier does not function).


May 22nd & 23rd, 1999
10:00am to 5:00pm
in the Museum multi-purpose room
INSTRUCTOR: Carole R. Tinsley
COST: $50.00 plus $15 kit fee

June 26th, 1999
9 am--noon and 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.
in the Museum multi-purpose room
INSTRUCTOR: Mary Johnson COST: $45.00

In this three-hour workshop you will make a miniature photo album. (2.5” x 2.5” x .75”)

SUPPLIES NEEDED: X-acto knife or small sharp scissors. All other supplies will be provided, including miniature photocopies of old photographs, depicting children with their dolls & toys.

You may opt to use your own photocopied and reduced photographs. Use a color copier to achieve sharp, clear images, and to pick up the shades of brown and aging in the photographs. Photograph pages should be pre-cut to 1 1/8” X 5/8”.

Note: Choose carefully the photos you will reduce. Images that contain a lot of people or details can be hard to see when reduced.

Registration deadline: June 14, 1999. Class size is limited so please register early.

If you would like to receive a registration form when it is available for any of the above workshops, please call Jill at the Museum.

- Jill Gorman, Education Coordinator

Dear Dolly

My childhood doll is so dear to me, but she’s a bit disheveled. What should I do to make her beautiful again?


Dear Karen,

Dolls show their age due to being played with, both lovingly and not so lovingly! A “patina” or mellowed look is actually very desirable on an older doll — even some crazing and a few eyelashes missing can add to her character. The idea is to do as little as possible and leave your doll as original as possible. If wigs or clothing need cleaning, please consult a doll repair/restoration expert.

(If you have a question for Dolly, please write c/o Dear Dolly at the Museum)

Watch for these articles by Museum Curator, Susan Hedrick:

"Ten Persons, Ten Colors"
The last installment of a 3-part study of contemporary Japanese doll artistry in DOLLS magazine, April, 1999 issue.

Area Doll Show Dates

Montgomery Park, Portland, OR
Saturday, January 23, 1999

Bellevue Best Western, Bellevue, WA
Sunday, January 24, 1999

Sea-Tac Marriott, 10 a.m. - 3 p.m.
Sunday, January 31, 1999

Youth Soccer Bingo Hall, Kenmore, WA
Sunday, February 14, 1999
Sunday, April 11, 1999


Puyallup Fairgrounds
March 20 & 21, 1999

Sponsored by "Seattle Doll and Toy Collectors Club"
Lake City Community Center, Seattle, Washington
Sunday, April 18, 1999
10 a.m. - 4 p.m.
Tables Available -- Contact Lisa Pepin
(206) 362-9723

Wheeler Pavilion, Eugene, OR
April 24 & 25, 1999

*Look for the Museum sales table

Coming Events at the Museum

EASTER SUNDAY, April 4, 1999

May 2, 1999
Last day to see “Moccasins to Mukluks” Exhibit

May 8, 1999
Opening of New Exhibit:
“Twins — Room for One More”
(Exhibit will run through November 14, 1999)

May 9-16, 1999
Special Exhibit by Miniaturist, Rosemary Zilmer
“Ye Olde Curiosity Shoppe”
in conjunction with the
National Association of Miniature Enthusiasts’
1999 Regional Convention

May 22 & 23, 1999
1700’s- Style Paperclay Dollmaking Workshop
(space available—registration form inside)

June 26, 1999
Miniature Photo Album Workshops
9a.m. – 12 p.m. and 1 p.m. – 4 p.m.

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