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History Of Peddler Dolls
The few dolls of the eighteenth century which may still be found are either of wood or wax mostly wood. Of these the peddler dolls are the most interesting. In the eighteenth century, women traveled about the countryside as packpeddlers did a generation ago in this country selling needles, pins, and other small articles. These women were called Notion Nannies, and were familiar figures in English country districts.
The peddler dolls commemorate a social custom. They are of carved wood and usually carry a basket containing numerous miniature articles. Such a doll, from the collection of the Victoria and Albert Museum appears as a frontispiece. Some of these old peddler dolls have found their way to America. Mrs. DeWitt Clinton Cohen of New York has a wonderful collection of them, one of which has 125 articles on the tray. The author owns one that was found for her in northern England during World War II. It dates from 1780 and had been bought by an antique dealer at a farm auction in Nottinghamshire.
A collection of old dolls may often start with a beloved childhood favorite or the venerated relic of a former generation found in a forgotten trunk or chest in an attic and indeed, there are more such chests still to be investigated than you would suppose. You never know where the next addition to your dolls may come from an appealing aspect of collecting. When you become doll conscious, it may be you will discover a valuable china head in the cellar of the oldest house in your town, as did Mrs. Erwin Chapin of Silver Creek, New York. Auctions, antique shops, and Good Will shops are other possible sources. The author even received three wonderful dolls instead of flowers during a hospital stay brown-eyed china-head doll, a Jumeau French bisque, and a fifteen-inch Joel Ellis doll with its original Joel Ellis'carriage. You just never know!
"Is doll collecting expensive?" It may or may not be, as you choose. It just depends on what type you seek. On a modest budget, you may collect paper dolls, penny dolls, or what are now called "Frozen Charlottes," those stiff little jointless bisque and china dolls that we used to call twenty-five-cent dolls. Or you may collect Parians, or French-fashion dolls at top prices. There are many gradations between these. Certainly you may assemble a good general collection at not too great a price. Hardly any collectible material has so increased in value in the last few years as old dolls. Doubtless they will continue to grow in worth for years to come, because the supply is necessarily limited and the number of new collectors grows annually.