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Wonderful Old Portrait Dolls
When P.T. Barnum brought Jenny Lind to America for a concert tour in 1850, the "Swedish Nightin gale," took the country by storm. Whether through Barnum's clever showmanship or by popular acclaim, and we suspect it was the former, the Jenny Lind craze swept the country... Everything eatable or wearable, even articles of furniture were renamed Jenny Lind. There were Jenny Lind lamps, Jenny Lind beds, and Jenny Lind neckties. At this time a number of so-called portrait dolls of Jenny Lind came over to this country. They were much alike, most of them with hair in puffs on each side of the head and drawn back to a knot, just the way the real jenny wore her hair. Only one type did not have the knot. But all the dolls had black hair and Jenny was a blonde. It is said, however, that she longed for dark hair and often wore a black wig on the stage.
When Mrs. Clear produced what was the first American-made china doll, she chose an old model of Jenny Lind as the subject. She produced it in white and in rose-luster china. I do not think the old Jenny Linds were ever made in the pink-tinted china. The model proved to be most successful.
When Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland became a best seller, little-girl dolls, representing the heroine, were made with hair slicked back to a band or circular comb of blue or black. The heads were of china, wax, Parian, or Blonde bisque.
The Countess Dagmar doll in china is a replica of the familiar head in Parian that is supposed to represent the sister of the then Princess of Wales, later Queen Alexandra of England. This doll comes in many sizes and is rather more rare than the Parian head.
The Dolly Madison head always has a round, chubby face and a cheerful expression, and there is always a black or blue ribbon drawn through her hair to a bow on top. In the china doll, it is usually black. Mrs. Clear has also made this model in a modern American china doll with a blue ribbon.
Two types of china-head dolls are called Mary Todd Lincoln, one is an apple-checked lady with a short, Civil War type of headdress; the other wears her hair in the chignon or waterfall popular in the 1860s. Dolls with chignons are the rarer of the two.
The Portrait Dolls, can still be found, although very costly, well worth having.The market indicates that Portrait Dolls will always hold their value, and most likely always fetch a high price.