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Mason And Taylor Dolls

Mason and Taylor dolls vary with the period of manufacture. Earlier dolls have stationary heads, wooden "spoon" hands, and metal feet. Later metal hands were made, but it is to be noted that hands and fingers are in a different position from those on the Ellis doll. After 1882 the Johnson head was used. It turns on a swivel neck and looks different from the stationary head.

Occasionally experimental dolls were turned out by the Mason and Taylor factory; for example, an infant doll with bald head and composition hands; and recently we heard of another that has wooden feet. A few Negro dolls were made on order, but like those by Joel Ellis, they were the standard doll painted black. In the manual of the Doll Collectors of America, one of these painted models is shown with the statement that it is an East Indian doll, but Mr. Henry Taylor, the son of Luke and himself a worker on the dolls, maintains that no Hindu dolls were made and only few of the standard dolls were painted black to look like Negroes. "To have made negroid features," said Mr. Taylor, "would have necessitated new molds, and molds are expensive."

It has been our pleasure to have known Mr. Taylor and to have discussed the dolls with him, so we have first-hand information on them. We also have had direct information on the Ellis dolls from the late Herbert Ellis, a son of Joel, with whom we had extensive correspondence.

The Mason and Taylor factory made various other articles of wood and turned out dolls only for a short period at holiday time. Their novel "Witch and Wizard" doll evidently was made for export to Japan. It was accompanied by a knife (apparently none remain today) with which to cut off the head, but the swivel neck was so arranged that the doll did not lose its head despite attempted decapitation. The limbs lack elbow and knee joints and the metal feet are in the form of oriental slippers with turned-up toes. The slippers, like the feet of other Mason and Taylor dolls except the Martin, were painted Dutch blue. The doll has oriental features and wears a gay kimono. This oriental doll was not original with Mason and Taylor. A contemporary account of the Crystal Palace Exposition at London in 1851 mentions a similar model exhibited by a German dollmaker.

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