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There is one bit of advice we always pass on to new collectors: DON'T LET YOUR COLLECTION GET TOO BIG. Too much becomes "clutter" about a house. Sell a few of your dolls now and then. Some weeding out will strengthen your collection and also help others. A doll you do not want may be a treasure to your neighbor. Don't be selfish! Those who have a thousand or two thousand specimens hardly know what to do with them unless they have a special room or house for dolls, such as that of Mrs. Gustave Mox of Santa Monica, California.
Fifty, a hundred, perhaps two hundred dolls are decorative in a house, and you can enjoy them more than a larger number. Select for quality rather than quantity in collecting anything, and when you acquire a doll beyond the number of your set limit, always release another to someone else. Thus you will help keep a supply of dolls available and also keep prices from going too high.
A friend recently inquired, "What are you going to do with your dolls when you die? Won't you leave your collection to a museum?"
And the answer was, "Certainly not, except historical dolls. Historical dolls belong in a museum, but it's kinder to fellow collectors to let most old dolls go on the market again so that others may have the fun of collecting."
Of course, there are some museums that need our cooperation to round out their collections as the Toy Department of the Museum of the City of New York, whose curator is Miss Janet Pinney. Here is being assembled a history of the manners and social customs of old New York as it is portrayed in the toys that were played with by her children.
Another such museum is that of the Wayne County Historical Museum at Lebanon, Ohio, where local history is being shown through dolls, as well as through other articles which belonged to early citizens.
A doll collection may also be of benefit to a community. It may be loaned to schools, libraries, and displayed in shop windows at Christmas. Doll shows may be put on to raise money for charity. Such a show was arranged by Miss Anna Dodge of Jamaica Plains, Massachusetts, and netted more than a thousand dollars for a summer camp for poor children.
An outstanding doll show is held each year from April 1 to June 15 by the Charles W. Bowers Memorial Museum at Santa Ana, California. It is under the management of Mrs. F. E. Coulter, the curator. Admission is free and the dolls are assembled by invitation from collectors all over the country. No prizes are given but each doll in the show receives a ribbon.
An important person in the doll-collecting world is invited to speak at the receptions held at the opening and the closing of the show. Some collectors cross the continent by train and by air to see the show, which brings together the rarest and finest dolls in the country. There are also collectors who make the Bowers show an annual pilgrimage. The arrangement is always artistic and beautiful for Mrs. Coulter is herself a lover of old dolls and spares no effort to make each show better than the last. One of her arrangements, which has been patented, is a daguerreotype frame in which each doll, placed against a suitable background, looks like a portrait. Mrs. Coulter also uses large gilt picture frames and places groups of dolls in little rooms with miniature furniture. For doll collectors, this show is really worth the trip, even if you live as far away as the East Coast.
Not many men collect dolls, but there are good precedents. A Chicago business man, a collector for forty years, selects only dolls that have belonged to boys; a retired orthopedic surgeon in Florida has a doll hospital where each small "patient" has a bed of its own and wears a little nightgown or "hospital johnnie."
Those of us, both men and women, who are immersed in it, cannot praise too highly the hobby of doll collecting. It is an education in the dress and manners of times past; it opens new delights to the traveler and new adventures to the friendly, even if some friends are known only by their letters, or perhaps-only by their dolls.