CLOTH AND LENCI

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 Wonderful ( 25”, 64cm ) primitive American cloth doll with all cloth head and torso, lower arms made of all leather covering with individually stitched fingers, and most notably the head covered in a sateen-like fabric with face and front of neck in canvas painted entirely without any additional three-dimensional protrusions or extra cloth attachments. The quality of the painting indeed rivals that of the Columbia Rag dolls of the same era and looks as though the ( unknown ) designers and makers of this model were heavily influenced by the more well- known and successful competitors as often is the case throughout the many years and types of doll-making. The lips, eyes, nose, and eyebrows are especially artistically rendered. There is a slight but noticeable bulge around the side stitching on both sides of the head about where ears would normally appear to either project this illusion and/or meant to create hair covering ears. Blacklight shows several very small areas here and there around the perimeters of the face which could be either minor paint wear and/or a few specks of paint touchup. Outside in the bright sunlight repaint is not an obvious conclusion but for full disclosure we want to be as thorough as possible without at same time disparaging the overall condition of the doll. One must remember that a blacklight shows “ differences “ from one area to another and does not automatically declare a “ repair or restoration “ outright and often shows variances such as“ near perfect “ paint vs. an area alongside that is more warn, etc. She wears a beautifully made one-piece cotton print dress with fine lace collar, tightly gathered sleeves , a cotton one-piece “ union suit “ underneath, as well as black cotton knee-length stockings and truly wonderful antique red leather shoes. Her large wide brim straw hat with cloth flowers complete the costuming and help to conceal the lack of additional and/or painted hair typical of this style of “ country -rag “ doll. Draped over shoulders id a purple shawl, and on the feet wonderful pair of antique red leather shoes. A real charmer that deserves to be sitting on her own in a size-appropriate rocker or bench!…………………………..SOLD.

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French cloth “ Becassine “ doll, unusually large ( 21”, 53cm ), in near mint condition, still contained in the original thin cardboard box ( somewhat but expectedly frail, but still intact ) that has no label or inscription. The style implies that this doll is recognized to be that of the 1930s, yet due to its bright and colorful clean state, appears as if it could have been yesterday! The face is a thin painted stockinet fabric designed with an indented chin drawn up to imply the existence of nostrils terminating at base of the big round separately constructed “ button – nose”. The facial area has been well painted with deep blushing of the cheeks with similar blushing on the upper side of the hands and fingers which are similarly constructed in likewise manner to the face. The hands are sewn together to enable the grasping of the wicker-type elongated market she takes to market to fill to bring home to prepare her employer’s dinner. The costume is typical and immediately identifiable as that of Becassine with it lace coiffe, clogs ( here covered in brown felt), green dress with white apron trimmed in black ( felt ), red felt under-blouse, red and white tiny checked underskirt, and white linen knee length pantaloons with red and white horizontally striped socks. Becassine is an emblematic symbol of France culture with particular reference to Brittany, starting as the primary character in a French comic strip and meant to be a character of a Breton housemaid, somewhat lovable yet portrayed with a Parisian hint of provincial distain for perhaps less sophisticated “ country -folk “. So popular for very many years as first a comic-strip character, then childrens in books, dolls, and figurines of all media, that she could be identified immediately as a recognizable image and known to anyone born and raised in France since 1905 until today. Anyone familiar with this figure will immediately understand and appreciate that due to the size and condition of this particular example, the price quoted is a bargain and a rare opportunity to buy the ultimate quality possible at a mere……….US$ 795.

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Rare early 1900s black cloth doll with stitched and embroidered facial features, unusual and sewn- on elaborate wig of thread, wearing the original two -piece suit with coordinated cap, shirt with more colorful collar and patterned tie, and wool socks covering feet. These unique and easily recognizable cloth dolls are attributed to having been made in Caribbean islands, primarily in French colonial territories such as Martinique, Guadeloupe, etc. and distinctively have separately applied long fingernails, as well as realistically gender identifiable genital areas. Although always desirable and collectible one normally finds female versions of these dolls, usually taller, often wearing bandanas covering the heads, sometimes with baskets perched on top. This harder-to -find male version is only 18” ( 46cm ) tall, and is rare to find at all, much less the smaller version. As such this doll has great crossover appeal to collectors of cloth dolls, French dolls, and black dolls and should not be missed!…………………………………………US$ 795. 

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19” cloth doll with stockinet covering known to the doll collecting world as a “ Black Beecher-Type” as it is made in a similar manner to the “ Beecher Babies “ manufactured around the turn of the Twentieth Century in upstate New York but there is no evidence that Julia Jones Beecher of Elmira NY ever directly made or sold the more elongated black children of which this doll is well exemplified. Regardless of the ambiguity/uncertainty of exact source of manufacture these dolls are highly regarded in their own right and stand alongside both in terms of respect and approximated price range of the “ Missionary Rag Babies “ of Mrs. Beecher. As is typical, this doll has a stockinet covering over the molded head and facial features, a tight wooly caracul wig as part of the doll, and black pupiless eyes backed by a white celluloid-type material. Lips and nostrils are painted bright red , hands are “ mitten-style “, and there are sewn joints at shoulders ,hips, and knees. This doll is dressed as a “country boy “with plaid cotton shirt, plaid linen trousers, a red neckerchief, and a multicolored woven straw hat. Although he does have some anticipated age wear, he is still in relatively overall good condition compared to most and priced accordingly to reflect his actual physical status. Those in excellent to near mint condition usually sell for at least 30-40% higher…………….US$ 1,650. 

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Very nice and somewhat unusual 18” ( 46cm ) so-called “ Alabama Baby “ by Ella Smith, with dark brown, relatively short, hair painted just over the tops of the ears and simulating a popular “ bowl-cut “ hairstyle with short bangs and no parting of the hair on either side nor down the center of the head. He/She has brown painted eyes, log upper and lower lashes, an almost heart-shaped full red mouth and highly rouged cheeks. The hands have sewn delineator stitches with thumbs sewn separately. There are sewn joints at shoulders and hips and unlike most of the Alabama Babies found has bare feet whereas the majority have painted boots. On the torso there remains a faint stamp reading “ THE ELLA SMITH DOLL ALABAMA BABY ROANOKE ALABAMA “. As this child is wearing a period one piece plaid cotton romper suit with low drop waist matching belt, one might assume this is meant to be a boy but the hairstyle is so gender neutral that depending on the costuming it could be “ either/or “. Overall condition very good with some typical paint craze marks and minor rubs on painted surfaces but better than most with no obvious signs of repair or restoration……..US$ 1.100. 

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 Extremely nice and early in production ( late 1920s-early 1930s ) of this 12 ½” ( 31cm ) Lenci child of the Art Deco -period in felt costume with geometric design pattern on bottom of knee-length jacket, cloche hat with felt ribbon tied into a bow in front, pink felt short dress underneath the coat, knit white socks, and blue felt shoes that match the rest of clothing. She has brown painted side-glancing eyes, long upper eye lashes, full upper lip, and dark blond/light beige mohair wig. Overall condition is very good with only minimal typical fading of colors and slight surface dust. A similar doll is pictured in the Coleman book on the history of the Lenci firm, one of the earliest and most revelatory of its time when little was known in the Western Hemisphere as of time of publication regarding this most important and innovative of doll makers!……………………………………..US$ 875. 

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 Sweet 16” ( 41cm ) painted and molded cloth doll by Martha Chase of Pawtucket RI with blond painted three dimensional hair, blue eyes with wispy upper lashes , smiling mouth, three dimensional molded ears with head and torso being one solid unit with sateen covered torso and lower arms and legs with bare feet having sewn joints at elbows, shoulders, hips, and knees. Paint is totally original and in very good condition considering age and material with just a bit of paint wear on tip of the nose. The one- piece long white cotton and lace trimmed dress is probably original and at least of the period. He/she also has a cotton undergarment covering the torso and white knit socks that arise to knee level………………US$ 375. 

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Charming 20”( 51cm ) brown eyed Martha Chase child with softly painted and modeled facial features with applied ears, original facial and extremity painted with original finish in over all very good patina with minimal age wear other than on a few fingers and a speck of red on the upper lip. The stuffed cloth body is covered with the original sateen-like fabric and the clothing consists of pastel colored pleated silky-cotton knee length dress with some brown feather stitching at waist, shoulders, and on skirt. She has pink cotton underpants with braided lacy trim at knees, white cotton knee-length stockings, and old white canvas shoes (soles missing). Painted yellowy-brown hair has raised “brush mark-like” characteristics and a raised seam starting and ending in back about 1/3rd of the way around back of the head in both directions. A sweet doll and depending upon the clothing could represent a girl, a boy, or a baby…………………….US$ 395. 

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