Among the holidays observed during February is Presidents’ Day which covers both Abraham Lincoln’s birthday on February 12th and George Washington’s birthday February 22nd. Of course, 2016 was an election year, and presidential collectibles, including dolls and figurines, have become more popular than ever.
George Washington is represented on Ruby Lane as an elegant Martha Chase portrait and a vinyl doll wearing a felt uniform. A portrait candy container bust is an unusual doll related collectible, and there are dozens of books, postcards, axe, and political memorabilia honoring the first president known as The Father of our Country. Joan and Lynnette Antique Dolls feature an amazing cloth Colonial couple that could easily represent George and Martha Washington. Also great is the pair made by early doll artist Emma Clear. Lady Sylvia features an excellent example of them on Ruby Lane.
Lincoln and his family are also represented by dolls, including some artist examples. Jack the Doll, a Zouave soldier, recreated and sold at the Lincoln Museum in Springfield, IL, is a cloth doll that commemorates a Sanitary Fair doll given to the Lincoln children. They used to try and execute the doll on a regular basis, burying poor Jack in The White House Rose Garden. To soothe the nerves of an enraged White House gardener, the President issued Jack a pardon. There is a Milliner’s Model style papier mache doll in its original box displayed at Lincoln’s New Salem that the President bought as a gift for a local girl at the small village where he ran a store. Sarah Bernstein’s Dolls has an unusual carved folk doll of Lincoln.
Mary Todd Lincoln has been made in many forms, including a lovely example from the former Williamsburg Doll Factory, created in porcelain by Margaret Anne Bothwell, Lady Anne Dolls. Some china heads are also named for her, though one flat type variety is displayed at Mrs. Lincoln’s childhood home and allegedly belonged to her. Kathy Libraty shows an antique Mary Todd Lincoln China head on Ruby Lane. Turn of the Century Antiques has a lovely blonde, Parian example of the mold known as the former First Lady.
First Ladies have been recreated for some time, with stunning examples by Lady Anne Dolls, Madame Alexander, Suzanne Gibson, and others. A wonderful book with the gowns of the First Ladies through Jackie Kennedy is Caroline Kennedy’s First Ladies Dress Up Book.
Dolls representing the Kennedy family exist in paper doll form, and also as figurines and Lady Head vases. One poignant figure represents John John in the famous salute he gave as his father’s coffin passed. A lot of the Kennedy dolls are memorials to the assassinated president. Collectible porcelain dolls of Jackie Kennedy were made a few years ago.
Antique dolls were popular on The Carters’ Christmas tree, and large dolls recreating books and fairy tales decorated the Laura Bush White House tree. Mrs. Clinton used folk dolls to decorate one of the trees that graced 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue during her term as First Lady.
In recent years, President Reagan and his family appeared as paper dolls, and the President was made as a vinyl doll, about 24 inches high. Effanbee made historical dolls of FDR and Eleanor Roosevelt and George Washington.
Many presidential dolls and historical figures were made during The Bicentennial. Hallmark later made a series of cloth dolls that included presidents and other historical persons, too. These came housed in boxes that resembled small houses for the dolls. These are of printed cloth and are 7 inches high. Attic Angel has several.
The Obamas have also been honored in doll form, and John McCain and Hilary Clinton inspired many dolls. President Bill Clinton had a Meanie-Beanie, Bull Clinton named for him, and there were plush animals of Socks the White House Cat and Lucky, the President’s dog. Hillary Clinton has appeared wearing scrubs and pill capsule earrings.
Presidential dolls and collectibles are fun to find and work well with collections of election buttons and books on the presidency.
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