This is a Rare C1900 turn of the century Black Americana Folk Art Stockinette Cloth Rag Doll 17.5 Inch Pictured in American Folk Dolls Maine Origin. Two identical dolls are pictured in American Folk Dolls by Wendy Lavitt page 77. A very knowledgeable Massachusetts doll friend of mine recently provided some further information about this doll. Over the years, she has had four of these dolls, all purchased in Maine. She explained that the stitched necklace and bracelet, stockinette braided and fringed hair, shoes, waistband on the dress, stitched smiling mouth and teeth, covered seed nose with stitched nostrils, button eyes, ribbon hairbow, overall size, and hand stitched black stockinette body were identical to the ones she has owned in the past. This doll was purchased in New England.
This doll is Not the kind of doll that would have been made by a mother for her child, dragged around by the arm, and cuddled with at night. This doll is a Black Americana Folk Art Doll made by a very skilled person/artist perhaps as part of a fund raiser or cottage industry. As far as I can tell, I know of seven of these dolls including the two book dolls.
Her features include two Mother of Pearl button eyes, embroidered lips and teeth, and a little covered seed for a nose with embroidered nostrils. Other embroidery includes a pendant necklace, bracelets on the wrists, and stitching made to resemble striped stockings. Her black stockinette wig is the interesting detail with stockinette fringe around the face while the back ends in two long braids. The body is very firmly rag stuffed and hand stitched. Parts of the body that was not exposed to light remains black particularly under her dress. She has a five piece body with attached arms and legs. There are no holes except two hidden under the dress (at her back and back waist about the size of a dime). The legs are stitched to the torso (she does not sit). These dolls were not meant to be sitting dolls. Her yellow, beige and brown striped cotton dress with lace trim is original. All the ribbon on the doll matches (hairbow, braid bow, and shoes). The shoes are leatherette.
This doll is of high quality, extremely excellent condition, rare and worthy of further study or placement in a collection. Of exceptional workmanship, size and proportion, she is in all original condition. And certainly a fabulous piece of Black Americana Folk Art.
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