This is a wonderful 1800s Moravian Church Benefit Cloth Rag Doll “Polly Heckewelder” dating from 1872, when the dolls were first produced, to about 1900. She is one of the earliest hand made and hand painted face dolls, and has a seam jointed very firmly stuffed cotton cloth body with stitched mitt hands and formed feet. Her 18 inch body is in excellent condition with overall age staining appropriate for her age. Please notice the staining on her face and around her mouth from being kissed a lot. There is a small patch of fabric missing from the left side of her face revealing the inner lining. I can’t help but think that she may have had a small price tag there years ago, and when it was removed, part of her facial fabric went with the tag. She is wearing all her original underthings (long blouse, half slip/petticoat and pantalettes) that have stayed with her all these years. The cotton fabric has tanned and stained with age but is in excellent original condition. Exquisite hand stitched embroidery trims all the clothing edges. The clothing is beautifully hand stitched as well, done by an expert seamstress. She retains her original inner bonnet (staining), but the crocheted outer bonnet is no longer with her. Her original pink or blue checked dress and pinafore are also long gone. Her body is clean underneath the clothing demonstrating that she has always worn her underthings. And from the aging of the underthings, her original dress and shoes went missing a long time ago. She is a fine example of an early Moravian doll in beautiful original condition.
A bit of doll history: Moravian dolls are all hand made and hand stitched cloth benefit dolls created and produced by the Moravian Church sisters, members of the Ladies Sewing Society of the Central Moravian Church, Bethlehem Pennsylvania. The dolls, dressed like young girls, were called Polly Heckewelder named for the daughter of the Reverend Heckewelder who was a famous Moravian missionary to the Indians. The dolls were first produced in 1872 and continued to be made and loved for the next 100+ years.
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