C.1940 Saroff Character Folk Doll - King Henry VIII
Welcome to ROBINS NEST MIDWEST! May I offer….
AGE: I am guessing but the 1940s seems about right.
ITEM: Here's a Saroff Character doll, hand made, hand painted and hand sewn. Created and made by ____ Saroff of High Ridge, MO, I present Henry VIII, King of England. His face is hand painted, hand molded paper mache as are his legs and hand; the center of his body appears to be stuffed fabric. Henry's clothes are moire taffeta and crepe and the brocade appears to be French. His feet are in velvet boots and there are a myriad of sequins on the piece. Henry stands on a wooden pedestal and the bottom paper offers up all the info about his maker.
CONDITION: Very nice for its age. There are some silverfish holes in Henry's hat and I must admit, not all the dust is off the gent. Some of the sequins have discolored and a few of the glass beads used to embellish the sequins have disappeared. All this is very minor and any person with doll embellishment will find these small faux pas an easy fix.
SIZE: Henry stands about 10-1/2" tall.
FINAL COMMENTS: Mr. Saroff was born in Russia, but fled his native country during the revolution in 1917. He may have served in the military and it has been said that he may have even been related to the Royal Family. Mr. Saroff settled in the United States, High Ridge, Missouri to be exact. Actively involved in the arts by helping to producing operas and plays in the MIssouri area, he was also a costume designer. I believe that Mr. Saroff's dolls were a natural extension of his talent. Doing a web search, one can find a number of different dolls on display - his earliest work being a little more crude than the creation I now offer; it seems he started "crafting" the dolls in the late 20s or so and based his work by on historical personages. A series of 5 historical figures from the Ted Hake collection (Five Men of Destiny consisting of Franklin Roosevelt, Neville Chamberlain, Mahatma Ghandi, Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini) sold in 2005 for $860.16 (with buyers premium) (pictured). With regard to Henry's manufacture - I did manage to find one of Henry's Six Wives so perhaps Henry is part of a set of 7 - there is no way of knowing for sure. As to his creations, it is unknown whether he produced only 1 doll of 1 personage or if he made a limited edition of 1 particular character. I do believe though that Henry was done later in his life when Mr. Saroff had fully developed his technique of making dolls.
I think that if there is not a following for Mr. Saroff's creations now, there soon will be as his work is unique, has stood the test of time, and is most appealing in its folk art way.
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