I attended the York Antique Show this past weekend and met with Eleanor Latkin from Maryland. Wait till you see her new book called "Folk Art for Children". (Book review coming soon).


This is going to be the place to check frequently for announcements, events and website information, so check back often.

Please note that I now also have a Facebook page for this website and will be posting a few tidbits there to point folks here.

Starting on Monday, January 20th, I will have some important information added on the Peg Wooden Dolls article below.



Early Peg Wooden and Paper Mache Dolls

Photos by Curtis Haldy Photography

A new book is about to be published on the early peg wooden and paper mache dolls.   The book will be the 8th book on dolls by Mary Krombholz with more than 2000 colored photographs of factories, workers and dolls. It will be published this summer with copies to be sold the end of July!

Although I have not been a big collector of these early dolls, I have purchased several of them for a recently purchased Regency Dolls’ House –Circa 1820. It is amazing how one becomes enamored in just a short amount of time with the history, construction, and costuming of these special dolls.

The peg wooden doll shown above was purchased at a time when I did not have an appropriate house for her. She is 6” tall and has all her original clothing. Her clothes are simple and rather plain and her hat is just incredible! Since her hair was hidden by this large hat, I have removed it for you. These dolls are noted for their painted curls on the forehead and sides of the head. These just happen to be a little more fancy than most! The painting of the facial features can be seen in this close up photo. I particularly like the way they did the eyelashes!

Photo by Curtis Haldy Photography

There really is not much written on these dolls, but I would like to share with you the information I gathered in two books for my next segment.

Part 2

The first book is The Art of Dolls, 1700-1940, by Madeline Osborne Merrill.

I got this book on Amazon.com for about $5. This book was published in 1985. Instead of a narrative written on dolls, the book has a photo and information is divided up into a title for the doll and a time period the doll was made, a description of the body and remarks about the doll.  It is by studying these photos and information that one can gather information, but you have to digest what you are reading and see the similarities and differences in these dolls for yourself. Here is a photo of some very small wooden dolls that range in height from 7/8” to 2” tall.

Photos by Curtis Haldy Photography

   It is such a fascinating subject to read about these dolls. I found there were two main methods in making paper mache.  One is making layers of glued paper and the second is to have a mixture of paper pulp and plant fiber. The tedious process consists of boiling small pieces of paper, draining it off and then grounding with a pestle and mortar. It was in the 18th century that we see many workshops and factories being established to make all kinds of dolls, toys, and other objects of paper mache.

    In 1800, Matthias Koops held an English patent which allowed him to make paper mache out of straw, hay, thistles, hemp, and flax. In 1821, Johanna Kestner of Gotha, Germany applied for a patent to be allowed to use cardboard, paper, straw, moss, hay, thistle and bark to make paper mache. So many formulas were made and kept secret! The process of making a doll’s head is so involved with preparing the paper mass, making forms, using a modeling stick to create the face, making water-diluted glue and making varnish.

  A famous maker of paper mache dolls was Johanna Muller. He used a dough mixture as well as the layering method in 1815. His work can be viewed at the Landesmuseum in Stuttgart, Germany. One can study the way the head of a doll was made, the shape of the ears, the laughter lines beneath the eyes, the yellow/gold earrings, the way the mouths were painted on bonnet heads and the combs of over-painted cardboard which were pushed into a head. By 1822, he had changed his mixture to include grounded clay sand.

   Another formula used in the Sonneberg area of Germany around 1840 was to boil unprinted paper, chalk paper pulp which was mixed together with water diluted glue, then starch was added with tobacco saucing liquor, garlic and wormwood. Then the mixture is rolled out with a rolling pin and pressed into a mold.

   The dolls produced in Sonneburg and those of Muller are two identifying makers of paper mache dolls. So in purchasing a doll it would be great if one could know who made the dolls. We can date dolls by their hairstyles.

For example, the Apollo knot was popular from 1830-1836.


Photos by Curtis Haldy Photography

PART 2: A rare peg wooden doll was found at auction recently in Pennsylvania.  The doll is 11” tall and is dressed as a nurse maid in her long black dress and white apron.  She is considered a special peg wooden with her tuck comb in her hair as well as her pierced ears with earrings. Documentation came with the doll which gave her last owner’s name, the amount she paid to purchase the doll, the year she purchased it and the year the doll was made – Circa 1780.


Here is a close up of the child she is holding!

In speaking with other collectors, I was told that the very early peg wooden dolls were made with more detail and that the limbs were more tapered and life/like than the dolls made later.  The hands are carved very finely with the thumb and the fingers are together to resemble a glove.


She is wearing pantaloons and petticoats of old muslin fabric. Her dress has sewn in muslin pieces to support the fragile dress material.

The doll has been protected for a long time in a glass dome! The peg wooden nurse maid and child will make a great addition to the Regency Dolls’ House- Circa 1820!

Addendum- (January 2014).....the history of the peg wooden nurse maid shown above.
   During July of 2013, I met a collector from Philadelphia who offered to bring some items to me from an auction in Chicago. We spent more than three hours sharing our love of collecting and as he was leaving, he asked if he could view one of the dolls' houses. I took him to the Regency House- Circa 1820. I pointed out the peg wooden nurse maid who had a tag next to her. It read "Circa- 1780-Peggy Shippen." He actually gasped and said, "Have you heard of Peggy Shippen?" To my amazement, I learned that she was the second wife of Benedict Arnold! It never occurred to me that the name on the tag was important. Since my home is New England, this name was not familiar to me. After reading her life history and knowing she had favor with the British during the American Revolution, I found that she played quite an important role in plotting against the American army. She was banned from Philadelphia at one time and had to leave her family behind. I also learned that the lovely home in Fairmont Park, Mount Pleasant, was a home Benedict Arnold gave her as a gift. I have toured the house and recall that I had the chimneys from this house copied on my first dolls' house. (I did not know at the time, one does not do this sort of restoration).
   Since I have the provenance on the doll, I have decided to read Peggy's life story and attach some information with the doll. I often think that if I had lost the tag or this gentleman had never visited me, the history on this doll could have been lost forever. Peggy Shippen was born in 1760 and died in 1804.

UPDATE: I have just received my copy of the book, Family Dolls’ Houses – by Liza Antrim. What an amazing collection! So many wonderful photographs with extra photos pulled out of the main photo and placed around it. This book covers the furniture that is very early, many pieces are one of a kind, homemade and of various scales. The wallpapers are just breath-taking and the dolls are mostly the wooden dolls. The research is incredible and shown by dates at the end of the book! Here are a couple of photos from the book never seen in any other book!


The cost of the book is now on the website of Liza Antrim. It is £60+ £27 p&p to the States, Japan, and anywhere else except UK and Europe, making £87 in all (that is about $135, depending on the rate of exchange that day). I think the easiest way to make payment is by Paypal. If you click on "contact me" on ciderhousebooks.com, Liza can send a request for payment with her details. The books should be arriving here next week, so they can begin to send them out the following week- October 3.

I am very excited about receiving this book as it is about the collection of the author and not just another book on miniatures that has has been covered so many times in other books. This vast collection will be well documented and will be like touring a museum. This is an opportunity to study and learn from a collector who has a great deal of knowledge on dolls' houses and their furnishings! How fortunate we are, to have Liza share with us and to have it recorded so that we may place this book in our reference library to refer to as one of the best texts ever written. Remember, purchasing a good book on antique dolls' house miniatures is like giving ourselves a gift of knowledge on a subject we love!

Liza Antrim, a well known collector from Great Britain, has just published a book of her collection of antique dolls’ houses and their furnishings. It is not often that one has the opportunity to see an extraordinary collection assembled by a devoted collector of 50 years!! Her knowledge, perseverance and dedication to collecting has amazed all of us!

The book, Family Dolls’ Houses of the 18th and 19th Centuries, is being published now and will be released shortly. You may order it in English or German. Follow her website at: www.ciderhousebooks.com for more information.