Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year!

Izannah Walker Dolls,
picture courtesy of Joy Harrington

Click the picture to enlarge

Today I opened an email from Joy Harrington, who had sent the wonderful picture above of two Izannah dolls and their friends. They are waiting for Santa next to the chimney, stockings all hung. Thanks so much to Joy for sharing this picture for all of us who love Izannah Walker dolls. Also in the picture is a black cloth circa 1870 as well as a parian and a wax over Motchman boy. Here are some closeups from the picture above...

Tomorrow will mark the first anniversary of the Izannah Walker Chronicles. I started the blog without much forethought, almost on a whim on New Year's Day of 2008. I did it because I had all these pictures I was able to take of Izannah dolls and I wanted to share. Through writing this blog, I have experienced so many wonderful joys and have met wonderful people.

So Happy New Year to all of you Izannah Walker enthusiasts out there!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Izannah Walker Doll at Carmel Doll Shop

It is a very fun thing to visit the website of the Carmel Doll Shop. They have all kinds of wonderful dolls, dollhouses, doll clothing - the list goes on! One of my favorite sections is the "early dolls" section. This month when I was checking it out I noticed they have an Izannah Walker doll for sale. I called and spoke with Michael Canadas and asked if I could post the pictures of the Izannah Walker doll they have here on the Izannah Walker Chronicles. I was so glad to hear Michael say, "Sure, that would be fine." Music to my ears!

This doll is a bit different - she has painted eyelashes which I haven't seen before. The hairstyle is feathered in the back and the front has little painted curls which frame the face. Beautiful!

Aren't these pictures wonderful?

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Another Beautiful Izannah Picture

Last Friday I received the following e-mail, along with the beautiful Izannah Walker doll picture above. I was doing a happy dance in my office which led to one of the best gifts of this year. To read that story, click here to go to my personal blog.

Hello Dixie,
We enjoyed your site immensely and thank you for providing much interesting information on the life and dolls of Izannah Walker.
We thought your readers may enjoy this photo of an Izannah Walker doll in our collection. This doll is featured in The Treasury of Beautiful Dolls by John Darcy Noble and once resided in the famed collection of Maureen Popp.
As we manufacture cloth (felt) dolls in Bennington, Vermont, we have a great affinity for Izannah and the ingenuity and artistry obviously required to produce her lovely dolls.
With best regards,
R. John Wright

A followup email to R. John Wright brought this information -

The height of the doll is 20 inches and she has applied ears. The kidskin cuffs conceal the fact that the hands and arms are separate. When we carefully removed one of the cuffs, there was a clean split which was sewn with long stitches of linen thread. It didn't look like damage, but rather a construction technique that was then covered up with the decorative cuffs. Not knowing more, we can't be sure.

I am always so thankful when I open my email and see a picture of a doll that is new to me.

This doll is the one in the upper right hand corner of the group photo in John Noble's book When we obtained the doll, the dress had been changed from that shown in the photo but is wonderful nonetheless. She has a lovely, stately presence - even more so than in the photos.

I'd like to send a HUGE thank you to R. John Wright for generously sharing a picture of this doll.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Tilly, Wisconsin's Izannah Walker Doll

1951.1608, Wisconsin Historical Society

A few months ago Melissa Voigt went to visit the Izannah Walker "Tilly" at the Wisconsin Historical Society. While she was there, she was able to take pictures of the doll there. Tilly is object number 1951.1608 in the WHS collection and is described as a "cloth doll, girl, green plaid dress, white apron, USA, Izannah Walker, 1855-1865." Because of Melissa's efforts, and the generosity of the Wisconsin Historial Society, we are able to post pictures of Tilly here on the Izannah Walker Chronicles.

1951.1608, Wisconsin Historical Society

1951.1608, Wisconsin Historical Society

1951.1608, Wisconsin Historical Society

1951.1608, Wisconsin Historical Society

1951.1608, Wisconsin Historical Society

1951.1608, Wisconsin Historical Society

1951.1608, Wisconsin Historical Society

1951.1608, Wisconsin Historical Society

1951.1608, Wisconsin Historical Society

Tilly is also featured in the book The Story of My Dolls by Alice Timpet. In her book, Alice Timpet describes her dolls, one of which is named Tillie. Alice never mentions that Tillie is an Izannah Walker doll, perhaps because she didn't know!

Thanks so much to Melissa for taking the pictures, and for getting permission from the Wisconsin Historical Society to post them here. Here she is, holding Tilly. I understand very much the look on her face!

The Wisconsin Historical Society has an
excellent collection of
children's clothing online,
s well as dolls.

Stay tuned, because another generous person
has sent a picture of an original Izannah Walker doll!
I'll be posting that in a few days.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Jane Walker Dolls

Monica Bessette left a comment regarding Jane Walker on the previous entry which showed pictures of the Walker house in Somerset. I thought it was worth posting here:

Hi Dixie,

Don't forget. . .this was written for the Somerset Historical Society, and these dolls were known to locals as Jane Walker dolls. The following is from my 1998 article, "Walker Dolls: A Family Business" It comes from a paper presented at the Somerset Historical Society meeting of March 18, 1957. The writer of the paper was former town librarian, Flora B. Wood. Flora's mother, Augusta Louisa Marble, born in Somerset in 1861, is the subject of the following excerpt reprinted in the October, 1994, issue of The Spectator, and entitled,


"When my mother was a little girl in the 1860s many of the little girls of Somerset had a Jane Walker doll. I have a picture of mother holding one. They were handsome and lifelike and were made by Miss Jane Walker, who lived on Main Street in the Village. They were made in several sizes and sold for up to 10 dollars. I haven't succeeded in locating one, though it is possible someone has one, as they were quite famous locally and there must have been many of them. Mrs. Arline Simmons Sampson remembers going to Jane Walker's house when she was a very old lady and no longer made dolls. Mrs. Sampson says she dressed very quaintly almost in Pilgrim style. She liked children, and always treated them to apples and cookies."

Izannah's older sister, Jane Walker, remained in the house that was left to the two of them until her death in 1899 at age of 85. Izannah left Somerset in the early 1850's when she moved to Rhode Island. This 1957 paper was presented long before Walker dolls were collected by modern day collectors. Hope this helps.

Monica Bessette

Sunday, November 23, 2008

A Favorite Detail

One of the Walker dolls that I've seen had what looked like surgical tape holding the boots and legs together. What I love about this is it's such a homemade patch job. No historically accurate repair here! Someone wrote the name "Perry" on the tape. Do you think that's the name of the doll or the name of the owner? In any case, this is one of the charming things about old playthings - the way their owners have altered the doll over time. It reminds me of The Velveteen Rabbit.

Have a Happy Thanksgiving!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Izannah and Jane Walker

In one of Monica Bessette's articles she suggests that some of the dolls that we know as Izannah Walker dolls were actually made by Jane Walker. I find this an interesting nugget, and of course, it would be lovely to know more. Today I received an e-mail from Diane Goodwin with a link to a Youtube clip of a walking tour of Somerset, Massachusetts. If you watch the clip and fast foward to the point of 6:20, you can see the early Walker house located at 373 Main Street. Diane pointed out there were a couple of errors - one being that Izannah and Jane lived in the house in the early twentieth century - that should be nineteenth century. And the narration ends with "the product is still known today as the Jane Walker doll." Hmmm. The plot thickens? To view the video discussed above, please visit the Somerset Historical Society's site and click on the video associated with 363 Main Street

Friday, November 14, 2008

Izannah's Molds?

Recently I was reading German Papier Mache Dolls 1760-1860. In it they show some pictures of wax models used to make Voit molds. The wax models are so beautiful! And it's amazing that they've survived so long. This got me to wondering:

"What happened to
Izannah Walker's doll molds?"

Did they get left to a family member? A friend? Did they get broken upon her death? Are they moldering at some roadside antique shop somewhere in America? And would anyone know what they are if they saw them there?

There are a few dollmakers that I respect who have made a doll in the way that Izannah originally did - with a hard core, covered with layers of fabric that had been impregnated with something that stiffened the fabric and set in a mold. This was then covered with batting, which was covered with stockinette which was covered with paste which was painted. Phew! A lot of steps. And yet we see the longevity that the process gave her works

Inquiring minds want to know a lot about Izannah.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Paths That Cross

My goal for this site has been to gather as much information about Izannah Walker as I possibly can. I hope it will be a place where generous collectors will share pictures of their dolls (credited or not, whatever is comfortable). I also hope that others with knowledge about Izannah Walker and her dolls will share information to Chronicles readers.

In that vein, I was happy to get a phone call from Monica Bessette, pictured above with Izannah Walker dolls auctioned from the Maurine Popp Collection. It was so wonderful to talk with someone who is passionately interested in Izannah Walker. I'm hoping that I can persuade Monica and others (hint, hint) to offer more information about Izannah and to offer pictures of your original antique Izannah Walker dolls. It's for a good cause! Monica mentioned that the picture on the far left of the picture (the doll in blue) was known in the Walker family as "Izannah". This doll was originally in the Lila Singsen doll collection.

It seems that when you're passionate about something, and another person's passionate about it as well, eventually paths cross.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Izannah Walker's Patent Anniversary

Today, November 4th, is the anniversary of Izannah Walker applying for a patent for her dolls. She had been making dolls a long while, and we don't know why she took so long to apply for a patent. But it's interesting that she did, and in her own name, too!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Izannah Doll "Ella" Ends at $41,000

One of the dollmakers on a list I'm on went to the auction and said Ella and her ensemble went for $41,000! Wow! She is a beauty.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Last Izannah from the Strong Pictures

I got the nicest email from a lady in Tasmania, Australia yesterday. She wrote to thank me for taking the pictures of Izannah dolls at the Strong Museum and posting them here on the Izannah Walker Chronicles. She said,
"...Thank you again for taking the long drive with your boys (I know what that is like with small kids) so collectors of cloth dolls can see the beautiful Izannah Walker dolls."
There would be no pictures of these Izannahs without the generosity of the Strong Museum. They allowed me to take the pictures with the intention of posting them here on the Izannah Walker Chronicles. Patricia Hogan, a Strong Museum curator, was so gracious and helpful in arranging for the Izannahs to be displayed in a way which showed a variety of angles. Izannah lovers in Tasmania are thankful.

The e-mail from Tasmani reminded me that there was one more Izannah doll from the Strong Museum I had not yet posted pictures of. And so here she is. Because she was behind glass and was oriented to the side, I wasn't able to get a front view of this doll. But I did everything I could to get a different angle, short of setting off alarms in the museum. The doll above looks as if she has seen some repainting on the face (compare the face to the back of the neck or the hands, for instance). But she's still sweet.

Isn't this viny print adorable?

The dress has a high waist which is pleated
and attached on top of the bodice.

The hairstyle has wisps at the temples
and small curls along the neck.

The End of the Strong Museum Izannahs!

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The Wonderful Primitive Izannah Walker Doll at Lucy's Doll House

This past Friday I took a drive down to Lucy's Doll House in Camden. It is always so much fun to go, but especially fun for me as they have another Izannah in the house. It's about an hour and a half from me, but would be worth a cross-country trip. Sharp eyes will know where this doll was acquired from. I was able to get some pictures, and take some measurements of her, which is wonderful. This doll is for sale at Lucy's Dollhouse. While I was there I also took a peek at the wonderful Columbian doll they have, and the sweetest little Babyland Rag.

Here are pictures of the Izannah doll - courtesy of Lucy's Doll House and my camera. :-)

This sweet primitive doll
had 4 layers of clothing on:
her dress, an embroidered white underdress,
a petticoat and a chemise and pair of pantaloons.

Lucy's Doll House
is located in Camden, Maine.

Ida Mae: An Izannah Walker Doll

Back in the fall I visited with a wonderful lady, who shared her antique Izannah Walker doll with me, and allowed me to document her doll.  ...