Friday, May 23, 2008

Izannah Walker Dolls - Pictures of Shoulderplates

Because a generous collector shared pictures of the Little Red Riding Hood Izannah Walker, we can compare a post-patent Izannah shoulderplate with a pre-patent shoulderplate. Apparently the post patent Izannahs are more rare. I never would have guessed that. The first 3 pictures are of pre-patent shoulderplates, where the 2nd skin is glued over the edge of the shoulderplate. The last picture is of the post-patent shoulderplate, where the shoulderplate was sewn onto the top of the body.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

The Enduring Appeal of Izannah Walker

Izannah Inspired Doll by
Joanne Miller, JoJo Crow Primitives

What is it that calls us to make dolls inspired by Izannah Walker? Do you know the reason? Please leave a comment if you're a dollmaker and tell why Izannahs dolls inspire you.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Applying for a Patent in 1873

If the oral tradition concerning Izannah Walker is true, she had likely been making dolls since the 1840's. Monica Bessette owns a tintype dating to 1858 which shows a child holding an Izannah Walker doll. If Izannah had been making dolls by 1858, why did she wait at least 15 years to apply for a patent?
Women were allowed to patent inventions under the Patent Act of 1790, but in many states women could not legally own property independent of their husbands. This might have been a barrier for some women applying for patents. What’s the point of applying for a patent if you can’t own the company that makes the profit from your invention? To get around this, when women had ideas, the patents were applied for in the name of a brother or father, to keep the invention and possibility for profit within the family.
Rhode Island at the time was restrictive regarding suffrage for white males, never mind women and people of color. By the early 1840s the voting population of males had been reduced by one half of the population, because men were required to own $134 freehold in order to vote. It is likely that this restrictive suffrage environment might have made it challenging for the small business owner in Rhode Island. This is the climate in which Izannah, a woman, lived, invented and created.
Many of you who read this blog are women who have small businesses of your own. You are doll makers, shop owners, pattern makers. You understand the amount of thought, creativity and follow-through it takes to be a working artist and business person. Imagine trying to run your business and not be allowed to own it. Imagine developing an idea and having to pass it off as your brother’s or father’s invention. In 1869, the National Woman Suffrage Association (NWSA) was formed in New York. I wonder what newspapers Izannah read, and if news of this movement fueled her views about her own work and life?
The fact that Izannah did eventually apply for the patent in her own name tells us something about Izannah. At the age of 56, she was successful enough to take the time and money to pay a lawyer to apply for a patent. It tells us that she thought it was important to claim her creation as her own. And perhaps her application of a patent in her own name makes a statement about women as contributors in the American society in which she lived.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Meet Mary from Dartmouth - Izannah Walker Doll Pictures

Kelly, who owns this Izannah Walker doll, sent along pictures to share here on the Izannah Walker Chronicles. Isn't she a beautiful, wonderful doll? Thanks for sharing her images with all of us who love Izannah Walker dolls!

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Original Izannah Walker Doll For Sale on Ebay

Did you see this sweet Izannah Walker Doll on Ebay in need of some tender loving care? The present owner gave me permission to post pictures and tells me that this sweet girl's name is Bess. Some girl (perhaps many girls?) really loved this doll!

Now I know why the red Izannah
that I've seen had surgical tape around her ankles.

Oh, I love her so!

Izannah Walker Doll on Ebay


Thursday, May 1, 2008

Saying Goodbye to an Izannah Walker doll

Yesterday was a wonderful day for me - I went to Lucy's Doll House in Camden, Maine to visit. they have so many wonderful, wonderful dolls there. I visited a beautiful Columbian doll there, and checked in with a favorite Babyland Rag doll, and of course, I visited with the Blue Izannah. But it was a bit bittersweet, because this Izannah Walker doll has been sold and will be going to her new home soon.

I have been so thankful to be able to travel and see these dolls. But now I will have to travel further afield - my family has a plan to take a drive to the Shelburne Museum in Vermont, and maybe I can convince them to go on down to New York to the Strong Museum, and from there go down to Rhode Island, then maybe loop up to the Wenham Museum...wouldn't it be fun to make an Izannah Walker Doll Pilgrimage?

Bye-bye, Miss Blue Izzy!

A New Record Set for Izannah Walker Dolls

The 18" brown-complexioned doll in Day One of Theriault's Rosalie auction netted $80,000 (plus buyer's premium). This is a new...