Wednesday, January 3, 2024

A Rare Black Izannah Walker Doll Featured in Collection

Image courtesy Theriault's

NOTE:  Additional images of the doll above were shared from Theriault's preview session, courtesy of Robin Wyatt, at the bottom of this post. 

One of the three Izannah walker dolls to be auctioned by Theriault's  in Scottsdale, Arizona on Day 1 of the Rosalie auction is a doll with a brown painted complexion, described as follows by Theriault's: 

18" (46 cm.) All-cloth doll with stitched-on head with pressed, stiffened and oil-painted facial features, brown painted complexion, black painted pate under original wig cap of tightly curled woolen yarn on linen backing, painted outlined brown eyes, black brows, closed mouth with slightly upturned lips, brown sateen body over muslin stitch-jointed body, brown oil-painted lower arms and legs. Condition: very good, original finish with few rubs on face, some wig sparseness, brown sateen somewhat worn. Marks: Patented Nov. 4, 1873 (ink script label on back shoulderplate). Comments: Izannah Walker, 1873, the doll is wearing its original crisp cotton dress and cotton apron with stenciled design, undergarments, red woolen stockings, brown shoes. The doll was acquired from the Izannah Walker family by noted doll historian Maureen Popp, and it resided in the collection of Richard Wright until its acquisition by the Museum. Value Points; the extremely rare doll, in original costume, of which few are known to exist, was featured in an article by Donna Kaonis in September 1993 issue of Antique Doll World. 

Several things set this doll apart from other Izannah Walker dolls of similar height and construction:  the brown skin color, the shiny surface on the paint, the wool applied hair instead of painted hair, and the brown colored sateen body covering which Izannah used to cover the construction details of the doll. There is also an ink scripted label attached to the back of the doll denoting Izannah's patent date (this writing can be compared to Izannah's handwriting in  a letter found at this post: There is a number written in pencil below the inked line on the label which is hard to make out. It could have been added at a later date by someone else for another purpose. 

Image courtesy Theriault's

There is a painted line of brown color of the skin on the chest area, and another line of what appears to be varnish of some sort that would have corresponded with the line of the body covering at the chest area when the doll was new. Dollmakers love this kind of detail! 

Image courtesy Theriault's

Additional images taken by Robin Wyatt during the preview session are added here: 

Dixie's note: I've been studying some of the past dolls featured on the blog in the Pictorial Directory, to see if there is a similar face shape which could help pinpoint when this doll might have been made. A fun activity! 

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