The Arizona Doll and Toy Museum is situated in an old house right next to the science center. The house, called the Stevens-Haustgen house, was built 1901 and is a perfect place to display a big collection of lovely old dolls. It costs $5 to tour the museum's four rooms, which seemed like a good deal to me. All in all, I think I had about a half an hour to spend looking around, and this wasn't quite enough. It would have been ideal to have twice that much time so that I could read all of the identification cards and maybe learn a thing or two about my very favorite dolls. Because I was a bit rushed (and also distractedly excited by rooms filled with dolls...), I forgot to take a picture of the outside of the museum. So, I'll just go ahead and start with a picture of my favorite display:
|Antique bisque doll school scene at the Arizona Doll and Toy Museum|
in Phoenix, Arizona.
Despite many signs asking that no photographs be taken, I did get permission from the proprietor to snap a few flash-less pictures as I admired the dolls.
The first room has four glass cabinets, two diorama doll houses and a small display sitting behind rope barriers:
This dress shop diorama was my favorite thing in the room--especially after visiting The Doll House and Toy Store in Scottsdale. It is incredibly detailed from top to bottom. Look at the siding on the house and the detail in the windows:
|Someone is peeking out of that upstairs window!|
The ribbon and trim section of the store made me feel like I was in a Jane Austen novel, whether that time period is appropriate or not:
I shan't even browse. I can't be trusted. I have very poor taste in ribbons!
I like the bisque and composition doll on the far right in this cabinet:
|Tete Jumeau doll, mold #11|
She reminds me of the Armand Marseille dolls I was admiring in my antique doll post. I like that her eyebrows are crooked. I have seen dolls like this on eBay and always assumed that they had been repainted. The fact that the dolls were made initially with imperfect eyebrows makes them even more appealing to me.
This gorgeous porcelain toddler is sitting out in her carriage behind the rope barriers:
The second room is dominated by a large, fully-furnished Victorian dollhouse:
Peering at all of the details in this display probably could have taken thirty minutes on its own.
The little dolls are fabulous, intricately dressed porcelain miniatures:
The dollhouse room also has a few glass cabinets displaying a wide variety of dolls.
I really enjoyed seeing some of the character dolls like this Googly by Armand Marseille:
And this felt Italian boy:
And this surprise-eyed Lenci doll (also from Italy):
The surprised doll was on a lower shelf and so her picture is really, really dark. I tried to lighten it a bit, but she's still hard to see:
|I think she's seen a ghost.|
I was fascinated by the felt Lenci dolls and spent a bit of time looking at them online. I adore the moody-faced Lencis like this one. Amazing.
I also noticed the familiar face of a bisque Bye-Lo baby. Grace Putnam's popular head mold is considered to be one of the first realistic baby doll faces ever made:
This room also has two box dioramas set up inside a glass cabinet. One is a living room scene:
The other is a kitchen:
Here's the other cabinet in the second room--notice the smiling baby up top next to the stuffed Pluto dog--I'll get back to her later. I especially like the tall doll to the right of this cabinet:
The large doll is a 45" Heinrich Handwerck bisque-head doll with a composition body:
In between the larger rooms in the museum, there are little displays tucked into corners and up against walls:
I think maybe there is only one display cabinet in the third room. I did a bad job of taking organized pictures, and my memory is terrible. The third room has a lot of commercial dolls from the mid to late 1900s. I think maybe there is a smaller cabinet in this room with some non-doll toys--it didn't get a lot of my attention, apparently.
I like this Betsy Wetsy doll playset by the Ideal Novelty and Toy Company:
Betsy has a hard rubber body that is in very good condition. I have seen a lot of antique rubber-bodied dolls with serious discoloration problems, but this baby's limbs are in great shape:
There is a nice selection of Shirley Temple dolls:
Here's a gorgeous Madame Hendren composition toddler girl. This doll has a phonograph inside that makes her sing and talk. She has a horn in the front of her body (under the dress, I suppose?) that allows the sound to come out, and a crank in her side to turn the records. She originally came with six interchangeable sound cylinders. I would love to own a doll like this--or at least get to play with her for a few hours:
I was really fascinated by this doll and did some more reading about her. If you want to hear her talk, I found this video on YouTube. There's also a great description of the doll with more pictures in this old auction.
I like this composition toddler, too. She was made by the Century Doll Company in the 1930's.
This striking Heloise resin doll (1996) caught my eye:
Her name is Marie-Jeanne and I think she has a wonderful face with very real-looking, dreamy eyes. It's definitely worth checking out some other Heloise dolls. The Dollery has a nice selection.
And some familiar faces at the bottom of one cabinet:
|Barbie, Kathe Kruse (?) boy and Sasha.|
That brings us to the last room and back to this amazing schoolroom display:
The school takes up most of the last room, but there is also a cabinet in one corner and a few babies sitting out in an old buggy:
My favorite doll in the cabinet is this realistic, kind-looking wax Gepetto--surrounded by his toys:
|Made by Lewis Sorensen.|
One of the babies sitting out in the buggy made me laugh out loud. Look at his squished-up, moody little face:
I don't know anything about this doll, and he is very cheaply made, but the $5 price tag was irresistible and I had to bring him home with me:
He has a porcelain head and porcelain hands with a lightly stuffed cloth body. His hair and facial features are all painted--and they're not painted very well. He almost seems like a bad attempt at a Bye-Lo knock-off to me:
I think maybe this doll is supposed to be a girl, but even so, I think s/he is too young for nail polish:
|Especially orange nail polish.|
Look at his funny little profile:
I think what makes this baby's face so giggle-worthy is that it is very asymmetric. Here is it again so you can see what I mean:
I wanted to explore the asymmetry a bit because I am fascinated by how real people's faces can be so mismatched. I've heard that you can have multiple personalities reflected in the two sides of your face--like a good side and an evil side, or maybe a silly side and a serious side. Anyway, I tried photographing this doll with Photo Booth to see what kind of multiple personalities he has. Photo Booth has a mirror effect so that you can reflect one side of a face to make a full head. This is really fun to try on yourself, BTW.
Here he is with just the left side of his face:
|The dark side.|
The right side of his face is cuter, but I had to hang him upside down to capture this half:
|The Superman side?|
Photo Booth is fun. :D
|The "bulge" effect--now that's asymmetry!|
Ok--back to the school display. This huge diorama is wonderful. I love the diversity of bisque dolls. It's clear that an incredible amount of time and care was put into setting up their surroundings. With the current popularity of American Girls and other 18" play dolls, this display is even more compelling. It is the turn of the century equivalent of this scene (from AG Doll Play).
The teacher is an 1880's German porcelain doll:
Here are the rules she has to follow:
Men teachers may take one evening from each week for courting purposes, or two evenings a week if they go to church regularly.
Women teachers who marry or engage in unseemly conduct will be dismissed.
The dolls are arranged so beautifully. They have a lively range of expressions on their faces, and they all seem to be acting appropriately for the setting. This dark-haired beauty in front wonders why a visitor has come into her classroom:
Many of the girls look very studious and attentive (notice the blond girl in the back raising her hand!):
The older girl in the aisle looks like she might be a teacher's helper?
These two, though, are my favorites:
They are sitting at the very back of the classroom, which tells you something already. I picture them as mismatched best friends--one tall and excitable, the other short and opinionated. The taller girl looks completely shocked and flustered and the smaller brunette looks resignedly ticked off.
|Wha-- wait, recess? Now? |
But, but, but I haven't finished this chapter yet!
|Oh, for crying out loud. It's 115 degrees outside and we're made of wood particles.|
Do you want us to, like, burst into flames?
Finally, let me go back to that second room and show you the baby on top of the cabinet again:
From a distance, I assumed she was Horsman's Baby Dimples:
As you know, I have a fondness for Dimples, and lately that fondness has turned into something of an obsession. I am trying to collect all of the different sizes of Dimples doll. Don't ask why.
I don't think the doll in the museum is Baby Dimples, though. She's not labeled, although the proprietor hinted that she was Dimples. I'd need to see the back of her neck to be absolutely sure.
One clue that this isn't Dimples is that she has eyebrows. I am not aware of any Dimples dolls that have factory-painted eyebrows.
Also, her face doesn't look quite right to me. Her face and chunky hands look more like Effanbee's style to me.
|Effanbee's baby "Bubbles?"|
My guess is that she is about 26" tall, and I happen to have a 26" Dimples for comparison:
I just got this doll, and she arrived with some pretty bad facial crazing. I didn't mind this damage because I have been eager to try out a cleaning trick I learned that is supposed to reduce the appearance of crazing lines.
I mixed some acrylic paints to match the approximate skin tone of the doll. Then, I rubbed the paint into the the doll's face, working in very small patches and rubbing until the dirt was gone and the composition began to shine. Then, I switched to a clean rag and polished the wet paint completely off the surface. The trick is, a little bit of paint stays behind in the small cracks, lightening their color and making them less noticeable. I think it works beautifully, and hope it doesn't damage the doll.
In this picture, half of the face has been cleaned and half has not. See if you can tell which is which!
Here she is all cleaned and polished and back in her original outfit:
While I'm on the subject, I also found the smallest size Dimples doll, a cute little 14" version. I purchased this doll on Etsy and she was in pretty bad shape. Her face has a lot of crazing and spotting. Here she is before (left) and after (right) her cleaning:
This doll's worst problem was that she had undisclosed repairs on her legs--really, really badly done undisclosed repairs. I should have sent the doll right back to the seller, but she's a hard doll to find.
I tried to strip away all of the horrible paint that had been added to the legs. It is not easy to strip paint off of these limbs without ruining the original finish, and it took me all day to get one leg clean. There were some bad cracks and ugly patching underneath all of that paint:
In this picture, the baby's right leg is still painted with the ugly orange-ish "repair" paint and the left leg is the original nice peachy-pink paint. Notice that the repair efforts didn't stop the cracking at all.
Despite my best efforts, I couldn't get the jaundiced paint off of the second leg, so I ended up removing all of the paint from both legs, stripping them down to the brown sawdust composition. The benefit of this drastic move is that I can show you what bare composition looks like:
|It looks like particle board.|
I repainted the legs with acrylic paint. This could be stripped or sanded off pretty easily. It's not a great fix, but the legs look much better than they did when I first saw the doll.
Anyway, here's this cutie re-united with an original 14" Dimples outfit:
Here are both dolls together so you can see their relative sizes. I'll do another quick post when I have assembled my entire Baby Dimples army.
So...that's my roundabout tour of the Arizona Doll and Toy Museum in Phoenix. It's a fun place to visit and it showcases a wide variety lovingly displayed older dolls. As an added bonus, there are a ton of interesting dolls and toys in the gift shop at very reasonable prices. I bought two antique doll books and was tempted by about ten of the smaller dolls that were for sale. The owner is friendly and extremely knowledgeable about antique dolls. We had a nice chat and she even brought out an old composition Madame Alexander doll for me to hold and examine. What a treat! If I am ever back in Phoenix, I will definitely try to pay this unique museum another (longer) visit.
I came away from this trip with a broader interest in antique dolls. Now I'm am thinking about starting a search for an 18" Armand Marseille (or similar) girl so I can compare her to the popular contemporary play dolls like American Girl, Carpatina and EuroGirl. Maybe one like this studious redhead:
I also have a renewed appreciation for miniatures and dollhouses. If my dream dollhouse project ends up being too much to handle, maybe something simpler like a version of this wonderful toy cart would be a good substitute:
Last, my fascination with Horsman's Baby Dimples is stronger than ever. Despite all of the gorgeous antique dolls I saw at the museum, I still think this 1928 wonder baby is the best of the best--no matter what size she is: