Antiques at Aurora and a 19th Century Wax Doll

Last weekend, on August 10th, I again had the pleasure of attending Old Colony Day at Aurora Oregon. The Aurora Colony was founded as a Christian communal colony in 1856 by nearly 600 people of mostly German and Swiss emigrants. Many of the families who founded Aurora came from the founding colony in Bethel, Missouri. Emma Wagner Giesy (1833 – 1916) was the only woman among nine scouts who came west from Bethel to find a new home for the colony.

ImageRead a fictionalized account of her life in stories that are not far from the truth in Jane Kirkpatrick’s trilogy, beginning with A Clearing in the Wild. The colony of Aurora lasted through 1883.

Aurora is now a quiet small town near the banks of the Pudding River, and is a lovely destination for antique shopping with many of the shops located in historic houses and colony buildings. An outdoor antique fair is part of the Old Colony celebration, which is one reason that I enjoy this event so much!

I often find marvelous old Swiss and English blue and white china dishes at Aurora, like these pieces.

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ImageTextile finds were not as good this year as in the past. I have come away with embroidered lawn handkerchiefs, cards of antique lace, combinations (corset cover and bloomers all in one piece), and even a white lawn Edwardian Armistice blouse, circa 1918. Last year, I found this little girl’s silk dress, from late 19th to early 20th century.

ImageYou met my wax doll, briefly, in an earlier post. I found her in an Aurora shop a few years ago, and that is why I named her Aurora.

ImageShe is a wax over paper mache (I think) pink tinted shoulder head with a replacement pink polished cotton cloth soft body. Her cloth hands have stitched fingers, and her cloth feet are fat with long stitched toes. She has brown-black pupil-less stationery glass eyes, red painted lips with a darker center line, and red nostril dots.  She has nice detailed breastbone molding on her shoulder plate. Her shoulder head is 4 ½” tall, and her total height is 15”. She has no markings and I cannot tell if she is German or English. She was bald when I purchased her, and I added this blonde mohair wig. Her all black stationery eyes, and the way they are cut, lead me to believe that she is from the first half of the 19th century. If you are more knowledgeable about this type of doll than I am, please comment, and let me know more.

ImageImageAurora came dressed in several layers of clothing with sewn closures which I have left on her.  She has a cotton lace trimmed diaper-wrapped style pantalets held with an old style safety pin.  She has a simple short sleeved cotton short chemise with a drawstring neckline.  She has a woven wool petticoat with a cotton waistband and nice silk featherstitch embroidery at the hem.  She has a second cotton petticoat that is christening gown length with a plain hem and a wide infant type waistband.  Finally, she is wearing a high waist long christening gown with a plain hem, and with cotton lace at the waist, neckline, and cuffs.

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Another unusual doll that came from the Main Street Merchantile in Aurora is Uriah. She is a little 2” modified flat top china shoulder head with no sew holes.

ImageShe is German with no markings. The unusual feature about her is that her clay was pressed into the mold, not poured. This often indicates an older doll, perhaps from the 1860’s. Clay was originally rolled out like play-doh and then pressed into molds. This leaves a rough surface inside the doll head, as you can see in this photo:

ImageLater in the production of china dolls, the clay was made thinner, into slip, and poured into the mold. After a set amount of time, excess slip was poured out, leaving a hollow head, smooth on the inside. Uriah came with a 7” soft poly-fill stuffed body made all in one piece with rounded hands and squared-off feet. Her head was held on with a fabric yoke, and she was not dressed. Her expression is a little sad or wistful.

Next week, I get to rummage around the Oregon City Outdoor Antique Fair, which will be held at the End of the Oregon Trail Interpretive Center for the first time this year. I hope to have more unique finds to share with you!

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