Good Old Toys and Good Old Times


19th century American folk art. Paintings like this one are invaluable archeological evidence for clothing styles.

For me, a trip back to Connecticut means a journey into the past, in more ways than one. Part of it is that the history of European settlement on the American continent goes back so much further on the East Coast than it does on the West Coast. This means that I see architecture, homes, and museums that are older there than in Oregon, and I can find some antiques to purchase that are older than ones I can find here.


A vintage commemorative mug proudly displays the founding date for the towne of Glastonbury.

Part of it is that one of my life chapters was spent living in Connecticut. As a result, when I visit my brother’s home in Colchester, I re-encounter memories, and belongings that have been patiently waiting for me to un-box them and bring them back into my current life.


A treasured antique Japanese doll that I found at the Nagoya (Japan) Temple Sunday flea market in 1989 when I lived in Tokyo–another of my life’s many chapters. This doll is in the process of being restored, and has had a long nap while waiting. I will share more of her, and other Japanese dolls, in a future post.

And finally, my East Coast family keeps changing in the years since I have been back!

CT July 2014 OSV 4 grownups as old family

Oh my! This is indeed a change! The young boy on the left is me; the tall one on the right is my brother–but I’m really the oldest.


Breanna (left) was twelve the last time I saw her. Now, though she is nine months younger than Brighde (right) she has grown taller! Okay, what can you expect? Their Grandad was 6’4″!

This trip was FABULOUS in so many ways! My brother actually took time away from work, so I was able to spend some relaxed time with him and my sister-in-law. Thanks to her awesome culinary skills, I ate scrumptious food that I didn’t have to cook! We went to lots of fun places, and I didn’t have to drive!


Our trusty steed, AKA the salsa red van, took us everywhere we wanted to go, including to this roadside seafood stand in Mystic where we devoured yummy lobster roll, crab cake, clams, and chowder.

We encountered mermaids, pirates, and tall ships with plenty of deck prisms to let in the sunlight at Mystic Seaport Gift Shop. (We didn’t actually visit the Seaport this time.) DSC01828 DSC01832 DSC01831 DSC01830 Old Sturbridge Village Massachusettes was a mystical place that I never arrived at when I was living in Connecticut, so we made sure to set our time machine for the 1830’s this time. DSC01863 DSC01864 DSC01865


Side view of an early 19th century “small house.”


Detail of a reproduction 1830’s lady’s dress bodice.


Chemise with underarm gussets is laid out on the bed.


Oh yes! Those sweet little girl red shoes resting in a house ’til their next outdoor venture protecting little toes from the summer dust. These shoes were “for sale” (in 1830, that is) with several pairs perched on a shelf at the town’s general store


Brighde is diligently working on her tin (aluminum) candle holder.

Of course, my ultimate shopping experience was the Brimfield MA antique fair! It was pleasant to have my brother’s company. Although he is not enthralled with antiques as I am, he is a shopper in his own right. And, I got to show off some of my antiques knowledge to him! The antique wooden boxes of all labels and sizes caught his attention, and several came home with him. I was too busy shopping–and walking!–to take many photos. I came away with everything that I had set my sights for, and a few unexpected treasures. I found a wonderful late 19th century quilt top and bottom sans batting–even though I brought my seam ripper with me to Connecticut in case I had to dismantle a quilt to fit the parts I wanted into a suitcase, I didn’t have to use it. I also found some china rimmed buttons.


Excellent late 19th century pieced quilt top and red patterned cotton bottom. The red squares in the top are faded, but the bottom is still nice and bright. A nice selection of china buttons, and a very nice pink roller print European cotton from the mid 19th century.


The roller print European piece and the red quilt back.

The Textile Trunk offered the most amazing finds in 19th century fabrics!


The Textile Trunk with antique French work clothing for sale in the front.


You can check out this awesome selection of European textiles at


I think this was my most wondrous find! This is an early 19th century woodblock print French cotton that used to be a bed valance curtain. Characteristic of woodblock prints of this time, it has dots of the gray color around the roses for shading. I love it so much that I bought the whole piece instead of just half of it.


I wasn’t particularly shopping for pewter, but I ended up with a couple of interesting 1960’s pieces, and these three little “sadware” dishes made in England in the late 18th century. They are probably the oldest manufactured items I own! (I count my rocks and crystals as being older, but they are “nature’s art.”)


I passed up several toy dressers that were not the right vintage and too costly before I found just the right place! I actually had my choice of three very nice models. One had a swivel mirror. This is the one I chose, and it works perfectly with my Victorian doll bed that came from an Indiana flea market in 1979–yes that was also another chapter in my life when I was newly married and going to school at Purdue U.


Karen is home after a morning of errands and visiting. She is glad to have her bedroom to return to, and a cool cotton pinstripe dress to change into. The French block print cotton looks lovely as a bedcover. Notice the exquisite net and ball trim at the lower edge of the fabric. Mmm-mmm, such a find!

Amazingly, I didn’t buy any dolls on this adventurous trip, though I did consider a few, including the most astoundingly wondrous antique cloth doll that was WAY out of my reach in price. But I did bring home a few old friends.


The large Raggedy Ann on the left was a recent fortuitious Goodwill Bins find. The middle one was also a second-hand store find years ago for my daughter. I made her replacement blue dress (she has her original pinafore) and gave her antique shoebutton eyes from Brighde’s Grandma Meta’s stash. The Little Ann and Andy are ones that I bought new in the 1970’s. The larger Ann is of the same vintage and manufacture as the small dolls. Notice that the dress print is the same.


Here are Karen and Vicki’s childhood Ginny dolls from the 1950’s. I like to believe that the blonde was Vicki’s doll and the brunette was Karen’s, to match their coloring, but I don’t know for sure. See “About the Author” and Categories: Family, for more on Karen, Vicki, and their dolls. I’m glad I can show them to you now.


I told you about my Liddle Kiddle in “About the Author” too. This is the only childhood doll that was actually mine in the 1960’s that I still have. The Lily of the Valley on the left is my original doll. The Rose one on the right is one I found at that Indiana flea market circa 1980.

My camera decided to stay a few days longer than I did at Old Sturbridge Village, but it finally arrived safely home in Oregon. Lucky me! But as a result, I had to rely on my brother’s good will and camera to take my final photos of a most enchanting time-travel place on the Airline Trail near Colchester. I want to share this place, and part of a story I’m working on about it, in a future post. I’ll have more to tell you about antique dolls, and I haven’t forgotten about the history of the factories that manufactured the china dolls. I’ll tell you lots more about them, and the dolls they made, soon. Happy summer adventures to all of you! Truly, Jennie