The Heart of the Tree: A Wooden Doll Luncheon with Rosalie Whyel


This doll dates to 1690 (yes, that is three and a quarter centuries old–quite old for a doll!) and is one of only two glass-eyed dolls known to exist from this period. This Queen Ann wooden doll was on display at this luncheon event. Though she was purchased by Rosalie Whyel without her original dress, providence, and the corroboration of three parties with seperate agendas, worked to reunite her with her original dress.

Wooden dolls are some of the oldest known dolls in history. On April 4th, I was fortunate to have attended The Heart of the Tree, a luncheon with program by Rosalie Whyel celebrating early Queen Ann dolls and wooden dolls of all ages. This lovely event was hosted by the Eugene Oregon Doll Club at Shadow Hills Country Club.

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The photo of this ancient Roman wooden doll is found in the book, DK Smithsonian History Year by Year. A date is not given for the doll’s age in this source; however, further research reveals that it dates to the second century AD.

A Doll Club special luncheon event is a delightful way to spend an afternoon! There were so many intriguing aspects of this event, from the tables set with doll delights that transformed to favors, the delicious food, fabulous displays of wooden dolls of all kinds, the interesting program by Ms. Whyel, the sales tables, the company and companionship of so many others who appreciate dolls, and finally, the raffles for the “Helpers,” dolls and items that were donated, then won and taken home by their new owners. With high regards, I share photos and impressions of my attendance of this Doll Luncheon.


The tables were set with a placemat of paper dolls featuring a German wooden doll. Also visible in the center are the wooden artist’s models wearing white shifts.


The table centerpiece main attraction was a fully clothed wooden artist’s doll wearing an 18th c. style dress and a cap. Our place settings included a pattern for the dress so that we can complete the toilet for our own dolls. One lucky guest at each table took home the clothed model and her screen.

We were encouraged to bring wooden dolls from our collections for the display tables. I brought three displays, which really included five wooden dolls. The variety of wooden dolls was tremendous!


My wooden doll displays in preparation for transport to the luncheon.



What a rare delight to own, or even to view in person, an antique Queen Ann doll. Even reproduction dolls are lovely.

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This antique wooden doll was not at the luncheon, rather, she was offered for sale by Valerie Fogel at the January 2018 Portland Crossroads Doll Show.



Grodnertal dolls, also known as peg wooden and penny wooden, were made in the area of Germany. This one has intricately painted hair.


This antique lady’s shoe filled with peg woodens and pearls is irresistable!

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Adorable peg wooden dolls are still being made today.



The wooden dolls made in Springfield Vermont, including those by Joel Ellis, are intriguing. I intend to eventually add at least one to my collection.



The variety of Schoenhut dolls was grand! My girl on the far right seems a little shy in this large grouping. She is holding a small glass jar that contains a tiny 3/4″ vintage peg wooden doll.


Peddler dolls never fail to delight, and an Ettrennes presentation Hotte basket is a treasure indeed! Ettrennes is the French New Year when children were presented with wonderful gifts in the most beautiful presentations. The Hotte basket is just such a presentation item in a peddler style full of charming miniature toys. This one, in my collection, is 19th c. I placed it in a display case to secure the little items. It was brought to our attention during Ms. Whyel’s presentation at the luncheon. She included a slide of a Hotte basket with just peg wooden dolls in it. This Hotte basket was “hotly” photographed at this event!

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The Theriaults auction photo of my basket shows the details so well, including the two penny wooden dolls at the top, one with a tuck comb.


This Appalachian doll, also in my collection, was carved by the famed Polly Page in Tennessee. This doll is known as “Aunt Jenny,” which of course further endears her to me. She is circa mid 19th century.


Japanese Kokeshi ningyo also made an appearance on the display tables.

Almost as exciting as the display tables were the sales tables.


Rosalie Whyel’s table held many delights. She had available a DVD tour of her now closed Museum of Doll Art that is a much mourned wonder previously located in Belleview Washington. Also available were copies of her book, The Heart of the Tree, and a beautiful selection of high quality dolls.


I was so surprised to see this astoundingly rare china doll, which is featured in her book, The Rose Unfolds, on Ms. Whyel’s table! This doll’s maker has not been identified at this time. She dates to 1850 and is quite different from the Thuringian china dolls; however, she is also unlike those china dolls known from Danish or Italian porcelain factories. What an enchantment to have the opportunity to see her in person! Of course, even though she is for sale, this is a doll for which I cannot entertain even the dream of owning.


My dear friend and accomplished doll saleswoman, Teri, was enjoying herself. Her antique cage doll, on the back left side of the table, had already sold early in the day. Her partner’s Schoenhut dolls and toy piano took center stage here.


Thanks to the creations of Susan Dunham, and a doll artist for whom I did not catch a name, I do now own these two sweet reproduction bisque dolls. Susan made the 7″ Simon Halbig mignonette, and the other doll with the molded bonnet is a Baby Stuart. They will both eventually get new clothing.


Of course I bought raffle tickets for the “Helpers.” I ended up with twice as many tickets as I thought I had purchased. For some items, I put many tickets in their bag because I really wanted them. For other items, I dropped one ticket in the bag to use up my surplus. These are my raffle wins. For each item here, save one, I placed one ticket in the bag, and all of these came home with me! My daughter, who is collectiong vintage toys and likes glamour, does appreciate the sparkly red dress doll.


I did put many tickets in the bag for this vintage carved wooden doll. She is from the Netherlands, carved in 1981. I am now researching and planning a dress for her. I’m sure that you will see it on this site when it is completed! (Oh, no! more projects than I can keep up with!)

Thank you for joining me on this little tour of a thoroughly enjoyable afternoon at a Doll Club Luncheon. May all enthusiasts of “Dolls as Art” have the opportunity to attend such an event.

1750s Francis Cotes English Painter 1726 to 1770 Lady Ann Fitzpatrick - Copy

1750’s. Francis Cotes, English. Lady Ann Fitzpatrick.¬† ¬†Before the mid 19th century, wooden dolls were hand carved, often as a sideline by cabinet makers, or joiners. They were expensive, and available only to the wealthy, as represented in this painting. After the lathe was invented, the peg wooden dolls became readily available, affordable, and inevitably, of much poorer quality.