About the Author

Jennie and Chatty Cathy

Christmas 1963 with Chatty Cathy

Most gracious greetings! I am Jennifer Stewart, a collector of dolls and antiques from the time I acquired my first possessions. When I was a child, Christmas was magical because Santa always brought a doll. My two-year-old Christmas photo shows me sitting in my new rocker in a red dress (okay, the photo is black and white, but I know the dress was red) with a non-descript plastic doll wrapped in each arm. I also received a Beanie Jack-in-the-Box, based on the Cecil and Beanie TV cartoon, that year. Cecil was a sea monster creature, and his friend always wore a beanie hat with a propeller—but I digress . . .

For my fourth Christmas, I received a blonde Chatty Cathy with rose print flannel pajamas. My, was I proud! Other childhood dolls included Penny Brite, Pony Tail Barbie, Twist-n-Turn Barbie, Tubsie, Dancerina, Dawn, and a Liddle Kiddle. I have some stories to tell you about my adventures with these dolls! After playing with hard plastic and vinyl dolls for years, I decided that soft bodied baby dolls were much more child-friendly and cuddly. I no longer have any of these dolls, save one, which is another story, but of course I have collected a few replacements. And I still have my sweet plush Cocker Spaniel, Peppy, who has sock feet replacements, lovingly hand mended by my mother!

In my teen years, I worked for Kay Bee Toy and Hobby Shop. This was when they actually sold good quality collectible toys, and here is where I discovered Madame Alexander’s beautifully costumed creations and soft bodied baby dolls with wonderfully realistic faces. And they came in pretty pasteboard boxes with pink tissue paper and lids! I also found my Steiff bears at Kay Bee. In turn, I discovered and collected Fisher Price dolls, Sasha dolls, Ashton-Drakes porcelains, Diana Effner artist dolls, an Annette Himsteadt, an Amish doll, Waldorf style soft dolls, of course a Cabbage Patch Kid, anatomically correct baby dolls, My Twinns, dolls from Japan and Hong Kong while I lived in the Far East, a marvelous array of miniature doll house furnishings, a teeny tiny penny wooden doll, and childbirth education dolls—one that fits through a model pelvis, and one that is a dream to hold, to demonstrate breastfeeding technique.

Of course, with my propensity for making things, I made dolls, too. I made Japanese Kime Kome dolls, Waldorf style soft dolls for all my children, a yarn doll, sock dolls, a very mini china doll for the doll house, a Gandalf doll for my Tolkien class special project, and cornhusk and apple head dolls. Then there was the sewing and costuming for these dolls, the best part! I bought every pattern I could find for doll clothes and every scrap of fabric was turned into a fashionably coordinated outfit. My children had doll outfits that matched their hand-made shirts and dresses. I speak in past-tense here, but my doll costuming days are not over—not by a long shot! That is why I am so excited to have this platform for sharing with you my passion for dolls and costuming!

Antiques are my passion too, so it was only a matter of time before I came around to antique dolls. My sisters-in-law generously gave me some of their childhood dolls, which were about ten years older than my own. I adore their little Ginnys, one blonde, and one brunette. Then my lovely mother-in-law gave me her childhood Bye-Lo-Baby, my most special doll ever, and I will share this story with you as well. I did not receive my grandmother’s circa 1900 German china doll, and here is yet another story.

My collection now includes a number of antique German china shoulder head dolls, which are my favorites, a wax doll, and as you can see, I have come to admire some very special bisque dolls too. Soon, I will share with you an extraordinary American folk doll who is getting ready to come and live with me.

I look forward to  sharing with you here my dolls, antiques, storytelling, crafting, folk art, needlework, costuming, and sustainable parenting and living adventures. Please join me on this exhilarating journey!

Truly,
Jennie

Jennie & David Christmas, 1967

Christmas, 1967 with Tubsie

Jennie & David Christmas, 1969

Christmas, 1969 with Dancerina

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8 thoughts on “About the Author

  1. Jennie,
    Congratulations on you new blog! Lucky you, Santa brought you a Chatty Cathy! I desperately wanted one of those 🙂 I used to save up my weekly allowance of a quarter to buy Liddle Kiddles. Once I finally managed to save $2.49 – $2.99 I unmercifully begged my parents until they took me to a toy store. I was thrilled when the Liddle Kiddle jewelry came out (a Liddle Kiddle in a huge plastic locket) because it usually sold for $1.99!
    I look forward to reading all of your doll stories!
    Paula

  2. Thank you, Paula. The one doll from all those I mentioned from my childhood that I still have is the Liddle Kiddle in her cologne bottle. I didn’t remember the price like you did!

  3. I wanted a Tubsie doll and I got an imitation. Wish I still had her. My sister got the dancerinia and a doll we called Walking Doll. I later got the Baby go by by with the pink bug. Oh the memories. I’m trying to find the imitation tubsy to buy now! Any clues how to do that? I have a photos of her but that is all. Can’t see her on etsy or ebay yet.

    • Thank you for your comment, Nancy. It is amazing what memories we can bring up by focusing on a childhood toy or doll. I haven’t seen a Tubsie or a Dancerina doll since mine were discarded before a move or lost in some other way. I don’t think too many dolls from the late sixties to early seventies survived. These plastic manufactured dolls became worn rather quickly with play. We are long past the window where they would appear at a yard sale or second-hand store, but they are not really in the “collectible” category either. You can save your specific search by key words on eBay, and click the “e-mail me” button so that you will be notified if something does show up. Send your intentions out to the universe and Tubsie, or her imitation, may show up for you. Good luck!

  4. Hi Jennifer. I wish I had a way to contact you. My great grandmother left me a doll that looks like your Cordelia and I know she is not an Emma Clear doll, but how do you know for sure that she is a reproduction doll and that the doll Emma clear modeled her after wasn’t modeled after ours? It has been very hard researching her. There are no others I have found like ours.

  5. Hello, LaVonne,

    Your question is a good one, and I will answer it to the best of my ability. Certainly, there were antique china or Parian (unglazed bisque) dolls made, which then had molds taken from their shoulder-heads to make the reproduction dolls. That is what Emma Clear did to make her dolls, and that is how Paula Walton makes her reproduction Izannah Walker dolls. I would love to see a photo of your great-grandmother’s doll, LaVonne, because I have never seen an actual antique doll with the Toinette/Cordelia head mold, not even in a book.

    I have been seriously studying antique china dolls for about three years. When I have an interest or passion for a topic, I learn all I can about it. I think the Toinette/Cordelia mold is a German shoulder-head, probably one of the fancy haired ladies first made in the 1870’s.

    I know Cordelia is not an antique German china doll, even though I don’t know her origins, or why she was all alone for sale in an Ozark tourist shop. I had seen my grandmother’s lowbrow china when I bought Cordelia, so I knew she was different in some ways. Now, from my study, I know her face painting is not the same as antique dolls, her china is just slightly creamy instead of ice blue-white, her arms and legs have smoother contours and just don’t look antique, and her body is new made.

    Most of these differences are difficult to just say: It takes studying the dolls, and dolls made by different factories, to be able to notice subtle differences and the qualities of the antiques. Good quality antique dolls are rarely seen in the typical antique store, at least west of the Mississippi, though there are some notable shops specializing in antique dolls. I look at a lot of antique dolls on eBay and Ruby Lane (even when I can’t buy them), as well as in books, which I will list on my “History” page. That’s how I teach myself to “see” the dolls.

    Congratulations, LaVonne, on receiving your great-grandmother’s doll! As you know from my blog, my grandmother’s china doll did not come to me. I’m glad you are seeking information about your doll.

    Jennie

  6. I am ecstatic to have found your blog/page/site. I happened to stumble across a link to your page while browsing for insightful information about the history of By Lo baby dolls. Immediately I found myself immersed in your unique and talented writing skills. Not only were you able to share such wonderful personal experiences of your past, you intertwined your knowledge regarding the world of dolls in such a way… it was difficult to break away. It is difficult to find anything these days so wonderfully written that projects a true passion the reader can feel. Your choice of words and writing structure is refreshing and a joy to read. I enjoyed your recollection of living in Japan and your adventures. ( I lived in Hong Kong when I was very young for only a year, but cherish those few memories.) Many of the dolls you have written about (the few articles I’ve read) are about the same style of dolls that have found their way into my home and heart. Then I discovered you also live in Oregon! What are the odds. I didn’t begin my journey with dolls until my early 30’s, shortly after the unexpected tragic loss of my father and 3 of my children. I happened to find a box among an auction lot I purchased (blind auction where you can only see items poking out of the mixed lot of boxes), I had bid on the lot because it had a few miniatures and other vintage toys poking out the sides which I happen to enjoy and collect, plus was in my price range (of poverty). One of the boxes had a plethora of rather old doll related parts (real hair wigs, clothing, umbrella, mix matched shoes, head wear, blankets, glasses, patterns, and more), another box even had a rare tumbling Steif mechanical bear, the little booklets that came with fashion Barbies in the 70’s, and Story Book doll booklets, and a few neat dolls (I later learned the makers/origin/history)… The research gave me a break from my constant intense grief and health issues, that I believe probably kept me from completely losing my sanity or even my life. I look forward to reading much more of your talented writings and thank you for sharing your knowledge and passion with others.

    • Thank you, Crystal Ann, for your illustrious compliments on my blog and writing style. Of course that sends a burst of warmth to my heart, and I am grateful. As is the case with most mature people, I have also experienced profound grief, though I daresay not as profound as your own. Blessings to you for coming through and finding new meaning in your life. Yes, I find meaning in learning, and in artistry, and creating. Writing is one of the ways I strive to create with an artistic spark. Thank you so much for noticing! Also, I have found much happiness in now being included in a local doll club. It is immensly satisfying to share a passion for antique dolls with others who understand the passion, as well as understanding what you are talking about when discussing dolls, their history, and their artistic significance. I do hope that you enjoy more of my posts as you continue to read.
      Jennie

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