Archive for October, 2010

A cute photo of a bunch of girls having a Halloween Tea Party during the Great Depression-era!


An adorable image of a baby and a “Brownie” Cloth Doll, probably made by Arnold Print Works. “Brownies” were cartoon characters created by artist Palmer Cox in the late 1800s. Many toys and games were modeled after these gnome-like characters with mischievous features.

The website, Gnomes and Fairies, describes the history of Cox and his “Brownies.”

Palmer Cox (1840 – 1824): The Walt Disney of the Victorian Age.

Cartoonist, children’s writer, and illustrator.  They called him “The Brownie Man.”
“I was brought up in an old Scottish settlement, and the people had a quaint notion of a Brownie who was supposed to attach himself to each particular household and help the old folks do odd jobs when nobody was looking. That was the idea which I developed.” Palmer Cox

They said he drew brownies on the uprights of the barns he helped to build in Granby, Quebec, Canada, where he was born.

Palmer Cox was a tall, rugged, warm-hearted man with a great talent; a devoted Mason who loved children. He created characters based on the brownie gnome and dressed them in costumes representing different nationalities and professions. He authored and illustrated stories about their helpful activities in children’s books and a magazine called St. Nicholas. His books sold over a million copies. With the composer Malcolm Douglas, he wrote, produced and directed a musical show that ran for five years on broadway and around the world.

The Brownie character was popular for thirty years, especially in the 1890’s. It was the first character in America to have its own line of packaged products, and advertised a variety of products, including the Brownie Camera.

I came across this wonderful booklet describing a doll giveaway at an antique doll show earlier this month. The booklet is form the Crofts & Reed Co. store in Chicago which was in operation during the early part of the 20th century. A patron of the store could receive a doll for free with a $4.00 order of Soaps, Teas, Extracts, or Spices.

The doll given away was most likely from a lesser-quality German dollmaker like Armand Marseille. The doll’s story inside the booklet is just so endearing that I have copied it in full below. The hard-sell at the end is a bit disturbing though! It seems like a lot of advertising from this era was aimed at a child’s pull on his or her family. Enjoy!

I am a big, beautiful doll, twenty-four inches tall and as fat as a healthy baby. My name is Mary, Clara, or Jennie, or whatever you choose to call me, because I have not yet been christened.

I was born in Germany, thousands of miles away from here. My home was a big, noisy shop where thousands of men and women and boys and girls worked busily and sang as they worked. Here my face was given its first wash with nice warm water and pure soap, my lips and cheeks were given the fresh, pretty colors that you see in them today, and my beautiful curly hair was combed and tied with a nice blue ribbon.

Then I was laid on a table, together with a hundred other dolls, every one of which was my twin sister. After awhile a Doctor came along who looked at my eyes and teeth, felt of my hands and feet, and gave me a pair of lace stockings and kid slippers and the dress that I still wear. He said that I was a perfect doll and would live a long and happy life.

After he left me it grew very dark and I felt frightened until I saw the moon smiling at me through the large windows.

In the morning a bright little girl picked me up, carried me to the other end of the room and very tenderly laid me in a long, brown paper box. She put a pillow under my head and cushions all around me, because she said I was going on a long journey, thousands of miles across water and land, and if I was not well taken care of might be hurt.

Then I fell asleep and when next I opened my eyes I was being carried aboard of a big ship. There was so much noise and excitement that it was all very interesting. I could see men and women bidding each other good-bye and smiling through their tears. Men in blue uniforms and brass buttons rushed up and down shouting orders. Bells clanged and whistles tooted. Someone shouted “All ashore, boat leaves in five minutes,” and soon we were on our way across the great Atlantic ocean.

When we had been sailing many days and were far away from shore a great storm arose and I heard people tell each other that we would never reach America. Great waves, as big as a house, washed across the lower decks and we rolled from side to side with a dizzy, sickening motion that made many people very ill. But after awhile the wind died down and before many more days we were safely landed in New York. Then I was put aboard of a train and in a few days more I found myself in Crofts & Reed’s big Chicago Warehouse, none the worse for my long journey and without a bruise or a scratch.

I wish you could visit this big warehouse because it’s full of blonde dolls, brunette dolls, big dolls, little dolls, trains, rocking horses, drums, go-carts, dishes, cameras and hundreds of other interesting toys too numerous to mention.

It’s very interesting here, but I will not be happy until I find a nice home and someone to love me. I am sure you would soon learn to love me. Won’t you please send for me right away? I’ll promise to be just as good as can be. I’ll go to sleep as soon as you lay me down and never awake till you pick me up. I will always be smiling and happy. I will never cry or scowl or pout. I will bring you joy and happiness. I am as healthy as can be. I never was sick a day in my life. I can sit up, move my head and put my arms around your neck.

I am easy to get. If you want me just take orders from your relatives and friends for $4 worth of Crofts & Reed Co. Soaps, Spices, Teas, Extracts, Perfumes, Toilet Needs, etc. You will be surprised at how easy it is to get orders for these goods. They are so clean and fresh and pure that nearly everybody wants them. Why, your family along can use $4 worth of such goods in one or two weeks’ time.

Thousands of my twin sisters have been sent to little girls who have earned them by taking orders for C. & R. products. It’s so easy and takes just a very little time.

And maybe your brother would like to earn a nice present. If so he’ll find hundreds of toys to choose from in our big catalog and he can send his order in with yours.

I want to come and live with you I want to be your Baby Doll. Will you please get up that little $4 order right away?

For your viewing enjoyment today!  A wonderful photo postcard, circa 1905, showing a beautiful girl having a tea party with her wooden doll!  Happy Friday!

What a treasure! This uncut cloth “Little Red Riding Hood” doll dates from 1892. She is so beautiful with her stunning red cape and blonde curls!

This cloth doll was made by Arnold Print Works of North Adams, MA. The website, Through the Eyes of a Child, describes the company’s history and the history of cloth toys.

Advances in printing are directly tied to advances in the doll world. Scraps from the printing industry were the beginnings of papier mache dolls in the early 19th century. The advent of lithography printing a design on fabric was a natural extension to printing on paper. In the late 1800s, the main design was printed and then the fabric was hand colored. This printed fabric was then sold by the yard, often with printed instructions and sewing lines indicated on the fabric.

With continued advances in printing, the early 20th century found the entire doll printed on the fabric. While dome of the dolls included darts for three dimensional effects, most were designed to be cut and then sewn to form a pillow like doll.

Arnold Printworks

The Arnold Printworks was based in North Adams, Massachusetts. It printed cut and sew dolls from the 1890s through the 1910s. Ceilia and Charity Smith, sisters in law from Ithica New York, designed many of the dolls and animals printed by Arnold Printworks and later Cocheco. The sisters patented many of their designs. Their designs included a stitch jointed cloth doll printed on cotton with chromolithographed face. Their dolls were sold in the US as well as Britain and Germany.

The cloth printed by the Arnold Printworks was tinted with oil color. Directions for the sewing included a round base for the foot to include a cardboard reinforcement to allow the doll to stand.

The Arnold Printworks is noted for printing play dolls such as the 7 inch Palmer Cox Brownies on a yard of fabric for 20 cents in 1892. Pickaninny, Little Red Ridinghood, Pitti Sing and Our Little Soldiers were also printed in 1892. The Columbian Sailor of the 1892 Exhibition was patented in January 31 1893. The Improved Foot Life Sized doll was printed in 1909, a jointed rag doll was printed in 1911 and a Gibson Girl doll was printed in 1912.

Marketing and dolls, like printing and dolls, are also a natural fit. The Arnold Printworks printed such famous advertising dolls as Aunt Jemima and Rastas, the cream of wheat chef. Marketing dolls were printed from 1905 through the 1950s.

This cloth doll is currently available for sale!  Check out my Ebay auctions at the top of the page!