Last week I mentioned how my friend who owns the local doll museum was able to identify my big composition doll, Paul.
I gave him that name because it was a former co-worker and her husband Paul, who had alerted me to his presence at the antique store in the first place. When I got the doll, I fully intended to name it Pamela - for my co-worker, but when I got the doll home and put together it was pretty obvious that is was a boy doll - and so he became Paul instead.
It is common for doll collectors to name their dolls after people. Most will name a doll based on who owned it prior (if they know the name), or who they bought the doll from, or who gave it to them. Some times the name happens by the circumstance of the collector acquiring the doll - much like my Paul. Sometimes a doll is given a name because it resembles someone the collector knows - quirky - but true!
I try hard acquire the story of a doll if I can. I have some dolls who have wonderful stories, and many more that I know nothing about. Paul is one of those. I know he is old (over 100 yrs) much older than I had originally thought. I know he is a Canadian Made doll, which means he might have been purchased right here in Manitoba and never left this area in all those 100 some years. I asked the man who owns the antique store if he could remember where he acquired him, and he could not.
What I do not know about him intrigues me to no end! What was the little girl who loved him and played with him like? She must have loved him, because for his age he is in not too bad a shape. Indeed many of these old composition dolls (made from saw dust and glue) did not survive because they are very susceptible to damp and moisture which totally destroys them. It is obvious that Paul was not left in a damp basement, or out sitting on a porch in the rain, or left behind outside on a swing or a picnic blanket.
Did he have a carriage? What were his original clothes like? What was the world like when Paul was a new doll just being held for the first time?
I did a bit of research so I could answer a few of my own questions for my doll journal.
Paul was made the year that the Boy Scouts of America was founded, and the year that George V became King. David Niven was born the same year as Paul - as was Mother Teresa!
Children were reading books like, "Uncle Tom's Cabin"; "The Secret Garden"; "Andrew Lang's Fairy Books" (which sound terribly interesting - might have to try and fine one of these); "Uncle Jim's Canadian Nursery Rhymes" (didn't know we had our own nursery rhymes!); "Uncle Wiggly" (I do have one of these chapter books - it belonged to my older brothers).
Raggedy Ann had already become a favourite childhood toy and little boys were playing with Tinker Toys. Little girls and their dolls played with real china - doll-sized tea-sets, doll carriages or prams, and Mohair Teddy Bears.
Awe - if only my old boy could talk - imagine the tales he could tell...
I will never know the real story of Paul - but I can create any one I want, with my own imagination!