Friday, January 01, 2010

Princess Holley, a c1820 Grodner Thal Wooden Doll

I have so many wonderful pictures of Holley for you that I decided to split her introduction into 2 posts, this one we will look at her beautiful original wardrobe, and in a later post, I will treat you to her body pics

This beautiful girl was my very first early wooden, my little Princess. Her name is Holley, named for her original owner, Maria Holley Williams, who's father, John Milton Holley, built their home in Salisbury Ct in 1808. I am more than honored to have her here with me, and even more so, to be able to share her with you all. She is a treasure.

Having a background in early textiles and clothing from this period, I have absolutely no doubt what-so-ever that she is wearing her original trousseau, all beautifully hand stitched of fine cottons, and made to fit her like a glove. Her bonnet is a fine India Muslin hand embroidered in cotton with a Lille Lace ruffle round the face. Its so delicate and gossamer fine, you can see right thru it. It, like many other pieces of her clothing, has been on her so long, that even off her precious body, it still retains its shape

Here is a little peek up under her dress....nothing naughty here~ look at all those underclothes! Don't see a lick of skin anywhere do you? This is how our foremothers dressed, and clearly shows that along with being a cherished friend and play companion, these dolls taught the proper order of dressing and undressing

Holley wears a beautiful white mull dress with short cap sleeves trimmed in Lille lace. The back is pinned closed.

Taking off her outer dress, we can see she is wearing a petticoat over a long shift. Petticoat is a pin back closure, the shift has separate front AND back tape tie closures

Looking down, she wears what 'look' to be pantaloon, and gorgeous pair of powder blue kid shoes with white kid soles and the original tape laces. (peeking in thru a seam, she has red painted shoes on her feet)

After removing her petticoat, I removed her shift~ later in the 19th century, this would be called a chemise. It, and the petticoat, are both expertly stitched from a fine striped cotton. It is 2 piece in construction, with 2 separate drawstrings in the neckline, both emanating from the top of the shoulders. The back tie has remained knotted, while the front tie is untied and loosened to remove it

In taking off her shift, I know you all will have the same reaction as I did, a little gasp followed with an 'ohhhhhhhhhh'! What look to be ordinary, and expected pantaloon, are not. She is wearing combinations! Honestly speaking, these are the earliest combinations I have ever seen~ they are rare in women's wear prior to the 1850s.....exceedingly rare. Children wore pantaloon that buttoned onto a top, but not permanently affixed by stitching. These are just tooo wonderful! But first, before they can be fully appreciated, she has a soft stay (corset)to remove!

The corset close view from the front~ very short waisted, which helps to date her to the 18teens

Back of her corset can be seen pin'd closed with 2 weensie little pins, just over 1/4" long. Here you will note the fullness in the back of the combinations, allowing for much room when sitting, very similar to late 18th c men's breeches. They have a single waist tie, that wraps around and ties in the front.

Corset removed. Shoulder straps are stitched in place at both ends. 2 front tucks, and 2 diagonal at the sides fit this to her like a glove.

And finally, we are to the gold at the end of the rainbow! Her early combinations are stitched as a single whole unit~ look at the amazing triangular gusset in the front~ these would not fit any more perfect if they were painted on~ and due to the gusset, there is absolutely no bulk at the waist

Beautiful stitching at the center back seam~ do click on and enlarge the picture to fully appreciate the expert workmanship

The tannins (acid) in the wood has discolored this first layer of clothing the most, but has also perfectly illustrated the function of wearing so many layers~ ones in cotton, close to the body, could easily be cleaned and withstand several washings. There was no need to wash the outer layers as they did not come in contact with the body. Airing, and occasional spot clean were all that was needed. I love this picture~ here they are, sitting all by themselves!

It is obvious they have a memory of the body they cover~ how I wish they could speak to me!


anniebeez said...

Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! For sharing this lovely costume!!How wonderful are the up close pictures!*sigh*!

Vande Historic Costuming said...

She is lovely, and her clothing so interesting! How cute is the one finger 'combinations' pose! What a treasure she is - thanks ever so for sharing!

The Rustic Victorian said...

Wonderful post! My Mother collected and restored antique dolls all my life, and created reproductions, so I have inherited much, and know very little about what I am looking at, but love all of the history. I must talk to her more about it all as she is in poor health at nearly 80. She also has a big storage unit filled with treasures and old supplies. I am finding a renewal of my interest by reading here. By the way, you are a wonderful writer! Thank you for this post!

Rachael Kinnison said...

HI Marci,

Thankyou for writing and taking the time to post on my blog~ I am happy that you enjoyed your visit! Might I suggest that you DO**** get with your Mother sooner than later~ when we leave this Earth, we take a lifetime of memories with us, so ask ask ask!!!! about anything and everything~ and dont waste time to write it down, take a video, or two, or three. Just have it on as you walk around, keep her talking and ask whatever you always wanted to know. If she talks about a certain item, make a point to grab onto it to be specific so you wont be confused when you go back later~ you will find these SOOOO precious, and have an easily recorded history, in HER own words

xoxoxo rachael