What would you to if you could jump back a hundred or a hundred and fifty years? Could you blend into history? What would you wear? How would you speak and behave? How would you even tell the time without your phone? Through reproduction dolls and restored old watches we can get a glimpse of the lives of ordinary people in the nineteenth and early twentieth century.
Weathered antiques give us key information about the past. Reproductions allow us to see these past objects as they would appear to the people who actually used them; reproduction dolls, for example, are painted in the style that the originals were painted and dressed in clothing representative of the period, without the effect of a yellowed old photograph or a blackened Medieval cathedral. Restored wrist and pocket watches show us how the styles and technology of timekeepers have evolved over the years. Through these we make history a little more real for us.
History does, indeed, have a lot of features that we would never want to repeat. Ladies were not allowed to vote, wealthy ladies normally did not work; even reading the newspaper was frowned upon. They were considered too fragile to deal with such things. Wealthy women emotionally supported their husbands. They spent their days writing letters, doing handwork or painting, and entertaining. They changed clothes multiple times during the day and wore many layers of clothes. Wealthy men also changed clothes, dressing formally for tea, even more formally for dinner. Men's corsets, by the way, were a fairly common garment, short pants were mostly children's or athletic wear, and one was not fully dressed on the street without a hat.
Clothing was generally more expensive. Working class people could not afford new clothes every season or every year, so they were not as up to date in styles, but they repaired clothing, turned collars and cuffs to lengthen the wear, or made over whole garments.
A little of this is highlighted in our many dolls. But, like our watches, these dolls are little pieces of history that you can hold in your hand - the best parts of history. The beautiful parts. The parts worth keeping.
In our shop we have many porcelain dolls of different vintages. Each offers a glimpse into the styles of the past in different countries. We also have many different types of dolls: original antiques that have survived to the present day, vintage dolls, lovingly crafted reproductions of classic European designs, as well as modern dolls in a freer style.
How did people tell time before smartphones and Fitbits? It’s difficult to imagine life without batteries, but engineering challenges like these were the order of the day. Watches and clocks gave only the time of day and they had to be wound in order to do this. But oh, the styles and materials!
Celia Desmond is a doll artist trained by some of the world’s leading doll teachers and judges today. Her book includes forwards by Carla Snels, modern doll expert who has developed an advanced technique for painted eyes, extending the long-used technique, Dimensional Doll Painting, developed by Ron Booker, and by Kristin Thor who has been a world leading designer, teacher and judge for Seeley’s for many years. Celia has won the top Doll Artisan Guild award, the Millie, for the best antique reproduction in the show, as well as Judge’s Choice and multiple first place ribbons. Our shop features many of Celia’s dolls, along with some made by other artists.