Monday, 28 December 2015

A Schoenhut Cousin For Dee's Evelyn.

Perhaps I have been a little too reticent to show off my Schoenhut girl, but this is for Dee, her new girl Evelyn (what a lucky find!) and anybody else who cares to view her. She happens to be the doll my husband likes best of all our little residents.

Meet Emmeline Grace.

Like my much loved Zwergnase dolls, the Schoenhuts are not to everybody's taste and 19" tall Gracie is far from perfect. She has had an adventurous life, of which I know nothing and which she is keeping to herself, but the evidence is there to be seen in the damage to her face paint and the fact that one leg has become detatched at her hip.

Her wig  is not the best for her either. It is human hair and streaked with grey. Though she is a very old doll, around 100 years old, she is meant to be a child, so needs a younger look.

However, I am sure none of us will be able to stand so firmly when we reach our century of life!

There was quite a stiff breeze blowing when I took this photo of her and she stood unaided and firm on the wall top, despite her wonky left leg! 

 Famous for their "posability," the American Schoenhut dolls stand head and shoulders higher in their jointing than the dolls imported from France and Germany that my mother mainly played with in the 1920s. They have sprung joints rather than the cruder ball jointing that allowed my (horrible!) brother to later scare me by placing Mum's dolls in death poses, with their limbs splayed at impossible angles! If you put a Schoenhut doll in a position, s/he will stay there.

Making Schoenhut dolls involved expert carving, painting and engineering in their design and construction. There may be some creaking as the position is given to their 13 firm joints, but who would expect a 100 year+ old girl not to have creaking joints?

My mother tells me she had a toddler Schoenhut when she was little. His name was Ikey Bam.....because he made an excellent weapon when her older brothers teased her. I have the utmost difficulty in imagining my dear Uncle Roland teasing her, or anybody else, but I CAN imagine Mum weilding a doll as a weapon. Thank goodness Ikey was a solid, wooden doll!

For over two years, I have been considering whether, and how to get help for Gracie. Sending her back to the US to be repaired would be hugely expensive and I have seen many really bad restoration attempts made on these dolls. I would love to have her leg fixed back properly, a job for a real expert, but should I leave her as she is with regard to her paintwork?

I have looked at Schoenhut dolls on Ruby Lane many times and there seem to be a great many that have begun to be stripped back for repainting, before the would-be restorer has lost courage and sold the poor waifs on. There are also some that have been repainted badly, some even by "professionals,"and who now look far worse now than Gracie, perhaps far worse than before th repainting began.
So, perhaps I will leave her as she is. Nobody would strip back a piece of antique furniture, just because of a few dents. We think of that as the patina of use, so maybe the same could be said for these dolls. I will buy her a new wig as the one she is wearing is non-original anyway and, if anybody knows of a Schoenhut limb repairer, I would investigate that possibility, but I fear losing Gracie and having another character come home, if her face is vastly repainted.

However, my antique'n'vintage-crazy sister-in-law in Vermont is only too thrilled to be on the hunt for a doll that is much more damaged than Gracie and being sold at a very good price, for me to try out my skill - or lack of it- in working on. My daughter is also in London antiques circles and will look out for one there too, they do come up once in a while and are not well-known or particularly popular here. So who knows? Using the right materials seems to me to be key in such work and I am not even aware of what those are but, one day, Gracie? Maybe one day.

And there is also little Ikey Bam to be replaced.............. but kept firmly out of my mother's reach!


  1. She is lovely Jenni. I would leave her face alone, she does not have that many scrapes most her original face paint is there and if she was to be stripped back she'd lose 'her', so leave. It may be good to get her leg reattached, if only so the poor girls comfortable in her old age! ;)
    The next problem will be finding a wig that again does not change her! All these things to consider! This doll collecting and preserving can be a nightmare!!

    So more Shoey's will be appearing at a small holding in the welsh valleys then...
    thanks so much for sharing Emmeline Grace with us :)xxx

  2. Jenni, she is lovely. Please post a photo or two of her leg problem, I might be able to diagnose what needs doing.

    1. Hi
      Thank you!
      I know what the problem is - metal fatigue means the clip that holds the lower leg to the lower thigh spring has worn through. It would need a complete reassembly of the metal parts within the doll and would need a specialist metal worker to make the part. Our local blacksmith may be enlisted when he has time.

    2. Will take a photo tomorrow to show you the parts you can see though Anna, can't send directly as I don'y know your email addy. You may have ideas that would mean not stripping her legs out completly. Too dark for photos this evening.
      J x

    3. my email address is on one of the pages of my blog.

    4. Ok! I'll send directly to you -the photos won't be attractive blog material. Thanks,J xx

  3. I like the length of her hair, Dee. It is jut as Mum and I wore our hair in mid-childhood. I think I shall buy her a Bravot wig from France as they sell good quality bob styled ones.

  4. I think Gracie is beautiful. What an amazing face and lovely expression. :) xxx

    1. Thank you, Ginger. She is a sweet girl. The more I look at the character tear Schoenhuts, the more I admire them. Perhaps it is just as well that the import costs are so unbelievable, or I might be filling the house up even more.

  5. I have just seen Dee's blog post about her new girl and have come over to comment on yours. As I mentioned on Dee's some of these very badly restored dolls you seen on the internet/blogs look really, really bad but both yours and Dee's girl are lovely and have an air about them. I wouldn't change your girl's face in any way, she is perfect how she is.

  6. Hi Sharon -did you get my pre-Christmas reply to your email? Hope so, but if not, happy late Christmas and i hope you had a great family day! My Outlook account decided to let me send it but that doesn't guarantee delivery, if the Yahoo and Gmail problem won't go away!

    I've had Emmeline Grace for a couple of years and Bruce loves her, so I've had to wrestle her back fron him to show. I thnk she needs to do more than sit near him gazing at the rubbish on television, which I let her do because of her leg falling off if she exerts herself!

    These character dolls are quite charming, much nicer than the scary teeth dolls of the early 20th century. They have anice feel to them too, solid but not over heavy, the perfect material for a child to handle in pre-plastic days.

    Happy New Year!
    J xx

  7. Congrats to your new/old doll, a real character!

    It seems many of these (and other...)dolls in the US were overpainted. But in Germany serious collectors says this is a crime and they love them with all signs of age.

    1. Hello Anne! How lovely it is to know you are back i the Sasha world, I missed you and your 'children' for a few months.

      In general, I would never paint over a very old doll unless her/his facial features were all but gone. I have several repainted Sashas, most of whom were already painted or had had their features removed before they came to me. none are old enough to have been hand painted originally.
      The one that caused a great deal of thought was my mother's childhood Patsy Ann. Found in Grandma's cellar when she died, most of Patsy Ann's composition face had peeled away and she was ready for the garbage. I will take a photo of her post-restoration and show her here later today.

  8. I did not know you have Schoenhut and yours is a treasure. I would leave her just as is, except perhaps for the leg. I'm happy to see photos of her.


    1. Sneaky - aren't I? I have a Schoey toddler too - he arrived after I published this post was published, so I'll be showing him off this week. I'm like a new mumy - he isn't the most handsome little one in the world, but I love him!

  9. Hi Jenni
    I did indeed get an email from you prior to Christmas and thought I'd replied, so I apologise if I didn't, I will do so very soon then!
    I love this girls face, she's lovely and I'm going to head over to Dee's blog to see hers next...I'm working from new to old posts at the moment, doing it all back to front as I'm trying to catch up on what I've missed whilst my family were here.
    Anyway, I agree with the others, this girl is too pretty to have restored, I would leave her as she is as she is indeed lovely. The 'aging' gives her character. I too think those Schoenhut dolls with the teeth are really ugly, I have to say. And if they're badly 'restored' then they look even worse! The stuff of nightmares to be honest! LOL
    Get her leg sorted out though, so that she can run and play with the rest of your dolls :)
    Big hugs xxx

    1. Thanks, Sharon. I'm surprised that Emmy Grace stands so firmly unaided, considering her disability!