Tuesday, 19 January 2016

A 50 pence piece can go a long way!

Last Friday, I was up and off to Shrewsbury at 5 a.m. for a hospital appointment at 8 o'clock.

There were several good points to this trip, including: 
1)The whole hospital bit was over by 9.30 because the clinics, scan department etc. were not in full swing and all was quiet and QUICK!
2) The transport home had been fixed for my at 2.30 so I had time for a little window shopping.
3) Shrewsbury is a lovely old medieval city with winding roads and small, interesting shops that still outnumber the same-old-same-old department and chain stores.
4) It is a reasonably wealthy area where the charity/thrift shops are still largely filled with such treasures as antique and vintage niknaks, linens, jewellery and books, great for a browse or trip down Memory Lane.

5) In what used to be two Tudor houses there is now the most wonderful fabric shop, carrying a huge range of fabrics and hard to find haberdashery.

In short, Shrewsbury is, by city standards, my idea of HEAVEN and, aside from my beloved home county town of York, the only city I could ever contemplate living in now.

The downside was that I had only taken a little money with me as I hadn't expected to go beyond the hospital grounds, but.....

 ..........close your eyes if you are sensitive. BEWARE! DOLLY NUDITY FOLLOWS!!!..............

 ............look who was lying in a box of bits and bobs, all priced at 50 pence!

S/he is an eleven jointed Hope doll by Robert Raikes. I have two of the dark wood Keisha version of this doll and paid a great deal more than 50p for them.
Though they are not as perfectly balanced as Max, the Schoenhut toddler is, or as some modern bjds are, s/he is not bad, being able to stand unsupported and having very posable arms. If I have a criticism about their design, it is that the legs are a little too thin for the body/head weight and give very slightly at the knees, but not enough for the doll to fall or crumple. However, I think Robert Raikes was aiming for as real proportions as possible to represent a pre-teen child.

Facially, the lips are rather too red for my taste, but that is easily solved.  And the wood was a little dry until s/he took the usual bath that all my unpainted wooden dolls enjoy a couple of times a year.

Here s/he is, leaning on the bath tub! My uncle, who was a cabinet maker, introduced me to this as one of two fine furniture polishes he recommended and I have used it once a year on all our pieces of solid wood furniture ever since, with three or four applications of this in between.....

You might call the Liberon wooden dolly bubble bath and the Lord Shereton's their body lotion!
How ever I think of it, buying them ready-made beats the chore of all that melting of beeswax, adding smelly turpentine and then trying to make the sorry but efficacious mess smell better with a few drops of lavander oil, that horrible job that my Mum lovingly handed to me when I was about 12 years old! The wooden dolls seem to love it, too.

This isn't well posed, but shows that the doll stands if set up to stand with either both fet flat or with one foot flat and the other on tip toe, but only if the flat foot is turned inwards.

Generally, this little doll reminds me in shape of the Hornby Flower Fairy dolls my children had when they were little. Perhaps it is only the lack of hair but it seems more like the elf belonging to my son than the girl fairies my daughter collected. So, before I once again waste money on unuseable wigs - girl, or boy? I would like your input, please.

Looking at this photo again, my husband says he is a boy, and has named him Peter because he says the doll looks like Peter Pan in this pose. Do you agree?

All in all, I think I had a lucky find here. I'm a lover of all things wooden and feel wood lends itself well to doll making. My wonderful, adopted  Grandpa Davy, who was actually my uncle's shepherd, used to carve little animals for me to play with and, when asked why he always made animals or people, not cars or some other little items, would say that a living thing is always waiting to be born out of what had once been part of a living tree, that an old life leaves a desire for a new life to come from it as it dies. He claimed he didn't actually make the animals, but that he just helped them to escape from the dying wood.

This is far from my only wooden doll but, at less than the price of a small chocolate bar, was definitely the cheapest I have ever found.


  1. A Boy for sure! what a great find.

  2. Fabulous find for 50 p what a bargain, definitely a boy and his lips are too red I think.Look forward to seeing him once he's been sorted :)xx

  3. Is this the Shrewsbury where Brother Cadfael used to live?
    I so love the stories -and love the environement!

    I never saw these kind of doll, but it looks interesting. Wood is such a warm material, just right for toys.

  4. Thank you for your input ladies!

    So, he is gong to be Peter. A wig will be ordered and his lips lightened. Next time he is photographed he expects to e wearing clothing, too.

    Yes Anne, Shrewsbury is the city where the Cadfael stories are set. Ellis Peters, who wrote them, had a great knowledge of the city in former times and there are now Cadfael tours there. I love the Tudor buildings that have been preserved properly - not painted black and white as the Victorians liked to see them. Also, the strange old street names are still in use. The fabric shop is in The Mardol - what ever that used to mean!

  5. What a great find Jenni and like everyone else I'm thinking boy too...a big welcome to little Peter.
    But instead of buying him a wig why nit make one? He looks like a good candidate for something more natural and homemade. I would love to get my hands on that baldy bonce!!!!

  6. Wow didn't you do well. Natural wood makes such a warm material for toys to be made from.
    What size is he? Quite small I'm guessing from the comparison with the tin of polish.

    1. Hi Rosie, he's about eight and a quarter inches tall - 21cm. I have just toned down the bright red lips and am considering new 'hair' possibilities for him now.

  7. He is a wonderful find Jenni and quite the lucky boy to find his way to your very capable hands. I like the name Peter too. The wooden dolls are so nice to collect and especially if you find a bargain too! Congrats! :) xxx

    1. It was amazing to find him in Shrewsbury, Ginger - far from his original American home. I love the feel and weight of wood for dolls and have a few that have moved in here over the years.

  8. I live about 45 minutes drive away from Shrewsbury and used to go there a lot during the 60s to buy my long Laura Ashley dresses from their little shop on side of the hill and then afterwards visiting a wonderful antique shop (unfortunately now closed) at the bottom of the hill before parking up by the river and having a picnic lunch.
    I used to pass nearby there for several years on our way to Boreatton Park when taking my school class of children for an annual week's outdoor activity.
    Recently visited the town again between 2008-12 with my sister to get her daughter's prom dresses/university ball gowns from a well known bridal shop there.
    As you say a beautiful and quaint little town stepped in history.

  9. Wow, what a fantastic deal!!! The R Raikes dolls are very high priced on eBay. Congrats!!! And guess what? I just recently discovered that I had relatives living in Shrewsbury in the past. Isn't that neat? I would love to visit one day. It's also the place where the Cadfael mystery stories take place. We have all the DVD's. Have you ever seen them? They are very well done.