|LATE 1800s CHINA HEAD APPALACHIAN DOLL|
I am not a doll collector -- rather I am a story gatherer. I look at an object or listen to folks to gain pieces of their culture. I attempt to put the pieces together to understand their culture. With many pieces gathered a story begins to form. It is not the absolute truth but it is similar to the truth. No one can capture the absolute truth -- at least that is the way I feel.
I know that china head dolls of the above style are old. How do I know this? Through handling and becoming deeply aware of their attributes over time -- combined with research.
I look at the cotton cloth used and determine it is early scrap material probably taken from the perennial scrap bag that most Appalachian households had. The stitches are both fine and primitive. Apparently two persons were involved in the stitching. I feel one was the household seamstress, probably the mother, and the other, a child practicing stitching on her doll. One question in my mind -- is the body original to the china head? If not, I still do believe that the body is from the same timeframe as the china head.
Although available in late 1800s stores, no china shoes or hands were assembled on the doll. Was this because the family did not have the money to buy these extra parts for the doll? Also, the china shoulder is broken and has worn through the body cloth. Water stains are the large brown ripples on the body cloth. The doll has no clothes. Now all this information scatters my thoughts. When did this all happen?
I have come up with these deductions:
- One is the doll suffered neglect with its original owners.
- Or, number two, that it was in great shape during its early life and then lost its status with its recent owners?
- Or number three, I am way off base on my deductions.
- plus more . . .
The clues I am looking at are the silent language that I try to read. I will not be able to really determine what happened to this little doll but one thing I can say is that it has suffered abuse. Now it is my turn to take care of it. It will have a good home for now. Plus it will have my thoughts of how it managed to survive for about one hundred years.