Treasures: shell cards

I’ve cherished this set of shell decorated place cards since I was a child and remember thinking that they were too special to write on. They are kept in the same cardboard jewelry box I stored them in 40 years ago.   

I love the simple scenes using tiny colored shells, with watercolor accents.

This girl with a shell bonnet and bouquet decorates a bridge score card.

Treasures (skating gnomes)

This special group of wooden gnomes came from my husband’s family. I love unpacking them at Christmas time because they look ready to jump out of the box, like northern European versions of Mexican jumping beans. 

They seem like they are skating or nervously hopping on one leg. They’re tiny, too, about 1 1/2 inches tall.

Treasures: 1920’s flapper doll

Among the treasures my mother left me are some well-worn porcelain “flapper dolls”. She was born in 1925, so she must have played with them in the late 1920’s.

my mother, Mary Hartwell (Mavor), age 4

I can imagine my mother’s little girl hands grasping this doll, moving its arms up and down, and dressing and redressing its solid body until the paint wore off.

1920's flapper doll, 3" tall

Even these broken doll parts were saved for me to find 75 years after their useful toy life was over. They are in reserve, ready to contribute to some future piece of art. I cannot tell when or if a leg or arm section will ever be the “right” object to add and have to be careful not to let sentimentality guide my decisions.

porcelain doll parts

For now, it’s enough to have and enjoy my mother’s childhood treasures.

Doll Collection: small wooden folk dolls

This set of standing wooden folk dolls are a mystery to me. I found them in a box of other miscellaneous stuff, while cleaning out my parents’ house. They are small, about 2″ tall and would make fun cake decorations. Helen, a fellow blogger (here) who knows a lot about souvenir dolls, thinks they may be Hungarian or Polish because of the red boots and dark hair.

Since Helen pointed out the red boots, I’ve been flooded with memories of seeing Hungarian dance performances as a child. Besides wearing eye-catching red boots, the dancers’ costumes had full puffy petticoats under their skirts. I also remember seeing the women’s long braids flying out as they twirled. My parents were avid international folk dancers and would bring us to watch and participate in folk dance events. I don’t remember seeing these dolls as a child, but their red boots triggered a memory.

Doll Collection

Among my family treasures is a doll collection that came from my grandmother, Louise Salley Hartwell. My first name comes from my grandmother’s maiden name. As children, we weren’t allowed to touch most of the dolls, but just gaze at them high up in shelves. She found many of the dolls in her travels and collected them throughout her long life of almost 100 years. Here is a photograph of my grandmother on her Gramma Lou’s lap, with one of her sisters. Gramma Lou lived with the Salley family in Orangeburg, SC and taught all 5 daughters how to sew.   

my grandmother, Louise Salley Hartwell, on lap (1892)

  Here’s a group shot of some of the dolls from the collection.  

from my grandmother's doll collection

 This wooden doll is about 10″ tall and most likely has been in the family its whole life.  I have no information about her, but she looks very old.  


Her face is painted simply, but with an intense expression and it looks like moths have eaten her wool felt hat.  


Inside the silk dress hem is a cloth tag that has this written: 35-25:100-M in red ink.  Her legs and arms are simple wooden pegs. 


She has such a delicate little sliver of a nose attached to the wooden head.  

Treasures (1920’s doll house miniatures)

These doll house miniatures belonged to my mother, who was born in 1925 in Providence, RI.  In the photograph, she looks like the classic little girl from her era. My sister, brother and I played with the toys, too. The porcelain dolls have been well-loved and are showing wear, but the metal toys held up much better. The mail box is also a bank. I just noticed that the mower (or carpet sweeper?) is named SallyAnn, names my mother would give to my sister and me, only spelled with e’s.

my mother, Mary Hartwell (Mavor) 1928

Treasures (red hat couple)

This eccentric pair belonged to my grandmother. The butterfly catcher and the lady with the mushroom hat are about 4″ tall, with hollow crocheted skirts to make them stand. I have no idea where they were made, but they look German or Scandinavian. His glasses and butterfly net and her wood-handled umbrella are remarkable details. I love their sculped fabric faces, even ears on the man!

Treasures (Foreign Paper Dolls)

We had this set of Foreign Paper Dolls when we were children. It was one of the things I was rummaging for when I fell and broke my wrist, 6 weeks ago. The cast just came off and I’m starting physical therapy to get my frozen wrist moving again. This feels like great progress toward being able to sew again! The box of paper dolls says, “Copyright MCMLVII (1957) by The Platt & Co., Inc.”. I can remember cutting out the clothes and playing with them. The dolls include Toshiko (Japan), Ingrid (Sweden), Yongtu (Korea), Yvonne (France), Juan (Mexico), Hans (Germany), Juliane (Holland), Liat (Tahiti). They certainly had a lot of outfits to choose from! 


Here is picture of us about the time we would have cut out their paper clothes. We were driving our white station wagon with the wooden roof box across the country.
my mother, Anne, Salley and Jimmy 1960

Toshiko, Juliane, Yvonne, Yongtu, Juan, Ingrid. Liat, Hans

paper doll clothes

Hans (Germany), Toshiko (Japan), Juan (Mexico), Liat (Tahiti), Yvonne (France)

Hans (Germany), Toshiko (Japan), Juan (Mexico)

Yongtu (Korea), Yvonne (France), Juliane (Holland), Liat (Tahiti), Ingrid (Sweden)

Hans (Germany), Toshiko (Japan). Juan (Mexico)