Archive for Monday, September 16, 1991


September 16, 1991


Polly Reed keeps a prophetic childhood portrait of herself on a table in the corner of her living room. It shows her at age 4, posing with a special doll.

Near the photo on the table is the self-same doll wearing its original pink-and-white outfit.

These days, Mrs. Reed makes dolls just as elaborate as the old one, a childhood gift from her grandmother, and she's preparing to show off her creations at the upcoming Lawrence Doll Collector's Club doll show and sale.

The event titled "Dolls for All Seasons" will be from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday at the Douglas County Fairgrounds, 21st and Harper.

Mrs. Reed said the popular show is expected to draw between 50 and 60 dealers who sell everything from antique dolls to modern dolls and such doll-related paraphernalia as clothes and wigs.

"In the past," she said, "we've even had people who make doll furniture little beds and chairs and things like that."

A "Dolls for All Season" educational display, done by club members and including dolls from their private collections, also will be on exhibit.

THE DOLLS will be appropriately dressed for each of the seasons, Mrs. Reed explained, and the winter scene is being specially made to donate to the Festival of Trees benefit auction after the show. It will include a Victorian Christmas tree with handmade white ornaments and six specially handmade 10-inch dolls dressed in different-colored velvet.

The benefit auction is held annually during the holiday season to help The Shelter Inc., a local service organization that assists troubled youth.

A club member from Kansas City, Harriett Denebeim, is working on the educational display, Mrs. Reed said, while a Tonganoxie member, Billie Aye, is making the Christmas dolls. Mrs. Reed is dressing them.

She said an added public service feature of this show will be doll identification for people interested in having their own old dolls examined by an expert.

Some booths also will sell repair parts, including arms, legs and heads, she added.

STARS OF THE show, though, will be the elaborate dolls on sale.

"Usually we have a fair group of antique dolls," Mrs. Reed said, noting they go for $300 to $400 and up, although dealers don't usually bring old dolls that cost more than $500 to such shows.

More expensive antique dolls some sell as high as $30,000 usually are sold privately, Mrs. Reed explained.

Modern dolls which may be reproductions of antique dolls, called modern antique reproductions, or new designs, called modern reproductions sell for from $100 to $250 and up.

"Dolls are not playthings anymore," Mrs. Reed noted.

She said she always was interested in dolls and, along with the doll in the photograph, still had a few of her own "that Mother didn't dispose of."

They include a 1890 doll with her name, Ruth, right on her chest, and some Effanbee "Patsy" dolls, including one complete with its original box. It sold for $2.98 when she was a child and now is worth several hundred dollars.

DURING THE 1970S, Mrs. Reed collected ethnic dolls while she and her husband, Dr. James Reed, were traveling with the U.S. State Department's foreign medical service.

Her collection from that era includes dolls from every country they visited, including Ethiopia, Nepal, Thailand, Vietnam, Japan, Uruguay, Paraguay and Brazil.

Unfortunately, she said, while she was collecting ethnic dolls, other doll enthusiasts were collecting antique dolls. And consequently, she lamented, the price of antique dolls has skyrocketed.

"The whole doll field has really expanded, so much and so rapidly," she said. "I think it's international, really."

Although most antique dolls have become too expensive for her, Mrs. Reed said she did collect original modern dolls by artists who don't market their molds to the public.

HER NEWEST doll, a gift from her husband, is a Lenox Victorian Bride doll that reminds her of her "very Victorian" mother. Made of porcelain and authentically dressed, it is to be the first in a series of Lenox bride dolls.

"To me," Mrs. Reed said, "a doll has to talk to you, has to say, `Take me home.'"

Today, antique dolls in pristine condition ones still in their boxes command the highest prices, but Mrs. Reed said she felt sorry for such dolls.

"They've never been played with. They were never loved by a little child," she said.

Among other ``hot commodities" in today's doll world are antique half dolls which are fashioned from porcelain just from the waist up and used to adorn such things as pin cushions.

AN OCCUPATIONAL therapist by training, Mrs. Reed said she discovered she enjoyed dollmaking and has attended several workshops and other gatherings for dollmakers and designers.

A Lawrence native, she added she studied years ago with the late Lawrence sculptor Poco Frazier and felt that training was helping her as a dollmaker.

More recent teachers have included porcelain dollmakers Thutam Freeman, who works for the Seeley Doll Co., and has a shop in Parkville, Mo., Hildegard Gunzel, who designs for the Madame Alexander doll company, and Annette Himstedt, who makes a popular design of dolls called the Barefoot Children.

Mrs. Reed also has begun to study cloth dollmaking with Virginia Robinson, owner of the Osage County Quilt Factory. Mrs. Reed noted her interest in that medium was growing.

ABOUT HALF A dozen of Mrs. Reed's fellow club members also make dolls, she said, and about 10 of the club's 20 members are planning booths for the show.

Among them, Mrs. Reed said, is Norene Allen, formerly of Lawrence and now of of Lenexa, who specialized in paper dolls and is considered an authority on the subject.

Mrs. Reed explained that selling dolls, whether they're homemade or collected, is one way members have of making money to fund their expensive hobby.

For more information on the show, call Carol Cover, 1-242-4030, or Brenda Eubanks, 843-3418.

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