2:04 AM


Welcome back to my blog....Since my last blog dealt with children's games, I thought I would show one of my Brimfield Antique Show's finds from last May.....The dealer who sold it to me asked if I was a doll collector. I am not, but I thought, "What an interesting image & wrote a check." While walking back to the car, my friend Barb Googled on her phone and I began to learn more about this Izannah Walker doll. Check out this web site Izannah Walker Chronicles.  Great site and you can learn how to make these dolls.


(This posting is dedicated to one of my blog member's, Robin Egg Bleu, who has a blog called  Art Dolls with Historical Sentiment




Let's compare another photo on the web site with the daguerreotype. Although the daguerreotype needs to be cleaned and the glass replaced, there is no question this is the same doll.






I wanted to know when was this doll manufactured and I found another site called Laurel Leaf Dolls- History of the Izannah Walker that gave the doll's background.
Per Lolly Yocum's article, "Izannah F. Walker, one of America's earliest known female doll makers, was born in 1817 in Bristol, Rhode Island. On June 28, 1873, at the age of 56, Walker applied for a patent for "improvement in the manufacture of dolls." In her application Walker claimed "my doll is inexpensive, easily kept clean, and not apt to injure a young child which may fall upon it. It will preserve its appearance for a long time."1 As witnessed by the surviving examples of her work, we know that this is true. Izannah was granted a patent on November 4, 1873. However, it is known that she had been making dolls for quite some time before she applied for her patent. Research has uncovered a documented case of her making dolls as early as 1828:"From Philomena Hart's Column in the Providence Bulletin.
Mrs. N.M.R. (Norma H. Robertson, grand-niece of Miss Walker) wrote me a fascinating account of a doll which she thinks is the predecessor of the Chase doll of Pawtucket. It was made in Central Falls by Miss Izannah Walker.(1817-1888) She was the aunt of my correspondent who says of her, "Always inventive, she had created a stockinette doll as early as 1848 when my mother was a little child in New London, Conn. Family tradition tells of her struggle to perfect her work and of the long wrestling with one problem, how to obtain a resistant surface to the stockinette heads, arms, and legs, without cracking or peeling. With this problem on her mind, Aunt Izannah suddenly sat up in bed one night to hear a voice say "use paste (the article continues)." 

This doll was manufactured for years before a patent was issued....and is an example when a patent dates can mislead. Here's the Izannah Walker Patent 

Just who this little girl was....we will never know....and since the frame or mat did not have any identification marks, we don't know where this photograph was taken or who took it. It could be anywhere U.S.A. That's where ephemera can help to show how wide spread these dolls were sold.

We do know that the (daguerreotype) photographic process began in 1839 and continued strong into1850s and into the 1860s. We do know that the thermoplastic frame began before cases and the doll wasn't invented until 1848- so I date this roughly 1850s- and could be as early as 1848 to 1860-ish.

I have to say there were no dolls found in Steamboat Arabia's hull except for one small frozen Charlotte and I will discuss this doll in my next blog. If children were on board, you'd find dolls and perhaps there was an Izannah Walker doll carried off the Arabia in a child's arms. (I promise to have this image restored)- The little girl is a cutie.