Sunday, November 30, 2008

Jersey City billhead

It is easy to see why vintage billheads are so collectible: many feature beautiful engravings of actual streets that were idealized as the heart of industry, when factories, forges and mills were bustling and manufacturing was king. You could build a history lesson around this billhead.

As you can see, forging was the specialty of Theo. Smith & Sons. No date, but listing blacksmiths on top tells you horses were still critical for commerce. Fertilizer dryers and tallow rendering evokes farm life; New Jersey was no doubt still largely countryside at this time, although Newark was already a thriving urban center. Clam shell dredges and orange peel buckets? Hmmm. Perhaps the Hudson River was still fishable. But I'm stumped on the significance of the peel buckets.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Greetings by Louise Leek

I was woefully late in subscribing to Greetings by Louise Leek, a newsletter devoted to paper doll greeting cards. It's in its 12th year! Each issue draws on the collection of Louise, Jayne Keller and Rosalie Eppert. (Jayne and Louise did a workshop at the convention.)

I was happy to read in the latest issue (Vol. 12, Issue 2) that even after 12 years they still have so many cards to show.

Greetings is published semi-annually (April and October) for reference purposes only. Two issues for $7. Greetings, 10158 Lady Catherine, Streetsboro, OH 44241.

This Carleton card has been around for awhile, but I was happy to find it once again at a local supermarket (I think it was Pathmark). I like the fact that it's a stapled booklet, not a fold out card, and the artwork is very sweet. And there's an extra dog on the back.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Doll Castle News

The latest issue of Doll Castle News (Nov. & Dec. 2008) features quite a collectible: a centerfold of Raggedy Ann and Andy paper dolls, in full color, by Joni Gruelle Wannamaker, granddaughter of Johnny Gruelle, who created the Raggedy characters. (Doll Castle just acquired Rags magazine, for collectors of Raggedy Ann and Andy dolls.)

Envelope artwork by Diana E. Vining; I've inserted a small black and white image of the Gruelle paper dolls. Other articles note the 100th anniversary of the Kewpies (created in 1909 by Rose O'Neill), identifying antique dolls, collecting Alaskan dolls, Francie dolls, the laughing Jumeau, and Lady Anne dolls.

For subscription information, go to

For Diana Vining's paper dolls, go to

Fashion card history 1655-1750

These cards can be found in vintage paper shows as well as some new gift shops; I found quite a few last year at a French bookstore right in the heart of Rockefeller Center. I think they were part of an encyclopedia, but I'm not certain. They are lovely little cards, nicely drawn with delicate washes of watercolor that are still bright. Left click for a close-up.

Miki's Paper Doll Blog

Miki has launched her own blog, where she'll post paperdolls for sale and freebies to download, too.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving

This Lucy Leary paper doll is now in the collection of Peggy Ell, but I scanned it in before donating it to the convention Raffles table. It also came with the original large size pen-and-ink drawing. Peggy is an outstanding collector of newspaper paper dolls, including Lucy Leary, and I'm pleased she won this (I won it earlier in the year at Jayne Keller's party).

Newspapers were large-sized in the old days (when circulation and advertising were booming), and these strips can be quite difficult to scan and stitch together.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

An article about scrapbooking

This fantastic scrapbook page of locks of hair dates from the 1850s and is from the collection of Nancy Rosin. An article I wrote about scrapbooking appears in tomorrow's Star-Ledger, and can be found at the following link:

Magic Books & Paper Toys

I learned about this new book (and Purgatory Pie Press) at the 14th Annual New Jersey Book Arts Symposium and Exhibition at Rutgers University on Nov. 7. I met some fantastic people at the symposium, including several artists who live near me and who were fascinated to hear about the paper doll community and annual convention.

Remember to left click on the image to read the small type in the brochure.

check out for many more links related to the book, the press and artists Esther K Smith and Dikko Faust, who look like they have an awful lot of fun with this stuff!

Jenny's Paper Doll News Blog

If you haven't checked out Jenny's blog lately, I suggest you check it out right now! She has some great news to tell you about. The suitcase by Oilily is one of her recent purchases. Adorable!

Read all about it at:

Alley Cat by Betsey Johnson

The designer Betsey Johnson ran several paper doll advertisements, many of which appeared in Mademoiselle magazine. From the styles, I would guess this one dates from around 1970.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Cecile, circa 1930s

No other identifying marks, other than Cecile written in pencil on the back, and the letter C on the tabs.
from Jean Sullivan:
This is more than likely from Saal. 1938 set of Fashion Shop. This
doll can be seen in the "shop window" of the front cover to this set. It
is # 2193, on page 24 of Mary's book.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Fashion print circa 1850

This page had no markings, other than 1850 written in pencil; the back is blank. It could be from Peterson's or Godey's magazines.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

The Toymaker

Marilyn Scott-Waters is the creative and generous soul behind The Toymaker website. Here are just a few of her Thanksgiving items: a turkey, paper figures and leaves to write done what you give thanks for this year. You'll also find pdf files of picture frames, the Mayflower ship, and cards, among many other paper patterns and templates.

Sign up for her e-mail updates and you'll always know when she's posted new paper toys to construct. All for free, but donations are welcome via PayPal.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Wall St. joke, 1913

Just goes to show that the stock market and double entendres may have their ups and downs, but never go out of style. The writing on the back appears to be German but I'm not quite sure. Left click for a better look. You can see the date on the bottom left of the postage stamp.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Scrapbooks: An American History

Jessica Helfand has written an excellent and richly illustrated history of scrapbooks in America. She delves into the scrapbooks of ordinary people and the well known (such as Zelda Fitzgerald, playwright Lillian Hellman, and poet Anne Sexton).

For anyone who loves to pore over old scrapbooks (when we're lucky enough to find them on eBay or at flea markets), the book is a treat. Helfand's analysis is never obscure or academic; it's like going page by page with a highly intelligent guide who anticipates our questions and raises others we hadn't even thought to ask. Her background is in design, and she also takes sheer pleasure in the beauty and arrangement of the page.

In addition, Helfand created The Daily Scrapbook, a web site featuring images from her scrapbook collection,

You'll also find a link there to Lydia Blanchard's scrapbook (
and many other interesting links.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Remembering John Axe

Artist and author John Axe died yesterday, and those of us who knew him will miss his friendship and the great sense of fun and humor he brought to just about every convention, in addition to his art and scholarship. I especially enjoyed his presentations on Pelagie Doane and the cover art of Nancy Drew and other girl series.

This centerfold appeared in the Winter 2002 issue of Doll News, and is one of my favorites. It depicts a real matinee idol of the 19th century and was accompanied by a brief history of the star and his era.

Doll News also described Axe in a short bio, which I paraphrase here: Axe had been an editor of the magazine and continued to contribute as an author and artist over the years. His paper doll art has been published by Hobby House Press (Royal Children, Country Music Singers). Several books have been based on dolls manufactured by the Effanbee Doll Co. His Wee Patsy was the basis for the re-release of that doll in packaging that John also designed. John painted in watercolor with touches of gouache, and incorporated acrylic paint and colored pencils in the designs. His main interest was in portrait and realistic characters, rather than anything relating to fashion. He earned awards at art shows for his studio paintings and paper doll designs.

Zelda Fitzgerald Paper Dolls

No, I don't have these in my collection, but found these images on the internet, including eBay. Thanks to Barbara Barnett on the paperdollnewsgroup for alerting me to the Dolls magazine article about Zelda and her paper dolls from 1996 that was selling on eBay. I bought it and post it below; remember to left-click on the image to get a readable image.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Egyptian Ornament Clip Art by Dover

I'm a big fan of Dover Clip Art, which I've used in all kinds of projects. Sign up for free samples, like this page of Egyptian ornaments at

Gary Cooper in Beau Sabreur

I love finding programs like this one in flea markets or antique stores that stock tons of old paper. It documents the early days of Hollywood and Gary Cooper's film career (1928). Here's what I found on

This silent romantic adventure is set in the Sahara desert, and purports to be a sequel to the successful Beau Geste. Like the first, it is based on a story by Christopher Wren and features members from the original cast. The story begins as three Legionnaires do not return promptly from furlough and end up in the poky. There, the hero duels with a traitor and wins, causing him to gain the designation "Beau Sabreur." Later he is sent into the desert to learn the ways of the Arabs and to help forge a peace treaty. There he encounters a lovely American journalist. Meanwhile the defeated traitor tries to stop the treaty from going through. ~ Sandra Brennan, All Movie Guide

Anyone who loves movies can identify with the impulse to save this kind of souvenir (I have similar flyers and programs from memorable movies I saw as a child, such as Romeo and Juliet in 1968 and the re-release of Gone with the Wind in Radio City Music Hall around the same time).

There is another reason I like this piece of ephemera: The Pershing is long gone from 125th St. and Amsterdam Ave., but this program conjures up images of what Harlem must have been like during the heyday of the Harlem Renaissance--a flowering of the arts and intellectual inquiry within the historic black community.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Priscilla of Boston

No, not the famous wedding dress designer (who didn't open until 1945) but an 1887 textiles spinner who specialized in window treatments and worked out of Whitney's Linen Store on Tremont Street.

This trade card is notable for its respectful portrayal of a black woman, without racist caricature. One can deduce that Priscilla's reputation as an expert designer was well known in the city, and Whitney's took pride in promoting her work and location at their store.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Harford Frocks

I found these fashion cards in a Savannah antiques store many years ago. The skirt length and cloche hats suggest the 1928-1930 era. If anyone recognizes this company, let me know.

The summer fashion card doesn't say Harford, but it's the same size card as the others (roughly 9.5 X 7.5 inches) and was found in the same store. I imagine all of these cards were a part of a high-end catalog presentation for a wealthier clientele (there's a reference to "the shirred waistline of Mlle. Chanel" on the second card from the top.)

Yma Sumac

I was lucky to see the late Yma Sumac perform in 1975; she kindly autographed the program booklets for fans after the show. (Inside, it says that her wardrobe was designed by Lloyd Lambert "from Hollywood and Las Vegas.") In addition to her famed multi-octave voice, she had a great sense of humor, too. During the encore she collided with a curtain that started to draw in for the close, but kept right on vocalizing!

UPDATE: Gregg Nystrom just sent along a picture of his Yma Sumac paper doll--she's a knock-out!

Be sure to check out Gregg's new site--click on his name under Lovely Links.