Saturday, September 8, 2012

A Posie For Mother

My mother's childhood dolls: Ideal Betsy McCall and Posie

A couple weeks ago I covered the re-stringing and repair of my mother's childhood doll, Janie. Janie is actually Posie by Ideal. Posie was evidently the predecessor to Saucy Walker, and she looks much the same except that she has a closed mouth. Posie was billed as the "Doll of a Hundred Lifelike Poses", which is a pretty big overstatement as far as I can see! Just like Ideal's Betsy McCall that I covered earlier, Posie's arms are strung so that if they are tight enough when you move one the other one will snap up or down as well. Her knees bend, and I read somewhere that she was originally a "praying" doll, but you can't make her hands meet or anything. Basically you can move her arms and legs up and down, turn her head, and bend her knees. Posie was supposed to be a walker, but Janie isn't anymore. Janie had a lot of use, though, first as my mom's play doll and then as mine. Posie had a cryer, and Janie's does still work.
Janie had some repairs needed. Her face got white spots on it when my mom was still little. Over time these turned brown so that they look like freckles. I bleached these some with benzoyl peroxide. I restrung her loose arms and fixed the splits in her sides.
Posie with side splits

After her body was repaired, Janie just needed some cosmetic work. I washed and softened her hair with fabric softener and reset it on perm rods. You "perm" the old Saran hair by rolling it and pouring very hot, almost boiling, water over it. Let it dry completely, at least 24 hours, and unroll. I looked at lots of mint Posies on eBay and Doll Reference to get the style right.

I think her hair turned out really well. It looks just like the original! I found some tiny heart-shaped barrettes and pulled up the sides with those. The dress was made in the 50s by my grandmother. I cleaned and pressed it with starch. It has a built-in buckram or linen slip to help the skirt stand out. This has gotten soft over time, but the skirt is still nice and full. My grandmother actually sewed this dress on a treadle sewing machine! My grandfather put a motor on it so it went really fast, but it couldn't backstitch to tie knots, so my mother had to sit next to the machine and tie the knots when Grandma would sew.
This is the machine on which my grandmother sewed the dress.
I gave Janie some New Old Stock black doll shoes. She still needs socks, but I don't have any of the rayon ones, which were the type she would have had. Janie's a really pretty doll again now that she's all restored. She can pose well and her coloring, with her bright blue, almost turquoise, eyes and black hair is really beautiful.
Ideal Posie after restoration
My husband, who has Scottish ancestry, has this same wonderful coloring. I have come to believe from looking at eBay listings that the brunette Posie is much more rare. You see the blond one all the time, but hardly ever the raven hair. Saucy Walker seems to mostly have come in brunette, but later on. So if we were ever to sell Janie she might be worth a lot, but of course we'd never do that!

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