Friday, February 28, 2014

Nancy Ann: Nuptials and Nursery Rhymes

Nancy Ann Storybook dolls, tagged with my tags.

I went on a little shopping spree over the past week and my first order, a box of bisque Nancy Ann Storybook dolls, arrived quickly. I got to work quickly, as my store offerings are getting a bit thin. None of these needed too much work. I am always happy to find inventory that's easy to fix and sell. Right now my office is piled high with dolls and clothes needing a great deal of repair.


I think this is doll #120, "To Market".

I started by trying to identify the dolls. Storybook dolls are terribly hard to identify, at least for me. I don't collect these. The company used the same numbers for different dolls, and they all have the same faces. Each doll wore a variety of different costumes even if they were supposed to be the same number and name. They are such a perfect small size, around six inches tall, they are very attractive to little girls and so many were also played with.

The box that came with them is marked #120, "To Market", from the nursery rhyme. I reasoned one of these must be "To Market". Each doll has her original gold foil bracelet from her original tag, but the tag itself is missing from each. I think the doll in the pink dress with eyelet apron and headdress is most like the "To Market" doll, but her costume looks much more like some "Jennie Set the Table" or "Polly Put the Kettle On" dolls shown on the web site. It seems like many of the domestic nursery rhyme dolls wear similar attire, though, so I think it isn't unlikely for "To Market" to wear this dress. Therefore, I am reasonably confident this is "To Market" It's certainly the most likely of these three. The doll in yellow might be "Daffy Down Dilly". She's in beautiful shape, the best of the lot. She still even has her original floral hair decoration, quite a feat for a doll from the early 1940s. The doll in the lace dress was probably originally a bridesmaid.


This might be "Daffy Down Dilly".

The Storybook dolls were a little dirtier than expected, and the original doll box was in pieces. I think the damage to the box happened during shipping, as it wasn't mentioned when I purchased the lot. I started by cleaning the dolls' dresses. These obviously were displayed, but not much played with. The dresses are stained from age, the colors somewhat faded. They had some wear to the fabric and insect casings trapped in the folds. Nancy Ann dolls' dresses are pinned on with safety pins. Usually I remove these and replace them with a snap closure. All these fabrics felt too fragile for that. In fact, the yellow and pink dresses seemed likely to tear when I was trying to remove the tightly-fastened pin, so I cleaned these dresses right on the dolls. I was able to remove the lace dress, a good thing since it needed the most repair. I cleaned the dresses by spraying them with carpet and upholstery cleaner and gently dabbing them with white paper towels. While they dried I moved on to the box.


I repaired the box with tape.

I tried to repair the box by taping it back together on the inside so the repairs don't show. I taped the sides all around the inside. One side was so damaged I had no choice but to tape it on the outside as well. Most of the repairs are hidden by the tissue paper inside the box, however.

Some dresses had wear to the unfinished hems.

I turned the frayed edges under with an iron.

When the dolls dresses were dry I turned a hem under on the pink dress and the lace dress, since the unfinished edges of the fabric were fraying away. I didn't sew these in place because the fabrics are so fragile; I just ironed them.


I cleaned each doll.

I cleaned the dolls with Dream Clean, which works on bisque and other materials. I like this cleaner because it gives a shiny finish. The doll in the lace dress had a chip on her forehead which worsened even with gentle cleaning. She had lots of crazing to the paint remaining, so I went ahead and painted her whole forehead to seal it and prevent more chips.

I paint a chipped forehead.

The doll after re-painting.

I got a good match to the original paint color, but you can see a difference in the sheen of the old and new paints. Of all three, this is the most damaged and appears to have had the most play. She has a spot of glue and a bald spot on the back of her head where I think a hat was once glued. Most of the bridesmaid dolls wore large picture hats. Her dress looks beige but when you look inside it you can see it was once pale pink. I decided to turn her into a bride.


The new veil covers the glue spot where her hat once went.

I had a tiny piece of lace to match the dress, so I made a little veil that hangs over her forehead. I also had a vintage flower pin that came from a ballerina doll's wig. I used that to pin the veil in place. With the veil over her forehead you can't really see the paint repair at all!

I pinned the veil in place with a vintage flower pin.

Two of the dolls, the bride and the doll in yellow, had chips to their painted shoes. I fix these with Sharpie marker. Because the paint is likely to chip more if you agitate it, just dab the marker on the chips. Since the shoes don't show under the big dresses it isn't necessary to fix them, but I like to do a thorough job.


I colored in chips on the shoes with Sharpie.

I made a little bouquet of vintage-look flowers and gold braid and tied it to the doll's arm. Now my Nancy Ann is ready for her nuptials! I think this would make a wonderful wedding gift or decoration for a bridal shower. I tagged all the dolls with my signed tag so they look sweet in a display. These are such cute little dolls, and their petite size makes them so easy to collect and display. They are also especially appealing to children.

My custom Nancy Ann Storybook Bride.




For children, however, the later 1940s or early 50s plastic Nancy Anns are probably a better choice than these bisque ones. Of course, the plastic ones aren't foolproof. Longtime readers may remember the rift between my mother and aunt which was precipitated by my mother melting my aunt's plastic Storybook dolls in a toaster. I tell that sad story in my Nancy Ann Storybook and Other Stories post. Sometimes I think maybe I will send my aunt some replacement Storybook dolls to end the bitter feelings!

I will be listing all these sweet Storybook dolls in my store very shortly, so please check: http://stores.ebay.com/atelier-mandaline.


 

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