Doesn’t your favorite doll deserve an afternoon out? The Vermilion County Museum Society is calling all dolls — of all sizes, ages and styles — and their owners to enjoy “Tea for Two, Your Doll and You.” The program will start at noon Oct. 16 at the museum, and will feature a luncheon with dainty food and a presentation about doll collecting and the art of dolls.
Speaker will be Julia Furman of Cary, Region 10 director of the United Federation of Doll Clubs, Inc. Region 10 covers Illinois and Wisconsin.
“I think people will enjoy this,” museum Director Sue Richter said. “We’ve been having fun looking up information on dolls.”
People are invited to bring their favorite dolls, which will have their own seating area. The bite-size food (just right for dolls) will be provided by Applewood Foods Catering. Seating is limited to 50-60 people.
This is the first time for the doll program, which is being held as part of Arts Month.
Furman, whose job is to promote doll collecting, will give a short talk about the federation, which promotes appreciation, education and preservation of dolls. Then, she will distribute inventory sheets so owners can examine their dolls to determine their age and background, if they don’t know that information already.
She said, “I’m not a professional dealer or appraiser, but I hope to be able to help with the identification of dolls.”
She also will have books, photos and dolls on display.
A collector all of her life, Furman said she has hundreds of dolls at her home. One of her first dolls was a 1957 Shirley Temple doll by Ideal.
The museum also will display part of its doll collection — including a large Shirley Temple pushing a smaller one in a buggy.
Richter said she and the staff have been learning a lot about dolls while setting out the collection, adding, “We’re finding fascinating information.”
For example, the manufacturer’s name is often on the doll clothes, rather than the doll itself. So, people could have trouble finding out who made the doll if they don’t have the original clothing.
The museum has several dolls collected by Grace Fenton, a local teacher, during her travels around the world in the 1930s. The ethnic or character dolls include a papier-mâché Gandhi doll made in Poland in 1933; Eskimo dolls with authentic hair and fur coats; and Chinese, Spanish and Moroccan dolls.
There’s also a pre-1875 fashion doll with wooden hands and feet, still in its original dress. Another unique doll from the late 1800s was used by dress makers to give a woman an idea of what the finished version would look like. That doll has a kid leather body, ceramic hands and feet, glass eyes and human hair, and it’s stuffed with sawdust.
The display includes three baby dolls from the late 1800s that were owned by Mary Butcher Mauerman.
Other dolls include: two of the Dionne quintuplets and their doctor, along with a fan featuring the quints from a drugstore in Covington, Ind.; a 1961 Barbie doll (with a “bubble” haircut) and Ken from Richter’s personal collection; a celluloid Hitler bodyguard (celluloid was banned in the late 1950s because it’s highly flammable); a 1965 Vogue Baby Dear; and a 1973 Fisher Price Baby Ann.
“Some of the dolls (on display) have been loved to death,” Richter said.
The museum’s display on the second floor will be up through Christmas.
Seating is limited. Reservations must be made and tickets paid for by Wednesday. Visa and Master Card are accepted.
Tickets are $20 and are available at the Vermilion County Museum, 116 N. Gilbert, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. For more information or to reserve a ticket, call the museum at 442-2922.