What do adults play?
The choice of profession, and even more so a hobby, cannot always be explained logically. Why does a respectable man with a mustache devote himself to carving wooden horses, and does a business madam sign up for courses on making paper-dolls? Or suddenly he begins to put in order shabby and eyeless pups, spend a lot of money on porcelain young ladies and old teddy bears … Maybe the child inside her, who, they say, napping in each of us, woke up and wanted to play?
When you look at a collection of antique dolls, you get the feeling that you have fallen into a parallel world, where everything is the same as ours, and at the same time surprisingly, mysteriously. Under a fluffy skirt of a German doll, made more than a hundred years ago, a bag of wood shavings, sawdust or cotton can be hidden. Such bags are often adapted to the needles or hiding places for small boxes. And the so-called china dolls are not like Chinese women, because they are not Chinese at all, they are just made of Chinese porcelain. It is the material that distinguishes these dolls from ordinary ones made from porcelain biscuit, matte, slightly rough, as if velvety – this is most suitable for imitating human skin. Porcelain heads “tea dollars” are covered with white icing. Usually these dolls are small, but there are also real heroes. China dolls are not like Chinese women, because they are not Chinese at all – they are simply made of Chinese porcelain
Atypical, rare dolls are especially appreciated by collectors, which in Russia every year becomes more and more. True, we still have a condescending look at toy collectors, while overseas collecting has long been recognized and turned into a whole industry. Antique dolls occupied an honorable place at major world auctions along with paintings by famous artists and precious Faberge eggs. Even such venerable auction houses, such as Sotheby’s and Kristi’s, regularly auction antique dolls and accessories for them. And accessories are often even more rare than the dolls themselves, because they tend to get lost and wear out quickly. You are unlikely to meet an antique doll in a dress sewn a hundred years ago, and the doll itself, as a rule, undergoes restoration before taking a place in someone’s collection.
A question may arise: what kind of antiquity is this, if the head is repainted, the dress is fresh, spick and feel, and even the hair is replaced? Is it not better to leave everything as it is, even with scratches, cracks and traces of corruption, but in its original form, in order to preserve the precious spirit of antiquity? No, not better. And in order to understand this, it is enough to look once at the doll before the restoration: peeling, stained and chipped, the head lies apart from the straw-filled body, dressed in a dirty, faded and crumpled costume … The doll resembles a horror movie zombie, and not a touching child a toy or a valuable exhibit from a private collection. If your inner child asks for a doll, and certainly an old doll, and the funds allow him to be pampered, take a look at the websites of online auctions in America, Europe, Australia. Pay attention to the collection value, good condition and reasonable price. The cost of the most expensive antique dolls reaches 15,000 euros – not everyone will allow themselves such a purchase. The paint on the face peeled off, hair got out, dress rotted? No problem – everything can be fixed. But to buy a doll with a broken head should not be in any case. If porcelain beats, it’s forever.
A doll with damaged eyes, broken arms, a torn torso, the restorer is able to bring back to life. First, he examines the “patient”, assesses the state, understands what materials it is made of. Then starts work. Removes and washes his head. Takes out the eye mechanism, re-paints the eyelids, then waxes it so that the paint does not peel off when it blinks. Returns the mechanism in place and adjusts. It is important to make sure that the eyes fit the model. Sometimes dolls come with “alien” eyes that were not used at all by the manufacturer. Following the head is a proper body. If it has small cracks and breaks, then it is enough to putty and tint them. Some dolls, unfortunately, have to be repainted completely. The paint is varnished on top to give it a characteristic yellowness, that is, to artificially age it …
If the doll is in an antique dress, it is impossible to wash it – it already crumbles in the hands. Then a seamstress comes to the aid of the restorer, who creates costumes according to patterns from special books. The style is selected in accordance with the model of the doll and the time when it was made. Title antique honored dolls over 75 years of age. Younger fall into the category of vintage and are, of course, cheaper.