19th c. Rag Doll Wearing Open Crotch Drawers

With her sweet expression, nicely embroidered features, treadle- and hand-sewn Turkey-red cotton dress and — something I’ve never seen on a rag doll before — open crotch drawers– this appealing18-inch tall doll is a delightful “find”.

Constructed with a round flat head, narrow waist, wide hips, and stub hands and feet, the unjointed doll is almost entirely hand sewn and made from old cotton batting and rags. The head is stockinet. The hair is fashioned from skeins of thread and covered by a snood of black netting.

The doll’s dress is removable, but her three undergarments are stitched on, making it difficult to confirm each and every construction detail. But it’s clear that the nose is fashioned from cotton batting, as are the feet, and a careful probe reveals that the doll’s arms are cotton batting as well, with bits of fine wire strengthening the hands. Note how the batting used for the feet (and presumable the legs) is tightly wrapped in thread to give them shape.

The doll’s arms and upper legs are covered with pieces of old, soft ticking, which is also used for the bodice and petticoat. The open crotch drawers are made of cotton.

This is a charming primitive homemade rag doll that dates to the 1880s or ‘90s — and possibly earlier — in very good condition for her age. She has character to spare. And as for those open crotch drawers, they just don’t show up every day.


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