Apache Toy Cradleboard and Doll (1890s-1910)

Apache Toy Cradleboard and Doll 1890s-1910
Found in a home in Las Cruces, New Mexico, this Apache toy cradleboard and doll are part of the heritage of the Freudenthal family, Prussian immigrants who became one of the most prominent pioneering families of the American Southwest. Beginning in the mid-1800s, the Freudenthals, along with the Solomon and Lesinsky families (all three related by marriage) began establishing various mercantile, mining, banking and agricultural business in New Mexico, Arizona, Texas and New York.

Phoebus Freudenthal arrived in Las Cruces with his family when he was 13 and went on to open a store and establish a family of his own. In 1890 they moved to Solomonville, Arizona, where Phoebus founded a general merchandise business. It’s probable that items such as the toy doll carrier were acquired in trade for goods. In fact, the cradleboard was found with a collection of baskets and a letter referencing the collection that was written on Solomon Commercial Company stationary, signed by Phoebus and dated 1911.

For all of its historic ties, this antique toy has charm enough to stand on its own. The cradleboard is made of wood, painted fabric, and beadwork. The backboard is fashioned of strips of wood laced together with twine, while the hood is made of small bentwood branches tied with sinew. The cradleboard is covered by fine cotton muslin treated with an ochre stain and decorated with seed beads. The doll herself is made of muslin, with beads for a mouth and eyes. She wears a bead necklace at her throat, but her crowning glory is a sweep of wavy hair made from fine variegated yarn.

The piece is in very good overall condition. The coverlet has a two-inch tear near the top that’s hidden by a fold in the fabric. A small row of beads is missing along the foot and a few beads are missing from the top of the hood, but the beadwork is original and largely intact. The cradleboard is 12-3/4” T and 6” at the widest. Late 19th to early 20thc.


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