SOLD Early Primitive Black Cloth Doll, Painted Features

For all the unusual rag dolls I’ve come across through the years, this is definitely one of the most intriguing. She comes from a Texas auction, and I know nothing about her origin. But I love the fact that she’s so unusual. Her features are painted directly on the black cotton fabric from which she’s made. Her hair is fashioned of very fine, very dry Spanish moss. And she’s stuffed with what may be raw cotton, based on the lumpy feel.

The doll’s clothing — an un-hemmed slip gathered at the waist; a black and white cotton print blouse trimmed with tucking; and a red wool flannel skirt with black pinstripes — was probably made from garments “re-purposed” especially for her. Even though the clothes are sewn on, it’s easy to describe her construction: broad shoulders (7” across), wide hips (8” across) and long skinny legs. The torso and legs are one piece; the head, arms and feet are applied.

In the interest of full disclosure, which I fully believe in, when I acquired the doll, there was a sizable tear in the fabric around her mouth. So, in the interest of preserving this unique example, I had the torn portion of her face professionally restored. (Note the “before” and “after” photos.) This early doll is 26” tall and probably dates from the late 1890s to around 1910.


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