Monday, November 28, 2011

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Betty Bonnet's Dearest Dolls, part 1

June 1916, Ladies Home Journal. Artist: Sheila Young. I can never resist these cut sets, because the paper has aged so well. It amazes me. Sharp colors, no foxing or brown spots, as a rule. And the artwork is beautiful. I'm filled with wonder and delight all over again for this crazy hobby of ours.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Roadside vendor, Puerto Rico, 1987

This week's Sepia Saturday theme prompted me to recall doorways, shadows and roadside food stands.  In 1987 my sister Elaine and I spent a week in Puerto Rico visiting family and sightseeing on our own. This roadside fruit stand might have been in Ponce, but I'm not certain. We were on the road a lot. Who was the first person to place horns behind someone's head in a photo? A pioneer lost to history. 

We stayed for awhile in El Convento, a San Juan hotel that was once a convent, as the name indicates. Above, Elaine in one of the hotel's courtyard passageways. We had a great time seeing aunts and uncles and many cousins in San Juan, Ponce and Villalba, the small town where my mother was born.

 That's me with the banana bunch. Another favorite memory of the island: street vendors selling quenepas--a small round fruit with a soft skin. They have a short shelf life, so they are only sold on the side of the road. And sometimes in the middle of the road--you'd stop the car at a redlight and vendors on a median would hawk their goods right there.

On this trip we also visited beautiful Luquillo Beach, where a grove of palm trees provides cool shade on the sand. A vendor on the beach, who made these hats of palm fronds, took our picture.

Ah, to return to la isla bonita. Someday soon.

Be sure to click on the logo below to see more Sepia Saturday participants.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving


A very polite cat is content to gaze into the fire, and not disturb the unattended dinner table. My Penny would have been all over that spread! The spooky vapor script coming from the kettle--in addition to the black cat--gives this card a Halloween aura.

Raphael Tuck & Sons, series No. 123. Postmarked from Brooklyn, N.Y., 1908.

Mrs. Miller in Poughkeepsie, N.Y. received the following message, as best I can make out, from her mother:

Have heard nothing as yet from missing letter. Glad you spoke about J--. Please send me her address by return mail. Lovingly, Mother. Hope to see you all soon.

Was there a significance to an upside down stamp? One source says it meant "I love you" in Victorian times. Who could doubt that was exactly Mother's intent?

(By the way, I have an editorial in today's Ledger about the creep of the Black Friday shopping frenzy into this day of family reunion. It's my fear the deserted dinner table pictured in the postcard above will become a reality as more people head to the malls.)

Happy Thanksgiving to all of you!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

1930s Thanksgiving Day Parade, Newark, N.J.


This wonderful video was posted on, the online home of the Star-Ledger, where I work. You can read the accompanying story here. I loved seeing the streetcars parked along the side of the street. The article says famous puppeteer Tony Sarg designed a menagerie of inflatable animals that were wired for sound!

The Paper Doll Circle, Nov. 2011

Sunday, November 20, 2011

"Desktop Publishing," by Larry Bassin, c. 2003

Larry Bassin designed the flyer for the 2012 convention, "Come Fly With Us!" A nifty theme, since the Aug. 9-12 event will be held at the Wright Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio. Larry is one of the first original paper doll artists I met at the 2003 convention. I love his use of color, his animated dolls and clever layouts. I don't have a full-color version of the flyer, so I dug into my Larry Bassin archive for "Desktop Publishing," so you could get the full flavor of his artwork.

You can join Larry's "Paper Doll of the Month Club," $40 for a six-month subscription. Mail your check to: Larry Bassin, 5385 S. Piccadilly, West Bloomfield, MI 48322.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Mustang Sally, c. 1970

Here's my Sepia Saturday contribution, on the theme of cars. Yes, in high school I dated a guy with a Mustang, and I thought I was pretty cool. Top and middle photos are likely 1969, the year my family moved to Ozone Park, Queens, where the photo was taken. The car is a 1966 Mustang, I think. Spent many a weekend helping my beau wash and wax this car (turtle wax!) buying accessories in auto shops (tire gauges, special driving gloves, a leather wrap for the steering wheel). Car shows in the old NY Coliseum. 
The mini skirt in the 1971 picture above is actually a hot pants/culottes thing. Don't ask. For those who are familiar with Queens, that's Woodhaven Blvd. in the background, approaching Atlantic Ave.

I was listening to a lot of Al Green at the time. His music always takes me back to the days I rode around in a Mustang.

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Friday, November 18, 2011

A Suitable Muse paper doll, 2011

Thanks to Lone Nunnally for the heads up about yesterday's paper doll on the front of the Washington Post Style section ("A suitable muse," Thursday, Nov. 17). The article is about how women in the nation's capital rely on the conservative styles of the Ann Taylor stores for their fashion needs. (I'm a big fan of the Ann Taylor style, too.) The artist is Allie Ghaman.

If you click on the illustration above, it will take you to the Washington Post page. Look at the bottom for the pdf version, click on that and save to your computer.

Sweet: there's a caption below the paper doll with instructions about gluing the page to card stock before cutting out, and attaching clothing to doll by folding tabs back! Just like paper dolls of 100 years ago. (Yes, a new generation might just need to know how paper dolls work...)

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

2012 Paper Doll Convention, Dayton, Ohio

This is a Mary Young-Louise Leek-Peggy Ell production, so you know it will be special! My first convention was in Cleveland in 2003, and what a great introduction it was to the paper doll community. Mary Young is the doyenne of collectors, the author of numerous guidebooks identifying sets and publishers, long before eBay, in the days when collectors bought and sold through newsletters, house parties, live auctions and conventions.

Click on the image above to get a larger copy to read and print out. I'll be posting a permanent link to the flyer within the week.

Don't forget: Register before Dec. 31, 2011 to get the special rate of $155. After that date, the rate will be $185.

Gorey Cats, 1982

Edward Gorey, Troubador Press, 1982.

Monday, November 14, 2011


It seems impossible that we would have to say farewell so soon to Penny, less than two years after losing Midnight. But that is what we had to do this morning. Penny was a great friend, a loving cat.

My husband long ago created a web site devoted to all the cats we have loved: Lola, Midnight and Penny. (Somewhere, I have a pencil sketch of Toby, the cat I had when I was teenager.)

It is strange to not have a cat in our house, the first time in more than 10 years.  With time, we will be ready to welcome another bundle of furry love into our lives...

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Bettie Page by Bruce Patrick Jones

Bettie Page by Bruce Patrick Jones is finally out! We were able to see a preview at the convention in August. Bravo, Bruce! Another delightful paper doll by this masterful artist.

You can order your copy here.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Annie Nicholas, 1911

To commemorate Sepia Saturday 100, a look back:

This year, thanks to the efforts of historians, artists, writers and unionists, an event was pulled from the dustbin of American history, and given a place of honor in public memory.

The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire of March 1911 took the lives of 146 people, mostly Italian and Jewish women who were recent immigrants, working for low wages under shoddy conditions. The disaster galvanized the labor movement in the U.S.,  gave urgency to the demand for women's suffrage, and led to reforms in building and fire safety. I wrote about the anniversary earlier this year for my newspaper; you can read the article here.

Cornell University has an extraordinary archive of photos and documents about the fire. The 1911 picture of Annie Nicholas is from their web site; she died in the fire at the age of 18. There are many gruesome pictures of the fire and its aftermath; the disaster coincided with the ascendance of newspaper photography and was extremely well recorded. I chose a picture of an individual for this post, to remember the humanity behind the statistics.

The New York Times has their own excellent archive, including links to their coverage of the fire in 1911, and articles discussing the sweatshop labor we still rely on.

"Shirtwaist,"  a digital collage I created for March 25, 2011, incorporating all the names of those who died in the Triangle fire.

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Thursday, November 10, 2011

Tracy's Paper Dolls

Someone found these exquisite Dennison paper dolls, but it wasn't me! Boo hoo! It was Tracy over at Tracy's Toys (and Some Other Stuff). These are jointed dolls, with movable arms and legs, patterns and a stash of crepe paper, so children made their own clothes. Some of the crepe paper is pre-printed with details, but most of it is not, and it's great fun to find a set and see how some child long ago designed a wardrobe. I have a Dennison set of my own, but these dolls are different from the ones I have and that are usually for sale on eBay. Didn't know Dennison had a boy doll.

Tracy has generously posted many pictures. Browse the rest of her blog and you'll see many of her other terrific finds. I've learned a lot about vintage toys from Tracy's posts. Thanks to Christine for the heads up!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

"She is my Picnic Girl," 1893 sheet music

A lovely piece from the New York Public Library Digital Collection. You can find the actual music in the archive as well. The artwork on some early sheet music is outstanding. This was a supplement to The Examiner; could be the San Francisco Examiner.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Sixteenth Street Baptist Church Choir, c. 1917

This week's Sepia Saturday theme stumped me. Did I have any pictures in my archive of a group of musicians? None I could think of in my family album or anywhere else. I know I didn't have to stick with the theme, but I'm so new to the group that I wanted to stay close. And I suddenly recalled this photo, a copy of which I bought when I traveled to Birmingham, Alabama on an writing assignment at least 10 years ago. I visited the historic Sixteenth Street Baptist Church, and this photo was for sale in a nearby gift shop. Could this group of church going women be musicians? I did a quick Google search, and found this is indeed the choir.

It has been awhile since my visit, so the Encyclopedia of Alabama was helpful in refreshing my memory:
Sixteenth Street church was originally established in 1873 as the first Colored Baptist Church. The first worship services were held in a modest building at Twelfth Street and Fourth Avenue. In 1880, the church moved to its present location at Sixteenth and Sixth Avenue. From 1884 until 1908, the church operated from a brick building; however, the city condemned the building and ordered it torn down. In 1911, the church's present building was constructed at a cost of $26,000; the new structure housed the sanctuary, a basement auditorium, and several rooms for church activities such as Sunday school classes.

The church was a mainstay in Birmingham's African American community. During the early twentieth century, Sixteenth Street Baptist Church hosted many notable African American intellectuals, including W. E. B. Du Bois, sociologist, scholar, and Harvard University's first African American graduate; Mary McLeod Bethune, scholar and founder of the Daytona Normal and Industrial Institute for Negro Girls (now Bethune-Cookman College); Paul Robeson, athlete, actor, singer, cultural scholar, author, and political activist; and later Ralph Bunche, Howard University professor, political scientist, Under-Secretary General of United Nations, and Nobel Peace Prize Winner. 
One part of the church's history I never forgot, and few Americans can ever forget: It is where a horrific bombing occurred that killed four girls, one of the searing moments of the Civil Rights struggle in the U.S.:
Throughout the 1960s, the church was the staging ground for African American activism and the civil rights movement in Birmingham. The church hosted mass rallies and became the headquarters for several desegregation and voting rights protests. Many marchers would assemble at the church and then hold protests at Kelly Ingram Park across the street. Serving as the de facto headquarters for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) and the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), the church became the focal point for racial tension and white hostility toward the civil rights movement in the city. This tension climaxed at 10:22 a.m. on Sunday, September 15, 1963, when the church was bombed. The devastating blast killed Denise McNair (age 11), Addie Mae Collins (14), Carole Robertson (14), and Cynthia Wesley (14), who had just attended Sunday school and were in the basement dressing room, discussing their first days at school and preparing for the 11:00 a.m. service. In addition, 23 other individuals were also injured. The bombing outraged the nation and inspired people to condemn segregation in the South. The bombing tragedy, along with other shameful events, such as the beatings of demonstrators in the Selma to Montgomery march in 1965, contributed to progressive landmark legislation such as the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights of 1965.
 You can read more, and see more pictures at the Encyclopedia of Alabama. Be sure to visit the web site of the church, as well, by clicking here.

I've no doubt this 1917 choir sang "Lift Every Voice and Sing," written in 1900 by James Weldon Johnson, and considered the "Black National Anthem."

Thank you Sepia Saturday for a chance to rediscover and discuss this photo. I look forward to checking out what everyone else has posted over the next several days.

1920s Bratz paper doll

Of course, this isn't a Bratz doll as we know it today. But this 1920s cutie, German, I think, reminds me of the Bratz line with her big eyes and pouty lips. The Carol Carey collection.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Original art paper doll

Sorry for the cryptic posts. I was without power for five days, but couldn't resist posting from my iPhone! This is from the Carol Carey collection.