Antique Paper Dolls

Sometimes I don’t know what I enjoy more…the act of collecting and filling up my own home with treasures or meeting people and learning about their personal collections. Such is the case with my coworker, Ashby Conway. We started chatting one day about collecting and she began to tell me an amazing story about her little treasure.

Lost And Found

Ashby & her paper doll

Back in 2001, Ashby had an internship at Westminster Canterbury, a beautiful retirement community located in Richmond, VA. She would sit with the residents and record their life long memories onto cassette tape. During her time there, she met and became close friends with Lucy. Lucy was 95 years old and was a former teacher a very well known private school in town.

Look at the amazing costumes!

Handmade paper dolls that could almost be categorized as folk art

Sadly, in 2003, Lucy passed away. When Lucy’s daughter came to town to handle her mother’s belongings, she gave a special gift to Ashby. Lucy had a passion for collecting paper dolls. She had paper dolls of fashionable women, WWI soldiers, children, toys and holidays. Some of her paper dolls she had created herself with a heavy cardstock and colored pencil.

WWI soldiers, pilots and even scuba divers

Close to the Heart

I asked Ashby why she loved Lucy’s paper doll collection so much. She said that for her, the collection portrays a lost generation and offers a unique look at fashion styles from the first half of the last century. She also said it was the equivalent to an old letter – but in pictures and that, in a way, she could experience what Lucy lived through. Pretty special, huh?

Black and white paper doll that could be hand colored

To learn more about the history of paper dolls, check out the Original Paper Doll Artists Guild!

Do you have a unique collection that you’d like to share? If so, tell us about it!

Copyright 2012. The Savvy Seeker blog by Erin Hurley-Brown. All Rights Reserved.

2 thoughts on “Antique Paper Dolls

  1. I have two comments today.

    First, I loved reading this story; it made me want to know more about paper dolls (which I do remember from my 1950s childhood — but I had other stronger interests then). Also. Can you tell us if Ashby has added to her late friend’s collection?

    Second, as a collector and restorer of vintage photos, I was a bit concerned about the album pages in the pictures. I do hope they are not those “stick-to-the-plastic” pages, which can eventually “eat” the contents of the album. They sure look like them. I urge ALL of your blogfolk to drag out their albums and make sure their precious keepsakes are in safe acid-free sleeves from which they can be readily released. Transferring a precious collection to a safer environment is a perfect project for a winter weekend!

    Well, I guess there is a third comment: keep up the good work, Erin!

    • Rita! Good tip about the photo albums! Ashby mentioned that she wanted to take them out of the plastic sleeves and think of another way to archive them.

      I also had paper dolls as a child and loved them! These would look precious framed in a shadow box of some sort and displayed on a wall!

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