Antique Izannah Walker Dolls · Izannah Walker History

The Woman Behind the Dolls; A Timeline of Izannah Walker’s Life

20. Arranged by height, from 14 to 22.5 inches. P. Walton, S. Fox, and J. Falvey collections. P. Walton photo.
Some of the antique Izannah Walker dolls that appeared in the October 2017 special exhibit that I curated for the Jenny Lind Doll Show. Arranged by height, from 14 to 22.5 inches.

As doll collectors most of us know and love the rare, iconic American cloth dolls created by Izannah Walker. Her dolls have become the “holy grail” for many collectors, who often spend a lifetime searching for one of her amazing dolls. Izannah’s dolls have a distinctive quality that makes them instantly recognizable, but not all of us know much about the woman who created these dolls that bridge the gap between a child’s beloved doll and outstanding examples of American folk art.

What I love most about Izannah Walker’s dolls is that they are made using simple materials that were transformed into a sturdy, practical child’s toy using ingenious construction techniques.  That we now view her dolls as art confirms the genius of her design and her master craftsmanship. Izannah Walker, along with her sister Jane and aunt, Jane Hintz, managed to capture an evocative moment of American history and very firmly convey a sense of their time and place in a child’s toy.

There are no known photographs of Izannah Walker and details about her life are tantalizingly brief. The following timeline is an excerpt from my September, 2017 article in “Antique Doll Collector” magazine. I hope you enjoy learning a bit more about the life of one of America’s greatest doll makers.

Izannah Walker Timeline

1817- Izannah Walker was born September 25, 1817. Izannah was the third and youngest surviving child of Gilbert Walker and his third wife Sarah (Sally) Swasey. Izannah had six older half-siblings from Gilbert Walker’s marriage to his second wife (who died in 1808).

1824 – Izannah and her older sisters, Ann Richmond Walker and Jane Hintz Walker go to stay with their mother’s family at the family homestead in Somerset, MA.

1825 – After their mother and infant brother died, followed shortly by their father’s death, the three orphaned girls continued to stay with their maternal relatives. The Swasey family included their aunt Jane and her husband, Captain Anthony Hintz, who were childless. The Hintz’s had purchased the Swasey family home and property from Jane Swasey Hintz’s parents. The elder Swasays, Capt. and Mrs. Hintz and the three Walker sisters lived together in Somerset, MA on the Swasey homestead, which had been in the family for nearly a century.

1839 – Capt. Hintz writes his will leaving the original Swasey homestead and adjoining orchard to his wife Jane Hintz. He stipulated that after Jane’s death, the estate should go to their nieces, Jane and Isannah Walker. (Izannah’s name was often misspelled throughout her life.)

1845 – Izannah’s niece, Mary Helen Smith Holbrook, was born in New London, CT in 1843. In later years Mary’s daughter, Helen Holbrook Robertson, stated that her great-aunt Izannah began making dolls as early as 1845 when her mother, Mary Helen Smith Holbrook, was a child.

1850 – 1853 – Sometime during this period Izannah leaves Somerset Village, MA and moves to Central Falls, RI.

1855 – A doll is purchased from Izannah Walker for young Martha Jenks Wheaton Chase, who was born in 1851. A photograph of a letter, written by Martha Chase’s daughter, Anna M. Chase Sheldon, stating that her mother’s doll was purchased from Izannah Walker in 1855 is included in “A Treasure Indeed” by Grace Dyar, published in the UFDC Region 14 1981 souvenir booklet “Memory Lane”.

1865 – The Rhode Island State Census lists Izannah Walker’s occupation as “Doll Maker”.

The Massachusetts State Census shows Jane Walker and Jane Hintz (Izannah & Jane’s aunt) as “Doll Manufactures”.

1860’s – At the March 18, 1957 meeting of the Somerset (MA) Historical Society Flora B. Wood presented a paper about her mother, Augusta Louise Marble, who was born in Somerset in 1861. Excerpts from Flora B Wood’s paper were reprinted in The Spectator newspaper on October 26, 1994. “When my mother was a little girl in the 1860’s many of the little girls of Somerset had a Jane Walker doll. I have a picture of my mother holding one. They were handsome and lifelike and made by Miss Jane Walker, who lived on Main Street in the Village. They were made in several sizes and sold for up to 10 dollars.” The U.S. dollar experienced an average inflation rate of 2.12% per year between 1861 and 2017. $10 in the year 1861 is worth $264.18 in 2017.

1873 – June 12, 1873 Izannah Walker applies for a United States patent for an invention related “to the manufacture of dolls; and it consists, mainly, in the secondary or double stuffing next the external or painted layer, whereby, with a sufficiently soft surface, the tendency of the paint to crack or scale off is obviated.” Her patent is granted on November 4, 1873.

1845 – 1886 In the 1952 book Your Dolls and Mine by Janet Johl Izannah’s great- niece, Helen Holbrook Robertson, was quoted as saying “From 1845, when the first doll is said to have been made, until she died in 1886, Izannah Walker carried on the business, not securing a patent until persuaded to do so by friends in 1873.” Additional information that Helen Holbrook Robertson related to mid-20th century doll collector, Lila Singsen, whose conversation was reported in Your Dolls and Mine, was that the earliest dolls were made for friends, and that as the business grew, Izannah put her three sisters to work painting the dolls’ faces.

1888 – February 15, 1888 Izannah Walker dies of consumption, now known as pulmonary tuberculosis. She is buried, alongside her best friend Emeline Whipple, in Swan Point Cemetery in Providence, RI which is not far from her final home in Central Falls, RI.

1899 – On October 6, 1899, Jane Hintz Walker dies and is buried in the Palmer Street Cemetery in Somerset, MA.  According to cemetery records, Jane purchased her own burial plot. There is a four-sided monument on Jane’s grave that includes the birth and death dates of her grandparents, Jerathmel Bowers Swasey and Sarah Hellon Swasey, her aunts Parthenia Palmer Swasey and Jane Hellon Swasey Hintz, her uncle by marriage Anthony Hintz, her parents Gilbert Walker and Sarah Swasey Walker, and two of her siblings Anthony Hintz Walker (age 11 days) and Izannah Frankford Walker.

Izannah Walker 1870 Census detail
Izannah Walker 1870 Census detail
Izannah handwritten patent
Izannah Walker handwritten patent.

 

* Izannah Walker historian Monica Bessette is currently working on a book about Izannah Walker’s life, family and friends. So more information about Izannah’s life should be forthcoming in the near future! I personally can hardly wait ❤

Antique Izannah Walker Dolls · Izannah Walker Reproduction Doll · See Me on Facebook · Work in Progress

A Work in Progress ~A New Reproduction Izannah Walker Doll Comes to Life

Three little Charlcie's sitting in a row
Works in progress… The very first three reproductions of Charlcie. ❤ When finished they should be 23 inches tall!

 

As many of you probably know, I’ve been busy working on reproducing a very special Izannah Walker doll to coincide with the June Virtual Doll Convention 

Here is a tiny update on how my first reproductions of Charlcie are coming along…
The two part molded cloth heads have been joined together, then sewed onto a fabric shoulder covering, which was then attached to the doll’s torsos. As of late yesterday afternoon they have had four very thin layers of oil color applied to their heads and shoulders, and have the color blocked in on their eyes, cheeks and eyebrows. None of the fine details have been painted on their features yet. Painted curls and three more layers of paint on all the “skin” areas still to go! ☺️

I’m very happy to be one of the sponsors for the June Virtual Doll Convention. If you’d like to know more about the convention click here:

 

https://www.facebook.com/virtualdollconvention/?ref=br_tf&epa=SEARCH_BOX

https://www.virtualdollconvention.com/

 

Antique Izannah Walker Dolls · Holidays · Recipes

Happy St. Patrick’s Day

Happy St. Patrick's Day www.izannahwalker.com
Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Eliza Jane and Hannah wish you a very happy St. Patrick’s Day!  This morning, to celebrate, Hannah baked Irish Soda Bread for breakfast, which made all her sisters quite happy indeed ❤

 

Hannah’s favorite recipe comes from The Society for the Preservation of Irish Soda Bread. She prefers the recipe for White Soda Bread.  She did stray from tradition and add raisins, which would actually make her bread “spotted dog”.  Hannah is quite fond of both raisins and dogs… ❤

 

 

 

Antique Izannah Walker Dolls · Doll for Sale

Tilly J. Lamb ~ Now SOLD

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Two years ago I was fortunate to welcome an amazing Izannah Walker doll to my doll family.  I eventually decided to name her Josephine after one of my father’s grandmothers, Henrietta Josephine Wallace Prather. https://izannahwalker.com/2016/11/01/lost-in-a-daydream-of-past-childhoods/

Last year I was discussing Josephine with Monica Bessette. Monica told me that she was just sure my Josephine was the doll called “Tilly Lamb” in the book Your Dolls and Mine A Collectors Handbook by Janet Pagter Johl. In further discussion Monica also mentioned that Josephine is pictured in The Collector’s Encyclopedia of Dolls by Dorothy S. Coleman and Elizabeth A. Coleman. Josephine and I are very thankful to Monica for helping bring Josephine’s full name to light. Now she is Tilly J. Lamb! All of her sisters here at the doll’s house are following my mother’s family tradition of calling the siblings by their middle names, so she continues to be called Josephine, as well as Tilly J. Lamb on official occasions. ❤

Tilly
The Collector’s Encyclopedia of Dolls 1968 by Dorothy S. Coleman and Elizabeth A. Coleman
Tilly Lamb
The Collector’s Encyclopedia of Dolls 1968 by Dorothy S. Coleman and Elizabeth A. Coleman
Tilly J. Lamb
At some point someone decided to stick something on the tip of her nose!!! Odd, because other than some slightly worn paint the tip of her original nose is intact… The Collector’s Encyclopedia of Dolls 1968 by Dorothy S. Coleman and Elizabeth A. Coleman
Tilly J Lamb
Tilly Lamb is 4th from the left ❤ Your Dolls and Mine A Collector’s Handbook 1952 by Janet Pagter Johl

On Tuesday I introduced you to Tilly J. Lamb’s younger sisters, my first four reproductions of sweet Josephine. Two of them have already found wonderful new homes. Miss A. Lamb and Miss D. Lamb are still looking for doll families of their very own.  https://izannahwalker.com/2018/09/25/meet-the-lamb-sisters-4-dolls-available-for-sale-happy-201st-birthday-izannah-part-4/

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Miss D. Lamb seated on the left in the darker brown dress. Miss A. Lamb standing on the right in the lighter brown dress. ❤ SOLD

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Both sisters are dressed in long sleeved brown dresses, made from antique fabric. They will come with an antique petticoat, pantalettes and a chemise made from antique fabric, Two brass brooches, one at the neck and a slightly smaller one at the waist, and a tiny pincushion. The pincushions are like the ones shown in the American Girl’s Book by Miss Eliza Leslie, although they are a traditional form that dates back at least to the later part of the 18th century.  Their dresses were made using a pattern taken from an original Izannah Walker dress, and are perfect for gardening since the long sleeves protects the girl’s pale skin from excessive sunlight and the practical brown fabric does not show dirt. ❤ Yet the dresses look sweet enough for a party with the addition of a few accessories.  The dolls are $1575.00 each, which includes free insured shipping to any U.S. address, with no sales tax unless they are shipped to CT. They are being sold on a first come basis and will be ready to ship out at the beginning of next week. Paypal, check, money order, credit cards and lay-away accepted.  Please email p.walton.asweetremembrance@gmail.com to purchase or with questions.  I’ll go by the time I receive your email if more than one person asks to buy the same doll.

 

Miss A. Lamb $1575.00 20 inches  SOLD

 

 

Miss D. Lamb $1575.00 20 inches  SOLD

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One of the truly amazing things about the reproductions of Tilly Lamb is the paint surface. All of her gentle wear and age is present in her new sisters. It’s hard to show you just how amazingly detailed it is….

 

 

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Antique Izannah Walker Dolls · Celebrations

A Very Soggy Garden Party!~ Happy 201st Birthday Izannah ~ Part 3

 

Will the rain stay away long enough for the party? …  After the cake was baked the ever hopeful Hannah and Charlcie ventured out to set the table for their birthday tea party…

 

“Oh goodness!” “Here comes the rain!” ” Hannah you take the teapot and I’ll bring the cake!” “I hope we get back to the house before the scones are soaked…”

 

Fortunately Eliza Jane had thought ahead to just such an eventuality! She had the parlor clean and a fire burning in the stove to help ward off the chill rainy weather.

just as nice
“I think this looks just as nice as a garden party.” “It’s so cozy in the parlor and it will be nice to sit together and have a tea party right here.”
gather the family
“Now all we have to do is to gather the rest of the family and our guests together for the party”
cake
“The cake smells delicious Charlcie!” “Thank you, it’s one of my favorite receipts.”
what are you wearing
“Izzybelle whatever are you wearing?” “I found it in the attic. It’s going to be my Halloween costume.” “Well it’s not Halloween today. Today is our birthday tea party in honor of Izannah. It’s a very important day!” “All the more reason to dress up” reasoned Izzybelle “and I’m NOT changing clothes!”
hurry
“Miss Lamb, are you ready for the party yet?” “No, not quiet yet…”
“We are so happy that one of our dearest friends could be here for the party!”
wish
“make a wish…”
present
Every year the dolls get a present in honor of Izannah’s birthday. This year they received a little wooden doll to add to their toy box ❤
Happy 201st Birthday!
“Happy 201st Birthday Izannah!” ❤

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With love from…

 

and one of the doll’s very dearest friends ❤ ❤ ❤

dearest friend
❤ ❤ ❤ dearest friend ❤ ❤ ❤