Welcome! We are so glad you could join us for tea this afternoon ❤ Charlcie is in the kitchen, putting the finishing touches on the cake, and the rest of the dolls are gathered in the parlor. Please make yourself at home. Izzybelle will introduce you to our other guests. Tea will be ready soon!
Thank you for coming to our birthday tea! We hope you had a lovely time ❤ You may click on any individual image to enlarge it. The dolls and I will be back in the morning at 9:00 a.m. EST as our Izannah Walker Birthday celebration continues…
Today is the 202nd anniversary of the day Izannah Walker was born on September 25th, 1817. ❤
Every day for the next week all of my Izannah Walker dolls and I will be celebrating Izannah’s birthday. Today the dolls woke up early to bake a birthday cake, so that it will be ready in time for their tea party at 4:00 p.m. Eastern Time today. While they wait for it to bake, Ismay has gathered her sisters together. She is reading them a story to pass the time…
Izzybelle and the Runaway Tomatoes
Once upon a time, not so very long ago, there was a little girl named Izzybelle. She was a very helpful little girl and one of her very favorite places to help was in the garden. Izzybelle liked everything about gardening, planting, watering and even weeding… but her most favorite thing of all was when it came time to pick the juicy colorful tomatoes!
One day when Izzybelle was bringing the tomatoes in from the garden, a few of the pretty little tomatoes rolled off of her cart… Izzybelle stopped and picked up the red egg shaped tomato, then she searched until she found the roly poly purple tomato, but she just couldn’t find the teeny tiny yellow tomato, no matter how hard she looked.
While Izzybelle was hunting for the other two bigger tomatoes, the littlest yellow tomato rolled… and rolled, and rolled some more for good measure. Finally the little yellow tomato came to a stop, right in front of a small, brown striped chipmunk. The chipmunk was so surprised that it had to leap a bit in fright! Seeing the chipmunk startle in fear, the tiny yellow tomato began to quiver back and forth, because now it was afraid too! Before you know it all that quivering made the small tomato start rolling all over again. Eventually it tumbled over into a flower bed, where it was found by a mama bird. “Oh look, a small yellow tomato!” said Mama Bird. “It is just the right size to fit in my beak” she said to herself. “I shall take it home to feed my babies”.
So Izzybelle was never able to find the littlest yellow tomato, and over the winter she forgot all about it, until spring came… Then surprise!!! Her friends the birds had planted the seeds of the small yellow tomato all over everywhere!
Izzybelle’s sisters are all strongly suggesting that she confines her tomato gardening to pots in the greenhouse next year…
Izzybelle’s sisters are all strongly suggesting that she should confine her tomato gardening to pots in the greenhouse next year… 🙂
To read about the beginning of little Izzybelle’s adventures with the tomatoes, please click here to be taken to a post from last year’s Izannah birthday celebration❤
What a good story…. Mmmm, I think I smell something delicious! The cake must be done! Time for the dolls to stir together the icing and set the table for our birthday party ❤
The birthday tea party is starting at 4:00 p.m. Eastern Time this afternoon. We’ll save you a chair ❤ ❤ ❤
I’ve been working away here in my studios, preparing for one of my favorite times of the year, my annual Izannah Walker birthday celebration. It is always a special event here in the doll’s house, as the dolls and I make time to simply play and enjoy the very special dolls that Izannah Walker created.
My Izannah birthday celebration changes a bit from year to year, but always features my collection of antique Izannah Walker dolls, plus some of the dolls I reproduce from her originals.
This year there will be a bit of make believe, a scoop of education, a cupful of beautiful photos, and a pound of fun, all stirred up with a pinch of magic! … oh yes, and cake, lots and lots of cake! ❤ Introductions to some of the new dolls I’m making, just for this celebration, will also be sprinkled in throughout the week, just like decorations on top of a birthday cake ❤
So please come visit everyday next week as the dolls and I share our birthday party with you!
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 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 ❤
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:
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 ❤
Getting ready… covered cast iron casserole pots are just right for baking crusty soda bread…
Stirring in the buttermilk…
Ready to go into the oven.
The doll’s loaves, fragrant and piping hot!
Golden brown crust…
Cat proof cooling!
Irish Soda Bread with raisins.
Happy St. Patrick’s Day!
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… ❤