The dolls are washing their party dresses today, so that they will be all ready for our 10th annual Izannah Walker Birthday Celebration this Friday, September 25th, 2020 beginning at 8:00 a.m. Eastern time. ❤ Have you decided what you are wearing to the party???
I haven’t sent out a newsletter in quite some time… the one overwhelming thing I most want to say is that I hope you, your families and loved ones are safe and healthy. This has been such a very sad and difficult year for our world.
I debated with myself about whether or not to write my annual Autumn Newsletter, but in the midst of such very unsettled and stressful times I find that I need a few happy, fanciful things to think about. Tiny bright spots that make life feel a bit more normal and remind me of better days. So I decided to go ahead and write, hoping that you might feel the same and be interested in a bit of studio news and upcoming events.
The dolls and I are busy making plans to celebrate Izannah Walker’s 203rd birthday on September 25th. I started writing my Izannah Walker Journal ~ Paula Walton’s Doll-Making Notes blog in January, 2009. The little Izzy’s and I have been celebrating the anniversary of Izannah Walker’s birth on my blog for ten years! Since my first birthday post on September 25th, 2010!
I’m getting a rather late start on preparations this year. I have to admit that since March I have been feeling much too antsy to make dolls… I have needed to do more physical, less detailed work. To be up and moving all the time rather than sitting… I have been throwing myself into taking care of my little remnant of an 18th century farm. My life is going through a lot of changes at the moment and one of the things I am exploring is the feasibility of farming on a very small scale, so I have been growing a few experimental crops and trying out new plants. I’m not at all sure that farming is in my future, but it has made for an interesting, busy, exhausting spring and summer. I have also been concentrating on taking care of my family and making things for them. I have made masks, masks, and more masks. Not nearly as many as some people I know, who have been donating them on a large scale, but I have still made a fair number ~ about 75 so far, with more requested and on my to do list. My concentration on family has included making toys with my granddaughter and sewing clothes for her first year of school.
Now, just finally, I am feeling as if I can return to making dolls, creating spun cotton fancies, and all the other art and handwork that I love. Apparently I am not alone in this, as I have recently been seeing comments and posts from other artists and craftspeople remarking that they too have not been able to work on their art and creations for months…
So please come join me at www.izannahwalker.com on September 25th, 2020 as the dolls and I celebrate Izannah Walker’s 203rd birthday! We will come up with something fun and festive to mark the occasion and I will be introducing my very first reproduction dolls of Sarah Alice, the latest antique Izannah Walker doll to join my Izannah family. There will be more details to come posted on www.izannahwalker.com , https://www.facebook.com/ASweetRemembrance , and https://www.instagram.com/asweetremembrance/?hl=en
In the meantime, if you would like a bit of extra Izannah Walker fun, you may want to watch a few of my videos on YouTube https://www.youtube.com/user/asweetremembrance/videos .
Other Studio Happenings
I am very, very honored to once again have been selected by Early American Life as one of their top traditional craftsmen in 2020. This marks the 41st time I have been juried into their prestigious Directory of Traditional Craftpersons. One of my dolls was featured in their August 2020 issue.
Both the Spun Cotton Ornament Class and Izannah Walker Doll Making Class member help sites have moved to private facebook groups. If you are a member of either class and would like an invitation to the group please email me. You must be a member of facebook to use the private facebook group.
In Closing Thank you all for your interest in my work for all these years. I have enjoyed getting to talk or correspond with so many of you! Knowing you has enriched my life. I hope that I have been able to add just a bit of fun, whimsy and knowledge to yours!
I’d like to leave you with this recipe for Birth-day Pudding. It is the recipe that the dolls and I baked for our first Izannah Walker Birthday Party in 2010, and what we will be making again to celebrate this year. It is very easy and quite delicious! You don’t even have to be a doll lover to enjoy it ~ lol!
Wishing you and safe and happy autumn!
Butter a deep dish, and lay in slices of bread and butter, wet with milk, and upon these sliced tart apples, sweetened and spiced. Then lay on another layer of bread and butter and apples, and continue thus till the dish is filled. Let the top layer be bread and butter, and dip it in milk, turning the buttered side down. Any other kind of fruit will answer as well. Put a plate on the top, and bake two hours, then take it off and bake another hour.
This receipt (aka recipe) is from Miss Beecher’s Domestic Receipt-Book by Catherine E. Beecher. Catherine Esther Beecher was born in 1800 in East Hampton, Long Island. She founded the Hartford Female Seminary in 1823 as well as other schools for young women in Ohio, Illinois, Iowa and Wisconsin. She wrote A Treatise on Domestic Economy (1841) and Miss Beecher’s Domestic Receipt-Book (1846).
After buttering my dishes I dusted them with sugar, before layering in the bread and butter.
I cut the crusts off my bread, as the pudding was for a special occasion, but you certainly don’t have to. I saved the crusts as a treat for the wild birds in my yard. You may also save them to make stuffings, bread crumbs, or croutons.
I chose cinnamon, mace and nutmeg as my spices.
I baked my doll sized pudding in a custard cup, which would also be nice if you want to bake yours in individual portions.
I preheated my oven to 350 degrees and baked my puddings for 15 minutes, then I reduced the oven temperature to 250 degrees and continued baking for the remaining 2 hours and 45 minutes. I removed my doll size pudding from the oven after 30 minutes of total baking time. Your baking time is going to depend a lot on the size of your dishes and the thickness of your pudding, so check your oven fairly frequently. It’s also a good idea to put a cookie sheet under your dish, because my pudding bubbled over as it was baking.
A small Pop~Up Shop to celebrate the New Year! Tomorrow, January 1st, here on http://www.izannahwalker.com at 1:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time. I will be posting some of my newly completed reproduction Izannah Walker dolls and a handful of antique dolls too!
My Izannah family and I would like to wish everyone a very Happy Christmas! We’ve had a long, lovely Christmas celebration here in our snug old house. I hope your day has also been filled with Peace, Love, & Joy ❤
As a bedtime story tonight I am telling the little cloth girls the tale of how they all came to live here in this very old farmhouse in a small New England town…
… it all began Once Upon a Time, as all the very best stories do… Before I knew a single thing about this very old house, or this small little town…
The very first thing that happens in this story is a photograph, and in this photograph was a doll… What kind of doll you ask? That’s a very good question, and one I could not answer! So I searched and I searched, and I read about dolls… until at last I discovered the name of the woman who made the doll a long, long time ago. Can you guess who that was? I think you can… you no doubt know how the rest of the story goes too! So we’ll simply say that we wish you great happiness on this Christmas night ❤ ❤ ❤
We’ve come to the very last day of my Izannah Walker Birthday Celebration ❤ What I had originally planned for today was to introduce you to the finished dolls I’ve been making especially for this birthday week. It seems that the dolls and life in general have other plans. That happens sometimes, so instead today is going to be another look at work in progress. 🙂
You’ll be able to look back at my earlier WIP post, from a few days ago, and see how the dolls have changed as more layers of paint and additional features and details have been added. Once all that troublesome wet paint finally dries, I’ll be able to stitch all their body parts together, add their 2nd skins and move on to getting them dressed. ❤
At this point you are probably asking yourself “so when are they going to be finished?” Good question! I’ve decided that I’m really very bad at estimating that ~ lol! I honestly thought that they would be finished this week… Silly me!
If you received a copy of my Autumn Newsletter, then you know that I’m switching from “Third Thursdays” to all “Pop-Up Shops” for the foreseeable future. I do love the niceness and neatness of having a consistent day each month where you can expect to see new things for sale, but I also love the spontaneity of surprise Pop-Up Shops ❤ . So… this just means that I can start the new round of Pop-Up Shop days in a big way, with all of these sweet boys & girls!!!
If you are on my “New Dolls” email list, I will always send you a little notification to let you know when the dolls are being posted for sale. If you aren’t on the list and want to be, send me an email at email@example.com and I’ll add you. This is a separate list from my Newsletter address list. I also post an announcement on facebook whenever I have dolls for sale and I’ll start adding Pop-Up Shop notices on Instagram and Pinterest as well. Obviously if you subscribe to this blog you’ll get a notification, and my blog posts are supposed to automatically generate a tweet on twitter, though I haven’t checked on that for a while… if I can remember what my twitter password is I’ll go take a look and see if that is still working 🙂
In the meantime, if one of these dolls is tugging at your heart and saying “I am yours…”, you can contact me, firstname.lastname@example.org. At this point they are all $1250, which includes free shipping within the US. Once I have them dressed the price might be slightly higher on some of them if I decide to do very elaborate clothing or add extras, such as aprons. The twins, Peter & Paul, are only going to be offered as a set ~ so the pair will be $2500.
Making Dreams Come True…
Izannah Walker dolls have been my dream for a bit more than 30 years… the dream started when I happened to see an Izannah Walker doll pictured in a country decorating magazine. She was sitting next to a Christmas tree amongst an armful of other antique dolls… I just thought “THAT Doll!!!” There was just something about the way that doll looked. I could not stop thinking about her! To start with I didn’t even know that she was an Izannah Walker doll, since the photo caption didn’t include that information. Eventually I would see another Izannah Walker doll pictured in a room setting in Early American Life. Thankfully this time the doll was identified.
My dream had a very tiny beginning and has been oh so slow in the making. It took me a very long time in the beginning to even learn anything at all about Izannah’s dolls. At that point I never thought I would even be able to see one in person, much less own one.
Slowly my dream shifted and I began working towards making enough money to buy an Izannah Walker doll. Once I finally accomplished that goal, my dream changed a bit more and I passionately wanted to learn how Izannah made her dolls and to try making a similar doll myself! It’s a good thing that I am stubborn! Stubbornness helps! Especially during the ten years it took me to finally figure out how Izannah had made her dolls and to eventually be able to make a close approximation! Since then I’ve continued to work on and refine that process, until I can now make historically accurate reproductions.
There are times in our lives when I think we need to be our own fairy Godmothers! ❤ We can’t wait for someone else to make our dreams come true. So if you have a dream, doll related or not, I want to encourage you to try to make it happen!!! Working towards your dream will be a rewarding, though sometimes frustrating experience! Your dream might wind up changing along the way, and that’s OK too. Sometimes I settle for smaller, tinier versions of my original dreams, and you know what? Those little bitty bits of my original dream make me incredibly happy! Occasionally, with dreams like my Izannah Walker dream, I surprise myself & my dream becomes so much more than I ever thought it could be… ❤
I can’t help you with all of your dreams, but if you too have an Izannah dream, then I would be happy to try to help you make it come true!
My Izannah dreams have been helped along the way by so many people. I have wonderful friends who support, encourage and inspire me! I obviously have the best customers in the world, I’ve met so many fantastic people while selling dolls and teaching classes, and made some lovely friendships. I also have a very tolerant family, my three sons are no doubt very tired of hearing so much about dolls, but they don’t complain and are willing to listen to me prattle on about this doll thing and that… which is just one of the things I love about them. I even have one little family member, who for the moment at least, appears to love dolls as much as I do! She told me the other day that my Izannahs “need a daddy and a brother”. A kindred spirit, as I was already in the midst of making a big bunch of boys!
So thank you for being you! Thank you for your interest in my work and dolls! I hope I can inspire you like you inspire me!
Just a note about two little things that happened after I had written the draft of this post….
The first is that I saw a wonderful documentary film the other night, The Biggest Little Farm. It is beautiful, fascinating, and oh so very inspiring! The dream the film maker had of being able to farm the way farming used to be and the story of how they created their farm is incredible! If you need a huge dose of inspiration, this is a great movie to watch. ❤
The other little thing is a comment I received early this morning on one of the videos I posted this week on YouTube. ” Just delightful! Just “discovered” your site! Now a subscriber, anxious for future videos! You inspire me. I repair vintage bisque and composition dolls and have hit a wall with dolls stacking up to repair and redress. I think I have got the bug again thanks to you!” ❤ So I guess this inspiration thing is working. 🙂 We are all inspiring each other! I think that is wonderful!!!
For day 6 of my Izannah Walker Birthday Celebration I thought it would be fitting to talk a bit about the way the dolls are made and share with you my article about Izannah Walker and her dolls, which originally appeared in the September, 2017 issue of Antique Doll Collector Magazine.
If you have any questions, you may comment below or email me at email@example.com.
Please respect my copyright of the following article and photographs. Do not reprint or share any portions or the entirety without my explicit permission. Thank you ❤
Izannah Walker and Her Dolls by Paula Walton
For more than 80 years, doll lovers and historians have been writing about Izannah Walker’s dolls. What is it about these handmade painted cloth dolls that have made them so beloved by generations and cause them to command such high prices today, 200 years after the birth of their maker?
The reason for their great appeal varies from person to person, but the prices the dolls fetch when sold indicate how dearly they are loved. In the 1860’s, the dolls were reported to have sold for up to $10, the equivalent of $264 today, which made them a very expensive plaything. Recently a 17” Izannah Walker boy doll sold for $41,250 at a McMaster Harris auction, proving that they continue to be quite costly and greatly desired.
I am particularly drawn to Izannah’s pre-patent dolls, meaning those made before she applied for and received her 1873 United States patent. Izannah Walker had a very lengthy doll making career, from age 28 until her death at age 70. It is very interesting to examine her dolls and see how they developed and changed during those 42 years, while still maintaining their essential look and design.
It is quite difficult to accurately date an Izannah Walker doll, as the pre-patent dolls were not signed or labeled. In the best instances, it is possible to trace the date a doll was made by researching the doll’s original owner. Fortunately, several dolls have survived along with records of their young playmates. A few examples of such dolls are the c. 1861 Izannah Walker doll originally owned by Mary Estelle Newell, and accompanying photograph of the child and doll now in the collection of The National Museum of Toys/Miniatures; the c.1857 doll given to Helen Marshall by her aunt, Elizabeth Pinkham Crosby, currently in the collection of the Nantucket Historical Society; a doll named Ella, given to Elizabeth Coggeshall Pope of New Bedford, MA when she was born on October 26, 1857, sold by Withington Auction In October, 2008; a c.1865 doll originally owned by Mary Whitney Carter of Pawtucket, R.I., auctioned by Theriault’s on April 9, 2011.
Another method of attempting to date Izannah’s dolls is by searching for them in period photographs. Finding only a photographic image, without an accompanying doll and family history, is problematic. Often the photographs do not have a date or the name of the child pictured in them. Izannah Walker dolls can be found in rare daguerreotypes, ambrotypes, tintypes, cartes de visite (cdv), and even in at least one stereograph. Without a date on the image, it is necessary to try and find a birth record for the child in the portrait, if the child is identified.
Failing this option, the next possibility is trying to date the image by the method used to capture it. Daguerreotypes were made from 1839-1860, although most daguerreotypes we see today were made after 1845. Ambrotypes were developed in 1851; they became more popular than the daguerreotype and virtually displaced it by 1860. Ambrotypes waned between 1861-1866 as they were steadily replaced by tintypes. The tintype, developed in 1853, was most widely used during the 1860s and 1870s, though lesser use persisted into the early 1900s. Cartes de visite were introduced in New York in late summer of 1859. The Civil War gave them enormous momentum as soldiers and their families posed for cartes before they were separated by war. Lastly, by 1860, both amateur photographers and publishing firms were making stereographs, which are still being made today.
So you have all of these different methods of photography with over lapping time frames, which means that you can broadly calculate when the photograph of the doll would have been taken by identifying the method, but can’t really pinpoint an exact year. The final hope for dating a daguerreotype, ambrotype, and some tintypes is studying the components of their cases and trying to narrow the time range based on when the separate parts of the case were made.
To make the quest of dating even more of a challenge, throw in the possibility that the Izannah Walker doll, in the photograph you are trying to date, may have been a studio prop owned by the photographer! Nick Vaccaro, a noted collector and dealer of early photography, had a portion of his collection displayed in the exhibition, Forever Young: Victorian Photographs of Children and Their Toys at The National Museum of Toys and Miniatures. Mr. Vaccaro related that it was common for photographers to have a box of toys in their studios to help keep children still while being photographed.
For daguerreotypes in particular, the exposure time took anywhere from a few minutes to as long as 20-30 minutes for very large images. Sometimes the photographer would place iron stands or armrests behind the sitters to help keep them still. In the case of young children, you will sometimes see a mother, completely covered by a length of fabric, holding her child. You will also find blurred images when the children moved. So it is no surprise that a photographer would want toys to keep a child interested and entertained while they had to sit in one position.
From all accounts Izannah Walker was a very enterprising woman. I can picture her approaching photographers and offering her dolls for sale. After all they were very attractive and most importantly unbreakable! The difficulty here lies in the fact that there is no way to tell just how many years a doll may been in the prop box when the photograph was taken. The same issue exists with portraits of children holding family dolls, as without additional information, it is impossible to know if the doll previously belonged to an older family member.
All of the Walker pre-patent dolls have molded cloth heads, with an outer layer of stockinette. The heads were made in two halves and joined by a seam that runs behind the ears. The mold for these dolls stops at the neck. The neck edge was sewn onto a woven cloth shoulder covering that usually has a seam down the center back. The bottom edge of the shoulder covering is sewn to the doll’s body; the second skin comes up and covers this stitching line. The “second skin” was most often made from cambric, a closely woven plain weave cloth of linen or cotton, with a smooth, lustrous, heavily sized finish that was commonly used as lining fabric in the 19th century. The dolls’ arms and hands are cut as one piece, with a seam line running down the inner arm; thumbs were applied separately. They have a stitched upper arm joint, much higher than normal for an elbow. Their legs are also cut as one piece, with the seam line almost always running down the inner leg. The legs have stitched knee joints and a seam line at the ankles where the pieces for either bare feet or boots are attached.
Izannah stated “These parts (arms and legs), if thought desirable, may be made with advantage in a similar manner to that above set forth for making the head, neck and body.” in her patent information, however I have never seen a pre-patent doll, or the few patent label dolls that I have examined, with arms or legs that were pressed in molds.
Izannah Walker clearly used many different styles and sizes of molds to make heads. Finished dolls ranged in size from 14 to 29 inches. Because pressed cloth heads are more yielding and malleable than molded heads made from china, bisque or papier-mache, that means even heads made from the same mold can have a slightly different appearance. Izannah and Jane Walker, along with their aunt, Jane Hintz, experimented with new ideas and techniques. You can find a few dolls with eyelashes, one or two with the slight remains of a wig/rooted hair, etc. As a doll maker, that is exactly what I expect to see in any handmade item being produced by a single person or small group of people over a long period of time. These differences are one of the things that make the Walker dolls fascinating to study.
All of the dolls were intended to be children. Their original clothing would have had short, not full length, skirts. People often find 19th century children’s hair styles confusing, since both young boys and girls wore dresses. Boys had side parted hair, and girls’ hair was parted in the middle. This is true for children in paintings, photographs and for Walker dolls. When you see a pre- patent Izannah Walker doll with tall painted black boots that have a red top in the front, it is a boy. Her girl dolls with painted footwear have boots that lace up the front or have scallops around the top edge and painted “buttons” on the sides. A few rare dolls have low topped painted shoes. Bare feet are less common. I have yet to find an example of a barefooted boy.
For more than twenty-five years, I have researched, examined, owned, restored, and reproduced Izannah Walker dolls. During that time I have been able to put together a very loose timeline of when certain construction methods and stylistic changes took place. These are the markers that I look for if I am trying to estimate the age of a doll. They are not cut and dried changes. There are certainly exceptions to this timeline, but it is a good starting point when examining a Walker doll.
Izannah’s earliest dolls, beginning in 1845 and ending sometime before 1855, have faces that are a bit longer and slightly square in appearance. The dark brown painted lines surrounding their eyes and eyelids are very thin and fine, without a lower lid line. Highlights in their irises are fainter to non-existent. Their ringlet curls are painted in a more primitive folk art manner. They have slightly broader, flatter noses, and much longer arms with slightly larger hands. Their bodies have wider waists and hips, with a body covering that is generally made from white or pale pink linen cambric.
The dolls have a distinctly different look from approximately 1855 until a point prior to 1861. In this middle period the doll’s faces become more round, with a slightly narrower nose that has a more pronounced, rounded tip. The modeling of their lips is also more rounded. Their eyes have a curved, more deeply set appearance, with very thinly painted outlines, more often painted black than brown. Lines for lower lids appear. Lighter highlights are painted on the irises, mainly underneath the pupil. The painting of their curls is improving. Many have very thin necks. Their arms are getting slightly shorter, with marginally narrower hands. Waists and hips are more slender. Second skins are cotton or linen cambric, and usually white.
From 1861, until the patent label dolls appear in 1873, the faces of the dolls continue to be rounded, although many have a flatter lip area and less deeply set eye molding, with wider foreheads. The lines around the eyes thicken and are mostly painted black. Eyes still have lighter highlights, but now the highlights travel higher up the right side of the pupil. Ringlet curls are better shaded and more delicately painted. Arms and fingers shorten slightly again. More cotton is being used for second skins, both in cambric and other fabrics, which often dip down to a V at the center of the chest. Most of the examples of rare blue body covering that I have seen fall in this time frame. Shoulders are often wider.
1873 – 1888. Izannah Walker makes dolls with molds that include the shoulders and upper body.
Izannah Walker’s dolls have had long and eventful lives. Numerous things have happened to them since they were first made by the Walker sisters and their aunt. Many of the dolls have been either partially or completely repainted, some have replaced limbs and second skin body coverings. Along the way, they have lost and acquired pieces of clothing. All of these occurrences sometimes make it difficult for collectors to determine exactly what parts of the doll are original, or are later additions and repairs.
Some collectors have speculated that Izannah Walker may have made portrait dolls. It is my personal opinion that she might have painted a certain hairstyle and/or coloring to reflect that of a particular child, but that she would not have created commissioned “portrait” molds. Altering the way the doll was painted is a relatively minor matter. Making a new mold would have been a costly, time consuming process, which would have resulted in an incredibly high price for a toy doll.
At this point, no one knows exactly how and by whom the positive images for the doll molds were made. Izannah’s patent information states, “In the construction of my doll I usually employ a press, A, of ordinary construction, provided with upper and lower dies, of suitable shape, to form the front and back of the face, neck and chest, and sometimes the body of the doll”. In order to create a sand cast mold for the metal (probably cast iron) dies, it would have been necessary to compact sand around a model, or “pattern”. A pattern is a replica of the object to be cast. It can be made of wood, metal, or other materials.
Reuben Harlow Neal Bates, born in Attleboro, Massachusetts in 1802, is known to have made dolls similar to those of Izannah Walker. It is believed that his dolls were never offered for sale, but at least one example of his doll, along with the cast iron molds for its head and the sewing pattern for the doll’s body were passed down through his family. He was a pattern maker all of his working life. Bates appears in the Providence, Rhode Island censuses for 1850, 1860, 1870 and 1880. A photograph of the Bates doll and accompanying molds appear on page 39 of Janet Johl’s 1952 book, Your Dolls and Mine. The body of the doll was described as being well made and covered with blue cloth. Two Reuben Bates doll head molds, one female and one male, have been in the collection of the Rhode Island Historical Society since 1987. The accession information for the two molds states: “ca. 1850, Bates, Reuben Harlow Neal, 1802-1891 (Metalworker), Iron doll head mold, front of head (face) only. Originally thought to be made by Izannah Walker, mold was made by Reuben Bates of Providence, a longtime friend of Izannah Walker’s and a patternmaker for the Barstow Stove Company. Dimensions for the female mold are 1.5 x 4.25 x 3.125 inches, and 1 5/8 x 4 1/8 x 3 inches for the male”. Theoretically, it is possible that Reuben Bates may have made the patterns (three dimensional models) and molds’ for Izannah Walker’s dolls, according to her sketches and specifications. If Izannah Walker met Reuben Bates after she moved to Rhode Island 1850 – 1853, and he began making the patterns for her dolls, that would explain the rather dramatic change in their heads and faces.
In the 19th century, New England and New York had many innovative and enterprising cloth doll makers. It is interesting to note that dolls similar to those made by Izannah Walker and her family were being made in Rhode Island during the same period. I own a mid-19th century cloth doll with a painted stockinette face that descended through a family from Providence, RI. Her maker is a mystery and she is needle-modeled, so not constructed in the same manner as an Izannah Walker doll, but she does have a very similar appearance. I also have a second needle-modeled doll that shares a remarkable number of features with my “mystery doll”; unfortunately I do not have a provenance for her. This second mystery doll was previously owned by Estelle Patino and is shown on pages 21 and 73 of her 1988 book, American Rag Dolls Straight From The Heart. She identifies it as a “20” 1870’s Oil Painted Rag? Izannah Walker” and as a “20” Possible Early Izannah Walker”.
No one has yet been able to find a way of identifying exactly which dolls may have been made by Izannah Walker, Jane Walker or Jane Hintz. Naturally there would be some differences between their works. Did they each make dolls from start to finish, or did they divide their doll making chores among the three of them? I am confident that additional research of Izannah Walker, her family, and her dolls will unravel this mystery and will continue to add to the story of these amazing women doll makers.
Izannah Walker Timeline
1817- Izannah Walker was born September 25, 1817. She 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 neice, 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 Helen’s 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 Manufacturers”.
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 – On 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 Izannah’s great- niece, Helen Holbrook Robertson, was quoted in the In the 1952 book Your Dolls and Mine by Janet Johl, as saying “From 1845, when the first doll is said to have been made, until she died in 1886 (her actual date of death was 1888) , 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 – On 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.
Copyright 2017 Paula Walton All Rights Reserved
This article originally appeared in the September 2017 issue of Antique Doll Collector Magazine. The magazine sold out almost immediately upon publication. Print copies are occasionally available on eBay and a digital copy, which includes all of the original photographs, may be purchased from https://www.antiquedollcollector.com/
Paula Walton is a former museum director and curator who has been recognized 40 times as one of the top traditional craftpersons in America. Her specialties include doll making, reproduction clothing, 18th & 19th century women’s decorative arts, and the restoration of painted cloth dolls and textiles. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org, 860-355-5709. For information about the Jenny Lind Doll show and exhibit featuring an Izannah Walker doll in original clothing see http://www.jennylinddollshow.wordpress.com/. A bibliography for the sources used in this article is posted on http://www.izannahwalker.com.
Today the little cloth dolls are doing what they were made to do, playing! Their favorite young friend has come to call and to enjoy a second birthday tea, because sometimes one just isn’t quite enough.
Friends are always willing to help… Ready, set, wish!
Cake & conversation…
What would a birthday party be without presents? Our young guest pointed out to me that the dolls needed a birthday present, which she picked out, then insisted that we wrap, in pink of course, because it is her favorite color. ❤
At the end of the afternoon all of the Izannahs are feeling very special and well loved ❤
The dolls and I are so happy that you could come play with us today! Our Izannah Birthday Celebration will continue tomorrow with something special that you won’t want to miss!
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Hello! We are back again on this lovely Saturday morning to welcome you to my painting and sculpting studio, where I will be giving you a guided tour of the Izannah Walker doll house that I created.
You may have noticed that in the videos from this week I am talking to you just as I would if you happened to drop by my studio for a visit. Think of them as a bit of a one sided chat 🙂 None of them is scripted, so I occasionally correct myself, or accidentally mention something twice, as I did in this video… I do that in person too! 🙂 lol
The dolls and I hope you enjoy exploring their home from top to bottom and that you have a lovely weekend ❤
My Izannah Walker Birthday Week Celebration continues tomorrow through Tuesday, October 1st with something new to see here each day ❤
I hope you have been enjoying my Izannah Walker birthday week activities so far ❤ Today I thought I’d invite you all into my studio for a look at the dolls I am making for this year’s birthday party. All the little antique Izzies are very excited to see their newest brothers and sisters coming to life 🙂 They love showing off the “babies” in the family!
We looking forward to seeing you tomorrow as our Birthday Celebration continues here on http://www.izannahwalker.com September 25th ~ October 1st, 2019 ❤
As part of this year’s festivities I thought it might be nice to show you a detailed look at one of my antique Izannah Walker dolls. I hope you enjoy it ❤
Tilly Lamb and I made this video while the birthday cake was in the oven. Here is the recipe so that you can bake a Rose Geranium Pound Cake to serve at your own birthday tea. ~
Rose Geranium Pound Cake
1 1/2 cups butter
1 pkg. (8oz.) cream cheese
3 cups sugar
3 cups flour
pinch of salt
3 tsp. vanilla
1/4 tsp. rose water
organic rose geranium leaves
Butter and flour, or spray a 10 inch tube pan with non-stick cooking spray. Arrange washed and dried rose geranium leaves, top side down, in the bottom of the pan. Cream butter & cream cheese. Add sugar and cream well. Add eggs one at a time and beat well. Stir in flour and salt. Add vanilla.
Carefully spoon batter into a 10 inch tube or bundt pan. Start with a cold oven and bake at 300 degrees for 2 hours.
Stir powdered sugar, vanilla and a bit of milk together, to make a glaze, and pour overwarm cake.