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 ❤

Izannah Walker History · thank you

Today is International Woman’s Day, Time to Celebrate Those Women Who Inspire Us! Thank You Izannah Walker!

Izannah Patent Hand Written pg 1Thank you Izannah Walker for inspiring me with your beautiful, intricate painted cloth dolls. For being an enterprising 19th century woman who was able to support herself in a male dominated world. For being the first woman to be granted a United States patent related to doll making. You have changed my life!

scan.jpg Izannah Patent page 2

Izannah Walker 1870 Census

Izannah Walker 1870 Census detail

Antique Izannah Walker Dolls · Izannah Walker History · See Me in Print

Izannah Walker and Her Dolls ~ My Article in the September 2017 Issue of Antique Doll Collector Magazine ~ SOLD OUT

Izannah Walker and her Dolls by Paula Walton
The dolls are quite excited to see themselves in print!
Izannah Walker and her Dolls by Paula Walton
I hope you all enjoy reading my article! It was fun to have a chance to go back through 80 year’s worth of books and magazine articles while I was researching and double checking facts. 🙂 The dolls all hope that after you read about them in the September 2017 issue of Antique Doll Collector magazine, that you will come see them when they are part of a special educational exhibit at the Jenny Lind Doll Show in Southbury, CT on October 29th!!!
Antique Izannah Walker Dolls · Doll Clothing · Izannah Walker History · See Me in Print

SOLD OUT! Sneak Peek of the September Issue of Antique Doll Collector Magazine

The issue is SOLD OUT! I just received a sneak peek of the September issue of Antique Doll Collector! It is going to be a wonderful Izannah-filled issue!!! If you are not already a subscriber to the magazine, you may want to hurry up and order a subscription! See if they will let you start with the August 2017 issue so that you can read the great article Joy Harrington wrote about an amazing mid-19th century doll wardrobe in her collection, A Mid 19th Century Wardrobe for a New England Girl. While the actual wardrobe isn’t an Izannah Walker wardrobe, it is all from the same time period and you do not want to miss a chance to see it! I can’t wait to read Joy’s article “Izannah Aprons” A Closer Look in the September issue. ❤ I have it on good authority that there will be at least one additional article about Izannah Walker dolls in Antique Doll Collector during 2017. ❤ ❤ ❤

September 2017 Antique Doll Collector Cover

Antique Doll September Contents

This is the link to Antique Doll Collector’s subscription page, just click here!

antique dolls · Antique Izannah Walker Dolls · Celebrations · Izannah Walker History · Where to Shop

In Celebration of Izannah Walker’s 200th Birthday I am Curating a Very Special Public Exhibit of Izannah Walker Dolls!

Another date to mark on your calendars!!! As many of you may know, I am co-chairman for the Jenny Lind Doll Club doll show. This year is the 30th year for the show, so we wanted to do something special at this year’s show. Being fellow Izannahphiles I know you won’t be surprised by what I came up with. 🙂

The Jenny Lind Doll Club is very pleased to announce that we will have a special educational exhibit of Izannah Walker dolls at our October 29th, 2017 show. This is an almost unprecedented gathering of so many of these rare dolls at a public event. There will be at least eleven Izannah Walker dolls on display that belong to current Jenny Lind members, along with photos and memorabilia of Izannah Walker dolls owned by past members, including legendary Izannah Walker collector Maureen Popp. At this time discussions are underway with friends of the Jenny Lind doll club about the possibility of additional dolls being loaned for the exhibit, so the total number of dolls on display may be slightly higher. There is no separate admission fee to view the educational exhibit. Entrance is included in the doll show admission of $7.00.

All exhibited Izannah Walker dolls are part of private collections, they are NOT being offered for sale. This is strictly an exhibit in celebration of both our Doll Show’s 30th anniversary and Izannah Walker’s 200th birthday.

*If you will be attending the show and own an Izannah Walker doll that you would like to add to the exhibit, please contact us at jennylinddollshow@gmail.com to make arrangements. ❤

To keep up to date on all the doll show news check the show website: http://www.jennylinddollshow.wordpress.com and the show facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/jennylinddollshow/

mark your calendar

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Antique 19th century children's clothing · Antique Doll Furniture · Antique Izannah Walker Dolls · Celebrations · Contests · Doll for Sale · Drawings and Give Aways! · Holidays · Izannah Walker History · Izannah Walker Reproduction Doll

Just Three More Days Until Our Big Izannah Walker 199th Birthday Party!!!

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Don’t forget! Only 3 more days until it’s Izannah Walker’s 199th birthday. My dolls and I will be hosting an all day online celebration 🙂 Please come join us! We’ll be sooooooo sad if you can’t come 😦

 

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At 10:00 a.m on Sunday September 25th stop whatever you are doing, run to your pc and come right over to http://www.izannahwalker.com for the beginning of our birthday fun!!! ❤
Antique Izannah Walker Dolls · Izannah Walker History · Other Types of Doll Making · Painted Cloth Doll Making

American Women Dream in Cloth…

www.izannahwalker.com

American Women Dream in Cloth…  don’t you just love that title?  The January issue of Antique Doll Collector magazine contains this very intriguing article, about the special exhibit on cloth dolls that was at the UFDC convention last summer.  It was the perfect reading for a cold and blustery winter’s day.

www.izannahwalker.com

So while the baby napped, this American woman filled her head with daydreams of glorious cloth dolls, both past and future…

www.izannahwalker.com

Look closely.  Do you see anything unexpected???
Look closely. Do you see anything unexpected???

 

Apparently not only American women, but small cats have a fondness of cloth.  Sadie was captivated by the fabric of this antique baby dress <3
Apparently not only American women, but small cats have a fondness of cloth. Sadie was captivated by the fabric of this antique baby dress ❤

www.izannahwalker.com

Sadie and I are both looking forward to next months issue so that we can continue our cloth dreams by reading the second half of the article. 🙂