ArtistMum: Memories and Collecting- Part 2

It’s been awhile since I blogged about ‘Memories and Collecting- Part 1’ and I wanted to have part 2 come shortly thereafter, however the monster storm, hurricane Sandy, got in the way and I’ve been busy working on a logo for someone.
I didn’t want to let this little story go though so here it is!

When I was little and still living overseas, I had this wonderful doll that my parents got for me. I think my dad must have bartered with someone for this doll because there was no way they could have afforded such a luxury. This doll was more of a ‘shelf’ doll because I was way too small to squeeze and love this doll as yet.

The doll was a Schildkröt-puppen doll, a most beautiful jointed doll about 16 inches tall. She was made of celluloid, which was a material that evolved from the earlier celluloid invented by an American named John Wesley Hyatt in 1868. The celluloid that was first made was not suitable for toys. It’s intention was a less expensive Ivory replacement.

“By 1889, a German company had found a way to further improve celluloid so it could be used for toys. The required machinery was developed, and soon dolls with the turtle trademark were sent out into the world. The company was the Rheinische Gummi- und Celluloidwarenfabrik (Rhenish Rubber and Celluloid Works), but before long it was better known as Schildkrötwerke (Turtle Works)—Schildkröt, of course, meaning turtle in German.”

When my parents, my brother and I came to America, we were only allowed to bring a few items because the more you brought, the more it cost. Since my parents were sort of displaced after WWII, America was a new beginning with the added bonus of having my grandparents there. So my little family packed up and took a boat to this wonderful, new country full of opportunity. I had my precious doll clutched in my arms, afraid to let her go!

She was the only doll allowed to sleep in the doll carriage I received that Christmas.

And she was there (bottom left of photo) when I painted as a young girl.

Long story short…….years passed and my doll was still with me. She was a ‘shelf’ doll, pretty to look at but not to touch. Needless to say my doll did not survive. She fell one day and I was devastated because this doll was the only thing I brought to America from my birthplace.
Yes, I cried. But I had to let it go……….until one day I was Internet searching and I came upon some information about celluloid dolls. The distinct mark that I remembered on my doll was the ‘turtle’ mark on the back of her neck. Imagine remembering that distinct ‘tattoo’ after all those years! So I did a little more research and found an image of my doll. There she was!

20121204-142428.jpg (photo from google search).
She was part of an estate sale and was one of two other Schildkröt dolls in very good condition. ‘Darling’ made a bid but by the next day, the dolls were gone 😢

Darling’ was excited about my discovery and knowing how much this meant to me, surprised me with a new doll that looks exactly like the one I brought to America years ago. The carefully wrapped box was waiting at the door the night we returned home from our daughter’s wedding earlier that day. What a surprise!

‘Inge’ as I learned was her real name, came all the way from the Netherlands! She had a lovely velvety blue dress on, much nicer than the one I remember my doll in, which was tattered and had rust stains on it.

And here is ‘Inge’!

Thank you ‘Darling’ for bringing back such a treasured memory 😊


About artistmum

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3 Responses to ArtistMum: Memories and Collecting- Part 2

  1. Robert Bergman says:

    soooo sweet. He is a real romantic gentleman. My hats off to Kent! Miss you.

  2. Cate says:

    What a lovely story. I am a doll retailer (Petalina) and I have just discovered the Schildkröt-puppen dolls with jointed limbs. They still sell the traditional dolls like your lovely girl, but they also make more modern dolls with rooted hair and trendy clothes. I am waiting to receive a sample from the company so that I can decide what my order should be, and I admit to getting a little impatient waiting for it to arrive.

    My mother tells a similar story of a doll she won in a raffle at the village fair during the war. She used to walk to school and drop in the milk pail at the farm on the way. On the way home she would collect the milk to take home. The day she was given the doll she ran all the way home, collected the milk and there was nothing left in the pail by the time she gave it to her mother – who was very forgiving. A few years later after the war they went back to their home in Birmingham and my mum wanted to take her precious doll out into the street with the other girls to play with their prams. My grandmother warned her not to as the doll could be broken but my mum went ahead anyway. Sure enough the doll was broken outside and my mother was devastated. Perhaps that is why my grandfather got involved in making dolls in hard plastic during the 1950s. I haven’t made that connection before!

    Thank you for your post!

    • artistmum says:

      Thanks for visiting my blog. I’m so glad that you liked that post. That doll really meant the world to me and I was thrilled when I learned that the company still made them. I loved reading about your mum and her doll. So sweet!

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