At my last doll club meeting, we studied the antique dolls made by Martha Chase. Here is the group of Chases that is owned by various members of our club:
Aren't they sweet? Martha Chase was an entrepreneurial woman of the late 1800's who decided that little girls needed a doll that was not only unbreakable, but also washable. She designed and patented a cloth doll with a molded, cloth face with the features painted in oils. Her first dolls were made in 1889, and the company continued to make dolls all the way into the 1970's. Of course, the later dolls were made of materials other than cloth, and did not have the appeal of the earlier dolls, so I won't be talking about those.
My little Chase is on the left.
There's something so appealing about their sweet expressions. So many of the dolls on toy store shelves today have cartoon features or vacant stares--the doll manufactures of today could learn a thing or two from these old beauties, I think.
Besides my own, this little cutie in pink is my very favorite. She is owned by my good friend Louise, and comes in the smaller, desirable, 12" size. Isn't she just the cutest? The smallest size made was 8", but I think it must be very rare since nobody in my club has ever seen one. I recently saw a very large one on Ebay that stood 29" tall.
My little cutie stands 16" tall, but she is mostly content to sit in the lap of a larger doll. Her brown eyes are a little more rare (more Chase dolls were made with blue eyes). Early Chase dolls are jointed at the hips, knees, shoulders, and elbows, making them very poseable. They usually have a body stamp identifying them, but many times, as in the case of my doll, it has worn off. However, there is no mistaking a Chase doll once you recognize them.
My large, French, papier mache doll is content to babysit my little Chase. She does a good job, making sure baby doesn't tumble off the dresser!
I love so many of the old cloth, wax, and papier mache dolls. In this day and age where everything is mass produced with cheap materials, they represent such a neat part of history and the women who made them with their own hands.