Saturday, November 26, 2011

The Godey Lady Dolls Of The Past

Commonly, dolls with China head were referred to as “Godey” dolls. However, the most famous Godey dolls were made by Charlotte Eldridge and Ruth Gibbs. The term “Godey” was taken from the American ladies book for proper etiquette on how to become a real lady entitled “Godey’s Lady’s Book – The Victorian Bible of the Parlor”. As stated in the guide, “The aim of a real lady is to be natural and to wear her talents, her accomplishments, and her learning as well as her newest and finest dresses, as if she did not know she had them about her.” Thus for collectors of Godey dolls, they would normally expect elegantly dressed dolls with elaborate designs and accessories. Some of these dolls also had separate pieces of dresses or costumes so that one can easily redress their wardrobe. Godey dolls made by Ruth Gibbs that are in good condition and are still in their original garments can cost $175 to $1,000. On the other hand, dolls made by Charlotte Eldridge especially the Godey and the Diorama can cost $2,100 to $5,400 today. Most of these dolls come in sizes of 7 inches, 10 inches, and 12 inches tall. Here are some typical descriptions of Eldridge and Gibbs’ lovely Godey dolls: 1) Charlotte Eldridge’s Lady Godey Dolls (1940’s) – These very rare dolls were made of papier mache doll heads, individually crafted with exquisite hand painted facial features, wire armature body layered with cloth, floss embroidered wigs, tightly wound hair curls, ceramic made sculptured hands, elaborately tailored costumes. Most of the tailored costumes were made by Eldridge's mother, Susan Blakely, who patterned them to the letter after the sketches found on the Godey’s Lady Book. These dolls were also typically unmarked but came with a hang tag signed by Eldridge’s pen name: “Frances Jennings”. 2) Ruth Gibbs’ Little Lady Godey Dolls (1940’s) – These dolls were typically made of either white or pink China shoulder head, cloth body, painted molded hair or wigged, crudely crafted China limbs, less details on its painted facial features, simple wardrobe or costume. The typical markings on the dolls was “R.G.” and its hang tag had the print “Godey’s Little Lady Dolls”. Collectors of Godey dolls can also add the doll dress pattern book to their collection where they can check the costumes of that era. Also included in these are patterns for doll furniture and a good condition unused book can just cost around $5.00 to $10.00.

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