A Half Century of Garden Doll

Once upon a time circa the late 1800’s or the early 1900’s a family lived at a home-place snug in the southern countryside. Unfortunately, sometime in the early/mid part of the 1900’s, the homeplace burned and the family sold the land and moved away.

The ruins of the burned homeplace were cleared and the land went back to scrub and wilderness. After many years had passed, the new owner sold the land to my parents.

It was the mid-sixties. Our house didn’t set on the same spot where the original house had sat. The area where we think the house had burned was really flat. My folks cleared trees and underbrush and made a huge garden. There wasn’t any sign that a house had been there except for the bits of broken things that was unearthed from disking the soil and washed up by rains.

My Garden doll pieces collection started with my finding a little bisque doll leg. I was about 6 years old then and oh what a treasure it was. I’d never seen a bisque doll before.  I walked the garden as often as possible after that, especially after rains. Over the years, I found a couple of body pieces and I was sure that one day I’d find the head and rest of it.

I spent alot of time as a child walking the garden hoping to find any treasure that might have surfaced. Rocks mostly and broken bits of dinnerware was the usual, sometimes an old rusty piece of metal, but every now-and-then, something wonderful would surface. The coolest of the findings were the doll parts, a bottle, a coin and an old thimble. The doll parts have always been like my special little treasures. I never had the heart to throw them away. The funny thing is, that I kept the leg and body parts for decades. I even moved a half dozen times and I still hung on to the little box of broken dirt stained parts. Isn’t that strange?dpartsDuring the Summers of 2007 & 2008, my brother, who still lives at our family home place, found part of a doll face , a doll hand, 2 doll feet and miscellaneous other parts as well. My brother sent me the doll parts to add to the slowly growing doll parts collection. My brother became quite knowledgeable about the antique dolls after he found the doll face. He and I had many conversations about the doll parts and the antique methods of the body styles and makings of dolls. There were so many clever and creative ways that dolls were made and put together back then that there is no telling what any of the dolls originally looked like that our parts went too.

famdolI’ve wondered many times about the little girls that originally owned the dolls. I feel they must have been so sad and unhappy to lose their precious little playmates from the fire and moving away. At that time in the south, bought dolls were quite a special thing for country folks to have. I picture in my mind the little girls giving the dolls life, making them dance and sing; giggles and tea parties and sleeping snugly in their little arms. It must have been such good fun to share so many precious moments with the little bisque dolls.

The gardening days of our old home-place has passed for now. The doll parts collection ends with the ones I have. No more treasures will be found unless erosion uncovers them or a puppy-dog digs them up. I realize our garden doll will never hold any value for anyone except for the nostalgic and sentimental value I feel about it. It’s a fun heirloom and brings a bittersweet nostalgic smile to my heart. I’m happy to be the keeper of this treasure.

I occasionly search for info on any of the doll parts or the dolls they go to. I would love to hear any info that you may have and share with me about these parts or these old dolls?

Wishing you all happy treasure finds this week!


10 thoughts on “A Half Century of Garden Doll

  1. I think it is neat that you have saved them. You made them come alive in this story. I could see a little girl with them. They must have had some money to be able to afford dolls of that quality. So cool.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks so much Nadine
      I’m glad you liked my post. The little broken pieces are a special treasure to me. I too wonder about the price and the origins of the dolls. It’s fun think about. 🙂


    • Thanks so much Laura
      I think you’re right. I figure the little girl/s well loved these special babies. It’s been fun for me and still gives me many smiles. 🙂


  2. great post – I love the doll parts treasures. I think the same kinds of thing about seaglass and sea pottery. Who had it? Was it their favorite dish? How did it end up in the ocean?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks so much Salpal
      It’s fun to wonder about the little broken misplaced treasures. So many questions. Sea glass and sea pottery are fascinating. Some of them are probably centuries old and traveled for hundreds/thousands of miles. I can’t imagine how many years it would take for the original pieces to turn into the gorgeous treasures they are. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Dianna
      I don’t have it framed, I never thought too. A shadow box is a great idea. The parts would be perfect for display in one. I may do that. I’m glad you asked. Thanks so much. 🙂


  3. E.C., have you ever thought about making a body for the doll parts? Maybe you could give it “new life”. I love looking through spots where families, in times past, threw their trash. I’ve found pieces of a little black shoe, and like you, have wondered about the child who wore it. This was such a special post!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Charlotte
      I thought of attempting to sculpt and reproduce the doll parts out of polymer clay and keep the original parts as they are. I was going to make a lady doll and a little girl doll. I may still do that someday.
      I’m like you, I wonder about the artifacts from the lives of folks who’ve gone before. Your little black shoe pieces puts my mind in motion, I can almost imagine a little girl thrilled with her new shoes. Prancing around and probably singing a nursery rhyme. I guess it could also of been a boy shoe, A happy little tyke feeling very dapper in his new shoes. Probably careful not to scuff them while playing marbles or jacks.
      Thanks for visiting and leaving me happy thoughts. 🙂


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