Tuesday, January 26, 2010


Hi everyone.....Here is another of my favourite English woodens we have made. I am posting a few favourites of mine even though some of their photo appear in earlier posts. Mainly to tell a little bit of their stories, as suggested and asked for by our dear friend Ulla (ullabenulla) see link below to the right. She said she was missing reading the stories I write when we e-mail out photos of our dolls.

The 16.5 inch doll itself was based on a antique example from the 1735 / 1740 era.
Her dress was my creation and not based on the antique's dress and it is 18th century fabric along with some "rare as hen's teeth" 18th century fly-braid. I had always wanted to find some antique 18th century fly-braid but its nearly impossible to find. When we did find a piece and usually a small piece, it was priced between $1000.00 and $2000.00.
We lucked our and got the piece that's featured on this dolls dress and stomacher. It was about 3 feet long and we paid a LOT of money for it....lets just say we got it under the $1000.00 mark but its so rare and so amazing I had to have it.
Here it is showcased on the doll I named "Flora"......

Now people who know us, know we usually do not name our dolls but this name just seemed to fit this doll and it was my wonderful Grandmothers name (actually Flora Letha) who I was SO close to. She passed away when I was 17. The first photo is of my Grandmother Flora.
I hope you enjoy the photos.

Best Wishes to all!

Monday, January 25, 2010

A question from one of our blog readers

Hi everyone: We have been asked the question below by one of our kind followers of our blog.........

"Could you share some of your research info? Your dolls are wonderful! There is so little info in print about the history of these ladies, but a lot of misinformation!"

We really appreciate the wonderful praise and compliments so much from everyone but I felt I needed to publically address why this question cannot be answered on our blog, and why no techniques and undressed dolls will appear here. I even hesitate to put such detailed photos of any of our dolls and dresses up but how else will the fans of our work get to see it.

To answer our readers question:

We have spent years of research on 17th and 18th century English wooden dolls, including quite a bit of time over a 3 year period in England handled quite a few of the rarest examples. There is not much we do not know or can't answer about these dolls. We have worked for years perfecting our dolls to be the only historically accurate museum quality reproductions made by anyone today with their quality, accuracy and patinas so I am afraid we do not openly share our techniques or knowledge we have learned so far but its for a good reason.

One reason is that there have been very underhanded people out there who have tried, unsuccessfully I might add, to copy our work and get a quick and free ride on our success, and have even harassed and tried their best to pump a couple of or best friends to try to get as much information out of them about how we make our dolls, our techniques and research. We even found out that one of the people on our long time mailing list was forwarding every photo we e-mailed to her, to this underhanded person. Lucky for us, our friends are very loyal to us and cannot stomach this kind of behavior.

The second reason is that we will be writing a book on 17th and 18th century English wooden dolls one day in the future which will finally mean a book with only the most accurate and correct information on English woodens of the 17th and 18th century which will prove a lot of info out there in books to be totally incorrect. A perfect example of this misinformation out there is all references to how the late 17th century English wooden dolls were carved and turned...........I am afraid they are all totally wrong! We know this because we have one here.
There will be so much information in our book that will prove wrong a lot of what has been written.

Again, thanks to everyone for all your wonderful comments and praise. It makes what we do even more fulfilling for us.
(I love the one saying we must be time traveling doll makers from the past ;o)

Best Wishes: The Old Pretenders

Sunday, January 24, 2010

A nice example of our restoration work

I thought everyone might enjoy seeing a good example of our restoration work on this large English wooden dating from the 1735 / 1740 period. She had been terribly and incorrectly rebuilt and repainted and looked nothing like she would have looked when all original. I was able to strip off all the mess and rebuilt areas but found over 80 wood worm holes in the face. Her nose was gone as was part of her lips but there was enough left for me to know the exact style of carving and detail to know how to put everything back as it would have been originally. We have seen so many early English woodens over the years that we can attribute most of them to a carver / doll maker by their distinct features and carving style. No one knows the names of these 18th century doll makers but I can say for instance, those 4 dolls were made by the same hand and those 3 dolls were made by the same maker and so on.

Anyway, this very large and grand ladie's face is now restored back to her former glory with the patina of her face matchubg perfectly to her bust and torso and her poorly replaced arms, hands and legs correctly replaced and aged by us. She is loved very much now by her owner.

I though everyone would enjoy seeing her transformation. Please click on the images below to see them in large format with lots of detail.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

One of our finest Ladies

Hello everyone: I realized that I had not posted the seated images of one of our finest and one of my favourite large dolls (20 inches tall) that I dressed in one of my most favourite and rare pieces of 17th century fabric I have ever worked with. It's tough as nails and a royal pain to hand sew. It took antique glovers needles for me to sew the dress and I even broke one of the glovers needles and they are so strong.

She is a reproduction of a true "Queen Anne" period English wooden. Anyone who knows me, knows that one of my pet peeves is the referring to all 17th and 18th century English wooden dolls incorrectly as "Queen Anne dolls" The only dolls that can be correctly referred to as "Queen Anne" are the dolls made from 1702 to 1714, during her reign....OK so I'm being picky LOL

Anyway, these images are some of my favourites of her so I though I would share them. I have included a couple details of the fabric for all the early textile lovers out there.

Best Wishes!
The Old Pretenders

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Our thanks to some very special people

We would like to make a very important post today to thank some very special people and friends for their non-stop support, praise and admiration of our work. We appreciate all of you for your help and friendship!

Donna and Keith Kaonis / Antique Doll Collector Magazine for their friendship and generosity and everything they have done for us.

Our dear friends Ulla Milbrath (ullabenulla), Lois Davidson (Morgaine Le Fay antique Textiles and More) and Lynn Murray for their friendship, support and all their help in so many ways.

Our dear friend Robin Thompson for SO many reasons!

A special thank you to our friends and special patrons Rene Perkins and Carol Ohnemus and to all of our supporters over the years. Each and every one of you, your compliments and appreciation of our work are very important to us and one of the reasons we make dolls.

The Old Pretenders

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Most recent Old Pretenders