Published: May 4, 2016
Review and Photos by Tom O’Hara
STURBRIDGE, MASS. — Kimberly Kittredge gathered several thousand dolls, bears, toys and holiday antiques along with their sellers at the Sturbridge Host Hotel and Conference Center on April 17 for the one-day exhibition and sale, filling the venue’s huge exhibition hall. Doing so attracted a crowd that began to shop as soon as the doors opened at 10 am, continuing all day until just before closing at 4 pm, each shopper searching out the special addition for his or her own collection.
Kittredge reported that this year’s customer attendance was the highest ever and that there was more notice of the holiday aspect of the show, as well as its staple dolls, toys and bears. The first aisle was particularly strong with holiday-oriented dealers, she said, and they had great sales all day long. The holiday sales included Christmas, Halloween and Easter as most prominent in the decorations and paraphernalia.
Independence Day is not forgotten with all the holiday materials, however, as Nancy McGlamery and Ed Pelton offered a large doll that looked ready to be the grand marshal of a July 4 parade.
Scott Tagliapietra was busy all day selling from his collection of Christmas Santas and all sorts of scary Halloween figures, including one devil of a head.
Many of the exhibitors offered a mixture of all the show categories. Thomas Thompson, for example, had in the front of his display an early red wagon that was as much a prop as merchandise. It was filled with a menagerie of early Twentieth Century velvet stuffed animals that found new homes during the day. On one of his table displays a Christmas and holiday collection was attracting attention, with sales of a few imported feather trees, a 1920s Santa on skis and antique blown glass ornaments. While the wagon did not sell, he did sell several other pull toys and more.
Tory-Beth Radwick, Torrington, Conn., was selling dolls, dollhouse furniture and accessories, as well as miniature room settings of homes and schools. Among the better transactions for her that day were a school room miniature, including the teacher and students in a classroom setting, a half-dozen small dolls, dollhouse furniture and some fashions for dolls of various sizes.
Antique bisque dolls from the Nineteenth Century are quite valuable. They are a large part of Kathleen McLaughlin’s collection. Her sales for the day totaled more than a dozen, including a few in celluloid and composition. The Mamaroneck, N.Y., dealer also sold a variety of accessories.
Joan Flynn from West Falmouth, Mass., featured an early Mickey Mouse towel along with her assortment of miniature dollhouse furniture and accessories.
Cloth dolls are the favorite for collector/dealer Pat Hatch of Harvard, Mass. During the show her sales were good, with a half dozen of her Nineteenth Century huggable examples finding new best friends. Pat pointed out that these dolls originated in the 1870–80s with magazine articles that gave instructions as to how to make them from old remnants, hand painting the faces, making the clothing and filling the bodies with rags. Thus, they also were called rag dolls. Her examples were generally from about 1875 through 1910, but she said there might have been a 1930 example in the group.
Nancy Smith, Natick, Mass., had some of the most valuable pieces — French fashion dolls, which were from late in the Nineteenth Century and look more like a real child. Smith added that demand is high for these rare dolls.
Accessories are an important part of this show. Joy Harrington, Yardley, Penn., sells dolls, but she also has a very large inventory of doll clothing, fashions and accessories.
Pam and Mike Lembo of Cat’s Paw, Brookfield, Conn., make cast metal doll accessories in various sizes with perhaps a thousand different pieces, such as brushes and combs, dresser sets, purses and a great deal more. Mike makes the molds and has the pieces cast then finishes them. Their sales are at shows and online.
Barbara Scully, Walpole, Mass., offered several hundred pairs of doll shoes made, she said, “by my friend in Russia so I can sell them for her.”
Joy Kelleher, Coventry, Conn., founded the predecessor of this show some time ago, and now in semiretirement is one of the dealers, offering her collection of early Twentieth Century toys and dolls.
Birch Road Treasures, Mansfield, Conn., sold Nineteenth Century figural cast iron banks and toys.
For the doll, toy, bear and holiday lovers, this show is unfortunately only once each year, but look for it again next April about the third weekend. For information, 860-559-5040.
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December 13, 2016
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