08-23-2008 08-24-2008
Skinner Auctions
Skinner Auctions Bolton MA
August 23, 2008 10:00AMCalender

Portrait Jumeau Swivel-Head Fashion Doll and Original Outfits

Auction: Clocks, Watches & Scientific Instruments - 2419 Location: Bolton Date / Time: August 23, 2008 10:00AM


Portrait Jumeau Swivel-Head Fashion Doll and Original Outfits, with closed mouth accented in slight smile, fixed threaded blue eyes with shaded lids, arched light brown feathered brows, pierced-in ears with wire loops for earrings, original strawberry-blonde mohair wig, and gusseted cream kid body with individually stitched fingers, ht. 19 1/2 in., (wig is tightly secured and has not been removed, firing blemish on forehead and right cheek, damage to left knee and right wrist, armature wire protruding through lower left arm); costumes: champagne silk satin two-piece wedding dress with lace trim; light coral taffeta single-piece gown trimmed with brown lace and fabric daisies; two-piece light saffron silk taffeta gown trimmed with cream lace and silk violets; aqua and gray silk satin two-piece gown with ruffled details; white cotton shift and pinafore (both foxed); and a very long white cotton petticoat.

Provenance: From the family of the original owner, Minnie Knowlton, great-grandmother of the seller, who won the doll in a raffle at the Homeopathic Fair in New York. Included with the doll is a newspaper clipping from Eli Perkin's "About the Town" column from Fifth Avenue Hotel, April 22, with pencil inscription 1871.

Text in full: "A $500 doll! A doll with an elaborate Parisian trousseau, with Dollie Varden morning dresses, street dresses, flounced with real lace and court train evening costumes, covered with real point - not a young lady, but a doll ! Who sold it, and who dres it ? Well, Miss Nettie P. got the 250th chance for this wonderful $500 doll on Saturday night at the Homeopathic Fair. Everybody was on tip-toe to know who was going to drawer the beautiful little woman with her damask bed, lace fan, and Saratoga trunks, and, of course, she has held a constant lovee for several nights. It was like the receptions given to Mrs. Minnie Crane's doll at Saratoga last Summer. "What a beautiful doll!" exclaimed every one. "And with ear-rings, too ?" "Yes, with real diamond ear-rings, point-lace handkerchiefs, and a wee-bit of a diamond solitaire on her finger, too" said Miss P. "All right, put me down for a chance", continued the admirer, and the procession moved on. Saturday night they put all of the 250 numbers in the wheel, and commenced drawing for the wonderful doll. A good many little girls eyed her with glistening eyes, and a good many fathers and mothers thought how happy little Sallie, who was asleep at home, would be if they could only draw the beautiful little angel. There was a great noise going on at the fair, but the little Doll corner was still as a mouse for a few moments. "Who drew the doll - and who was the happiest little fir in New York ?" "The fifth number was to draw her. The man put his hand in the wheel, held up the winning ticket, and read the lucky name - "Miss Minnie Knowlton, Gilsey House." George Knowlton don't (sic) think anything of loosing or making $20,000 at a pop in Wall Street, but when his little girl Minnie won the doll, George was as happy as if he had won Noah's Ark. I suppose when Minnie awoke on Saturday morning, and found that beautiful doll with her trunk and trousseau at the head of her bed, that she was the happiest little girl in New York. Minnie has sent out little bits of invitations for a doll reception at Gilsey House on Wednesday afternoon, when her ladyship will appear in her "Nile green" gros grain court train, cut decollete, with her hair a la Pompadour, and diamonds."

Note: George W. Knowlton married Anne Phillips, the daughter of Samuel Adkins Phillips, on November 19, 1859. Their youngest child, Minnie, was born in Riverdale, New York, in 1865, making her six or seven years old at the time the raffle is believed to have taken place. She married William Henry Young. She died in Woodlawn, New York, in 1958.

The building originally named the Gilsey House Hotel is located at 1200 Broadway, Manhattan. Designed by architect Stephen Decatur Hatch in the Second Empire Baroque style, the hotel opened its doors to well-heeled member of the public in 1871, and quickly became a favorite destination for theater-goers, actors, international visitors and writers, including Oscar Wilde. It is tempting to imagine a reception in miniature given in honor of Minnie Knowlton's prize, a fashionable venue for a very fashionable doll.
Estimate $6,000-8,000

Wig is tightly secured and has not been removed, however head appears to be free of damage. There are raised dots, including one above eyebrow and one on right cheek, and som red straw marks on the cheeks. Repairs to body as noted, including small repairs on the hips and bottom. The taffeta costumes are machine stitched, the two satin costumes (blue walking dress and bridal dress) hand-stitched.


Minnie Knowlton, Minnie Crane, Fashion Doll, original owner , Portrait Jumeau Swivel-Head , Eli Perkin, Fifth Avenue Hotel, Dollie Varden, Saratoga, George W. Knowlton, Noah's Ark, George Knowlton, Arkansas, Wall Street, head , Anne Phillips, Samuel Adkins Phillips, Riverdale, William Henry Young, Woodlawn, Gilsey House Hotel, Stephen Decatur, Stephen Decatur Hatch, well-heeled member , Oscar Wilde