We’re delighted to introduce Susan Brewer to our readers. Some of you may already know Susan from Doll Showcase magazine, or as the author of your favourite doll books. Susan’s first book was Tiny Tears and First Love in 2005. Susan is a writer, doll enthusiast and something of an authority in the doll world. She has kindly offered to tell us a bit about her latest two books Delightful Dolls Volume 1, Cornish Shallowpool Dolls, and a little about the quarterly magazine publication Doll Showcase, of which there have been more than 50 issues to date.
I can’t remember a time when I didn’t own a doll. Even as a baby I had a cloth Baby Bunting doll, which was very fashionable at the time, and I suppose I must have had a dozen or so composition and hard plastic dolls (not including the miniatures in my dolls house), before it was time to ‘give them up as I was a big girl now’. Luckily, I managed to secrete a few favourites in the back of the drawer before the rest were binned, as was the custom in the 1960s. I switched to collecting costume dolls – that was allowed as it didn’t seem babyish – until the 1980s when the birth of a daughter gave me an excuse to buy dolls again! I have been writing since the 1980s; before that I worked in libraries, so books have always been in my blood. I began with short stories for women’s magazines and articles on various collectables, especially dolls. My first venture into the world of books was ‘Tiny Tears and First Love’ in 2005, an in-depth guide to two baby dolls which were then very popular in the UK. Since then, I’ve written many more, the two latest doll books being Delightful Dolls Volume 1 and Cornish Shallowpool Dolls.
Delightful Dolls Volume 1
Delightful Dolls Volume 1 is a quick look at 80 or so favourite child and baby dolls that have been enjoyed by British children (and collectors) since the early 1950s. It is illustrated with plenty of colour photos and should help with identifying dolls in your collection, or those found at car boot sales and flea markets.
(Click the images to enlarge).
Amongst the 80 dolls featured are: Annie, Baby Alive, Baby First Step, Baby Sarah, Babykins , Blythe, Carrie and Christopher, Chatty Cathy, Crissy, Cuddle Up Baby, Dollie Walker, Dolly Surprise, Elizabeth, Galoob Ballet, Goldilocks, Katie Kopycat, Kiss Kiss, Linda, Little Princess, Little Sweet April, Matilda, Miss Rosebud, Palitoy Marcher, Peek-a- Boo, Penny Puppywalker, Petal Skin, Pretty Peepers, Rosebud Miniatures, Sasha, Saucy Walker, Thumbsuck Baby, Tonie and Sally, Tracy Tea Party, Victoria Rose.
Cornish Shallowpool Dolls is a book about the amazing little costume dolls once made in the West Country, and is the first book on the subject. Years ago, visitors to Cornwall were delighted by the dozens of handmade character dolls on sale in local shops. When they asked who made them, the story was always the same – ‘three elderly ladies’, but no-one seemed to know who the ladies were. Today, collectors often come across these unmarked eight-inch- tall dolls, dressed in British regional costume with heads, hands and feet of plaster, and with padded bodies on a wire armature. The dolls, with their detailed hand-painted faces and beautifully styled hair, were made by Shallowpool Handicrafts.
In this book Cornish maidens, miners and fisherman rub shoulders with Elizabeth I, Henry VIII and Queen Victoria, and there are costume descriptions and accessory details. Dozens of full-colour photos illustrate a variety of the characters, from Cornish Workers to Nursery Figures, and from Historical Greats to a collection of Shallowpool dolls depicting centuries of fashion that have never before been seen in print.
In addition there is a history of the making of the dolls, and of how those three elderly ladies came together to create a series of delightful characters which are now sought after by collectors. A final section examines the differences between Shallowpool dolls and their look-likes including those made by Sheena Macleod, Peggy Nisbet and Jay.
Doll Showcase Magazine
In 2004, after yet another doll magazine had ceased publication, my daughter Jenna and I decided to found our own magazine, one which would deal with all kinds of dolls, including antique bisque, composition, hard plastic, cloth, modern vinyl, celluloid and various designer dolls. Our first issue was published in September 2004. Back then we printed every copy ourselves, but today our magazine is printed by Warners, in Bourne, Lincolnshire. Doll Showcase is published quarterly, in March, June, September and December.
It has 50 full-colour pages. UK subscription is £21 including postage. Overseas rates on request. For more details about the magazine and how to subscribe, or if you are interested in any of my books, please see the Doll Showcase blog or contact [email protected]