Early 1900s Alabama Indestructible Doll
Appraised Value: $2,000 - $3,000
IMAGE: 1 of 2
Appraisal Video: (2:27)
GUEST: Well, I've brought you a doll that I found in a trunk in the attic when my husband's sister died, and we had to clean out her belongings, and this was just down in the bottom of a trunk. I suspect it was hers, because she was a fairly heavy smoker and there's some evidence there. I think it probably was either her mother's or grandmother's. We don't really know, but, you know, she lived in Montgomery, Alabama, all her life and somehow or other the baby came down through the family.
APPRAISER: Okay, in the mid-19th century, rag dolls were very, very popular, and they sort of went out when all the china dolls and the bisque dolls came in. And then around the turn of the century, rag dolls came back. Children were playing with more things. Parents were probably getting a little tired of restoring and repairing broken bisque and china dolls, so rag dolls came back into popularity. This particular rag doll was actually made in Roanoke, Alabama. And it was made by a lady by the name of Smith, and she first started making dolls really just for herself and her friends and her kids. Then she started getting a small home factory together. Her name was Ella, and they were called the Alabama Indestructible doll. And she first started in 1899 and she went through 1923. She got a patent in 1912. This doll would probably date probably early 1900, 1912, pre-World War I. The clothing's all original. You could buy the dolls with their clothes on or with their clothes off. I'm not going to undress it, it's got great underwear. Cloth-wise, in excellent condition. I looked for a mark-- a lot of times she had a mark and patent date. This particular one does not have that. The oil painting on the face is great. It's got a sad little expression, very primitive looking, very folky looking. In fact, folk art dealers and collectors love these dolls because it goes with good Early American furniture. Of course, there's this question: what's this little doll with a cigarette-burned dress worth?
APPRAISER: Okay, well, she survived alive pretty good. A little bit of crackling on the face, not a lot. Again, great expression, nice painted shoes, they're still in good shape. You know, at a doll show, you would see her probably for $2,000 to $2,500.
GUEST: Are you serious?
APPRAISER: And on a good day, maybe 3,000.
APPRAISER: So, I'm glad you inherited her. Take good care of her, keep all her original clothes together, and keep her as happy as she is.
GUEST: I hope she is happy.
APPRAISER: She looks pretty happy.
GUEST: She's a sweet baby.
This website is produced for PBS Online by WGBH Boston. ©1997-2013 WGBH Educational Foundation.
ANTIQUES ROADSHOW is a trademark of the BBC and is produced for PBS by WGBH under license from BBC Worldwide.
WGBH and PBS are not responsible for the content of websites linked to or from ANTIQUES ROADSHOW Online.
PBS is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization.