American Folk Art Doll, ca. 1890

Value (2010) | $4,000 Auction$6,000 Auction

I used to spend summers when I was a child at my grandparents' home, which was pre-Revolutionary, in Maryland. This property had slave dwellings on the property...


And the descendants of the original slaves lived back in the woods on their particular property. And so when I was a small child, I would play with the children of the descendants of the original slaves. And there was an elderly man named Kwamne who lived on the property, and he was over a hundred years old when I was ten years old, and he gifted this doll to me. I don't know the real story about whether his mother made it or his wife made it or his sister made it, but one of the women made this doll.

He had his own land. He was a freed slave on your family's property.

He was. My grandmother gave him his property, and so his daughter and her husband and their children all lived on that property.

It's a wonderful piece of folk art. It's large. It's this depiction of a woman. We don't really know if it's an African American woman or, in fact, a Caucasian woman. What do you think? You've been told...

That it's an African American woman.

African American woman-- okay. This is actually made of cotton. Really, she's in great condition. But if you come down at her proper left arm here, you can see the cotton that she's stuffed with. I love the fact that the eyebrows are hand-sewn.

Yes. And the eyes, they used, what, black buttons?

Yes, black buttons. For the eyes, and then the nose is so cool. It looks like they wrapped the cotton around a piece of wood or some material.

Yes, it's a piece of wood.

The lips are painted in. The hair looks like a wool. As a piece of American folk art, it zaps you, you know? It's a great, great thing. To a doll collector, it's a different thing. It's just a nice, folky doll. In a doll market, this piece would be about $2,000 to $3,000. Now, as a piece of American folk art, easily at auction she would have a value of $4,000 to $6,000, okay?


Appraisal Details

Keno Auctions
New York, NY
Appraised value (2010)
$4,000 Auction$6,000 Auction
Miami Beach, FL (July 10, 2010)
Folk Art

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