This Victorian Penny doll, aptly named Valentine, was a lovely gift from Jack.
She's a bit battered, with one leg that doesn't bend, and one arm that needs to be reattached, but all in all she's not doing too badly for a 120+ year old wooden doll. Being Victorian, she's not terribly keen on being photographed in the nude, but all she was wearing when she arrived yesterday was a pair of nicotine stained crocheted bloomers which quickly went into the bin.
I'm not a doll collector by any means, having seen far too many horror movies about sinister dolls over the years, but ever since I fell in love with Rumer Godden's book The Dolls' House (1947) when I was little, I have always wanted a penny doll of my own. I've written about another of my favourite Rumer Godden Books Miss Happiness and Miss Flower here. The detailed description of putting together a Japanese dolls' house captivated me as a girl.
The star of The Dolls' House is a tiny Dutch farthing doll called Tottie. She's very calm and wise, having lived for such a long time, and she looks after her family of mismatched dolls, the Plantaganets.
What I love about this book is the way Rumer Godden has managed to craft a gripping story, ostensibly about a group of dolls who long for a home of their own, that tackles subjects like the British class system, snobbery, human cruelty, the post-war economy, and the true meaning of family. If it's still in print, you should definitely read it yourself and read it to your kids. I won't include any plot spoilers, except to say that Tottie's nemesis is a really excellent baddy.
Anyway, back to Valentine and the problem of her nakedness...
That's better! Firstly, I wiped her face and refreshed her hair with a coat of black acrylic paint applied with a fine brush. Then I knitted a tiny shawl, tied at the back like the woollen shawl Fanny Brawne's little sister Toots is wearing in a scene from Jane Campion's film Bright Star. Lastly, a simple linen skirt with a pretty floral trim.
Now that Valentine is dressed, I sense that she's feeling much better about her lot and that she might grow to like her new home and owner. Perhaps there'll even be a smile on that serious little face of hers before long.