Sepia Saturday challenges bloggers to share family history through old photographs.
This week’s Sepia Saturday prompt shows a couple at the beach posing with a stuffed animal known as Korky the Cat. Even though I have plenty of beach photos, I’m seizing the opportunity to feature something almost as kwirky and kreepy as Korky.
It’s a Kewpie doll.
|Two friends of Violetta Davis|
on the steps of Spotswood Hall
Harrisonburg Teachers College 1923
(now James Madison University)
The photo of two young girls with a Kewpie doll is in a photo album belonging to my grandaunt Violetta Davis Ryan. Who they were and whether they were in costume are a puzzle. They look too young to have been Violetta’s college friends. Maybe they were students she befriended while student-teaching.
|image from dollkind.com|
Even more puzzling is what that girl is doing with a Kewpie doll. And how can she look so lovingly at it? I’ve never been a fan of the Kewpie doll. Something about those tufts of hair, wide side-glancing eyes, and overly-sweet smile make the doll look like its hiding a devilish secret.
The girl in the photo seems to love it though. After all, the Kewpie doll was a popular toy in the early 1920s and is still quite collectible among doll enthusiasts today.
The Kewpie doll was the creation of writer and illustrator Rosie O’Neill about 1909. At first the Kewpie was a comic strip character, a baby Cupid complete with blue wings. Then came the Kewpie paper dolls. Expanding on that idea, O’Neill traveled to Germany to assist a toy manufacturer in the production of bisque dolls. By the 1920s, the more affordable and durable composition dolls were manufactured and sold in the United States.
Most likely a composition doll is what the girl in Violetta’s photo is holding. The straight legs indicate the doll is one of the early models. All Kewpies were sold without clothes, so any dresses or coats were added by the proud owner. If the doll weren’t dressed, the trademark red paper heart would be visible on its chest.
What do you think – kreepy or kute?
Be a doll and visit my friends at Sepia Saturday for more stories of quirky photo props and beach scenes.