Dolling up for the Holidays

Published 12:54 am Friday, November 4, 2011

Dolls through the ages can be found at the A-Z Doll Club’s annual Christmas sale and show Saturday. (WDN Photo/Jonathan Clayborne)

She’s got a porcelain complexion. She’s got sparkling, brown eyes. She bears a striking resemblance to a young Marie Osmond. With her burgundy dress, matching slippers and a festive burgundy-and-white hair bow, she’d be the perfect date to a Christmas party… for a doll collector.

Her name is Holiday Rose, and the A-Z Doll Club will be raffling off the 20-inch beauty at its Christmas Doll, Teddy Bear and Toy Show and Sale this weekend at the Improved Order of Red Men’s Lodge at 503 E. Third St., Washington.

The celebrity resemblance is no accident as Marie Osmond, a lifelong doll collector, sculpted the doll. Holiday Rose is a limited-edition doll and comes with a certificate of authenticity, as do most of the dolls at the annual show.

Doll collecting is a serious business, encompassing national and local shows, trade magazines and websites devoted to the hobby. EBay, the auction website, lists collectible dolls by the thousands, some of which, like a circa 1880s antique French Bru Jne bisque doll, will cost the devoted collector many thousands, as well.

The A-Z Doll Club’s Christmas show and sale caters to the beginning and experienced collector, to young and old. Vendors from all over eastern North Carolina, and as far away as New Jersey, come to show their collections, sell other dolls and all the accessories associated with dolls: clothing, furniture, tea sets and supplies. The ultimate clotheshorse, Barbie, has a team of Mattel designers creating around 2,000 outfits for her per year, and with the 52 years she’s been on the earth, her accessories alone are numberless. Some of those accessories are museum-quality items.

“My daughter’s house looks like a museum,” said Anne Scott. “It takes up two bedrooms and most of the upstairs.”

Scott became interested in doll collecting when she inherited her mother’s collection. She, in turn, passed the passion down to her daughter, Tricia Woolard.

Scott has been an A-Z Doll Club member since the organization’s inception in the early 1980s, and the love of dolls still brings the women together once a month to share their collecting adventures and memories of past shows. As they do each year, they view their show as a way to not only start a doll collection, or add to a flourishing collection, but as an opportunity to learn about the history of dolls and toys through the ages.

Shirley Woolard, one of the organizers of the show, uses her dolls to teach history, as well. Each year she’s asked to present a “Know Your America” program for local elementary schools, illustrating early American history with her Native American and Pilgrim dolls.

Woolard began collecting dolls in 1991, a few years after her husband purchased the Princess Diana doll and the Franklin Mint’s Little Women.

“There’s just something about them,” Woolard said. “You just love them. And, of course, you can decorate for all the holidays with them, too.”

The A–Z Doll Club’s show runs from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. Saturday and 1 p.m. until 4 p.m. Sunday at the Red Men’s Lodge. Cost of admission is $3 for adults; admission is free to children under 12.