From 1901-1924, Bruckner produced this original, 12" Topsy Turvy doll for Horsman's Babyland Rag Doll line that features Caucasian, "Betty", on one end and African American, "Topsy", on the other. The inspiration for this doll is based on the character of Topsy in Harriet Beecher Stowe's classic 1852 novel, "Uncle Tom's Cabin".
The Bruckner Topsy Turvy doll was advertised in a 1907 Babyland Rag Doll catalog as follows:
"TOPSY-TURVY---What is this?
Looks like just a pretty miss.
But turn her over and you'll find,
She is quite another kind.
First she's White and then she's Black,
Turn her over and turn her back.
Topsy that side--Betty this--
Yet complete, each little Miss."
The detail on this hard to find classic doll is lovely. Both heads indeed have the pressed, molded mask faces with lithographed features. Topsy's face is in mint condition! Betty's face is very fine with superficial rubs to the flesh-toned coating of her mask; her lithographed facial features, however, remain beautiful. (Such rubs are not unexpected as these particular doll masks are, unfortunately, prone to rubbing.)
Grinning Topsy has red bows tied to her black mohair braided pigtails which are tucked into her red headscarf. Her red blouse, which matches her head scarf, is trimmed with cream banding around the sleeve and neck edges. The cream scarf she wears around her shoulders tucks into her very full, red/cream checked, gingham skirt. Flip her over, and....
Betty's more subtle Anglo face and her hair are lithographed. She wears the same red/cream checked gingham fabric of which both her dress and ruffled bonnet are constructed. Over her very full gingham dress, Betty also wears a sheer, ruffled pinafore.
Both dolls have the typical "mitten" hands of the stuffed rag dolls of this era. There are no other difficulties to report other than the rubs to Betty's face and some tiny, stray (original) glue spots here and there. No rips, tears, soiling, or odors, and she has been stored in a smoke-free home. The photos show it all- these two girls are a charming pair! A very difficult to find doll in near excellent condition!
In very nice condition with minor scratches to paint here and there as seen in photos, this wind-up toy works, but can be a little fussy. Given its 100+ years of age, a bit of fussiness in the mechanism is not atypical or unexpected. Marked "TOMBO" Alabama Coon Jigger Trademark Strauss Mfg Co New York USA; US Patent May 24, 1910. The figure, itself, is 8.25 inches high.
This fabulous toy is a CLASSIC MUST-HAVE for the avid Black Memorabilia Toy collector!
Measuring 7" long x 4.5" high x 4" wide, this colorful toy features two African-American boxers who are activated by jiggling the paddle which causes the boxer's arms and legs to freely fly about.
The boxers have painted wooden bodies with lithographed tin arms and legs. They are attached to the wooden paddle by a thin metal wire.
The toy is complete and in all-original condition and has not been subjected to any repair or repaint. Wear to the painted faces is evident as noted in the extreme close-up photos provided. No manufacture marking evident.
This seldom-found toy displays very nicely and would be a delightful addition to a Black Americana toy collection.
Mammy's wonderful, smiling face is all hand-stitched while her clothes are machine sewn. Her blouse is striped cotton, as are Mammy's head, arms, skirt, apron, and cap. Her head, arms, and upper torso have been stuffed with cotton batting. The natural bristle broom fills out both Mammy's torso and skirt & the wooden broom handle extends upward through her neck and head.
Mammy is in all original condition with no mends or repairs. The structural integrity of the broom remains quite sound. Mammy's white cotton apron and cap have been professionally cleaned, removing nearly all traces of old stains, dirt, and dust.
A fabulous piece of vintage Black Americana, and a seldom seen form of the Black Mammy Doll!
While her little body was machine stitched together, the remainder of Mammy is all hand-completed! She has a sweet, cheerful, hand-embroidered face that is framed by a tall red, white and blue bonnet! She continues her patriotic look with a red and white checkered top and blue and white flowered pants---how racy---pants instead of a skirt!!!
Mammy clutches a gold colored tomato which, of course, is designed to keep the sewing pins!
In wonderful condition!! Just waiting to be displayed with other sewing or black American collectibles!
Both of these colorful brushes have natural bristles with the Porter measuring 7.5 inches high and the Mammy measuring 6.5 inches high.
The Railroad Porter brush has minor paint wear to his cream colored pant legs, to the edges of his cream colored hat and also has some very teeny paint wear spots round his eyes. The Porter's ear is consistent with where one would hold onto the brush while using it.
The Mammy brush is in near excellent condition with little evidence of having ever been used. Love the expression on her face! If one carefully separates the natural bristles, it is evident that at one time they were dyed green to match her bodice, but have lost their applied color with the passing of time.
Please note that the white spots seen in the photos are lighting reflections and are NOT areas of missing paint. If one looks closely, the teeny areas of missing paint can be distinguished from the light reflections.
The Mammy brush is priced at $85, the Porter priced at $70.
Please take the time to peruse our second grouping a Mammy and Porter brushes, listed separately.
Ready for framing, this unusual piece of history would be a fabulous addition to one's collection of slavery or medical artifacts. It measures approximately 7 inches wide x 1.34 inches high and would look fabulous double-matted in an exquisite frame.
The Middle Passage Museum was the dream of Jim and Mary Anne Petty of Mississippi as well as that of an anonymous Georgian benefactor who had together compiled a collection of slave artifacts numbering over 15,000 pieces and who had hoped to find a permanent site in Mobile, Alabama, for their museum. While they formed a non-profit organization to raise funds for their hoped-for museum, their dream was never realized.
In a 2003 statement, Jim Petty remarked, "The importance of the exhibit of these artifacts is to understand the harshness of what slavery and segregation was all about. The items in the exhibit remind us of the terrible heinousness of slavery. Viewing the collection can be very emotional, but it is a tool through which we can understand, honor and respect a great culture. We want to realize that out of slavery, a great culture emerged, and carried on, and continued to strive for a better life regardless of the adverse conditions that were placed upon them."
The records are in used condition with minor scuffing and/or scratching typical of used records of 80+ years of age. These records have not been recently played and are presented as historical artifacts, and as such, they are offered for sale without guarantee of "playing quality".
1912 "I'se Gwine Back to Dixie" by the Haydn Quartet
1923 "Two Black Crows Part 1 and Part 2" A Comedy Sketch by Moran and Mack
C1915 "No One Loves You Any Better Than Your Mammy" by Link-Nelson
1908 "Coon Band Contest--Fox Trot" by Earl Fuller's Famous Jazz Band
C1910 "Uncle Tom One-Step" by Hugo Frey.
As each is priced separately (see photos for pricing), please email us stating which item you wish to purchase so that we can customize your order form.
From approximately 1915 through the 1930's, Mrs. Vargas-Alphonso, influenced by the artistry of her father who also sculpted in wax, crafted a variety of wax dolls inspired by the black folk she saw on New Orleans's street corners while growing up. Sold exclusively at the time through Harriet's, of 318 Rue Royale in the French Quarter of New Orleans, the completely hand-made, one-of-a-kind dolls are seldom found on today's market due to their inherently fragile nature, making them highly sought after in the Black Memorabilia Collectible arena.
This particular figure is known as The Banjo Player and is actually quite rare and very difficult to find in today's collectible market, likely because there were not as many Banjo players crafted as opposed to the more commonly found Vargas cotton pickers or praline sellers.
Vargas wax figures are distinctly characterized by their interesting but highly exaggerated facial features. The Banjo Player wears a tan hat with black band, a green flowered neck scarf, a red and yellow patterned shirt and textured, loose-fitting black pants- with all but the hat constructed of actual cloth fabric that was coated with a fine layer of clear wax to stiffen them. He supports all of his weight on his back left leg while propping his right leg up upon an actual wooden log as he plays! His wax body is internally supported by a wire frame through which the figure is attached to the wooden base via his left leg.
This wonderful figure is in very fine condition for his 85+ years of age with the following imperfections: missing left-hand fingers (an unfortunate, but extremely common consequence of time), and the most obvious imperfection being a missing section of his hat brim. It is evident that the banjo has been re-glued into position over the years---a situation which does not surprise me given that the banjo is only supported by the left hand and propped upon the right leg--not a very secure position from a constructional viewpoint.
Regardless of his minor imperfections, this VARGAS figure would be classified as in FINE condition. Wax is a very delicate and fragile medium in which to work, and some loss is expected given that these figures are fast approaching 100+ years of age. The banjo player's brilliantly executed face with open mouth filled with song, his realistic and intact banjo complete with all original strings, and his incredibly natural and realistic pose remains a most delightful snapshot of C1920 New Orleans African American cultural history!
Please note- photos were taken in interior natural light. The first two photos best represent true, actual color. Any white or light spots on the figure are a result of light glare and are not reflective of discoloration or fading.
The graphic showing an African American woman picking cotton with her little girl at her side retains its vivid coloring and is in near mint condition with only one tiny speck of paint loss at the base of the little girl’s apron. Very minor wear is visible along the front edge of the tray rim as well as along the base edge as seen in photos. Overall condition is quite exceptional!
The front of the tray bears the advertisement, “ The Source of Cottolene- ‘Nature’s Gift From the Sunny South’”, and obviously refers to the cotton plant as the source of Cottolene Lard or shortening which was manufactured by the N.K. Fairbanks Company.
In extraordinarily microscopic-size lettering on the bottom front of the tray at the base of the cotton-picking scene can be read (with a super-magnifying glass), the name of the manufacturer of this metal tip tray: " Passaic Metal Ware Co. Litho. Passaic NJ".
The tray underside depicts a can of Cottolene lard which provides the backdrop for the Fairbanks Company product advertising. It advertising reads, “ ‘Way Down South in the Land of Cotton’ If you could see cotton growing in the fields in all its purity, could observe the skill and care used in extracting and refining the oil, you would appreciate while COTTOLENE- the perfect shortening- is so much purer and more healthful than lard could ever be. COTTOLENE is pure and wholesome as the finest olive oil; makes food palatable, digestible, healthful. COTTOLENE shortens your food- lengthens your life.” Wow, quite a testimony!!
A wonderful crossover piece equally appropriate for one’s Advertising, Black Memorabilia, or Tip Tray collection!
All seven of these colorful brushes have natural bristles, and range in height from 7.5 inches and 8 inches tall to the smaller, 4.5 inches tall, green and red-dressed little Mammy brushes.
The three black railroad porter brushes, the large red Mammy brush with cloth bow and the small red Mammy brush are all in near excellent condition with evidence of having been very lightly used as described:
Blue Porter with Cream colored pants: teeny, superficial "dings" to paint here and there with one teeny mark between the eyes.
Black and Cream Porter: teeny, superficial "dings" to paint here and there with one teeny mark near the mouth; paint wear to edges of cap.
Yellow Porter: paint wear primarily to right side of face and top of cap.
Large Red Mammy with Cloth Bow: paint in excellent condition with a couple tiny rubs here and there. Natural bristles have faint trace of original red painted dots to natural bristle skirt.
Small Red Mammy: paint in excellent condition; faint trace of original red dots on natural bristle skirt.
The following two brushes are also in very nice, barely used condition with minor imperfection as described below:
Large Red Mammy with hand-painted bow: brush has seen a little more use than the others(see photos)- very minor paint wear from use to Mammy's back. Black paint drip to collar area. Natural bristles dyed red.
Small Green Mammy: green cap and blouse, small, 4.5" tall --in very good condition with exception to paint striation on face that occurred during manufacture (close-up photo makes this appear more prominent than what is seen with the eye).
Please note that many of the white spots seen in the photos are light reflections and are NOT areas of missing paint. If one looks closely, the teeny areas of missing paint can be distinguished from the light reflections.
The taller brushes are all priced at $85 each. The smaller, 4.5", green and red-dressed mammy brushes are priced at $60 each.
Please take the time to peruse our second grouping a Mammy and Porter brushes, listed separately.
The work is entitled, "Coffee With the Spirit World" and is done in acrylics on watercolor paper. It comes mounted on acid-free foam core which can continue to be used when the piece is framed.
Of this piece of artwork, Sister Raya says, “When peoples get up in the morning they slog on coffee and stumble round full of stress and worry, but they don’t be knowin that’s the time when the spirit folk be slippin round they heads. They be friendly folk and like you to say good morning to them. People go too fast today, slow down when you be drinkin yo coffee and say good mornin!”
The vibrant blues, yellows and reds make this art work tremendously visually appealing and thought-provoking!