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15” Sairey Gamp is the friendly sort who enjoys a drink now and then. The lovely Little Nell was also used in place of the earlier roundfaced Alice in the Alice in Wonderland series. Wilkins Micawber, based on Dickens’ own father, was known for his optimistic outlook.

CHARLES DICKENS CHARACTERS

Martha must have been an appreciative reader and admirer of Charles Dickens (1812-1870), since she manufactured a series of dolls to represent some of that author’s most beloved characters. One delightful individual appears in the novel “Martin Chusslewit.” She is Sairey Gamp, a woman of ample dimensions and one who loves her liquor. The doll representing her is 15”. Her very round matronly face shows a prominent nose, a wide smiling mouth and rosy cheeks. Sairey had heavily lidded brown eyes (sans painted lashes) brown impasto hair that is center parted and severely pulled back and twisted into a bun at the back. This example wears a simply styled black dress over white lawn drawers and slip. The costume is completed with the addition of a white cotton apron, cotton socks and black and white German shoes. Her body is sateen covered with painted limbs that are stitched jointed at shoulders, elbows, hips and knees. She carries the ink stamped Chase logo on her left hip. Another Dickens character, made to represent Wilkins Micawber, is described in the book, David Copperfield “as a “stoutish, middle aged person with a large and shiny bald head.” His painted face is rosy and his broad nose adds dimension to the face as does the slight indentation in his chin. He has applied ears and brown painted eyes that lack the usual heavy lashes. His pink mouth carries just the hint of a smile. Hair styled around his bald pate create wisps of curls,

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the same shade of brown as Mrs. Gamps. His costume consists of a pleated white lawn shirt with a high collar that covers his neck. A black tie is held in place by a blue opalescent pin. A handsome tan velvet vest is worn beneath a black woolen jacket with tails and brass buttons. A pair of matching trousers, blue cotton socks and black leather shoes completes his costume. A paper label sewn to his back and a stamped Chase mark on his hip clearly identifies him. A third and well loved Dickens character is Little Nell (Trent) from the book “The Old Curiosity Shop”. Martha’s rendition follows the book’s portrayal describing Nell as a good and angelic girl. The doll is 15” with a sateen body and fully stitch jointed limbs. Her lovely features are painted with a soft and gentle touch. Bright blonde impasto hair, center parted, ends in two braids down her back. She wears simple cotton undergarments and a lace trimmed dress. Her shoes are black leather ballet slippers. As mentioned earlier Little Nell has often been substituted for Alice in the Alice in Wonderful set. I have seen the Dickens characters in variations of these costumes; presumably they were dressed differently during their production years. To this date and to my knowledge, no further Dickens characters created by Mrs. Chase have surfaced. It is pure conjecture, but is it the possible that many of Dickens characters were of such unsavory appearance and repute that Martha felt them unworthy of granting them recognition? Martha Chase continued on page 42

Profile for Antique Doll Collector Magazine

September 2010  

Special Chase Dolls • All Bisques • Meet the Bumsteads • Dolls’ Houses from the Old Salem Toy Museum • UFDC Salesroom • Antique Blue Ribbon...

September 2010  

Special Chase Dolls • All Bisques • Meet the Bumsteads • Dolls’ Houses from the Old Salem Toy Museum • UFDC Salesroom • Antique Blue Ribbon...