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Monday, July 31, 2017

April, 2017 Meeting of the Birmingham Doll Club

Jill S. hosted the April 2, 2017 meeting of the Birmingham Doll Club.  Jill present a discussion and examples of dolls by three European women who made cloth doll house dolls (Margaret Cohn, Alice Jorgensen, and Anne Beate). 

Grecon Dolls
Grecon dolls were produced by Margarete Cohn, a Jewish refugee who fled Germany and went to London in 1936.  Ms. Chon Attended Arts and Crafts School in Germany after WWI. By 1919 she had obtained a patent for a head and was producing dolls. Ms. Cohn quickly  shifted from making bisque to the cheaper cloth dolls.  The trademark was Grecon which is a contraction of her name "Grete and Cohn = Grecon".  Ms. Cohn trained others to produce dolls in London, creating a cottage industry.  Faced with restrictions on raw materials, Ms. Cohn used scraps to create her small scale, wool wrapped, wire armature dolls.  Ms. Cohn was successfully able to produce dolls during the Battle of Britain.   After WWII, Ms. Cohn wanted to expand the business and markets.  In 1946 she showed her dolls at an exhibit at the Victoria and Albert Museum and worked to  expand British products overseas.  Ms Cohn was successful, for  Grecon dolls could be found in the US at Dept Stores like Pittsburgh’s Hornes and through catalog companies. In 1952  A. Barton and Co, a London doll house and miniature manufacturer became distributor for Grecon dolls, which lasted until 1960s.  Harrod’s, Hamley’s, and small shops in London carried the dolls as well.

Ms. Cohn  made basic doll house family (mom, dad, older brother and sister, and a baby and  sometimes younger kids).  Grandparents fascinated her  - she also made a bridal party, cowboy/girl, nursemaid, maid, chef, chauffeur, police, postman, pianist, etc.  The dolls were either 1:21 scale or 1:18 scale. Those are the two known scale sizes.  Great attention was paid to detail of clothing and  yarn ties, miniscule buttons, lace collars, purses, yarn jewelry, net stockings, embroidered flowers, loop and eyelet eyeglasses, and tiny bead earrings were used.  The doll's faces were padded net with handpainted features – some dolls had yarn ears.  Hair was embroidered onto the doll's  heads.  The doll's clothing was made of felt, cotton, jersey, and wools.  Grandparents- were a favorite subject of Grete’s  and almost always wore glasses.   Grandfather dolls wore hounds tooth trousers, gray vest, and black morning jacket.  “Bobby” dolls were souvenirs for London gift shops.  The dolls were marked with tags (rectangular cloth tags) sewn onto back of clothing. The tags usually said “Grecon Little People” or “Grecon Made in England”.  Paper tags and foil tags were sewn onto back of clothes as well – esp. on larger dolls (Grecon – made in England – London)

Alice Jorgensen Dolls
Ms. Jorgensen made similar dolls to Grecon.  The dolls were made of thread and yarn wrapped around wire frames and had a paper label attached to the base "A. Jorgensen".  Examples of Ms. Jorgensen's dolls are below



Anne Beate
Anne Beate originally worked with alice Jorgensen.  In the 1960's,  Ms. Beate began making pixies.  The first  pixies were a boy carrying sack and girl holding bell are older.  The dolls had brown and yellow yarn hair.  The implements the dolls carried help to date Ms. Beate's dolls.  The adults were 4" tall.  The children dolls were 3.375" tall.  The dolls had foil tags.