A Thrift Store Find
Standing unsteadily on a shelf of unwanted Christmas decorations, this poor old doll caught my eye. From the front, his clothes were in shreds, but in the back, the fabrics were unfaded. For $4, he came home with me.
Thrift store doll.
The symbols woven into the coat cloth are intriguing.
Close-up of coat cloth, silk twill with brocading in copper, gold, black, blue, and turquoise thread.
The front fabric is hanging in shreds.
The legs, leg wrappings, socks, and sandals.
The back of the doll with the coat removed. Doesn’t this look like something Elvis would have worn?
In the back, the colors are still bright. The puffy sleeves and trouser legs are gathered and held in place with little cords.
The leg wrappings are lined with a red silk crepe, that was never visible on the doll.
These shoes were never visible either, as the doll was attached to a wooden base.
The hand with articulated fingers.
The construction of the body and arms. His “stomach-forward” stance is caused by his armature.
The wire armature and straw stuffing.
The face, made from a crepe fabric, with painted details.
The doll with his costume and sword. The coat has a red silk crepe lining.
The doll and his clothes were made with a combination of machine and hand stitching. His hair has held up well, but I cannot tell what fiber it is made from.
I enjoyed taking a closer look at his clothing, and now he can go live happily in the doll house with my Greek dolls. 🙂
Oh, I am almost in tears reading this! He is marvelous, just marvelous. SO happy he came home with you! Does he have a name? Will you give him one? Thank you so much for telling us about him.
I noticed some faded Chinese characters written in pencil on his chest, so if I can figure those out, I guess that will be his name! 🙂
Great! I keep going back to look at the detail. He has really taken a place in my heart! Amazing.
Wow! You did good, Ranger!
I am happy to have found him!
Wonderful doll. Such a shame that I assume some of silk fabric exposed to sunlight is disintegrating.
Yes about the sunlight. From a very brief online search, it looks like he might be from the 1940s or 50s, so that is pretty old for silk.
What a treasure 🙂 I think at least some of the symbols on his coat are kamon, or Japanese family crests. I can identify at least two of them: one is sakura, or cherry blossom, and I think another is nami, or wave. There are dozens of well-known and probably hundreds of these crests in existence. It’s a fascinating subject.
Thank you so much! My first thought was that he was Japanese, but after looking through all of my books on Japanese prints, and what little I have of Japanese fashion, I never saw anything that had gathered sleeves and trouser legs, only wide openings. So that made me wonder. But his hairstyle is what Japanese men wore in the 1800s, according to one of my books, shaved on top with the side hair gathered into a pony tail. I will look up kamon!
To my eyes, he looks entirely Japanese. The coat, the long pointed cuffs, the grass sandals, all look very Japanese. I hope you are able to decipher more of the kamon.
My goodness, your doll house is becoming quite the international center. Maybe you could make him a new outfit.
I think I will. I have some Japanese indigo cotton; I think he would like being in that after decades of that stiff silk. 🙂
I love, love, love that doll! He looks a lot like a Japanese doll that I saw featured some time ago in a post by a blogger who lives in Japan.
If you can find that post easily, could you put the link here in the comments? I would love to read it.
I found the post that I thought featured the doll, but I must have confused that post with something else I saw. If I can figure out where I saw the Japanese doll, I’ll let you know!
Such a characterful little chap! I think he’s a Japanese doll too – perhaps a kabuki character?
Oh, that’s a good idea! I will research further.
That was fun!
Congratulations! Your blog has been included in INTERESTING BLOGS in FRIDAY FOSSICKING at
Thank you, Chris
I’m forever intrigued by the finds you make… I think this little man was waiting for you..
definitely looks very Japanese. I agree with Kate, the circular patterns do look like kamon and I have full size sandals from Japan that look almost the same, What a wonderful find and so happy someone who appreciates him has taken him home.
All the work that went into making him in the first place… wow. Wouldn’t you just love to know his backstory? I would!
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