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Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Merrill Ballerina Paper Dolls

My three earliest paper doll memories are 'The Heavenly Blue Wedding', the two little ballet dolls I posted on January 25th and this set produced by Merrill.  Two editions of this book were published, one in 1953 and this version dated 1959.

I loved these dolls as a child.  The costumes are some of the most original ever produced.

I'm not sure of the exact differences between the two versions of this book but I have seen scanned images of two pages that are not part of this set and must presumably have belonged to the earlier one.


Spring is finally here! Plum blossom in my garden.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Saalfield Cinderella Paper Doll

In the 60's Saalfield revamped a Cinderella paper doll set that was originally published in 1950.  The dolls were modernised although Prince Charming looks remarkedly like Prince Valiant. Apart from a couple of dresses that were not included, the clothing is identical to the original set.  The whole book - dolls and clothes - was printed on card stock and everything could be punched out very easily.
The quality of set is evident in that my copy was enthusiastically played with, but has survived surprisingly well.  Of the clothing all I can identify as being missing is one of Prince Charming's hats. I think much of the appeal of this set is due to the pantomime nature of the clothes.  They jumble up a number of centuries and eras but children of course don't notice that. What I can remember being bemused by is the fact that the 'ugly sisters' are not ugly at all.

I could only find three of my punched out dolls - one of the wicked sisters seems to have been mislaid.  For that reason I included the scans I have of the cover pages at the start of this post. I don't have any scans of the clothing pages.

Daffodil Day - 25 March

Friday is Daffodil Day (I'm not sure how many countries participate in this.) Silk daffodils and pin-on daffodil badges are sold by the Irish Cancer Society with a large number of volunteers collecting for the charity.  Daffodils are everywhere at the moment, brightening up every corner of the city.


I think mommy swan is sitting on her eggs at the moment.  Proud dad is strutting his stuff waiting for this year's new arrivals.  

A Doll for Daffodil Day

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Gerry Embleton

Gerry Embleton - The Dandelion Fairies
(See also  Wonderful Weddings and  Perfect Princesses  for additional examples of Gerry Embleton's work)
 Gerry Embleton (1941 - ) is the younger brother of my favourite artist Ron Embleton who has already been included in some of my previous blog entries. Gerry was born in England but has lived in Switzerland since the 1980's.  I'm not going to fall into the trap of comparing the two brothers. As these illustrations show Gerry is also a wonderful children's illustrator and captures the essence of the fairytale genre perfectly.

Like all the other artists already showcased in this blog Gerry Embleton is not renowned only as a storybook illustrator.  Nowadays he is probably better known as an illustrator of military and historical subjects, working largely with the military publisher Osprey.

The illustration above and the two following are amongst his most well known and are taken from a story called 'The Dandelion Fairies'.

Of all the stories illustrated by Gerry Embleton my favourite is 'Gizelle of the Woods', a variation of the Cinderella story (without the wicked stepmother and ugly sisters.)

Gerry Embleton - Gizelle of the Woods
 Gizelle is a poor girl who lives with the animals of the forest.  A great ball is to be held at the palace and all the young maidens in the kingdom are invited to attend. Gizelle longs to go to the ball but does not have a ballgown so the forest creatures weave one for her out of mosses, leaves and flower petals.  Gizelle rides to the ball on a unicorn and is noticed immediately by the prince who is entranced by her beauty.

The prince will dance with no one else. In answer to his question of where she comes from all Gizelle will answer is 'the place where the wild orchids grow.'  As the evening progresses the lights and heat of the ballroom cause the petals and leaves of Gizelle's gown to wither and die.  With the dress disintegrating around her Gizelle flees from the ball and rides swiftly back to the forest glade on the back of the unicorn. Only a spray of white orchids remain fresh and alive and this is all the prince has left to remember her by.

The prince is determined to make Gizelle his bride and as she lives 'in the place where the wild orchids grow' he sets out to find them.  Deep in the forest he finally becomes aware of the beautiful scent of orchids and in the glade where they grow he finds not only the flowers, but the girl he seeks hiding behind a tree.  The unicorn carries them back to the palace where in true fairytale tradition they live happily ever after.

Illustrations from 'Beauty & the Beast and Other Stories', adapted by Barbara Hayes, illustrated by Ronald and Gerry Embleton
St Stephen's Green, Dublin - March 2011

The swans in St Stephens Green are so photogenic all I need to do is point a camera at them and I end up with a selection of lovely photographs.  These are three of my latest photos, taken last week as Spring slowly makes its arrival.  As usual I took them on my way to work while walking through the park. 

Today is St Patrick's Day.  I'm including a map that was in one of our newspapers yesterday of the route of the Dublin parade.  One of the reasons I've done so it is because it shows where some of the places are that I have included in this blog - St Stephen's Green and St Patrick's Cathedral have already featured and at some point I will be including photos of Trinity College and Christchurch Cathedral.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Vintage Brides

More images from this magazine can also be found at More Vintage Brides

I'm deviating from my usual blog postings to include these pictures of vintage brides I found in an old magazine tucked away in a drawer today.  They come from a catalogue called 'Modern Bride', dated 1958.  My mother originally gave this book to me when I was about 4 years old.  I'm not sure why she had it as her wedding was the year before the magazine was published in 1957.  I can remember enjoying looking at these illustrations as much as any fairytale or storybook I owned at the time.  
I longed to own this flower girl dress when I was little and thought it was the most beautiful I had ever seen.

I've included a picture of my mother's marriage in a previous post.and mentioned that I used to think she was the bride in the 'Heavenly Blue Wedding'.  This is another photo I was convinced was of her. My childish logic saw nothing amiss in the fact that this was an American magazine (and my mother wasn't a model).      

I used to believe that this was a picture of the wicked stepmother in 'Snow White'.  Looking at it now I can still see why I thought that.

There are very few colour photographs in this magazine.  I've included three of them here.  The following two are from an autumn themed double wedding of two sisters.

Besides wedding dresses the magazine also contains other gowns for the occasion.  All of them have the lovely elegance of the era.

And to finish don't you just love these adverts for furniture and bed-linen? 

I was fortunate enough to have a fairytale wedding of my own.  I chose to wear my mother's dress (she had kept it all that time.)  As I married in 1996 it was 39 years since my mom originally wore it on her day.  The sleeves had been taken out (it doubled once as a  ballgown).  I opted for a slightly less rigid petticoat and added a brooch of my own, but otherwise it was unchanged.



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