Miss Pym and a Friend

Miss Pym and a Friend

Friday, January 22, 2016

Calling all Museums and Collectors: Orphan Dolls need to be Donated to a Good Home!

Please see below the email from this hospice social worker trying to find a good home for a doll collection of 5,181 dolls. A separate collection includes around 250 bears by the same owner. The dolls are mostly modern, many are modern porcelain or Walda types, but there is a nice Alexander Pussycat, at least wo Dolls by Pauline, a vintage Kewpie and Patsy type, many international costume and folk dolls. There are also Shirley Temple items, musicals, and 331 thmbles. I do not have the brick and mortar facilities yet, or I would offer to take them.

I think they could be donated to a museum. These dolls are all part of doll history, and need to be preserved by someone. 50 + years from now, they will be vintage and antique. Already, not many are made.

This lady is terminally ill, and her dolls mean a lot to her.

She has carefully cataloged her collection. See below:

I obtained your email from the Doll Show USA website.
I am the social worker for the OSF Richard L Owens Hospice Home in Peoria. I have a patient who is trying to place her vast doll collection before her death. I am trying to facilitate this. If you know of any person or organization who would be willing to accept this collection please let me know. Below are a couple of links from media stories about this collection. Since the video tape the collection has grown by another 20%. I will be happy to assist in coordinating etc. Please do not hesitate to call.
Chuck Wilcox, MSW LCSW
Medical Social Worker / Chaplain
OSF Richard L. Owens Hospice Home
8630 N. IL Route 91
Peoria, IL 61616
309.683.8444 voice 309.683.8282 fax
One of the news stories:
By Phil Luciano

May 01. 2011 12:01AM

Luciano: Dolls are all dressed up with nowhere to go

Wilma Schubert is crabby with the Peoria Riverfront Museum. So are her roommates.

And she has a lot of them. To be exact, 4,715.

They are her dolls, which fill most of her sharp ranch home in Far North Peoria.

"They're beautiful," the 80-year-old widow says matter-of-factly. "If you have dolls, you are never lonely."

But they need a new home. Schubert has run out of room for them, and she would like to find a suitable spot to which she could will her collection. Her first choice would be the new museum, but the dolls have been turned away.

"They told me it doesn't fit the motif," Schubert says, voice rising. "It just kind of burned me up to have Richard Pryor in the museum and not my dolls."

You can decide whether the museum would be the right spot. I don't know if that's the type of attraction that would lure tourism. Still, you have to admire someone who gets so feisty over her hobby that she is willing to yell at politicians and business executives, even going so far as to bark at the City Council.

Doll collecting is a latter-day hobby for Schubert. Six years ago, she had just 100 dolls - a sizeable number for most people, but just a few shelves' worth of space at her place.

But in 2005, her second husband passed away. Though an active gardener and seamstress, she started to find enjoyment in dolls. She bought some at stores, but many at yard sales and second-hand shops.

By her admission, it became an addiction. Slowly, dolls took over her home. They fill couches, shelves, floors, beds, counters and any other available space throughout the house.

There are celebrities: Princess Di, Michelle Obama, Marie Osmond. Cartoons: Minnie Mouse, Raggedy Anne, Betty Boop. Miscellaneous: a surfer, a mermaid, Kabuki dancers. Ninety-two Barbies. Sixty Cabbage Patch dolls. Several Elvises (Elvii?).

At a small table, two cats drink tea while two dogs play poker.

A few are an inch tall. Some are as big as children.

The only doll-less rooms are the kitchen and one bathroom; Schubert even shares her bed with dolls.

(But not teddy bears, which are downstairs. She has 200 of them, but they're not part of the official doll count because they're bears not dolls.)

Most of the dolls are girls. A pair of naked, beat-up baby dolls survive from her childhood. Two porcelain dolls date to the 1800s.

Her favorite is a Katherine Anne doll, a brunette the size of a toddler, which she got in 1962 for $300.

"I had a little girl who passed away," she says, lightly brushing the doll's hair with her hand. "So I saw this doll in Peoria in the window at Block and Kuhl's. It looked just like her. So this is her."

Though room is at a premium, everyone is happy with the set-up - except Schubert's Pomeranians, Lil Leo and Leo. The pooches, which won the Journal Star's Pet Idol contest in 2008 and 2009, would love to tear into the dolls. So, Schubert takes great pains to keep the dogs away.

"They have a separation issue," she says with a laugh.

Schubert sometimes takes dolls out for visits. She often will visit nursing homes, bringing her dolls and lecturing on their history.

"The residents enjoy it," she says.

By the beginning of last year, Schubert had amassed 2,600 dolls. The house growing cramped, she vowed to stop buying more. She failed.

"I was gonna quit, but I couldn't," she says with a smile. "I just couldn't."

The house now brims with 4,715 dolls, as of Wednesday. But she swears she is done buying more. She might have little choice this time.

"I've run out of room," she says with a shrug.

Schubert says she doesn't have an estimated value for the collection. But she is willing to give them away free - to the right place.

Her three adult children don't want the dolls. So Schubert wants to find a new place. She says there are no doll museums in the state, and she wants to keep them in Illinois.

So, she has pushed to put the dolls in the new museum. She has spoken loud and long before the City Council. She has called Caterpillar Inc. She has talked to Lakeview Museum.

The response every time: thanks, but no thanks.

The riverfront museum will have a set criteria for exhibits, says Nikki Cole, Lakeview's vice president of development. Right now, Lakeview accepts donations of fine art, decorative art and folk art, along with examples of natural science. The dolls do not fit within those parameters.

Schubert finds that view shortsighted.

"What are they gonna have that's beautiful?" she says. "What are they gonna have for children to look at?"

Meanwhile, perhaps there is a better solution. Ideas? Again, Schubert wants to keep them local, so keep that in mind. "I want them to stay in Peoria," she says.

PHIL LUCIANO is a columnist with the Journal Star. He can be reached at pluciano@pjstar.com, 686-3155 or (800) 225-5757, Ext. 3155. Luciano co-hosts "The Markley & Luciano Show" from 5:30 to 9 a.m.

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