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Nelling, Inc.

C l o t h   D o l l s

(Click on photos to enlarge) 

Cloth Benigna Dolls

4" and 5"


$375 and $475

Named after the first boarding school for girls in the United States, the Benigna dolls were miniature representations of 19th century Moravian females and the Ladies of the Sewing Society of the Central Moravian Church in Bethlehem PA.  They were made in the early 1940's in honor of this noble band of seamstresses who, under the inspiration of Polly Heckewelder, created the Moravian cloth dolls that were sold to fund needed programs in the church and community.

The different colors used as trim on the starched cotton, simple costumes, designated their position in society; cherry for a little girl, blue for married, pink for unmarried, and white for widow.  Each carried a matching, drawstring reticule containing a written identification.  Both of these, a little girl and married woman, are in rarely seen, clean and mint condition with their painted cloth faces, slim cloth bodies, all sewn by hand with love. 

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Shown here is a group of Polly Heckewelder cloth dolls made by the Ladies of the Sewing Society of the Central Moravian Church through the ages with dolls dating from the late 19th Century to the mid to late 20th century.  Below are descriptions and prices.

 There are even some of the later models in the collection dating from the very late 1900's that are not shown, priced from $200.00.  Please ask for photos and descriptions. 


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Early Polly

Doll No. 7 in Collection, WWII Era

Doll No 4 in Collection, WWII Era

Doll No. 12 in Collection,  1950's

Doll No. 8 in Collection,  Early 1900's

Doll No. 16 in Collection, 1930's

Doll No. 3 in Collection, 1950's

No. 17 in Collection, WWII Era

Doll No. 15 in Collection, Early 1900's


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Martha Chase Child


Side Parted Hair

One of the rarer Martha Chase offerings, this is the child with charming, side-parted hairstyle.  She is in very good condition with original paint except for some touch up to her nose and to a small area above her left eyebrow.  She has blond textured hair and painted eyes of sky blue.  .
Her body is very clean and sturdy, having some reinforcement to the shoulder joints in the form of extra stitching. Her floral cotton dress allows her full slip to peak under her hemline, originality unknown but possible.  Along with her comes a vintage book about the Chase family dolls that is more nostalgic than informative, but it has been with the doll through her years in a very old collection.  She's al little ray of sunshine!

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Early Columbian

A pre-1900 Columbian cloth doll (19") from the first era, made by Emma Adams of Oswego, New York.  This primitive beauty features a flat, oil painted face with caramel brown eyes, pale complexion and a pursed, rose colored mouth.  She has no touch up to her original finish, and is in very nice condition, except for a tear with some loss of surface on the top corner of her left forehead.  Her short, curled wisps of light brown hair are achieved with soft, flowing brush strokes.
The oil painted surface is also repeated on her shoulders, and she has cloth lower arms and legs, but her legs have been covered and stitched using a fine, black cotton fabric.  The legs feel totally intact underneath and possibly this was done to mimic black stockings.  Her clothing, which looks to be original or the type of clothing found on these dolls, consists of a muted grey striped pinafore dress with attached, pale pink bodice.  Her pale aqua leather antique boots play well against her outfit and she wears an early, antique cotton bonnet  with drawstrings that must be a donation from one of her larger-headed relatives!

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Large Alabama Baby

An Alabama cloth doll, circa 1890 from the Ella Smith Doll Co. of Roanoke, Alabama, that is rare for its large size (24") and rarer for its bare feet.  Usually found with painted boots in a vivid turquoise blue, this girl has bare, oil painted feet with stitched and detailed toes, that match her oil painted arms and hands with the same, careful detail.  Her molded and oil painted face has healthy, cherub like features,  rich brown painted eyes, peach blushed cheeks, a closed mouth and deep, brunette painted hair, all being the original paint surface.
Her early era is displayed with  her separately applied ears and circular top head seam that facilitated the method of stuffing the doll from the head down.  Her cloth body is in very nice shape, however her bare feet have quite a bit of wear in the toe tip areas.  Soft, antique cotton undergarments, a white cotton shift and a pale, floral printed pinafore make for a  gentile presence of this important, well cared for, cloth child.


Post Office Box 4327  n   Burbank, CA 91503

       Cell (818) 738-4591   n Home Phone (818) 562-7839 

Don't forget to look at the Miscellaneous page!