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Doll with leading string on printed gown

Early 18th century, clothing probably 1770-1780
Origin: England
OL: 18"
Wood, gesso, paint, linen; clothing of cotton, wool, silk, and linen
Museum Purchase
Acc. No. 1958-241
Doll of carved wood with cloth upper arms tacked to shoulders, lower wooden arms and hands with fork fingers; jointed legs of carved wood with mortise and tenon joints at hip and knee. Doll's face has plump cheeks, high forehead, deeply carved mouth, painted eyes and single-line brows; smooth enamel over gesso or plaster; blonde wig made of flax. Doll wears rose and white block-printed gown with wide neckline, closely fitted torso, and elbow-length sleeves ending in ruffles. Gown closes in back. One fabric "leading string" is sewn to the rear shoulder; the other leading string is missing. The gown appears to be a 1770-1780 replacement. The neck ruffle, sleeve ruffles, and cap are of fine white linen. Cap is trimmed with rose silk ribbon. Under the gown, doll has a mustard-color wool serge petticoat of the same material used for stays, back-lacing stays, a replacement pocket embroidered in crewel wool (possibly from another doll), and a white linen shift. Knitted white stockings and black satin boots appear to be nineteenth-century in date. Four strands of black bugle beads encircle doll's neck.
Label:This wooden painted doll must have been reclothed in the late eighteenth century. The gown, made of printed cotton, is typical of clothing worn by girls during the second half of the eighteenth century, a time when children wore back-fastening garments (adult women's gowns typically opened at the front). The cotton garment still has one of the fabric leading strings stitched to a shoulder. Leading strings were originally intended to assist children learning to walk and were then retained in some children's clothing as a symbol of youth.