mother xmas & her boudoir doll salon


It was a bright sunny day that I entered a tiny antique shop on the upper east side of Manhattan. I was in a browsing mood and curious about the treasures I would find. When I entered the store my eyes went directly to the top of a curiosity cabinet where sat an extraordinary doll with heart melting eyes. Although I knew I had to own her, I did not realize that my purchase would be taking me on a fascinating journey to the world of boudoir dolls.

The year was 1990 and at the time information on boudoir dolls was scarce and often contradictory. There were some informative articles in the doll magazines, the Coleman Doll Encyclopedias, Judd’s “Cloth Dolls” and the gorgeous Farago’s “Magic & Romance of Art Dolls”. A beginning collector, like myself, had to piecemeal the information together in order to make any sense. Like most people bitten by the collector bug, I was determined to find more boudoir doll treasures and used the available information as a guide.
Getting back to when I saw the boudoir doll in the shop, I was immediately stricken by her fabulous face and really thought she might be one of the Lenci’s I had heard about. The shop keeper told me, the doll was not a Lenci but a boudoir doll that had been kept in a closet for decades which explained the vividness of her complexion. It took me ten years of collecting though dealers and the advent of eBay to correctly identify my first doll as an Etta after another doll that was tagged was added to my collection.

Beauty (which is the name of my first boudoir doll) remains with me and became the standard of which I measured any other doll that was added to my collection. It would be an understatement to say, I was spoiled early on, because as any collector knows, truly perfect dolls are very hard to find.

During those early days, finding authentic boudoir dolls was not easy since most dealers did not consider them worthy of attention. Eventually I was able to connect with dealer who had recently bought some boudoir dolls at an estate sale. It was a lucky day for me as some of my earliest dolls included a Rosalinde, Kuddles, Blossom, Pickford Bride, a Suede Prince,a Lenci Lady and a large wax doll. Amongst these jewels I also got stuck with buying a few not so great dolls that had been mis-represented. The worse of these being what is called a “Frankenstein” which defines a doll that was put together with a variety of parts just like the famous monster. There were also less perfect dolls acquired that were original but I loved for their own poignant charms.

Collecting boudoir dolls can be addictive and there was a point when my collection numbered in the hundreds but that is not the case today. Life sometimes has unexpected events and collections must be sold in order to attend to more important issues at hand. So there was a time that many of the dolls in my collection were sold and they are now with their new care keepers.

Over the years I have also helped others sell parts of their collections and in doing so, I have had an incredible opportunity to see many rare boudoir treasures up close. I have also on occasion helped a friend to restore or dress a treasured doll. The experience and knowledge I have gained in the process is beyond measure.

A few years back I entertained the idea of writing a book on boudoir dolls but opted to writing two articles instead. These are featured in the September and November 2002 issues of DOLLS magazine. I also shared information and photographs with Susanna Oroyan for her 2004 book “Dolls of the Art Deco Era”. Collectors may want to note that many of the original dolls from my collection were featured in these articles and book.

Over the years I have exchanged information freely with many new collectors so that they would have a better understanding of the criteria that makes a truly great doll. The answer is really simple. Buy what you truly love and the dolls that tug at your heart. It is not about the size of the collection.

This website has been approached much the same way one would put together a family album and document history along with the lighter more entertaining moments over the years. It is my belief that the artists who created these dolls were very much inspired by the art and advertisements of their era along with theatrical events and the movies. So you will see many of the dolls grouped together by look or types that were prevalent in the culture of the early Twentieth Century.

I do share a philosophy about boudoir dolls that is the same as the late Susie Oroyan which is that the collector should “play” with the dolls and not just have them decorating a shelf. It is my sincerest hope that through this venue collectors will be inspired to have fun with their dolls.


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2008-2024 Patricia Brill aka MotherXmas