One woman’s love of dolls is another woman’s obsession. Surely, every woman remembers how precious her favorite childhood doll was to her. The hours spent grooming the doll’s hair, dressing her up for special occasions and sending her off to adventure in a rich and vivid imaginary world. And who could forget the tea parties—that time-honored tradition of gathering one’s favorite doll and her closest friends to socialize and share stories over a hot beverage and delicate pastries.
Ninety-six year old Marian Grimmer, of Qunicy, Illinois transformed her childhood love of dolls into a lifelong passion. Grimmer has over 150 dolls in her private collection and The Herald-Whig reports that number once stood near 200 dolls. For 32 years, Grimmer was active member of the Quinsippi Doll Club, where her specialty was baby dolls.
Not only did Grimmer collect dolls created by professional makers, but Grimmer also made her own dolls, purchasing the appropriate petticoat and hand-painting ceramic heads to create the perfect expression. Grimmer’s experience as a painter of fine china made it easy to transfer her painting skills to her dolls. Grimmer says, "I painted their faces, put the arms and legs and heads on bodies that I also made and designed wigs for them from adult wigs, dressed them, made hats for them.” Beyond the sheer size of her collection, it is her attention to detail that makes her collection of dolls so impressive. Grimmer explains, "I've attended many auctions over the years collecting old hats, old formals and wedding dresses, laces, particularly fine French laces, fur pieces and leather gloves for making shoes for the dolls […] I have big boxes of hats, big boxes of wigs. I could go on working for a good many years."
Marian Grimmer is one of many women who continue to cherish the delicate beauty of a well-made doll. Larisa Leonidovna Drozdova, of Russia, also collects dolls, specializing in dolls who tell a specific story. In Larisa Leonidovna Drozdova’s collection one might find playful dolls alongside dolls that exhibit an exquisite vulnerability. There is a high-level of craftsmanship necessary to make a doll worth collecting. Among the pieces in her collection, Larisa Leonidovna Drozdova cherishes gorgeous one-of-a-kind dolls from doll-makers Natasha Korolyova and Anna Anadan, to name a few.
While Marian Grimmer has decided to auction off her collection, following the sale of her home, Larisa Leonidovna Drozdova continues her doll collecting in search of dolls that reflect the innocence and purity of seeing the world through a child’s eyes. At this rate, Larisa Leonidovna Drozdova stands to rival Marian Grimmer’s doll collection. Grimmer succinctly states, “I’ve always loved dolls.” Women around the world know exactly how she feels.