Author: Clizia Turchi
This is the story of two old dolls manufactured by the Lenci company nearly 100 years ago.
These models are the No.103 and No.102, described in an advertisement of Playthings magazine (October 1920) as dolls of the Scavini company.
The discovery of the two dolls was very special, both because they are very old, and because if there were no illustrations that depict the two characters and the mark on them, one could hardly say that they came from the Lenci factory. Indeed, although with some differences, it could be said that they better resemble some characters of the Steiff company, both in form and in the button for identification..
From the details of the two dolls can see that one has the appearance of a Dutch woman (in the original model she carried two buckets of milk, which are now lost) and the other is a Dutch man.
The woman, as seen in the original advertisement, is classified under the number 102 ( Lenci began their numbering from No. 101), she is 16 1/2 inches (42 cm) tall, the typical zigzag of the factory at the back of her head,. She has human hair on her head, and ears at the center of the side seams..
Hands are mitten type with defined fingers and the eyes have a highlight at the upper side of the pupil. The doll wears a sewn on blue jacket, a red and blue skirt, a red scarf, and a white apron, with a sky blue and white striped panel at the top.
Certainly, comparing it with a photo published in the book Cloth Dolls by Polly Judd, (pub.by Hobby House Press, at pg.116) she originally had a Lenci identification button attached to her apron, but now it is there is no more, just a hole remains in it place.
Unfortunately she lost also her clogs, her buckets and her hat.
The man still has his button on the ear on which is printed the Lenci mark in block letters. He is ranked as number 103, he is 14 inches (cm 36) tall and fatter than the woman. Also the man no longer has his clogs.
Both of the dolls heads rotate at the neck, and they are formed in five pieces.
After analyzing carefully the two dolls, the most curious collector may ask whether these models being so old, could have been painted by Madame Lenci"s own hand, but this we may never know.
But however, I can say with certainly that, as with many stories common to the beginning of last century, these two dolls have traveled a lot. In fact, from Torino (Italy) their journey began by boat to America in the '20s, to return again by airplane to Italy today. Not bad for this pair of almost one hundred years of age, right?Clizia Turchi
Playthings Magazine Oct 1920
Early Lenci Catalog showing Dutch Dolls Catalog: Lenci di E Scavini, Private collection
Dolls are from a private collection
-Polly Judd, Cloth Dolls
-Playthings magazine (October 1920)
Catalog: Lenci di E Scavini, Private collection
Photos: © Clizia Turchi All rights reserved