Saturday, March 26, 2011

Brownies ....should we eat them or just play with them ?

Yes....I enticed you to read this blog about Brownies....not the wee Girl Scout lass or unfortunately the yummy hi-caloric chocolate
very naughty gooey dessert treats


whimsical little creatures albeit kind-hearted sprites created by Palmer Cox during the later 1870s.

~ Brownie Nine-pins ~

A few years back a dear friend Mrs. S. was conversing with me via the phone and somehow the topic about Brownies came up. Thinking she was speaking about the dessert brownies I was anticipating a pan of chocolate goodies for our next Alas it was not meant to be BUT the conversation got me interested in pursuing a little more info on these tiny gentlemen of whimsey and design a MADAME Whimsey special bracelet for Mrs. S.

~ The Foot Race ~

~ Handkerchief ~
The Dude was the most popular !

Four years later....and I am I will not say it is an obsession nor the main focus of my collecting. BUT......I love to read, gather and absorb all that I can find about the Brownies and their I have just a wee obsession.

Over the next few months I will include more info & photos I have gathered...
there is no set takes about 5 full days to gather, sort, write and edit.....I am an artist and make no claim to fame as a Plus my husband needs a little attention once in a while...

Check back often for interesting facts and images. I would love to include images and info from my darling readers !

There is a quiz a dandy prize to boot !

* * * Brownies * * *

PART 1 -

Most of the information I found is from current & past magazine articles & a few websites about Palmer Cox. There is a wonderful & diverse selection of Brownie items also for sale on the internet... via Ebay of course and websites of antique emporiums like Ruby Lane.

* Brownie Items *
Many of these antique items are comics and books written & illustrated by Palmer Cox the creator of the Brownies. Due to the popularity of the Brownies, dolls were created in different materials which lead to more merchandising with the Brownie images on dishes...

~ Brownie Salt & Pepper Shakers ~

Update 4/25/11
I just found out more info on these shakers. They are Napoli pattern glass by Mt. Washington Glass. The Napoli pattern is a raised web-like design....very rare.

They sold through Skinner, a live auction a few winters back for $6000.00.

Source: The GPSA Gazette June 2007

....rubber stamps, frames, humidors, desk items, toys such as nine-pins and ten-pins...

~ Brownie Nine-Pins Box Cover ~

....puzzles, blocks, postcards, trade cards, candy, candy containers, biscuits in the shape of Brownies, spoons, stickpins, charms, handkerchiefs and of course the "Brownie" camera !

Two of the most unusual items I came across were a .......

~ Brownie Slot Machine & The Merry Band Of Elves Ten-pins ~
Photo from Roy Nuhn article (see sources below)


~ A Set Of Brownie Andirons For The Fireplace ~

* Brownie Dolls *
Dolls were some of the most popular items created representing these sprites other than books or comics. (1)The books, save for the cover, were in black and white. The dolls, of course did something else. They made the unseen Brownies, the Brownies who only came out at night and could only be seen by Uncle Palmer, who had "second sight," visible and huggable.

(a)Brownie dolls were made of papier-mache', rubber, bisque and even kid heads and armature bodies. In 1899 Schoenhut Co. created 12 different large wooden Brownie characters for a display at the National Export Exhibition in Philadelphia.

Some of the more colorful Brownie dolls were printed as paper dolls & were very popular. I will write about these & show photos at a later date.

Other Brownie dolls that were very popular with children were printed on cotton fabric panels featuring the most popular Brownie characters. There were 12 cloth dolls not 10 as some sources state. A person would purchase these 1 yard panels for 20 cents in dry good stores and take them home, cut out the back and front of the 8" with seam the individual printed doll. More than likely they were hand stitched together and made doll-like with a bit of stuffing made of cotton, wool, fabric scraps or even bran for a more hefty feel. Once sewn the doll size was smaller from 6.5" to 7.5" depending on the skill of the sewer in sewing seams & how much stuffing was used.

* My Brownie Doll Collection *
I am at the beginning stage of accumulation of Brownie items is quite I do have high hopes of accumulating more as time goes by.

Recently I was able to acquire all 12 of these small cloth dolls either as a large panel of six, individual panels of three dolls and seven completed sewn dolls. The panels are in fair to good condition ...color is slightly faded & stained but details are still notable. The sewn dolls are a bit ragged & soiled from years of tugging, dragging and hugs from the wee human folks (children).

~ My Indian Brownie Doll Panel ~
Arnold Print Works
North Adams, Mass.

~ My Highlander Brownie Doll Panel ~
Arnold Print Works
North Adams, Mass.

~ My Set Of Antique Brownie Dolls ~
The Dude, Canadian, Irishman
John-Bull, Highlander, Chinaman, Sailor


* Larger Cloth Brownie Dolls *
There was also larger size Brownie dolls that measured
at 12" & 16.5" before sewn.

I include 2 photos from the few images I have come across.
Information on these larger dolls is very scarce.

~ Larger Brownie Doll Photographed With Toddler ~

~ A Cotton Fabric Panel for a 16.5" Brownie Doll - Uncut ~
Cocheco Manufacturing Company
Lawrence & Co.
Boston-New York-Phila.

* Some Interesting Tidbits *

Female Brownies
Most collectors and well known antique experts state that the Brownies were all male characters however, after extensive research I found an article (b)that stated there was one female a Nurse....the only woman among the men. She was added to Cox's cast of over 50 male characters at the urgings of his publisher. To date I have not seen any doll or image of her but I will pursue the hunt for this elusive I am dying to see what she looks like.

Another source (2)does state that the male Brownies did dress up as women during a few escapades.
Oh my, I do hope one was not just dressed as a Nurse & there really is at least
one female Brownie.

Famous American Soldier Plays With Dolls
General George S. Patton played (c)with a group of six Palmer Cox cloth dolls - Sailor, Indian, John-Bull, Highlander & the German. In fact a set of 26 Brownies went to bed with him every night. Born in November of 1886 he was raised with a life of hunting, fishing, horseback riding and playing history games. He loved to reenact battles and was quite imaginative.

One can only imagine the trials those little Brownies went through in the tiny hands of this future commanding and highly decorated General. The dolls were on exhibit at the Patton Museum of Calvary and Armor at Fort Knox, Kentucky. My magazine source (below) is dated 1986 so contact the museum first before making the trip.


* My Fascination *
Due to my wee obsession over these past few years I am offering as a tribute to the Brownies limited edition reproductions of these cloth doll Brownies printed on fabric with both sides of the doll showing a front and back. They are completely hand stitched ( 3- 4 hours ) and I created them larger at a size of 8-8.5" when sewn. The original antique dolls were 6.5" to 7.5". They are a lot of fun to place with a favorite teddy or in a basket as if peeking out or placed
with a vintage toy such as a small piano, wagon or vintage toy car.

With Easter coming.... The Dude Brownie riding a rabbit or pig would be a hoot !

The characters include - The Dude (most popular) which I offered in February of this year & the Irishman which was posted for sale just a week ago.

~ The Irishman ~
Larger replica with antique doll
sorry antique doll not for sale

"In greatest trials always bright, I bear a heart 'That's ever light"

At an introductory rate the replica Irishman dolls sell for $ 22.00 the limited edition sells...the price does rise. So I am featuring the Irishman this month of March. The price of $ 22.00 is good until I feature the next Brownie.....guess who.

~ The Dude ~
Larger replica with antique doll
sorry antique doll not for sale

"I'm called a dude because I show The fashions, and good form, you know"

The first replica doll featured in February ....The Dude now sells for $ 24.00.

The remaining characters I will be offering for sale over this year of 2011 are -

Policeman, Indian, Uncle Sam, German, Canadian, Highlander, Soldier, Sailor, Chinaman and John-Bull

The month they are introduced they will start out at $ 22.00 each until the next replica doll is featured. Shipping is extra but minimal.


I did create 2 Brownie charm bracelets....which I will feature at a later date. I made one for
Mrs. S and a customer of mine last summer when we attended the Golden Glow Convention in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. This years convention which I am attending with Mrs. S will be in Rye, New York.....I cant wait !!


My dear friend Mrs. S created the most fabulous Brownie pincushion as a birthday gift to me last is wonderful and very whimsical ....I am so tickled that I will share with you on a later date. My wee gentleman is so cool and anyone who sees him will be coveting him. But you will have to wait as his unveiling will be in the summer....probably around the 4th of July.


~ Children Dressed as Brownies ~
sorry photo image is not great

* Sources *

I am listing my sources...I will try and include the web page source where I discovered sites online or the name of the magazine & author featuring the article. If I can identify the author or photographer I will do so...I have saved articles over the years for my own amusement and just didn't think of making note of the original bad & apologies.

Magazine Articles & Photos-

(a) Talking Antiques Palmer Cox's Brownie Band, Ever Adventurous Imps by Cynthia Musser * DOLLS Magazine Dec. 2007

(b) Palmer Cox's Brownies A Merry Band of Elves by Roy Nuhn * ANTIQUE DOLL Mag. 2004

(c) It is 1986 - Do You Know The Toys Your Children Play With ?
by J. H. Schoelwer * DOLL READER Magazine April 1986

Website or Web pages -

(1) - Wayne Morgan lecture notes from
the 1996 Letita Penn Doll Club conference.

(2) - Article called Palmer Cox's Brownies From Folklore To Funny Pages Written by Dr. Arnold T. Blumberg * TOY COLLECTOR MAGAZINE

~ Brownies Around The Maypole ~

Please feel free to share with me...your own knowledge, interesting unknown facts and images about the
Brownies or Palmer Cox.
I would love to include your photos of individual items or groups of items collected.....
from the tiniest to the biggest...from the common to the absurd.

There will be a quiz.

There is always a quiz !!!

* QUIZ *

Why were the Brownies called Brownies ?

There are actually a few reasons.....and an interesting tidbit about their faces as claimed by the creator Palmer Cox !

Who could actually see the Brownies ?

What time of day did the Brownies come out ?

The first person to answer all three correctly according to my sources ....wins my one of my replica The Dude cloth dolls....yes really.

~ The Dude - Front & Back ~

Only rules are:
  • Send your answers via email to or via this phone calls please

  • The doll has to be shipped via US Mail within the US

  • I am allowed to mention the winners full name & state in the blog.
Offer ends April 18, 2011.

Hint: some of the answers seem easy but are a bit do your research carefully on cloth dolls, the Brownies and the biography of Palmer Cox via books, articles and the internet dont forget knowledgeable historians, doll dealers and museums.

Yours in a whimsey,

Karen the Brownie Stalker

Friday, March 25, 2011

Speaking of

I was recently corresponding with a bidder of mine on Ebay. She was curious about my last is what she wrote -

Hello, Karen.

I love your art & recently bid on your "Emmeline & Friends" vignette. I was disappointed my bid was not sucessful, however I was quite interested in your surname as it is also my mother's maiden surname. She was born in Co Sligo, Ireland in 1930 & imigrated to the Philadelphia area at age 19. She was 24 & my father 31 when they wed. My father was so fond are saying she was a meer child. I believe there are a few Meer families in America that have their roots in the west of Ireland.

I thought I'd share my background in the event your family (or your husband's) is from Ireland as well. It is such an unusual Irish name. My mother would tell me the Meer's were quite smart or quite sassy or both. Some were a bit daft she'd say. Her favorite Meer cousin was Cassie Meer Mazza who was a bit of an actress & a Broadway Producer. She was a wonderful character who called everyone darling!

Thanks for the opportunity to share this with you.

My best, Kate

I wrote back -

Dear Kate,

HI..what a great email...thank you for the "meer" info ! My husbands family comes from Germany...maybe Van Der Meer. In fact our niece found family in Germany recently and they have been emailing back and forth. I keep meaning to get the info and correspond as well. I am part Irish with my moms maiden name being O'Donnell. So I have more Irish blood so to speak than my husband...he is definitely close to being ALL stubborn and dry wit. Being part Irish I am the smart, sassy AND daft one in the

I often ask my husband to help me with my "crazy" projects around the house and use the excuse that I am just a meer woman and thus need his strength and intelligence to get the project done. He just rolls his eyes at it still seems to work after 30 years of marriage.

We have a good friend who came from Ireland years ago...I love to hear her speak...she tells us stories about her of 19 is a hoot to hear about her relation & their antics.

OK..enough of my stories.

Thank you for the email...I loved reading it.

With warmest regards and an Irish blessing,

Karen The Daft

Hi, Karen.

Thanks for your nice words. Meer does sound more German or Dutch. Maybe some drunken Irishman said he wanted more beer, and with his brougue it sounded like he said his name was Meer!!

Does your husband know who Johnny Vander Meer was? If he's a fan of baseball he should know.

Feel free to include anything you'd like in your blog. My (first)cousins in Ireland may write back!

I'd be delighted if you'd include me on your mailing list. I do like my fancy tickled.

Nice chatting with you, Karen. Have a grand weekend.

Kate Sacco


OK all you Irish cousins...I would love to hear from you....even the smart, sassy and daft ones !

Yours in a whimsey,

Karen The Sassy

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Happy St. Pattys Day !!

May those who love us, love us.

And for those who don't love us,

May God turn their hearts.

And if he can not turn their hearts,

May he turn their ankles,

So we may know them by their limping.

May you live as long as you want, and never want

as long as you live.

Being that I am one third Irish...I want to wish all my dear Irish
and "wannabee" Irish friends and family

a very blessed day.

I am celebrating this year in a quiet big
celebrations ...just me
and my gas station pizza.....yum.

I am so excited to show off my second in the series of 12 wee Brownies....
whimsical rag dolls. The little fellow I am featuring
tis' most appropriate for this month

~ The Irishman ~

"In greatest trials always bright, I bear a heart That's ever light"

He is a replica cloth doll of the

original from 1880s, printed on both sides with

special attention to detail.

He is completely hand-sewn...which takes about 3- 4 hours.

Note the original antique cloth doll next to

the replica.

Antique cloth doll is over 110 years old.....sorry not for sale.

The replica Irishman stands a little over 8.5" tall

~ The Irishman ~ ~
Price $ 22.00 each
~ limited edition ~

US Shipping is $ 5.00
$ 8.00 for 2 dolls.

Way Back In February...

I featured
The Dude as the first Brownie cloth doll.

There are still some available for sale .
....these are all
limited editions
so when they are gone
...they are GONE !

The Dude

The Dude

The Dude - back

The Dudes - replica & antique border=

~ The Dude ~

"I'm called the dude because I show The fashions, and good form, you know"

The Dude is the first in a series of 12 Brownie

cloth dolls that I am featuring

over this next year....

one per month.

He is a replica cloth doll of the original from 1887,

printed on

both sides with special attention to detail.

He is completely hand-sewn.

Note the original antique cloth doll

next to the replica.

Antique cloth doll is over 110 years old.....sorry not for sale.

The replica Dude stands a little over 8".

~ The Dude ~
Price $ 24.00
~ limited edition ~

US shipping is $ 5.00
$ 8.00 for 2 dolls.


Yours in a whimsey,

MADAME Whimsey