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


  1. I want a Brownie. How do I get one. Hysterical. Loving it and how old is this....are you still there?

    1. HI....Jolee ! Love the name...

      Yes, I am still here...the Brownies are still can see them on my website as well....

      ...just click on the Enter page and it will take you to the 2011 Easter page....the photos are larger so the page needs time to

      I am also working on the Policeman photo yet...

      Just let me know which one you are interested in...

      I have been a bit lax in blogging the past year...too busy with orders and But I plan to pick up where I left off and continue the Brownie history & other interesting tidbits of my life.

      Yours in a whimsey,