Gail Lemmon of ‘All Dolled Up’ is passionate about doll collecting, art, and has many interests including horses. This multi-faceted lady is a Sponsor of the June ‘Art of the Doll’ Virtual Doll Convention. We are EXCITED for all of the wonderful things Gail has coming with her business and upcoming doll show in October. Visit Gail Lemmon in the June Virtual Convention Group (and salesroom) and DO not miss the Ohio National Doll Show in October. In this blog, we will get to know our friend Gail, and learn more about her passion for dolls. Watch Facebook this week and inside the June Virtual Doll Convention Group for fun and factual history on her current project - Skippy dolls!
When did you start collecting?
As a child, I was about everything Barbie. I had an extensive collection and would meet with my friend, playing with our dolls for hours and even doing some trading. The love of dolls was my own, but the appreciation for family heritage and history came from my mother. I would listen to her for hours telling stories of her childhood growing up during the depression and her young adult life during World War II. My passion for history and collecting all things antique grew. One day at an estate sale, the two forces merged when I purchased an Ideal Toni and so the doll collecting began. It wasn’t long before I started selling a few dolls to upgrade my collection and support my habit. Twenty years later, I am a full-time doll dealer, meeting with my friends at doll shows. We still play with our dolls for hours and do a little trading too.
Have your tastes changed over the years?
Over the years, as my knowledge has grown, my tastes have not necessarily changed, but they have developed and grown as well. Being the nostalgic sort with a love of history I find myself progressing backward with my tastes always turning to earlier dolls. When I began the main focus of my collection was the dolls of my mother's era, 1930’s and 1940’s composition dolls. Soon it expanded to earlier American made dolls including Schoenhuts and primitive cloth dolls, then to the wonderful German and French bisque dolls. Now my interests and appreciation have grown to include all types of dolls.
What are your favorite types of dolls and why?
My favorite dolls are those with a story behind them, character dolls representing historical figures, celebrities, or characters from literature. This often leads me back to the composition dolls of the 1920s and 1930s. Among these dolls, you will find iconic celebrities such as Charlie Chaplin, and Judy Garland, wonderful characters from literature such as those found in the books of Marguerite Di Angeli and Louisa May Alcott, even dolls like the Effanbee Historical dolls that chronicle over two centuries of American fashion. My research on these dolls has given me a look into American history, and it’s culture.
Do you sew for your dolls?
My creative talents lie more in sketching, oil painting, and wood carving, none of which I have time for these days. While I am not an expert seamstress, my favorite aunt was. Although I never perfected the skills I did learn the basics from her, so, on occasion, when inspired, sewing for my dolls provides a wonderful, creative outlet. Most often, I am looking for dolls in their original or appropriate vintage and antique clothing.
What are the characteristics that attract you to a certain doll?
While we all consider condition and originality when looking at a doll, I tend to take a broader approach in that the doll must have some special quality. This could well be the dolls mint condition, and it may be an unusual feature, the rarity of the doll, an exceptionally beautiful face or fabulous clothing. As I scan the tables looking at hundreds of dolls at shows or auctions, it is always one of these features that will make me take a second look.
You are known for your love of horses. Can you tell us more?
As my mother inspired my interest in history and antiques she also passed on my love of horses and all animals. She was truly a woman before her time and a bit of a tomboy. Her passion for horses and riding grew in a time when “Wild West” shows and cowboy movies were all the rage. She rode her pony to school, practiced stunts she saw in movies, performed trick riding in rodeos, and was offered a job in a traveling show. Instead of a life on the road, she married my father and raised her family, but her passion for horses did not end there. My father built her one of the first indoor riding arenas in Pennsylvania where she trained horses, held college equestrian classes and taught her daughters to ride.
The love of horses and riding has been instilled in me since birth. I have been riding and showing horses since I was three years old. I married my high school sweetheart with an equal passion for horses. Together we trained and shown horses for more than thirty years. My husband continues to train horses and coach amateur riders, and even though my attention has turned to dolls, the love of horses and all animals is part of my soul. My favorite horse Leaguer’s Investment, affectionately know as Arnie”, gave me many winning rides and carried me to the finals in western pleasure at the All American Horse Congress.
We lost Arnie a couple of years ago, but I am still surrounded by horses, my dog and traveling companion “Penny” who is well known at the doll shows and “Sophie” my 19-year-old cat who keeps us company when we are home.
Tell us about the big Ohio National Doll Show coming up in October - we have heard a LOT of buzz about town!
The Ohio National Doll Show offers an expansive and elegant chandelier-lit salesroom with dolls and toys from antique to modern. The sales room is over 24,000 square feet with many well-known dealers from across the country. Enjoy the experience of buying at a show where one may touch, observe and discuss the dolls with expert sellers. There will be antique, vintage, modern, and artist dolls and bears, for every collector genre. The show is easily accessible from Columbus and Cincinnati, Ohio and most airports. This is one of the major doll and toy events of the year with dolls, educational opportunities, appraisals, prizes and fun for everyone! Be sure to add it to your doll schedule today! Sponsored by the Olentangy Valley Doll Club of Ohio with a percentage of the proceeds benefiting the UFDC Doll Museum and the local doll club. OhioNationalDollShow.com
**Portions of this interview was originally published in conjunction with Antique Doll Collector Magazine Blog. The Antique Doll Collector is a Sponsor of the June Virtual Doll Convention. Subscribe today!