Pauline Jones: A House Full of Dolls

Written by David Green.


Fayette resident Pauline Jones has always had a tender affection for dolls, it just took her a while to get her hands on some.

She didn’t enjoy many luxuries during her childhood. For a family of ten trying to subsist in a struggling economy, there wasn’t a lot of spare money to spend on gadgets and toys for the youngsters, so for entertainment she and her siblings had to rely largely on themselves or on their imaginations.

pauline It was Pauline’s imagination that kept her smiling as she flipped through each new Sears & Roebuck catalogue when one arrived.

“My joy came from leafing through the pages and looking at the beautiful dolls and dreaming,” she says.

When the catalogues went out of season, she’d cut the dolls out and spend hours devoted to the imaginary world she’d created around them—until a stiff breeze or a hard stomp from one of her brothers scattered her kingdom to bits.

Today, Pauline’s doll collection is not so vulnerable to the elements.

“I have about 130 antiques and 40 or 50 made by modern day artists,” she says.

So many dolls are arranged throughout the Jones residence that it’s like a life-sized dollhouse.

She keeps her favorite dolls in the dining room. Her largest, a pale-faced girl with gorgeous German-blond locks sits in a rocking chair, staring across the room at two school boys, also German, standing erect. Beside the German girl, a toddler clutching a violin stands perched atop a chest; it’s Pauline’s favorite.

A lot of people think of china porcelain when antique dolls come to mind, but Pauline says dolls made of bisque porcelain are much more valuable and accomplished.

Unlike china porcelain, bisque porcelain is unglazed. This gives the doll an appearance and texture which much more closely resembles human skin, and which attracted wealthy buyers who would have only the best for their children.

The true master doll makers, the artists, were 19th century German designers. Pauline and her husband, Babe, have been pursuing pieces by these artisans for the last 40 years or so.

It all began when Babe—who, according to Pauline, is a collector of guns, duck decoys, art and junk—asked her what she would collect if she could collect anything. Her immediate answer was dolls. Babe searched area antique shops and shows, and for her birthday presented Ruth, a small, scarlet-clad Armand Marsaille brand doll.

“The moment I unwrapped that box and peered inside, I was hooked,” Pauline says.

In the years since then, Babe has typically given Pauline a doll for every birthday, anniversary and Christmas, which, over the course of four decades, has brought the collection to a size so big the Jones’ have run out of places to display it.

Pauline devotes a good deal of time to making sure the displays themselves are as thought-provoking and detailed as her intricately featured dolls. For instance, two baby dolls in her upstairs display room are arranged side by side in a wicker carriage constructed for twins in the early part of the century. The carriage is so old that the twins who sat in it have both died of old age, but the Joneses have taken so much care in preserving it that it seems almost new.

Now, why would anyone want to collect so many dolls, if they are only to be kept on display? Just as it did for her as a child, Pauline’s joy comes from her imagination.

“I try to envision the little girls in their calico dresses and bonnets who once played with them and must have taken excellent care of them,” says Pauline. “I try to envision what kind of home they came from—was it a log home? Was it a castle in England or France or Germany, or just an ordinary home like where we grew up?”

And though the answer to that question may never be uncovered, the care and love with which Pauline treats her dolls ensures that there will be many years more for people to ponder it.

 - Oct. 26, 2005
  • Front.cowboy
    A PERFORMER named Biligbaatar, a member of the AnDa Union troupe from Inner Mongolia, dances at Stair District Library last week during a visit to the Midwest. The nine-member group blends a variety of traditions from Inner and Outer Mongolia. The music is described as drawing from “all the Mongol tribes that Genghis Khan unified.” The group considers itself music gatherers whose goal is to preserve traditional sounds of Mongolia. Biligbaatar grew up among traditional herders who live in yurts. Additional photos are on the back page of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.base Ball
    UMPIRE Thomas Henthorn tosses the bat between team captains Mikayla Price and Chuck Piskoti of Flint’s Lumber City Base Ball Club. Following the 1860 rules, after the bat was grabbed by the captains, captains’ hands advanced to the top of the bat—one hand on top of the other. The captain whose hand ended up on top decided who would bat first. Additional photos of Sunday’s game appear on page 12 of this week’s Observer. The contest was organized in conjunction with Stair District Library’s Hometown Teams exhibit that runs through Nov. 20.
    VALUE OF ATHLETICS—Morenci graduate John Bancroft (center) takes a turn at the microphone during a chat session at the opening of the Hometown Teams exhibit at Stair District Library. Clockwise to his left is John Dillon, Jed Hall, Jim Bauer, Joe Farquhar, George Hollstein, George Vereecke and Mike McDowell. Thomas Henthorn (at the podium) kicked off the conversation. Henthorn, a University of Michigan–Flint professor, will return to Morenci this Sunday to lead a game of vintage base ball at the school softball field.
  • Front.cross
    HUDSON RUNNER Jacob Morgan looks toward the top of the hill with dismay during the tough finish at Harrison Lake State Park. Fayette runner Jacob Garrow focuses on the summit, also, during the Eagle Invitational cross country run Saturday morning. Continuing rain and drizzle made the course even more challenging. Results of the race are in this week’s Observer.
  • Front.bear
    HOLDEN HUTCHISON gives a hug to a black bear cub—the product of a taxidermist’s skills—at the Michigan DNR’s Great Youth Jamboree. The event on Sunday marked the fourth year of the Jamboree. Additional photos are on page 12.
  • Front.crossing
    Crossing over—Jim Heiney was given a U.S. flag to carry by George Vereecke (behind Jim in the hat), turning him into the leader of the parade. Bridge Walk participants cross over Bean Creek while, in the background, members of the Morenci Legion Riders cross the main traffic bridge on East Street South. Additional photos appear on the back page of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.hose Testing
    HOSE safety—The FireCatt hose testing company from Troy put Morenci Fire Department hose to the test Monday morning when Mill Street was closed to traffic. The company also checks nozzles and ladders for wear in an effort to keep fire fighters safe while on calls.

Weekly newspaper serving SE Michigan and NW Ohio - State Line Observer ©2006-2016