Barrett & Ourant to auction Mary Merritt Doll Museum contents Sept. 30-Oct. 1 On Sept. 30-Oct. 1, Noel Barrett in association with Andy Ourant will auction part I of the spectacular doll and toy collection of the now-closed Mary Merritt Doll Museum.
News-Antique.com - Nov 30,-0001 - Long-awaited auction of dolls from Mary Merritt
museum set for Sept. 30-Oct. 1 in Reading, Pa.
READING, Pa. – The world-renowned Mary Merritt Doll Museum, which closed on New Year’s Eve 2005, was known for its incomparable archive of 18th to 20th-century dolls, as well as a trove of early European and American toys. On Sept. 30 and Oct. 1, at the Inn at Reading in Wyomissing (suburban Reading), Pa., Noel Barrett in association with Andy Ourant, will auction the spectacular museum collection, which was assembled over several decades by the museum’s co-founders, the late Mary and Bob Merritt Sr.
In addition to dolls of great rarity and exquisite quality, the 1,075-lot sale features a spectacular selection of antique dollhouses, furnished German-made room settings, automata, 90 Schoenhut figures and accessories, crèche figures and a tantalizing array of German toys. “Probably 75 percent of the inventory is comprised of dolls,” said Becky Ourant, the specialist who cataloged that particular section. “The museum really ran the gamut, from Queen Anne to Dionne Quintuplets of the 1930s. The collection spans 150 years of dollmaking, including dolls of wood, papier mâché, bisque, rubber, wax, china and parian.”
At the forefront of the collection are two 12-inch, circa-1880 AT French bébés – one with a kid body and one with a composition body – which will be auctioned separately (estimate $30,000-$40,000 each). “They’re very rare and highly sought after,” said Becky. “They were one of the main attractions in the museum. Everybody pressed their noses to the glass to get a close-up look at them.” Also within the category of French bébés are a beautiful, 25- to 26-inch, first-series portrait Jumeau; a long-face or triste Jumeau, and other examples by Bru, Steiner and Schmitt.
“But there is so much more in the collection than just bébés,” said Becky. “There are dolls for every pocketbook, and almost all are in very nice condition. Mary was a very early collector and was very choosy in what she purchased. Most of the dolls retained their superior conditions because they never left their museum cases.”
Mary Merritt loved French fashion dolls and had a large collection of them. In fact, one entire alcove of the museum was devoted to the category. “She owned what is probably the rarest portrait-face Huret, as well as extremely rare Jumeaus, Brus and Francois Gaultiers.” Another doll classification that was popular with museum visitors was English wax dolls, including coveted examples by Montinari, Lucy Peck and Charles Marsh. A KPM china-head doll was another highlight in the collection.
Dollhouse miniatures of particularly fine quality will be offered. “Mary had a beautiful set of English Evans & Cartwright painted-tin chairs from the mid- to late-19th century. She also had a large quantity of Walterhausen furniture, a collection of sterling-silver miniatures and baby rattles, and beautiful miniature paintings on ivory which were used as artwork on dollhouse walls.”
The museum was home to a ritzy neighborhood of dollhouses. One of the finest examples in the collection