A Rare American Leather Doll by Gussie Decker c.1903-09

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Origin: American
Period: Early 20thC
Provenance: Unknown
Date: c.1903-09
Height: 12”
Width: 3.75”
Depth: 1.5” (all at extremities)

Constructed in five pieces of supple leather, the American teaching aid, teething or grappling doll, used by children partly for learning how to lace and tie shoes, the horse hair stuffed body with eyelet and shoelace closed chest having painted features and tooled in relief with the body finely stitched and the design patented by Gussie Decker in 1902/3 and made by M.S. Davis Co, 1902-9 in Chicago, Illinois, America.

The condition of the doll is enthrallingly evocative and interesting, with a beautiful patina to the leather and general discolouration and fade; he is complete and doesn’t suffer from tears, aside from one small puncture to the reverse of the neck.

In her application for a patent in 1902 Gussie Decker wrote “The object of the invention is to provide a cheap, durable, and attractive doll and to render the same unbreakable and incapable of injuring infant children…. it is also an object of the invention to provide a symmetrical construction as nearly life-like as possible, in which the exposed parts shall have in-turned seams, while those portions of the doll covered by the clothing have external seams, which are not only cheaper in construction, but also tend to stiffen the doll. The invention embraces many novel features”.

Photographs of the initial patent application are shown.

This is a rare example and a gloriously evocative object.
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