1870s Black Cloth Doll Pair

1870s black cloth dolls

Name: Handmade 1870s Black Cloth Pair

Height: 19 inches

Made By and When: Anna Frances “Fanny” Skinner Henry, ca. 1870s

Composition: Black silk was used for their heads, body, and limbs.

Hair, Eyes, Mouth: The man has hair made of loops of black yarn. The woman has no hair underneath the headscarf. Eyes are buttons. Rectangular strips of black cloth form the noses with red yarn underneath to accent. Most of the red yarn from both is missing. The mouths were embroidered with red yarn; most of this is missing from both.  

Clothing: The man wears blue and white checkered, one-piece pants (appears original), and black socks. The woman was redressed during the 1950s in a floral-print cotton dress, white apron, headscarf, and black socks.

Other: These unmarked dolls were a gift in 2005 from Elizabeth S. Darrah, made by Ms. Darrah’s great grandmother, Anna Frances “Fanny” Skinner Henry. Ms. Henry was born in New Jersey in 1849 and died in 1940. Her father, Richard Skinner, and her husband, Arthur Richmond Henry, both served in the American Civil War. According to the provenance papers that accompanied the dolls, “The members of the Henry and Skinner families were active abolitionists and I believe that Fanny made these dolls with great affection toward her fellow men and the cause she believed in.”

Letter of Provenance and Associated Images

Letter of provenance from Elizabeth “Bette” S. Darrah, the great-granddaughter of the woman who made these dolls.
Photographs of the woman who made the dolls and her husband, a Civil War leaflet given to soldiers on the day of Abraham Lincoln’s funeral, and a 1940s article about Mrs. Henry were included with the dolls’ provenance.

Additional Images of the Dolls


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Published by DeeBeeGee

Doll collector, historian, co-founder of the first e-zine devoted to collecting black dolls; author of black-doll reference books, doll blogs, and doll magazine articles.

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