Made by and When: Leo Moss, 1903
Material: Papier-mâché shoulder head with composition arms and legs, and a brown cloth body
Marks: MINA (incised into the front of the shoulder plate), LEO MOSS / 1903 (incised into the back of the head)
Height: 22 inches
Hair, Eyes, Mouth: Molded, texturized hair; medium brown stationary glass eyes with a sculpted teardrop falling from the center of the lower eyelids; closed, downturned mouth
Clothes/Accessories: Redressed in an antique white christening gown and antique shoes, in some of the gallery pictures, Mina holds an antique pewter baby rattle.
Other: Leo Moss, a Black man and native of Macon, GA was a handyman by trade. Moss sculpted his doll heads of papier-mâché without the use of molds during the late 1800s through the early 1930s. He purchased manufactured dolls, doll parts, and doll bodies from a New York toy supplier over which he applied his papier-mâché material. Many of his dolls are unmarked while others will bear a cloth label on their body with Moss’s initials (L.M.), the doll’s name, and the year made; or as in the case of Mina, the doll’s name might be incised into the body.
Formerly owned by doll collector, historian, and author, Myla Perkins, Mina was won in the March 2018 Theriault’s auction, “Tears for Mina.” This one-of-a-kind doll is one of 12 Leo Moss dolls from Perkins’ collection that was included in the auction. Presented to the doll community at the 1973 United Federation of Doll Clubs Convention in Louisville, Kentucky, Mina, as Perkins writes on page 16 in Black Dolls 1820-1991 an Identification and Value Guide (Collector Books, 1993) “was the first Leo Moss doll to win a ribbon in a national competition. It won a 1st place ribbon in the baby doll category… [and] went on to win another ribbon for 4th best doll in the show. There were over 1800 dolls in competition.”
“I watched the auction and when Mina came to the table, I broke out in a sweat. She had this presence about her I will never forget. Even online, her presence is so real and magical.”—Leasa “Tutu” Souza (Mina’s current owner)
Gallery (Photographs courtesy of Leasa “Tutu” Souza.)
Mina is featured in the following video courtesy of Leasa “Tutu” Souza.
See Mina and other original Leo Moss dolls in the following 25-minute video narrated by Florence Theriault for the “Tears for Mina” auction of March 17-18, 2018.
Leo Moss Articles to Read
Read more about Leo Moss in detailed articles, here, here, and here. Additionally, read “The Healing Power of Dolls and Tears” by Leasa “Tutu” Souza in the November/December 2021 issue of Antique Doll Collector.
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