28-Inch Leo-Moss-Type Doll

Name:  28-inch Leo-Moss-Type Doll

Made by and When:  Betty Formaz, 1980

Material:  Papier-mâché head, painted rigid-vinyl arms and legs, and firmly stuffed brown cloth body

Marks: 1980 / Betty Formaz

Height: 28 inches

Hair, Eyes, Mouth: Sculpted short black coils, brown stationary eyes, closed mouth

Clothes: The full-length dress is a small-print cotton smock with a cotton vest. A floppy hat matches the dress with sunflower broaches on both the vest and the hat. A pewter cameo and a small leather purse hanging around the neck are accessories. The child-size T-strap shoes, made by US Sport, have multicolored polka dots.

Other: Betty Formaz was a doll artist who is credited for discovering Leo Moss dolls after meeting descendant Moss family members during a 1970s trip to Macon, Georgia. Betty brought back a few Leo Moss dolls to her home in Michigan and began making dolls in the Moss fashion. Moss used doll parts to fashion new heads, hair, and usually Black skin tones for his late-1800s to early-1900s dolls. Betty sculpted some of her dolls and used parts in the Moss fashion to create others.

The owner of this Leo-Moss-type doll recalled, “I think I purchased the doll about 20 years ago but I am not sure exactly when… My mother bought her for me… We purchased her the last time I saw Betty, who mentored me in collecting dolls since I was 10 years old at Betty’s home in Royal Oak Michigan.”—Laura Sanders

Gallery (Photographs courtesy of Laura Sanders)

The Betty Formaz doll’s 28-inch height is compared with Topsy’s 10-inch height. The Topsy doll was the childhood doll of Ms. Sanders’ mother. See other Topsy dolls here.


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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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