Black Doll Collecting Blog – Robert Tonner Dolls of Color

Doll Author Debbie Garrett with her Dolls

Debbie’s Black Doll Collecting Blog

Debbie Garrett tells us that she stopped counting her dolls after about 500, something that a lot of Tonner fans and collectors can identify with! We are looking forward to reading Debbie’s blog in the future, having just discovered her, as definitely have the blog in our reader. Get to know her too:

I began collecting black dolls in 1991.  The story of how this hobby commenced can be read under the About Me tab at the top of the page.

After the initial urge to collect ensued, I purchased every “collectible” black doll that was not “nailed down.”  My definition of collectible was not very well defined at the time.  If it was available, affordable, and aesthetically pleasing, its collecting genre (play, artist, vintage, modern) was inconsequential.  If it was black, to me, it was “collectible.”

I spent early stages of doll collecting buying without regard to a doll’s historical significance, target market, production numbers, or rarity.  As a result, the collection grew rapidly, often without rhyme or reason.  Eventually I was urged by my husband to take an inventory or at least conduct a head count.  “I could move one of these dolls and you wouldn’t even know it,” he once said.  So I counted them, once, and have never since taken another physical head count…

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1992 - Robert's First Doll of Color - Porcelain 16"

Tonner Dolls of Color

Debbie makes us think about Robert Tonner own commitment to dolls of color, which he’s had since the beginning. She’s been collecting since 1991 the first year that Robert started his doll-making business, and in fact in his second year he produced a fully jointed porcelain doll of color (above, 1992). He has wanted to embrace diversity from the start, it seemed natural to do so. And some of his early 1995 dolls of color sculpts we have below:

1995 Catelogue - Shonda American Model collection (left)
1995 Keisha - Magic Attic Line - Robert Tonner Sculpt

Above is Executive Asst. Miss Nancy with one of her favorite dolls in her office: a sculpt Robert did for the Magic Attic line, Keisha from 1995 produced by Georgetown Collection. And above her is Shonda from the American Model collection (catalog picture). And this brings us all the way to the near future, as just this last weekend at the Ellowyne Wilde mini-convention Robert announced that Ellowyne is going to have a friend of color coming late Fall, something we are all very excited about.


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