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Subject: Re: Topsy Turvy Doll

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Date Posted: 20:58:19 07/05/01 Thu
In reply to: Patti 's message, "Topsy Turvy Doll" on 17:51:34 07/05/01 Thu

I can't help you with the value of your doll because most of them were handmade. In later years, some were mass produced. The older, handmade ones would be worth more. Below is an except of an article that I have regarding these dolls, which will give you some insight as to the doll's history:

Topsy Turvy -- The Upside Down Doll -- A State of Confusion!
by January Thalberg
Black Ethnic Collectibles Magazine

“There are several theories as to the origin of this doll form. The most popular of these is the following:

During the years before the Civil War, many children of slaves wanted to play with white dolls. Since this was generally disapproved of and not permitted, their mammy’s made them dolls that could quickly convert from White to Black by turning them upside down -- thus revealing their “approval” of the Black side.

Pre-Civil War examples of Topsy Turvey dolls are very scarce. But since the style became popular with White children as well -- these dolls continued being made for many years, both commercially and by hand.”
(end of article)

I was in a discussion recently with some other collectors who had a different view of the doll's origin.

I agree with the article's version of the doll's origin: the first Topsy Turvey dolls were the ingenious idea of Black slaves and were handmade dolls made from scrap materials for their children. While Black slaves may not have had manufacturered toys, handmade ones were the next best thing... even better... because I’m sure they were made with love.


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