The Ivamarie Rideout Doll Collection at Withington Auctions
Antique, vintage, and collectible dolls seem to bring out the kid in everyone! And for some collectors, these precious playthings help form friendships and communities that last a lifetime. Withington Auctions of Hillsborough, New Hampshire is holding an important doll auction on October 21st, 2021. The sale includes the expansive collection of Ivamarie Rideout, a beloved collector involved in the doll world at the local, regional, and global levels. Auction Daily spoke with Susan Popp, incoming President of Doll Collectors of America and a lifelong collector herself, about this spotlight sale.
Auction Daily: This sale features the collection of Ivamarie Rideout. Tell us about her and her involvement in the doll world.
Sue Popp: Ivamarie Rideout was a dear friend and special person. Well known for her warm smile, friendly demeanor, and her willingness to share her expert knowledge with collectors, her passing has been deeply felt in the doll world. She was an active member of the United Federation of Doll Clubs and worked diligently to promote the organization. She was also a past president of the Doll Study Club of Boston and the Doll Collectors of America, as well as an active member of the Broward County Doll Club in Florida. She was deeply committed to the research and preservation of dolls. Ivamarie will always be remembered for her keen eye for rare and unusual dolls as well as her breathtaking collection.
Auction Daily: Ivamarie specified that upon her passing, her collection should be sold at Withington Auctions. What was her relationship with this auction house?
Sue Popp: Ivamarie loved Withington Auctions. She had been a customer there for many years. She felt that Withington’s sales were not just a great buying opportunity, but also an important social event. At these auctions, doll collectors gathered, caught up on old times, discussed dolls, and shared a meal together. Ivamarie purchased many of her favorite dolls through Withington’s events over the years. But even more importantly, she loved attending their sales. It was there that she strengthened old friendships and discovered new ones with others who loved dolls as much as she did.
Auction Daily: The Rideout collection features a number of early Springfield Wooden dolls. Tell us what makes these dolls so unique, and why they appealed to Ivamarie.
Sue Popp: Ivamarie had deep New England roots and was connected to the history, industrial development, and preservation of the region. She had a familial connection to the Springfield, Vermont area as well. These interests, coupled with doll collecting, made the study of the Springfield Wooden dolls a natural attraction to her. She was amazed by their “Yankee Ingenuity” and spent a great deal of time traveling around the Springfield, Vermont area to learn more about these dolls. Much of her research is original documentation found in the libraries, historical societies, and museums of Vermont.
The dolls themselves are a perfect blend of art and industry. Produced by makers including Joel Ellis, George Sanders, Frank Martin, and Mason & Taylor, they are constructed from machine-turned wooden parts joined together by patented joints. These joints allow for amazing articulation. The proportions and silhouette of the finished product are reminiscent of an artist’s manikin with painted features. Truly, they are miniature wooden sculptures of the men and women of the time period. Ivamarie appreciated the industrial application of readily available resources to create such amazing dolls and toys as those produced by the Springfield Wooden dollmakers.
Auction Daily: Also of note is a fine collection of dolls by Dorothy Heizer. Who was Heizer and what makes her dolls so appealing?
Sue Popp: Dorothy Heizer was a seamstress, entrepreneur, artist, and dollmaker known for her exquisite workmanship. Heizer dolls are noted for their fantastic painting and attention to detail— especially in their costuming and physical authenticity. Her dolls were ordered by several museums as well as private collectors. Many Heizer dolls are historical figures and are based on their formal portraits. Ivamarie found the Heizer dolls to be incredibly well constructed, more like detailed portraits in cloth, and felt most fortunate to have some in her collection.
Heizer sewed from an early age, went on to make doll clothing, sold paper dolls of her own design through retail outlets, and attended art school. Later, as she married and had children, she became a dollmaker, as she was dissatisfied with bisque-headed dolls as playthings for small children. Early in her career, she created more traditional cloth dolls and even sold kits for cloth dolls through popular women’s magazines. Heizer’s formal artist’s training, along with her natural talent, is evident in everything she created.
Auction Daily: And finally, as a doll enthusiast yourself, which dolls on offer do you consider the “hidden jewels” of this sale?
Sue Popp: Ivamarie’s Joel Ellis Witch and Wizard dolls come to mind immediately here. At first glance, these dolls appear to be strange and simple little characters, dressed in basic tunics. However, these models are extremely rare dolls. Each has an unusual internal mechanism that allows his head to be “cut off” by a little sword that comes with each doll. The head is easily reattached, but it’s much easier to find the Wizard’s body than to find the head or sword.
This collection also includes a number of artist dolls from the early 21st century. Doll enthusiasts tend to purchase what appeals to them personally, and Ivamarie’s collection includes a fine offering of dolls that did just that from today’s artist roster. However, who knows which of these “hidden jewels” may end up as coveted as those made by Dorothy Heizer, or Martha Thompson, or Dewees Cochran. These three women were all outstanding doll artists of the 20th century. This collection features a fine grouping of Maggie Made dolls by contemporary artist Maggie Iacono.
Maurine Popp, a wise, internationally recognized doll expert of blessed memory once told me, “buy what makes you smile, and you’ll never be wrong.” I believe that is how Ivamarie acquired her collection, and I hope that those who become the caretakers of the dolls that made her smile feel the same way.