Skookum Doll - Set of 2: 1930-1940's Papooses on Cradle Board
These doll are both babies, or Papooses, both with red headbands measuring 3.5" each
These dolls are hand made, stuffed with wool and wrapped in a blanket, tied to a cradle board.
This set was sent through the mail
Both the dolls are looking to their right
The word Skookum is an old slang term that originated from either the Chinook or Siwash traders of the American North West. The main meaning that is most attributed to the dolls is, “Bully Good!” which in simpler terms means very good, excellent or large. There are other meanings of the word Skookum, such as, mighty, brave, tough, powerful, strong, good, etc.
Skookum dolls are Native American dolls that were first made by Mary McAboy in 1913 and continued to be produced into the 1960’s. McAboy was granted patents on for three styles of these dolls; a male, a female and a female with a baby. Due to popular demand, Mary McAboy partnered with H.H. Tammen Co. in 1920 to try to keep up with sales. She stayed on as the head of the assembly division; and while some of the materials used to make the dolls changed, the look stayed the same.
Skookums do not have arms but they are wrapped in a Native American style blanket, giving the idea the doll has folded arms. Some dolls had accessories such as jewelry, hair ties, cigarettes, headbands, feathered headdresses and more. Most of these dolls were made to be looking to the right, those that are looking to the left are rare and much harder to find. The word “Skookum” will usually be stamped on the bottom of the plastic shoes, or come with a tag identifying it.
The Composition of Early Skookum Dolls
Dried apples made up the heads
The bodies were wood stuffed with leaves, twigs, grass and straw stuffed in a muslin sack
Wooden dowel rods were the legs
Shoes, moccasins or feet were made of wood covered with felt, leather or usually suede
The hair was made of mohair or cotton string
The eyes were made by pins
The doll was usually adorned with blankets, jewelry and other accessories
The Later Composition of Skookum Dolls
The heads were made of plastic or composition
Bodies of the dolls were also made of plastic
Shoes and feet were also made of plastic, and usually colored brown from 1948 until the end of production
These dolls were usually dressed with blankets, jewelry and other accessories, similar to the original dolls
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