Monk doll for Christmas? Monk, vicar and bride among box of antique dolls found in skip

Posted on 10/12/2018 in Press Coverage

Never mind Barbie or Ken, children played with monks centuries ago – or even the vicar - as a hoard of antique dolls rescued from a skip has revealed.

Two monks, a vicar, a bride, a doll in regency clothing, a knight and medieval figure in chainmail are among around 40 ancient dolls, all in period clothing, which were plucked from the top of a bin.

The assorted vintage playthings include a number of carved wooden dolls with painted gesso features and small porcelain dolls

The ancient toys were taken along to a free antiques valuation event at Foxlowe Arts Centre, Leek, Staffordshire – much to the amazement of Hansons Auctioneers’ valuer Notty Hornblower.

“I just couldn’t believe it when I saw them,” said Ms Hornblower, an expert in period clothing and owner of Derbyshire’s Hope House Museum. “They took my breath away.”

“I know they’re tired but their costumes radiate the time periods. Their clothes must have been copied from portraits.

“The style of wedding dress worn by the bride dates back to the 1850s and another doll is wearing an off-the-shoulder Georgian gown.

“There is also a Tudor bishop in fabulous robes and an Anne Boleyn doll. Anne Boleyn, the second wife of King Henry VIII, was Queen of England from 1533 to 1536.

“There are also some small porcelain dolls in Edwardian swimwear which must date back to the early 1900s. I think some of the dolls may be foreign.

“They’re just fabulous. They deserve to be in a museum. And to think they were found on a skip.”

The dolls are due to be sold at Hansons Auctioneers’ December 18-20 Christmas Fine Art Auction at Bishton Hall, Staffordshire, with an estimate of £150-£200 –and all money raised will go to charity.

The owner, a volunteer at Leek’s Foxlowe Arts Centre who wished to remain anonymous, said: “I found the box of dolls at the top of the bin at Foxlowe Arts Centre four years ago. We do get people fly tipping. I took it out because, as a designer who works in recycled materials, I thought I could make use of it.

“It had been under my work bench for a number of years when I thought I’d better have a sort out. I felt I couldn’t use them but, instead of throwing them away, I decided to get them checked out first by Hansons.

“Any money raised by selling the dolls at auction will go to the Foxlowe Arts Centre charity.”

The dolls (lot 355) will be sold by Hansons Auctioneers during their December 18-20 Christmas Fine Art Auction at Bishton Hall, Wolseley Bridge, Staffordshire, ST17 0XN. To view the catalogue visit or to bid in advance email [email protected] or call 01283 733988.