Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Samantha's Mohair Teddy Bear: History of the Teddy Bear

Hey Followers!

     I am so sorry it has been so long since I have written. Life can be so busy!
     So lately I have been mainly collecting for Samantha and Rebecca...probably because the tv show Downton Abbey had reignited my love for the Edwardian Era.
     So I recently bought her Teddy Bear, the original Pleasant Company bear that was made in England. The bear was made by a company called Merrythoughts and if I am not mistaken... the Pleasant Company bears were handmade just like all the other bears this company makes. It is also made of real mohair just like the bears in 1904 would have been made. The company started out in 1907 as a mohair company called Holmes, Laxton, & Co. In the 1930's the company changed its name to Merrythoughts and started producing teddy bears. Samantha's bear is actually a model called "London Gold Bears" that first started in 1965 (usually with a red ribbon around it's neck rather than pink. So technically...Samantha's bear couldn't have been made by Merrythoughts in 1904 but I still love this piece. In the book, Happy Birthday, Samantha... Samantha is gifted this teddy bear by her twin cousins, Agne
s and Agatha. This gift was on every child's wishlist in Edwardian times.
1888 Illustration from Goldilocks Book
     Although there are some whom believe the teddy bear was probably around in a homemade version since the 1880's.. around the time that the well known story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears was published. The original book has three images that feature stuffed teddy bears in them. These pictures were illustrated 15 years before the first officially documented teddy bear.
   The story of the first teddy bear that most people are familiar with may not be the actual first teddy bear, but it is definitely how they received their name....
Drawing by Clifford Berryman
     The sight of a Teddy Bear usually gives us a warm fuzzy feeling... but the start of the Teddy Bear came from a day of suffering for one bear. In November of 1902, current president at the time Theodore (Teddy) Roosevelt went on a guided bear hunt. The first day was unsuccessful in spotting a bear. On the second day, the guide's hounds picked up the scent and quickly found and cornered a huge black bear. In the fight for its life, the bear injured and even killed one of the dogs. The guide knew his dogs were in a great deal of danger but wanted to save the kill for the President whom was not around at this time. The guide used the butt of his rifle to knock the bear unconscious and then chained the bear to a tree. When the President finally arrived to the scene, he was so horrified by the sight of the poor bear that he couldn't bring himself to shoot it. He also realized that the bear was suffering so much that he told someone else to put the bear out of his misery. The news of the presidents compassion inspired one cartoon artist named Clifford Berryman to make a comic drawing of the event that was quickly published in the Washington Post. The artist continued to use the "teddy bear" as a symbol for the president in his future political cartoons.
Edwardian boy playing chauffeur to his teddies
    Shortly after the story was released about the president, a Russian Jewish immigrant family, Morris and Rose Michtom. living in New York (sound familiar?!) found inspiration in the tale. The candy shop owners made a stuffed bear toy out of velvet. The next morning, the first teddy bear was in the window of their store. Many people asked to buy the bear but the couple was concerned they might get into some trouble using the presidents name so they actually wrote a letter to President Roosevelt asking for permission and also sending the original bear as a gift to his children. The president consented. The toy bears were such a big hit that the Michtom's stopped selling candy in their shop and only sold teddy bears from then on. They ended up making a fortune!
Edwardian girl with her teddy
    Around the same time, the Steiff brand were starting to make stuffed bears in Germany. The company that originated by a German seamstress named Margarete Steiff making stuffed elephants, moved on to making other animals. Plans were made to make stuffed bears with movable limbs, made of soft mohair fabrics. The seamstress teamed up with her nephew, Richard Steiff to make the bears. Richard brought the finished product to a toy fair and at first there was no interest. Towards the end of the day, a frustrated Richard Steiff began to load the bears into wooden crates to bring back home. Steiff was approached by a trader from New York who was also frustrated. He was sent from the states to bring back something new and so far, nothing took his fancy. Steiff showed him the bears and they were a hit with the american trader. He ended up ordering 3000 bears right there on the spot to bring back to the states! I won't go into it much, but oddly enough the original bears (simply known as '55 PB') have disappeared from existence. There is a theory that they were shipwrecked but no one knows for sure. But anyways..  by 1907, the small Steiff company had expanded to over 400 employees and 1800 at home workers who together produced about 974,000 bears. The Steiff company is still around today and still doing well!
    Since then, Teddy Bears have been a huge part of childhood for pretty much everyone. Ask anyone and I am sure that 99% of them will tell you that they owned a teddy bear before. Teddy's have inspired many beloved children's books and movie characters such as Winnie the Pooh, Paddington, and Corduroy. There is still stores that only sell teddy bears like the Michtom's, such as the well know company Build a Bear Workshop, that you can make your own bear and choose a wardrobe for them. I believe the teddy bear will be a staple in every childhood for a long time to come.
       Well that is about it! I hope you have enjoyed! I have had nothing but positive feedback from my readers and it really keeps me going! I promise there is more to come! Make sure you follow me on Instagram so you never miss a post!
I had Miss. Rebecca Rubin model this bear instead of Samantha because it arrived on April 4th... her birthday in her books! It only seemed fitting that she get a teddy bear!! :)


Thursday, January 21, 2016

Kit's Aviator Doll: A Brief History of Amelia Earhart and Aviation

Hey Followers!!
    I recently bought Kit's Aviator Doll (complete with original box) from a woman I buy from often for $40. It is one of my favorite things in Kit's collection. In Kit's book Kit's Surprise, Kit was given a doll that resembled Amelia Earhart from her friend Ruthie. Kit was so excited to have received a doll version of her hero! So what made Amelia such an icon?
   Amelia Earhart saw her first plane when she was 10 years old at a fair, surprisingly enough... she wasn't impressed. A decade later she finally fell in love with aviation when she attended a stunt flying expedition. She took her first ride in an airplane in December of 1920 and about a week later she had her first flying lesson.
   In only 6 months, she saved up enough money to buy an airplane of her own. In this plane that she called The Canary after its bright yellow color, she set the worlds first woman's aviation record by rising to an altitude of 14,000 feet.
   In 1928, Earhart received a call offering her a chance to be the first woman to fly the Atlantic Ocean. Although she was fully aware of the danger after hearing that 3 women before her had died trying to complete this flight, In June of 1928, Amelia landed in Wales 21 hours after leaving Newfoundland, becoming the first woman to successfully complete the trip.
  In the years after, she continued to knock out world records including being the first person (and woman) to fly the Pacific Ocean solo and she also beat her first altitude record and bringing it to 18,415 feet. This record stood untouched for many years. But there was one record she wanted bad, to be the first person to fly around the world.
    A couple years after Kit's stories, on June 1st of 1937.. Amelia and her navigator Fred Noonan departed on their journey. By the 29th, they landed in New Guinea and had completed all but 7,000 miles of their 29,000 mile trip. A few days later they depart again to finish the trip. By the next day, Earhart's radio transmissions were weak and choppy. Most were not even audible. The last two transmissions heard from Amelia were,  "We must be on you, but we cannot see you. Fuel is running low. Been unable to reach you by radio. We are flying at 1,000 feet."  and the last thing heard from Amelia Earhart was at 8:45am,  "We are running north and south."
    Despite a long and expensive (costing about $4 million) search covering 250,000 square miles, Earhart's plane was never found. To this day, her fate has never been discovered.
    In a final letter to her husband, she wrote something that should be an inspiration to all girls and women.  "Please know I am quite aware of the hazards, I want to do it because I want to do it. Women must try to do things as men have tried. When they fail, their failure must be but a challenge to others." Truly an amazing woman, determined and brave.
    Of course, Amelia Earhart was not the first person to have a passion for flight. The ancient Chinese had many flying devices such as kites (some where big enough to lift a human into the air), flying lanterns, and propelling toys made from bamboo.
Da Vinci's Flying Machine Blueprints
   In the 15th century, Leonardo Da Vinci had dreams of a flying machine. After studying bird flights, Leonardo drew many blueprints of designs, although he never actually attempted to construct them.
   In the 18th century, the first hot air balloon was successfully constructed by the Montgolfier brothers, the first flight glided 5 miles! Years later in 1884, the French Military came up with the first airship... which today we usually call them Blimps. The most well known airship was the Hindenburg, most famous for its tragic end when it caught fire and crashed in Germany in 1937, the same year of Earhart's disappearance.
   The first edition of the modern day airplane was invented by Sir George Cayley. He had the theory that of the concept of the modern airplane as a fixed wing flying machine with separate systems for lift, propulsion, and control. Although he only was able to construct a glider only large enough to carry a small child, his ideas still broke ground for many future advances in aviation. 
Wright Brothers 1903 Flight
   Several inventors after Cayley built and tested many different flying machines and contraptions. None completely successful until 1903 when two brothers from Ohio, Orville and Wilbur Wright built an aircraft and flew the first sustained flight with a powered, controlled aircraft. This flight only lasted 59 seconds. After a couple years of working out the bugs, The Wright Brothers were making 10, 20, then 30 minute flights. In 1905, Wilbur flew 39 minutes, a total of 24 miles.
   After the Wright Brothers success, Aviation technology took off. Airplanes changed the way the following wars were fought. After World War 2, commercial flights were becoming more popular for travel, and in the 1950's, aviation took a step in a whole new direction when the Race to Space began between Russia and The United States. In 1961, the race was over when Russian astronaut Yuri Gagarin made an orbit around earth in a space shuttle. 
    Now a days, flight is an everyday technology, but the impact flight has had on us is huge. The world doesn't seem so small anymore. Travel is quicker and shipping is faster. Men and women both are flying planes everyday. Just the things that Amelia Earhart probably dreamed about.


       Kit's doll is made of cloth. Her shirt and tie, pants, and boots are non removable, the boots are made of a faux leather. Her jacket, gloves, and hat are removable. Her face is embroidered and her hair is made of yarn.  

Thanks so much for reading another one of my posts! I hope you have enjoyed it and learned something new! And I would like to announce my newest girl
Be sure to follow me on Instagram so you can learn first about new posts! 


Sunday, January 3, 2016

Kaya's Saddle: History of the Nez Perce Saddle

Hey followers!!

       I hope you guys had a great holiday season! I got a great surprise on Christmas, I asked my husband for Kit as a present but he decided to really surprise me and got me Steps High and her saddle! After having my Kaya for 13 years, She finally has her horse!
     So unfortunately, this has been extremely difficult to research. So bare with me while I write what I know....
Photo of saddle on display
at the Nez Perce Museum
     In the early 1700's, horses were introduced to the Nez Perce tribe when the early Europeans brought them over with them. Ever since then, horses changed the lives of the Nez Perce people in great ways. They were able to build bigger homes, make trades with neighboring tribes, and make annual trips to the Plains to hunt buffalo. Because of the rich grasslands that the tribes territory was located on, they were able to maintain the largest horse herds of any other tribe, horses that are still popular today and more commonly called the Appaloosa.
     The Nez Perce are well known for their horsemanship. From the time they are born, Nez Perce babies are strapped into their cradleboards (which I will talk more about another time.) and the cradleboards are hung from a horses saddle. By the age of three, children are riding on their own and boys and girls were both taught to be skilled riders.
Saddle Pad Circa 1900
     The style of saddle that Kaya has was typically only used by females in the Nez Perce tribe. These Nez Perce saddles consisted of two high saddle horns and also a hook that was useful for carrying cargo on long journeys (and of course the precious cargo in the cradleboards!) The horns and seat were carved wood and the rest of the saddle was made of animal hides and leathers. Kaya's saddle has a detachable saddle pad, I honestly could not find if this was an accurate detail to a real Nez Perce saddle but I do know this, Men used saddle pads similar to what Kaya has when they rode. After seeing the the newly arrived settlers saddles, the tribe made their own version of the Europeans saddles. These pads were made of buckskin and stuffed with grass or buffalo hair. A cinch was attached to wrap around the horses belly and sometimes stirrups were added. These pads could be quite extravagant with detailed bead work sewn on.
     Saddles like Kaya's are still used today in ceremonies and during pow wows. There is an annual ceremony commemorating those Nez Perce who died during the war of 1877 in the Bear Paw Mountains. During this ceremony, horses that are fully dressed in Nez Perce tack are led around without riders. The empty saddle ceremony is done to appease the spirits of the dead.

   Kaya's saddle horns are plastic, the rest of it is made of faux leather and buckskin. The saddle panels are decorated in a beautiful "painted" design. The horn has a hook so Kaya can attach items such as her Doll and Cradleboard. A cinch goes around Steps High and ties onto the other side. of the saddle. Under the saddle is the fringed buckskin blanket that came with Steps High and a faux fur saddle blanket. And I am sorry I forgot to take a picture of the saddle pad that goes on top of the saddles seat but it is a small pillow made of faux buckskin.

Well that is it for today! Thank you so much for reading! I will have more posts soon! I haven't been working as much so I do have more time lately! 
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Thursday, November 12, 2015

BeForever Historical Accuracy: Addy's School Outfit

Hey Followers!
     Sorry it has been so long! I haven't had much down time to myself lately! Recently, American Girl gave out 20% off coupons in their catalogs. I ended up getting two of them so I got some goodies! One of which was Addy's beautiful new BeForever School outfit. So lets get right to it, Is this outfit historically accurate?
The Layers of this dress remind me of Addy's
       There is a huge reason why I LOVE the fashion of the Civil War....Detail! The more details on a gown in the 1860's, the better. Civil War gowns were very elaborate, covered in lace, ribbons, ruffles, embroidery, fringe...some dresses had so many flounces that the original fabric of the dress could no longer be seen.
      One very popular detail; especially for children's clothing was military inspired, the use of braided trim. The style was influenced by the braided trim on the military officers uniforms. The braiding on the uniforms were different according to rank. This type of embroidery is often called soutache. Addy's school dress is detailed with black soutache trim.
      There were two main types of dresses in Addy's time, Day Dresses and Evening Gowns. The day gowns had wide pagoda sleeves worn over under sleeves called engageantes. Day dresses had high necklines made of lace, tatted collars, or chemisettes.
Sleeves Similar to Addy's
      Evening gowns had low necklines and short sleeves that were accompanied by gloves or mitts.
      Addy's school dress resembles the day dress. It features the high neckline with the collar. Her wide sleeves are partnered with the engageantes.

      Clothing became more vibrant with color around the civil war. Colorful detailed fabrics were highly sought after for every 1860's fashionista. Certain colors of textiles became more available with the invention of mauveine. Mauveine is an aniline dye first invented by a young Chemist named William Henry Perkin in the mid 1850's. Before this discovery, fabrics in colors like purple and blue involved a very difficult process, making these colored fabrics extremely expensive. (Could possibly be the reason that the color purple is often related with royalty??) The invention of mauveine made fabric dying to produce these colors less difficult and more affordable. So the possibility that Addy would have a dress that is blue in color would definitely be plausible.
      So based on this info, Is Addy's BeForever School Outfit historically accurate? Absolutely!

Detail of the neckline and soutache trim
Detail of Soutache
Detail of the wide pagoda sleeves with the lower engageantes sleeves 
Beautiful layered skirt, Also a popular 1860's trend!

              Thanks so much for reading! I have had overwhelming positive responses to this blog and I am so happy that it brings so much enjoyment to my followers because I have LOVED writing these posts! Stay tuned for more posts VERY soon and be sure to follow me on Instagram @faithful.friends.forever.be and find out first about new posts!


Sunday, August 23, 2015

Felicity's Chocolate Set: History & Recipe for Colonial Hot Chocolate

Hi Followers!!

     Recently during my Ebay searches, I came across Felicity's Table and Chairs for $130. But the thing that interested me so much is that it came with her Chocolate Set. Some of you may know how valuable her Chocolate Set is and in complete good condition it can cost $130 by itself. So I snatched it up quick!
     Chocolate was mentioned in the colonies newspapers as early as 1705 when it was advertised for sale in a Boston paper. There were nearly 70 commercial chocolate producers in the colonies around that time, 69 more than in England which made chocolate more available and more affordable in the colonies. Especially when the tea tax was in place, hot chocolate became the go to drink of choice for patriots. When England snatched Jamaica from the Spanish, they then had an island of their own full of cocao plantations, which made chocolate more available to the British but with the high cost of importation, the prices were still extremely high for them. Chocolate was typically sold ground up into bricks or "cakes" wrapped in paper. In England, the cakes of chocolate were sold in small sizes, about 2-4 ounces. However, in the colonies where chocolate was more affordable, they were sold in 1 pound bricks. To give colonists another big advantage, in 1737 a Massachusetts man invented an engine that could cheaply grind 100 pounds of cocao in six hours. In pre-Revolutionary Williamsburg, unsweetened chocolate cost on average about two shillings sixpence per pound, which was affordable to the middle and upper class people. Prices fell, however, and before the nineteenth century, it had become cheap enough to be given to slaves.
     Chocolate cakes were usually premixed with sugar so you could mix it into boiling water and add whatever other extra ingredients you prefer. There were other ways chocolate was sold as well. They were sold as "nuts", "shells", and also as pure cocao seeds. People who bought the pure seeds had to roast and ground the seeds themselves. It was a long tedious process. The chocolate researcher for Colonial Williamsburg, Jim Gay explains.

The chocolate production process [he] follows involves “roasting cocoa beans, shelling them, crushing them in a large mixing bowl and transferring them to a heated grinding stone. Using an iron rolling pin, the cocoa beans are ground into a liquid and sugar and spices are added.”  Gay explained that 18th-century chocolate “isn’t something you’re used to.” Its less sweet than modern chocolate and grittier because its impossible to grind the particles that finely using hand-made processes. Gay also said that “each month [the chocolate] has a slightly different texture and flavor; the flavor profiles always [change].”

    The people that bought the chocolate shells would seep them into hot water. It is said that Martha Washington enjoyed this method because it was easier on the stomach than an oily chocolate.
    Fun fact... It was highly discouraged for quite a while for woman to consume chocolate in any form because it was believed to be an aphrodisiac.  The Virginia Almanac of 1770 cautioned women against it, warning “the fair sex to be in a particular manner careful how they meddle with romances, chocolate, novels, and the like,” especially in the spring, as those were all “inflamers” and “very dangerous.” Even though there were warnings, women were the top consumers of chocolate.
    So that is a quick history of hot chocolate in the colonies. Now lets make some! Here is what you will need! 

*A Bar of Unsweetened Baking Chocolate
     * 1/4 tsp Cinnamon
*1/8 tsp Ground Cayenne Pepper
*1/4 tsp Ground Ginger
*2 cups water
*2 cups whole milk
*1/2 tsp Vanilla Extract
*Large saucepan
*2 small Saucepans
*food processor, blender, or hand grater

Makes about 4 cups!

This is the chocolate I used.
My tips to make this easier... because everything is going to be high speed!...Make sure everything is measured out and ready to be added. Also read through the steps before you start so you know what to expect. 

~So first, put the large saucepan on the stove empty at a medium heat or a bit lower. Put 2 cups of water into a small saucepan or kettle and put it on the stove on high to boil, Also put two cups of whole milk into the other small saucepan and put it on the stove to boil too. 
~While they are heating up, take half of the chocolate bar (or the whole bar if you love chocolate!) and put it in the food processor (or blender or hand grater) and grind the bar into fine granules. 
~When that is done, dump the granules into the warmed large saucepan and start whisking around while the chocolate melts. Add the spices into the pan with the chocolate, also add some sugar to taste, start with about 4 tbsp, you can always add more later. 
~By this time, your water is probably boiling. Pour it into the large saucepan and whisk it around until the water and chocolate are meshed nicely. 
~Then add your boiling milk and a splash of Vanilla extract.
~Drop the heat very low and whisk and whisk and whisk some more until everything is blended nicely and somewhat frothy. 
~Take a spoon and have a taste. If it isn't sweet enough, add some sugar. If the chocolate taste is too strong, add some more milk. 
There you are! Enjoy! Add some whipped cream or marshmallows if you like!


Alright, so you got the history, you got the recipe, let me tell you about Felicity's Chocolate Set. The set includes a silver plated chocolate pot, 2 cups, 2 plates, 2 sets of forks and spoons, 2 napkins. 
     My chocolate pot is a bad example because I noticed after buying it that it is in TLC condition. It is missing the top and chain so I used a picture off of google to show the comparison of the Pleasant Company chocolate pot and an actual chocolate pot from the 18th century.

Pleasant Company on the left. 18th Century pot on the right.
     The plate is made of porcelain I believe. The plates are hand painted and have a beautiful gold trim. The back of the plates are stamped Pleasant Company.  

     There are two versions of the cups in this set. My set is the early version so the cups are made of resin. Also hand painted with gold trim and a unique twisted handle. But this is not how a common chocolate cup in the 18th century would look. Most chocolate cups had two handles, one on each side, Sort of like a child's sippy cup.

   Fork, spoon, and napkin

       So that's it! I hope you enjoyed the history and the hot chocolate! :) 

     This week I will be heading to the release of the newest historical MaryEllen Larkin from the year 1954. I am beyond excited! I plan on taking pictures of my visit to American Girl Place Mall of America and sharing with you! Felicity will be joining me! 

    And be sure to follow me on Instagram! @faithful.friends.forever.be


Saturday, August 8, 2015

BeForever Historical Accuracy: Rebecca's Holiday Dress

Hey Followers!

     I am starting a new segment in my blog today. I was inspired by this particular outfit after hearing so many people put down the BeForever line for "not being historically accurate." Well hang on to your hats folks because I am about to blow some minds.
     So I recently got Rebecca for a birthday gift from my family (YAY!) and WOW! is she beautiful! I mean she is definitely at the top in the beauty ranking! But anyways... naturally I bought some things for her and one of my favorite dresses of hers is her new BeForever Holiday Dress.
     Okay so the year is 1914.... did girls wear dresses like this in 1914? Well the first time I seen this dress, I thought immediately about a particular dress I seen on a movie.

This dress....

    Do you recognize it? 

    Well if you said it is from the movie Titanic then you are right! This dress was worn by Kate Winslet on the movie Titanic. The Titanic sank in 1912, only two years before Rebecca's stories. The waistline on the dress is very similar to Rebecca's dress. Also both dresses are rich in embroidery. Now I know that Titanic is a movie, but every movie hires a professional to produce costumes that are historically correct.   

      Of course I am not going to leave it at that though! In 1914, the skirt lengths started getting a little higher. It started to be more common for women to show their ankles with the newly raised hemlines. Along with the raised skirt lengths, it was becoming popular to have layers skirts, uneven and unique layers.  


  These photos are all drawings dated between 1912 and 1914. Theses are all beautiful examples of the tiered skirts I was referring to. The shape of the first dress looks so much like Rebecca's dress. Also the shape of the skirt to the right of that one is very close! Not to mention she is wearing a similar headband as well.

    Okay! Lets talk shoes now! Rebecca's shoes are "leather" with double straps across the top of the foot. I happen to come across a very similar pair in a Sears catalog page from 1914 which I have highlighted in red. And with Rebecca's father being a shoemaker, you know she had access to the "freshest styles," Ha!  

     In my opinion.... Could a girl from 1914 have owned an outfit like this...absolutely!!

I hope you enjoyed this new segment of my blog! I sure had fun with it! 1914 is such a fun time in fashion and looking through the styles of the time was awesome. Such beautiful and unique dresses, I really hope American Girl will release many more new Rebecca styles in the future. 

There are many more BeForever fashions that need "debunking" and I plan to write more soon!

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