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Scarce Webber "Singing Doll,"

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Clocks, Watches & Scientific Instruments - 2314
Date / Time :
November 03, 2005 10:00AM


Scarce Webber "Singing Doll," Medford, Massachusetts, patented 1882, with waxed papier-mache shoulder head, stationary blue glass eyes, closed mouth, blonde mohair wig, leather arms and hands with separately stitched fingers, the cloth torso with paper-roll movement playing "Pop Goes the Weasel" when button in stomach is pressed, in period black silk and cotton outfit with blue collar and lace trim (some fiber loss), ht. 22 in.

Literature: MBSI Journal of Mechanical Music, Spring 1995, p. 29 - 31. Patented by William A. Webber on April 25 1882, the "Marvellous Webber Singing Doll" was marketed by the Massachusetts Organ Company and advertised as a "Prima Donna in Every Home". Webber's invention was presented as an alternative to the imported mechanical dolls (although the heads were apparently made in Europe), with special attention paid to the body which is described in early advertising as "an American made body with limber joints so that it will sit easily and gracefully in any position". The advertisement goes on to note that the paper-roll movement is "a perfect musical instrument, finely made, not liable to get out of order and so arranged that a slight pressure causes the doll to sing". A choice of twenty-seven titles was available, mostly of a popular and patriotic theme, although unlike the Edison or Lioret talking doll, the song could not be changed at will. Despite the enthusiastic marketing, it seems that few Webber Singing Dolls survived.
Estimate $2,000-3,000


William A. Webber, waxed papier-mache shoulder head , Massachusetts, Medford, Mechanical Music, MBSI Journal, Massachusetts Organ Company, early advertising, Webber Singing Dolls, Dolls