Phonograph doll “Mae Starr” with phonographic cylinder in box USA, New York

    Phonograph doll “Mae Starr” with phonographic cylinder in box USA, New York

    The 1920s

    Averill Manufacturing Co

    Papier-mache, metal, fabric, celluloid, cardboard, lace, suede, hair; casting, sewing, mechanical works, painting

    64 x 38 x 15 cm, 2 kg

    On the cylinder flat end: "MARY HAD A LITTLE LAMB BLUE", "AMIRAL / SWISS", "HORLOGERIE / ALMĖ MAYOR", / 49, rue de Lausanne / 1201 GENEVE", "11 JUIL 1973"


    Phonograph doll -- an anthropomorphic toy for babies and toddlers - made of organic materials: papier-mâché head, with a specific childish face, with parted lips, puffy cheeks, parted lips, dark blond hair, with pigtails framing the face and hair bow, with closing grey eyes. The body shaped carcass covered with white fabric and filled with cotton wool, the arms and legs below knees are from papier-mâché. An aperture on the chest is for the sound to come out of a metal horn, and a niche with a spring-driven phonograph mechanism and a 5.5 cm-diameter cylinder is on the back is on the rear side. The spring winding lever is on the body left side, the mechanism activating lever is on the right side. The cardboard cylinder, with two round apertures on the metal top panel, with celluloid working surface with a phonogram and inscription on the flat end. The doll is dressed in light cambric sleeping-suit, with button back shirt, trimmed with narrow lace at the neck hole and sleeve caps, pantaloons with cuffs. Grey suede booties with buckles on the ankle are on the feet.

    When the mechanism is switched on, "Mary Had a Little Lamb", a 19th century American children's song listed in the Road's Folk Song Index as number 7622, is played.

    The song is based on a poem for children by the American author Sarah Josepha Hale (24.10.1788-30.04.1879).
    The Marsh, Capen&Lyon publishing company in Boston, first printed it on May 24, 1830. It was based on a real case: a girl called Mary Sawyer (according to her brother’s advice) brought a lamb to school. An alternative version exists -- a young man called John Roulstone, who was studying to become a priest, wrote the poem. He visited the school on the very day Mary got there with the lamb and caused a mess.
    The American composer Lowel Mason (08.01.1792-11.08.1872) put the poem to music in the 1830s.

    In 1877, Thomas Alva Edison made the first ever-playable sound recording by singing this song into the phonograph he invented.