Phonograph doll “Mae Starr” with phonographic cylinder

    Phonograph doll “Mae Starr” with phonographic cylinder

    USA, New-York

    The 1920s

    Averill Manufacturing Co

    Papier-mache, metal, fabric, hair, cardboard, celluloid; Casting, sewing, mechanical works, painting

    73 x 28 x 14 cm, 2.7 kg


    Talking doll - an anthropomorphic toy for babies and toddlers - made of organic materials: head, arms and feet up to the knees made of papier-mache, with a specific childish face, with parted lips, light wavy hair, with closing eyes, body shaped carcass covered with white fabric and filled with cotton wool. An aperture for sound from the horn to come out is in the chest and a niche with a spring-driven phonograph mechanism and a 5.5 cm-diameter cylinder is on the left side. Cardboard cylinder with two round apertures on the metal top panel, with celluloid working surface with the phonogram and inscription. The doll is wearing a dress made from fine red checked fabric, with shoulder yoke, short flutter sleeves, and button fastenings on the shoulders. White knitted socks and booties made from the pattered material with buckles around the ankles.

    When the mechanism is switched on, the English-language nursery rhyme "Little Boy Blue" is played. It is number 11318 in the Roud Folk Song collection. One of the popular versions:

    Little Boy Blue, come blow your horn,
    The sheep is in the meadow, the cows in the corn.
    Where is that boy who looks after the sheep?
    He is under a haystack, fast asleep.
    Will you wake him? Oh no, not I,
    For if, I do, he will surely cry.

    The earliest printed version of the poem was in Tommy Thumb's Little Song Book, published around 1744, but it may be much older.