Oct 142015

Vintage handmade cloth Becky Thatcher doll.

Becky Thatcher, a character in Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, was inspired by Laura Hawkins, a real life friend of young Samuel Clemens. This doll, representing Becky, was sold in the Becky Thatcher Shop in Hannibal, Missouri. She dates to the mid-twentieth century. Various dolls representing Becky (and Tom Sawyer) have been sold at the shop in its various incarnations over the years, and probably at the Mark Twain Boyhood Home & Museum as well.

Body Construction
Becky is 12 1/2″ tall, made of muslin stuffed with cotton. She has wool yarn hair in braids, and embroidered features, with glued-on fabric circles for eyes. Her arms and legs were sewn separately and then attached to her torso, giving her shoulder and hip joints. Other Becky dolls have been found with variations of the face embroidery, reflecting the fact that they were made by different individuals. Some Beckys have sewn on appliquéd eyes.

The doll is not marked in any way, but her first name is embroidered on her apron, and on the back of her skirt there is a label from the shop. I have seen a variety of labels on Becky dolls – on some the name is Becky Thatcher Bookshop, and others Mark Twain Gift Shop.

Becky is dressed in a two piece dress with separate undersleeves, an apron embroidered with her name, pantalettes trimmed in eyelet lace, a felt bonnet and felt shoes. Becky dolls have been found dressed in variations of fabric and style, but they always have the embroidered name on the apron.

Copyright 2015 by Zendelle Bouchard

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