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Monday, June 13, 2011

Samuel Pryor Doll Collection

This is the first piece in a series dedicated to great doll collections and collectors of the past. I would also like to cover in the future my friend, Mary Hillier, John Noble, Aunt Len's Doll Museum, Eleanor St. George and others. I would like to reference for this blog the December 1599 National Geographic which talked about Samuel F. Pryor's noted doll collection. Pryor was the vice president and assistant tohe prsident for Pan Am for some time. He was famous both as a man who collected dolls, and for his large collection of over 2500 dolls from 84 different countries. The article he wrote is classic, and I can't imagine its worth today. He had founded a National Doll Library Foundation, but in the early 80s, the collection was sold by Sotheby's when he died. I think Vogue did a feature story on the sale, and I have the issue in storage. At the end of his life, the colletion grew to 8000 dolls. Readers Digest also wrote aboutt he dolls. There is a good article about him on the site Historically Speaking, www.greenwichlibrary.org/blog/historically-speaking/2010/08/the-pryor-doll-collection.

What fascinates me about this article is the narrative about how we travelled all over the world, sometimes in obscure places, to find dolls. He also notes many other imortant male collectors including Eugene Field, Guy Mollet, former Premier of France, music critic Deems Taylor, a greek Ambassador, and a government scientist. He may have also bought Janet Pagter Johl's collection after her untimely death. Pryor discusses a set of fantastic puppets from the Bangkok's Thieves Market, and a 350 year old doll from Kamakura, Japan. There is a fantastic Samurai doll, complete with uniforms and swords and a descpription of a rare Leopard Man doll, fetish from a secret African society Mr. Pryor's son traded a Swiss knife for. The range of dolls Pryor describes is breathtaking, to say the least. On some occasions, eh let the dolls be exhibited at world fairs and at other museums. He finally retired to Hawaii. At one worlds fair, plans to exhibit the dolls fell through. The correspondence an documenation are online at www.worldsfaircommunity.ort/topic/4656-pryor-doll-collection-the-exhibit-that-wasnt.

Also, Pryor was a good friend of Charles Lindburgh, and they are both buried at the Palapala Ho'omau cemetery. You can see the graves and church at www.pbase.comgosilands/2003_08_30_kipahulu. Pryor's pet gibbons, six of them, are buried there, too. Pryor's son, Sam Pryor III has written a book about his father and his life. It is called Samule F. Pryor and Son. The family was originally from Greenwich, CT, and was known for giving some singular and eccentric Xmas cards, postmarked from places like Santa Claus, OH. Jr. writes that the doll collection came from his dad's love of people, a reason Anne Rice gives for loving dolls in Taltos. It's a good one.

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