2017-08-10 / Arts & Entertainment News

Convention offers a glimpse into the ‘family’ of collectors

COLLECTOR’S CORNER

One of the joys of collecting — and trying to learn about antiques — is taking advantage of opportunities to see the best of the best.

With that in mind, I set out for Orlando to the United Federation of Doll Clubs’ annual convention.

The public sale day of an event like this offers a chance to meet with nationally known dealers and see museum-quality displays.

It also was a chance to see in person what has fueled my mother’s passion for collecting antique dolls, a passion that was ignited more than 40 years ago, after I discovered a hatbox full of her childhood Nancy Ann Storybook Dolls that seemingly had been lost for two decades in the attic of my grandparents’ house in Fort Myers.

My mother, Martha Simmons, always has demanded nothing but the best from herself as a teacher and as a person. She applies the same principles to her doll collecting, seeking out the rare, the exquisite and the wacky.


My mother, Martha Simmons (left), with Judene Hansen and Donna Sypniewski at the 2017 convention of the United Federation of Doll Clubs, held in Orlando. 
SCOTT SIMMONS / FLORIDA WEEKLY My mother, Martha Simmons (left), with Judene Hansen and Donna Sypniewski at the 2017 convention of the United Federation of Doll Clubs, held in Orlando. SCOTT SIMMONS / FLORIDA WEEKLY The dealers and collectors who show up for the UFDC convention are only too happy to oblige.

I loved meeting such dealers as Alan Scott Pate, who offered Japanese dolls ranging from the 17th to the 20th centuries. While I was chatting with Mr. Pate, one woman came up to him with a photograph of a box with information hand-written in Japanese. He readily translated and dated the information for her. I’ll look forward to hearing him speak when he returns to the Morikami Museum in Delray Beach over the next couple of seasons.

Nancy McCray, seen regularly as an appraiser on “The Antiques Roadshow,” also was there. Ms. McCray, who hails from Iowa, is a passionate proponent of antique dolls, and it was fun to meet her.


Howard and Colleen Holden of Fort Myers and Urbandale, Iowa. Howard and Colleen Holden of Fort Myers and Urbandale, Iowa. She’s persuasive, too — my mother plunked down some significant change for a Kestner Wunderkind doll in its original box. That doll comes with four interchangeable heads. You almost never find the dolls complete, and the box makes the set über-rare.

That’s indicative of the types of dolls in which Ms. McCray deals.

The convention sales floor wasn’t just about antiques — there were plenty of contemporary playthings and artist creations.

It was fun to meet artist Maggie Iacono, who breathes life into her dolls of felt. She and her husband, Tony, are both passionate and humble.

After all, collecting is about the people you meet.

I loved seeing the friends I’ve made along the way — friends like Palm Beach County collectors Donna Sypniewski, Carol Hansen and Judene Hansen — Carol even persuaded me to join the UFDC as an at-large member, so I can learn a little more.


The Kestner Wunderkind doll my mother bought has four interchangeable heads. The Kestner Wunderkind doll my mother bought has four interchangeable heads. I love Irene “Cracker” Hart, who belongs to my mother’s doll clubs in Fort Myers and Naples. Cracker, who is well north of 80, has the passion and energy of someone decades younger, and it was a real treat to see the mother-daughter team of Peggy and Karen Monahan of Jupiter Farms coming out of the competitive exhibit, where they had received dozens of ribbons for dolls they had entered.

My mother always travels to convention with her friend Cathy Noone, who began collecting dolls with her mother, Nancy Klinker of Cape Coral. My mom used to bunk with Nancy at conventions, and when Nancy died six years ago, she and Kathy became fellow travelers.

So the tradition continues. ■

— For more information on local doll clubs and shows, visit www.ufdc.org.

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