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What have they talked about for 65 years?

Updated: Aug 11, 2023

Against the eastern wall in the Mather Homestead attic sits a large black steamer trunk. A metal tag riveted into the top reads “Marshall Field & Company Retail Chicago.” On the right side, in large letters are the initials: “S.T.M.” The trunk was no doubt purchased by Stephen Mather during his professional years in Chicago.

When you open the trunk, on the top insert are twelve dolls. On the lower portion are ten more…22 dolls altogether.

The newspaper wrapping some of the dolls’ clothes is from the New York Times January 31, 1954…65 years ago. The dolls were most likely put away by Bertha Mather McPherson, for at that time her youngest daughter would have been in her early teens.

The dolls seem content with having spent so much time together. They are from the four corners of the earth. There’s an American Indian…dolls representing the Orient…a particularly scary figure from Bali D.E.I…and King George VI in coronation regalia.

The George VI doll is in its original Liberty London box and was made to commemorate the May 1937 coronation. This doll was probably purchased by or given to the McPhersons, whose elder daughter would have been nearing her third birthday at that time.

Will we ever know if some dolls were the favorites? Will we ever even know if they were given names and what those names might have been? It is likely not. And perhaps that is their legacy to hold and their mystery to share.

Photo 1: George VI Coronation Doll

Photo 2: Bali D.E.I. (Dutch East Indies)

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