Composition doll, female and medal, made by Stephan Schilling, Germany, dressed by Florence Breaden, New South Wales, Australia, 1901
At the age of eight years and three months Florence Breadon stitched a complete outfit of under and outer clothing for this doll. She made underdrawers, a chemise, two petticoats, dress and pinafore all with neatly stitched seams, fine pintucking and inserts of lace. It would have taken her many hours to complete and is all the more significant since the silver medal awarded to Florence Breaden at the 1901 Young Person's Industrial Exhibition hangs around the doll's neck.
Dressing dolls was a popular form of competition at agricultural shows and, later, at colonial and international exhibitions. Young girls were encouraged to make complete sets of clothes for their dolls as part of their training to be wives and mothers. Tiny stitches and fine embroidery were particularly prized.
The donation by Florence's family of her school book of 1908 when she was 15 has allowed the Museum to learn a lot more about of Florence's life. See 2010/65/1.
The doll was identified by Dorothy Coleman as a Schilling doll. Schilling manufactured inexpensive composition dolls in Sonneberg in Germany from 1878 to 1928.
The doll closely resembles a 1900 Schilling doll illustrated in Goodfellow. However Miss Breaden may have owned the doll for some time before dressing her for exhibition. The medal is inscribed with the date 1901.
The doll was dressed by Florence Breaden (then aged 8 years 3 months) for the 1901 Young Person's Industrial Exhibition, held at the Royal Agricultural Grounds. The medal was presumably inscribed for the same event.
Florence Catherine Breaden (1893-1929) who was born on 22 January 1893, at Nowra, New South Wales, the daughter of Thomas Henry Breaden, a mariner, and Emily James (or Jane?) Breaden, (nee Howland). Florence was the youngest of seven children. She had four brothers and two sisters. When Florence was born the family was living at Moruya, south of Nowra, on the New South Wales south coast. Later Florence's father was transferred to Sydney and the family travelled up the coast on board a passenger/cargo ship. One of Florence's brothers recalled arriving in Sydney on the ship and seeing the live cargo of pigs, common around Moruya at the time, which had undertaken the voyage on deck, unloaded in the city and herded up George Street to the markets.
The Breaden family lived in the inner city suburb of Leichhardt and Florence attended Petersham School. Florence appears to have been a diligent student. In 1901 she was awarded a silver medal at the Young People's Industrial Exhibition held at the Royal Agricultural Grounds at Moore Park from the 27th May to the 4th June, 1901. The display was described in the Exhibition booklet as a competitive exhibition of all kinds of literary, musical, artistic, mechanical, domestic and other work of young people under 21 years of age Â? attending schools, colleges, institutions, technical colleges, factories and workshops. The Exhibition included musical competitions, callisthenic displays, cookery demonstrations, pet shows, home work, technical college exhibitions, a special doll show and kindergarten demonstrations. Model engines and electrical machinery were also on show. At this exhibition Florence was awarded a silver medal for hand sewing a set of clothes for her doll. The doll wears Florence's medal around her neck.
During the 1920s Florence had art lessons and excelled at watercolours. While on holiday in Cooroy, Queensland, she met Norman Gilliland and they were married in Cooroy in 1927. Florence became the wife a farmer and lived at nearby Eumundi, in the Sunshine Coast hinterland, but became ill with Tuberculosis shortly after. Only 14 months after her first child, Rowley Thomas John Gilliland, was born in 1928, Florence died at the age of 36 on the 24th August, 1929. She was buried in Cooroy cemetery. Florence's husband remarried and baby Rowley was brought up by his step mother.
The doll was passed on to one of Florence's brothers, Arthur Breaden, and was always displayed in a glass case. By the 1970s it passed into the collection of Anne Schofield and exhibited in 'Seen but not heard' and sold to the Museum at auction by Leonard Joel.