Hello Dolly! Local Artists Fashionable Legacy
(LE MARS, IA) A Siouxland man who has since passed is leaving a very special artistic legacy.
Robert Smith was a farmer in Battle Creek, Iowa, who hand crafted wooden dolls in his spare time.
But these dolls aren't just ordinary dolls.
The official name for these wooden creations is Dollies. At least that's what their creator called them. He was a farmer from Battle Creek, Iowa, and in the mid-70's, Robert Smith got a little inspiration.
"He said he had seen some Italian dolls and he was inspired by these little dolls. I don't think that they were very large but they were very beautiful and he decided to try his hand," says Judy Bowman, the Administrator for the Plymouth County Historical Museum.
It led to a hobby that would last the rest of his life and now the Plymouth County Historical Museum in Le Mars displays them all.
There's a total of 81 dollies in the museum. Each one was hand carved from wood that Smith found on his farm. And each one of the dollies has its own set of characteristics and its own personality.
"What is unique about the dollies is that they are three-quarter the size of a human, and they are all jointed, everywhere we bend they bend. And they also are anatomically correct and the clothing on them was made, they were all fashioned by Mr. Smith," says Bowman.
The dollies sat for years on Smith's Battle Creek farm. The family set up their own museum just for the dolls but after Smith and his wife passed away and their daughter Isabella became ill, Isabella donated them to Bowman and the museum.
"I was overwhelmed. We were good friends," says Bowman.
The dolls original estimated worth is more than $100,000, but Bowman says the official appraisal will happen next week.
"It's very special to have these, because again we've really known the dollies since 1975, so that's a long time to be acquainted," she says.
If you're interested in seeing this almost life-sized dollies for yourself, the museum is holding a "Tea with the Dollies" event. It will be held at the Plymouth County Historical Museum Saturday, May 11th. The museum opens at 1 PM and closes at 5 PM. The event is free to the public.