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Skookums: Dolls With A Past

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In 1914, Montana homemaker Mary McAboy began selling handmade Indian dolls wrapped in blankets, with dried apples for heads. As each apple dried, Mary pinched and poked it into a face, adding pins for eyes and string for hair. She called her creations Skookums.

Skookums were wrapped in such a way as to create the illusion of folded arms. But dolls were highly individualistic, and came with or without papooses, bead necklaces, feathered headdresses, headbands, kerchiefs...and even cigarettes.



Find out about other collectibles described by The Saturday Early Show's Tony Hyman in the Collectibles Archive or visit Tony Hyman's Web site.

If you think you have a collectible worth a lot of cash, send an email to sat@cbsnews.com with "What's It Worth?" in the subject line. Or write to "What's It Worth?" The Saturday Early Show, 514 West 57th St., 6th floor, New York, N.Y. 10019.

By 1920, business boomed and Mary’s dolls began to be distributed to tourist shops nationwide. As factory production took over, apple heads were replaced by composition, then later with plastic heads. Suede and leather moccasins gave way to tape, then plastic feet from the 1950s until they stopped making them in the '60s.

Skookums were made in a wide variety of styles, sizes and faces, both male and female, to represent various tribes. Values to today's collectors range from $35 to several thousand dollars. A 3-foot-tall display from the '40s can bring up to $3,000. Original boxes can add as much as 50 percent to a doll's value. And don't despair if your Skookum
is damaged; it can be repaired.

Skookum knock-offs exist, but, of course, most collectors don't consider them as interesting or as valuable as the originals..


Dolls and information are courtesy of Linda Larouche. Questions about Skookums may be answered on the Skookum Web site at www.skookumgal.com or by writing to Linda Larouche at skookumgal@aol.com. More information also may be obtained through the Online Skookum Collectors Newsletter.

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