Cartoon Characters in Cloth

Early Hammond Organ Ad Palmer Cox Brownies around 1900

Myth, Art, and Story

   It was back in the 80’s, shortly after I moved to Rochester, that I first saw the artifacts of nineteenth Century cartoonist Palmer Cox  in Margaret Strong’s collection at the Strong Museum. They live there still, upstairs, along with the other toys and dolls.  Around that time the gift store asked for a line of dolls based on the Palmer Cox  brownie.  As a doll maker for over 40 years, I had sought to make rag dolls of all sorts of  characters, human and animal, so I made  brownies too. They came in in all shapes and sizes and, as  Palmer Cox had done,  they were in costumes of different countries and occupations. What I learned, reading and studying Palmer Cox and the myth behind the character,  in preparation for my assignment, led me to both portray their looks and attitudes in cloth and, soon thereafter in chapter books of stories.  a child would often ask, in receipt of one of my dolls:”What is a brownie?”  That’s when I decided to write about them, and the stories came, one after another, until there was a trilogy: The Gate between the Worlds. This web site is about cartoonist Palmer Cox and the  creature upon which his character is based and besides, it is a scrapbook of my old dolls, from cartoon characters to Sherlock Holmes.