All this week our blog will commemorate Labor Day by featuring dolls in working garb. This miniature milkmaid poses with a metal milk pail in one hand and her wooden milk can in the other. Unlike the milkman, whose job was to deliver the milk, the milkmaid was responsible for milking the cows and preparing cream, butter, and even cheese. Historically, many large estates had private dairies and employed one or more milkmaids to skillfully run them. Milkmaids were renown for their buxom figures and smooth rosy complexions, especially noticeable at a time when many people bore extensive scarring marking them as survivors of the dreaded smallpox. It has been claimed that Edward Jenner, who developed the first vaccine against the scrounge of smallpox, overheard a pretty milkmaid brag about her flawless skin and that she would never suffer from smallpox because she had once contracted cowpox. Later Jenner would discover that exposure to the far more milder disease of cowpox gave the person immunity to smallpox. Although this story appears to be more fiction than fact, a milkmaid's profession appears to have helped her preserve her complexion.
This 8-inch tall milkmaid is all original and is on a fully jointed composition ball jointed body, even at her wrists. Under her bonnet, her blond mohair wig is worn in elaborate braids and her bright blue glass eye sleep. The front of her bodice has been padded to give her the well-fed figure associated with milkmaids and her blooming complexion is flawless. An old faded label pinned to the back of her apron states "Belgium." She is incised back of her head "Germany A 12/0 M," indicating that she is by the German maker Armand Marseille. Her cow companion is Bessy by Steiff, first introduced in 1958, and is made of mohair, felt, and velveteen.