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January 16, 2008

Pinn Family Dolls

Filed under: Our Favorite Things — Matt Anderson @ 11:01 am

The Pinn Family dolls, simple dolls made from common household clothespins, come straight out of the Great Depression and the imagination of a Minnesota designer. Not only do they represent the simplicity and make-do attitude of the era, but they also give us a glimpse of an imagined family growing up in Minnesota. Their names reflect some clever double meanings: father, “Ty Pinn,” mother, “Hattie Pinn,” daughters, “Beauty Pinn,” and “Clo Pinn,” son, “Harry Pinn,” and “Baby Pinn.” This set of dolls was given to a young Wisconsin girl who summered in Forest Lake, Minnesota, and kept them safe in their original boxes. 

Pinn Family dollsThe original Schoenhut Company and its dolls didn’t survive the Depression. Reorganized in 1935, the Otto Schoenhut Company of Philadelphia added Emily Myers’s Pinn Family dolls to its product line and brought Myers, a Minnesota designer, to Philadelphia to teach employees how to paint the features and accessorize the dolls. In the late 1930s, Myers ended her contract with Schoenhut and manufactured the dolls herself from her home in Mahtomedi, Minnesota. 

Emily T. Myers (1886-1971) produced and sold individual collegiate dolls and Pinn Family dolls by mail order and at the Minnesota State Fair through the 1940s.

Linda McShannock, Objects Curator

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