Merci Train - Kansas
A young boy learning about the Merci Train
Mrs. Nellie Kuska of Colby, Kansas was a collector, and one of the many items that she collected was dolls. She had more than 10,000 dolls in her collection, some vary plain and some very rare and valuable, which latter category I believe this doll would be included in. The Prairie Museum in Colby, KS. now owns the complete collection of Mrs. Kuska's dolls, with a large number of them on display, including the Merci Train doll. The photograph was sent to us by Chris Griffin, Registrar at the Prairie Museum, along with the information in the paragraph below which was on a card attached to the box in which the doll was received by the museum. The card reads:
In 1950, Nellie Kuska received this special doll from the Kansas State Committee Chairman of the Merci Train; his committee oversaw the distribution of the Kansas Merci Train gifts to schools, colleges, museums, libraries, historical societies, and other interested public institutions. The committee believed that if (the doll) became part of Mrs. Kuska's collection; it would be available for all to see.
It is not known for sure, but the doll may possibly have been made by renowned doll maker Juneau of Paris. His dolls carry various marks, some having "Paris 301" on the head. The Merci Train doll, located in the Rags to Riches Dolls gallery is marked "Paris 301 #12". She has a painted composition face and hands. She wears a wine colored, crushed velvet skirt and a black, silk shirtwaist jacket, along with a lacy apron and veil.
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The first 2 pictures below are of a pipe which was part of the contents from the Kansas Merci boxcar, and on display at the Wamego Public Library, Wamego, KS. (785) 456-9181, contact Kim Clark. The other 5 photos are courtesy of the Kansas State Historical Society collection, contact Rebecca J. Martin, Assistant Museum Director, Kansas Museum of History, KSHS, 6425 SW Sixth Ave, Topeka, KS 66615-1099. More on the KSHS Merci collection may be seen at their website on the "Cool Things" page.
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