Skookum Indian Boy Doll

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Here’s another one of my Skookum dolls.  If you wish to see the Mother and Papoose Skookum doll, please go to my May 13th, 2012 posting.

This sweet faced circa 1930/1940 composition Skookum Indian Boy stands 6.5 inches tall.

Other Details: painted molded head with painted features; short blunt-cut black mohair wig; paper and cloth wrapped wood body. Leather boots painted with orange and turquoise lines; yellow felt fringed leggings; yellow flower print shirt front; blue, orange, yellow and grey wool flannel blanket wrap. Partial paper oval tag on bottom of left foot reads “TRADE MARK REGISTERED” around border, sunrise drawing over “SKOOKUM (BULLY GOOD) INDIAN” in center.

Skookum dolls were composition dolls handmade by Mary McAboy between 1913 and 1920. These dolls resembled Native American people of various tribes.

Mary, who was inspired by the apple head Indian dolls her mother made, decided to make her own little apple head Indian village. The figures were set up in the display window of a local grocery store. Astounded with their successful sales, Mary filed to register trademark the name SKOOKUM in 1917.

The word Skookum is an old slang term still used today in the Northwest Territory of the United States. The word originated from the Chinook or Siwash traders of the American Northwest and has a few meanings. Ask any Northwesterner and they will tell you that Skookum means “Excellent,” “Mighty,” or “Very Good” and to Mary McAboy these little dolls were “Bully Good!”

Skookum’s became so popular and to keep up with the demand, Mary McAboy went into business with H.H. Tammen Co. of Denver, Colorado in 1920. These factory made Skookum dolls (1920’s through the early 1960’s), came in a variety of sizes (2″ souvenir mailers to 3 foot store displays) and styles to represent various tribes, customs and dress. The Skookums were usually sold in tourist spots.

Mary oversaw the production of these dolls for approximately 38 years, and retired in 1952.  She passed away in Denver, Colorado at the age of eighty-four on January 3, 1961.