[WADLEY, LORD TOD] Archive relating to Joe Carstairs' doll Lord Tod Wadley including two companion dolls and contemporary photographs
. A compelling group offering rare insight to Carstairs' relationship to the doll which was given to her on Christmas 1924 and was cremated with her in 1993. Present is: a group of Lord Tod Wadley's small format Cartier calling cards and stationery housed in their original signed Cartier case, these listing Carstairs' London address; Wadley's monogrammed hammered gold miniature cigarette case and lighter (approximately 18.1 dwts. gross); a male companion doll dressed in fine examples Wadley's monogrammed clothing and yacht club cap, with a small gun on a chain, etc; a second companion doll wearing similar clothing but not monogrammed; numerous vintage and variously sized photographs depicting Carstairs with Wadley over the course of her life; one vintage example and numerous copies of a collaged photograph depicting Wadley in life-size next to a slightly smaller standing Carstairs, the vintage example stamped on the verso by George Platt Lynes and the balance with their respective life dates (copied after Carstairs' death); a highly evocative typed poem entitled "Wadley" signed "MBC/1955" (for Marion Barbara Carstairs); an embroidered pillow depicting Wadley and a chain necklace with doll-like emblem; a contemporary pencil drawing of Wadley; and a four small paintings by Jacqueline Rae, two of which depict Wadley, etc. Also present are 9 audio tapes likely containing Carstairs recollections for an unpublished memoir and a book inscribed to Carstairs on the day she signed the contract to purchase Whale Cay, with her bookplate. The whole somewhat handled and with wear commensurate with age, the first companion doll in very good condition overall, the audiotapes unplayed and their contents unconfirmed, should be seen.
Joe Carstairs received a doll as a Christmas gift in late 1924 which she named Lord Tod Wadley and possessed for the remainder of her long life. The Steiff doll had been gifted to Carstairs by Ruth Baldwin, her girlfriend at the time who ran in London's literary circles and died of a heroin overdose in 1937. The deep significance behind the gift of a doll in 1920s lesbian relationships was, according to Kate Summerscale, fictionalized by Djuna Barnes in her 1927 novel Nightwood, ("When a woman gives [a doll] to a woman ... it is the life they cannot have, it is their child, sacred and profane...," p. 79). Wadley was kept by Carstairs in perpetual boyhood, a state that was obviously impossible for Carstairs to attain for herself as she aged. Wadley was given Cartier calling cards and a sign at their front door read "Marion Barbara Carstairs and Lord Tod Wadley" lending the sense that Carstairs lived with a "fictional aristocrat" (p. 82). Wadley would not race alongside Carstairs on the open water, it was simply too dangerous for him, but Carstairs kept him in tailored Savile Row clothing and had him photographed in various life-like situations. Summerscale reports the presence of other dolls owned by Carstairs, two of which are present in this lot. Ultimately, Wadley becomes an inseparable part of Carstairs' larger-than-life persona (they were "continually changing places, mimicking and recalling each other," p. 87). Wadley aged as Carstairs aged, his leather skin became worn and his clothing tattered, just as Carstairs herself slowly succumbed to death. The two were cremated together and "were placed in a tomb by the sea" (p. 234). As the 1955 signed poem by Carstairs present here reveals: "The human touch is often disappointing ... I still maintain that friendship should be true and loyal and rare... so I've chosen one ... half doll half boy half real half toy My mascot Lord Tod Wadley."
Provenance: The Collection of Marion B. 'Joe' Carstairs (1900-1993)
C Estate of Jacqueline F. Rae
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