Wednesday, 18 March 2009

Michael Lee Dolls


I am sure this doll was made by Michael Lee of Hong Kong, possibly in the 80's. I have seen another, almost exactly the same, with a card tag, which read ' A Michael Lee 'Micale' Made in Hong Kong'. I have seen several of his earlier dolls in the Toy Museum in Singapore. Michael Lee had a very interesting life. He was born in China and was taught to speak English, by missionaries in Shanghai, when he was 7. He left Shanghai when the communists took over and arrived in Hong Kong as a refugee and lived for a time in the terrible refugee camp. The people in the camps were very poor, and their diet lacked nutrition, consisting mainly of rice. There was alot of disease. He left the camp in 1947 and started to make dolls, employing people from the camps to help him. He used the money to help the refugees when they left the camp. He died in 1996. His dolls are very collectable, especially ofcourse the earlier ones.
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14 comments:

  1. I have been searching for information about Michael Lee recently, but have not been very successful. You have probably already checked this, but I think he some times signed and dated his dolls on the bottom of the shoe. Also your doll's face has more shape, having the two seams running down through the eyes. I wonder if this might indicate that it is a little bit older. It's a really sweet doll!

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  2. Thank you for your comment. All the information I have has been found on the internet as I cannot remember what info was given in S'pore museum. But looking at the photos I have collected, I can see that the dolls made in the 80's do not have the two seams, even though one is dressed exactly the same. Also one of the dolls in the S'pore museum does have the seams. I don't know what year it is though. Yes, I have read he did sign dolls, but not mine unfortunatly!

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  3. Doesnt the story of how they were produced just make you cry? It's a touching story and I'm glad to have learned about it. I recently went to Mint Toy Museum in Singapore and saw these toys. I'd like to use your post as a reference to mine. Thanks for posting!

    Here's the post:

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  4. oops, here it is

    http://lakbai.com/2010/01/21/mint-singapores-toy-museum/

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  5. I met Michael Lee in 1985 in Hong Kong and had a photo taken with him. He is a true man of God. The dolls that I have are all signed by him on the right foot/shoe. In addition, the "Micale" tag also has a number on it placed by him. I am glad to have met him as he truly touched my life with his kindness. His "shop" was his "flat" divided up with cardboard petitions and, as stated above, is where he employed the camp refugees.

    Alida G.

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  6. I just inherited M. Lee's Sampan Girl No. 5, an adorable doll, but I'm finding nothing about the doll or how I might determine value. Any ideas/

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  7. i have just came upond michael lee charactor dolls one is siao san tze no.5 the other is sam pan girl no.5-892
    if you have any info. i would love to hear from you thanks.

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  8. My mother use to sell his dolls at her shop in Chi Fu H.K. I visited his flat/shop on a number of occaisions; and did a charcoal drawing of him working at his sewing machine. One of the dolls I have is more or less identical to the one shown; and features in my drawing, which I did for my 'O' levels in 1985. It's unsigned though. Others are signed and dated; the last in 1995; so sadly amongst the last he was to make

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  9. having gone to look at my doll; that features in my drawing I see that the seem does not go through the eyes; but around the edge

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  10. How wonderful to have met Michael Lee! It has been very interesting reading your comments.

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  11. I have recently found a box of dolls that my grandmother gave me when I was 11. They've been in my basement for 20 years. A box of Michael Lee dolls was in them. One called "Happy Family" containing 6 dolls, grandmother, grandfather, mother, father, son, daughter. They all had mildew on them. I brushed it off, and put them in my hutch. They were in the original box, purchased for $3.50 for the entire family.
    Unfortunately, due to the mildue, some of the heads cracked. I know this will effect the value.

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  12. I have a Santa signed by Michael Lee dated Dec. 6, 1992 Hong Kong.

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  13. I today purchased two dolls by Michael Lee, the woman with the baby on her back and a man with little "piggy" ears. The condition of both is immaculate, no fading, tears in any of their clothes. Signed on the left foot on both by Michael Lee in English and in Chinese and dated Sept.1.87. Are they worth anything? I won't be selling them but just curious.

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  14. I've had this little man..."Chinese Charlie"... since about 1963. From the pictures of the faces and the shoes, I can confidently say that he was made by Michael Lee.
    No hair, but a black cap with a red pom-pom on top. Black jacket, royal blue gown, and bright yellow under slacks.

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