Who is Cobo Alice?

You can’t go out looking like that you look like Cobo Alice!

Ever heard of “Cobo Alice” ? I hadn’t until recently when a friend remarked her father would say this to her if he thought she was looking somewhat ‘dishevelled’.

The answer to who is Cobo Alice lies on a shelf in the one of the rooms of the Folk Museum. For there sits a doll – “Cobo Alice”.

Cobo Alice came into being during the 1870s, unsurprisingly on Guernsey’s West Coast at – you guessed it Cobo.

She was the creation of Alice Guille, wife of a local fisherman who, when he mended his sails, she used the offcuts to make a doll’s body.

She made the body from unbleached calico – off cuts from the material used by her husband to repair his boat’s sails. The head was made from a stretched vest or stocking. The doll was then filled with a fine sawdust filling. The puckered nose and eyebrows were sewn and then the head and hands were dipped in pink primer paint. Then the hair was picked out and painted and the dolls were dressed in bits of old dress materials.

As they became increasingly popular the whole family including the children, were engaged in making these dolls.

As you can imagine a doll made of sailcloth and filled with sawdust made for a pretty hard and tough toy. Despite that many of the original dolls have mostly been lost, having been rotted away by the acidic sawdust filling.

Cobo Alices occasionally come up for auction and usually commands high prices.

Author: Robert

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