Carson woman’s success story comes to life in Rockwellian fashion |

Carson woman’s success story comes to life in Rockwellian fashion

Andrew Pridgen
Appeal Staff Writer

Carson resident Mary Moline said she had 57 cents in the bank when she created a small doll empire by hand-crafting porcelain creations based on Norman Rockwell characters.

The dolls, popular with collectors in the 1980s, are now on display at the Children’s Museum of Northern Nevada.

Moline donated 20 dolls in October and the collection will be on display in perpetuity, the museum’s executive director Jim Peckham said.

“She’s been a patron of the museum for awhile,” he said. “I think she came to us and told us about her background and said she was willing to share her dolls – it was an interesting opportunity.”

The Rockwell dolls were inspired by a Christmas shopping trip Molina took in 1978.

“I was just divorced, almost 50, living in San Francisco and looking for an antique doll to give my daughter,” she said. “I couldn’t find one and women weren’t out of the closet yet with their doll collecting.

“I went down to Carmel – still couldn’t find anything – and on the drive back I thought: ‘I’ll make her a doll.'”

Inspired by a Rockwell greeting card and her childhood as an Italian immigrant selling subscriptions to the Saturday Evening Post in Morgantown, W.V., – Moline quickly found there were no Rockwell-inspired dolls on the market.

In total, Moline said 20,000 collector dolls were manufactured between 1980-85. Doll number 20 in the set was a likeness of artist Rockwell himself.

Plate Collector magazine called Moline’s line “a charming American tableau, with all the earmarks of a genuine Rockwell.”

“The display at (the museum) will have a Norman Rockwell theme,” said Peckham. “It is a great gift we hope to have on display for the foreseeable future.”

Moline, who helped erect the display, said she donated additional dolls for the museum to auction off in what she hopes will be a holiday fundraiser.

“I hope (children) who visit the museum enjoy the dolls and can take a little bit from what I’ve done and realize there still is that opportunity out there,” she said.

• Contact reporter Andrew Pridgen at or 881-1219.