I frequently surf the web in search of doll patterns, displays, news items or anything pertaining to dolls. Most of the time I discover little of interest, but occasionally I hit the jackpot so to say. I find the following to be very interesting and I hope you will also.
Extraordinary X-rays show how 150-year-old dolls were used to smuggle drugs during U.S. Civil War
Two 150-year-old dolls have been x-rayed in a bid to discover if they were used by Confederate soldiers to smuggle medical supplies past Union blockades during the U.S. Civil War.
It is thought the large dolls - Nina and Lucy Ann - had their hollowed out papier-mache heads stuffed with quinine or morphine for wounded and malaria-stricken Confederate troops.
The Union blockade lasted from 1861 until 1865 and was intended to thwart the delivery of weapons, soldiers and supplies such as medicine to the South.
Two ladies: The dolls dubbed Nina, left, and Lucy Ann, have been X-rayed in an attempt to verify their role in the Civil War
Laid bare: Radiological technician Lanea Bare prepares to X-ray Nina under the watchful gaze of Civil War museum employee Catherine Wright, and right, the scan of Lucy Ann
Rhett Butler, the fictional rogue played by Clark Gable in the 1939 film version of Margaret Mitchell's book Gone With The Wind, was a blockade runner.
Historians believe the dolls were likely packed with supplies and shipped from Europe in the hope that Union troops would not inspect children's toys while looking for contraband.
The dolls were taken from their home at The Museum Of The Confederacy to next-door neighbours VCU Medical Center in Richmond, Virginia, to be x-rayed.
Secret agent: Nina lies on an imaging table at Virginia Commonwealth University's Medical College of Virginia
It's what's inside that counts: Left, an X-ray of Nina, and right, Gone With The Wind's famous embrace between Vivien Leigh's Scarlett O'Hara and Clark Gable's Rhett Butler - a blockade runner
The scans proved that the contours inside their craniums and upper bodies were roomy enough to carry the medicines, as was believed.
The next step could be forensic testing for any residual traces of the drugs.
The dolls were given to the museum by donors who said they were used to smuggle medicine past Northern blockades to Southern troops.
Nina was donated to the museum in 1923 by the children of General James Patton Anderson, who commanded the Tennessee Army of the Confederacy. She has red felt boots.
Truth or fiction? Medical staff discuss whether the dolls could have been used as legend would have it
Back to bed: Museum of the Confederacy collections manager, Catherine Wright, packs the dolls safely away after their hospital visit
Lucy Ann, who wears a salmon-colored cape and dress, was given to the museum in 1976 by an anonymous donor. She is adorned with a coral necklace.
Lucy Ann has an open gash on the rear of her bonneted head, possibly made when its contents were emptied. Nina was likely disassembled then stitched back together.
Museum officials have long believed the dolls were used for smuggling in the Civil War, but are now taking the necessary steps to try to prove it.
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The U.S. Civil War (1861–1865)
'In all of the research that I have been able to do, these are the only two confirmed smuggling dolls that I've been able to find,' said Catherine M. Wright, collections manager at the museum.
The X-rays were conducted as part of the museum's continuing research of its vast Confederate holdings, believed to be the largest in the U.S..
'People have been so interested in children's toys and dolls from the Civil War in general,' she said.
'The smuggling aspect is very captivating.'
'This has been really thrilling. It's not often that you get to research a topic that one else has ever worked with before.'
Wright carried the dolls, each two to three feet long, in a box to the radiology department of the hospital.Radiologists took images of each doll facing up, and then on their sides.
The ghostly images of the dolls' heads and shoulders, which are stitched to the bodies, revealed the cavities, and also the safety pins used to secure their clothing.
Whilst the museum knows the dolls 'stories', little of the fact about their service to the Confederacy has ever been proven.
One theory is that they were purchased in Europe, then shipped to a Southern port with the medicines stuffed in their heads to avoid detection by the North's blockade of Southern ports.
'The idea behind the smuggling dolls is that even if a ship was boarded and searched, it was unlikely that they were going to do such a thorough search that they would find this medication hidden inside of dolls,' said Wright.
Once the dolls reached a port, the powdered quinine would be pressed into pills for Southern troops.
Malaria was widespread among Union and Confederate troops. Some 900,000 Union troops contracted malaria during the war, leaving 4,700 dead, according to the Medical and Surgical History of the Civil War.
Statistics for Southern troops were not compiled but malaria was probably more widespread, said Robert Krick, a historian at the Richmond National Battlefield Park, which includes the site of the Confederacy's largest hospital.