Betty Hamby has more than 240 dolls in her Acworth home, but the dolls represent much more than a collection.
There are dolls that showcase moments in history, such as the Charles and Diana dolls that are dressed for their royal wedding, complete with real diamonds and gold on their clothing. The Diana doll’s dress has an 8-foot train. Hamby also has a Diana doll wearing a replica of the blue sapphire engagement ring that Charles, Prince of Wales, presented Lady Diana Spencer when they became engaged in February 1981.
There is a doll from the Titanic Pigeon Forge exhibit, dressed in the fashion of 1912, the time of the Titanic.
One of the more spectacular dolls is a Scarlett O’Hara doll from the movie “Gone With the Wind.” The doll is wearing a replica of the green dress O’Hara made from curtains in the classic film.
Hamby also has a doll that is the image of the Gerber baby found on baby food.
There are dolls from well-known doll makers such Madame Alexander and Lee Middleton.
Hamby has 27 original Cabbage Patch dolls, a Little Debbie doll, dolls from five countries, and Marie Osmond dolls. She also has Rapunzel, Anastasia and Ariel dolls.
Hamby has vintage dolls, such as a Patti Playpal doll, which was introduced by Ideal toy company in 1959. The doll is wearing her original dress. She weighs 18 pounds and stands 33 inches. The doll was originally advertised as being “as big as a 3-year-old.”
The costumes on the dolls are extraordinary, and Hamby has done an outstanding job maintaining them.
Besides being a source of history and beauty, the collection is a labor of love. The collection is a passion that keeps Hamby busy, and a testament to how much Hamby’s family loves her. Family members are always on the lookout for another doll to give to her. When Hamby describes the dolls, she can tell you who gave them to her and when.
The dolls do not always sit on a shelf. Hamby invites children from church in from time to time to play with some of the dolls.
She is running out of room to house more dolls, but the collection gives Hamby, her family, and the community so much joy, it seems likely that it will continue to grow.
By Jennifer Bonn, a teacher at Mount Paran Christian School.