It seems like there is something about Laura Ingalls Wilder’s writing that does compel people to try to find and possess a piece of “Laura World” as Wendy McClure calls it, by collecting physical things. Many of the things the Ingalls Family had were mass produced and therefore it is possible to find and buy the same or extremely similar things to those mentioned in the books and found on display in Laura’s last home in Mansfield, Missouri.
Laura’s Glass Bread Plate (famously featured in The First Four Years), a replica of Laura’s doll Charlotte, sunbonnets (worn on strings trailing down your back), and mounted twigs from the Ingalls Homestead Memorial Site in De Smet are common. Less common but still popular are the other pieces in Laura’s bread plate glassware, her china patterns and assorted knickknacks. My own collection also includes a lot of period things mentioned in the books, like a bullet mold, a butter mold, a Braille slate, autograph albums, etc.
However, I also own things like the relic pictured above. When Grace’s house was torn down some enterprising person connected with the Laura Ingalls Wilder Memorial Society in De Smet got a hold of some boards from the house sawed them up into thin slices and sold them at the gift shop. I also have a hunk of the Loftus Store wall which they also cut into pieces and sold when they cut through to join two store buildings. Plus wheat grown on the Ingalls Homestead and a shingle off Rocky Ridge, sadly this is off the second time they re-did the roof although the roof that was there when Laura was was also sold off a shingle at a time in their gift shop.
What’s the most unusual thing you have in your collection? Or what is still serving as your white whale? Currently I’m looking for just the right bear trap and a set of the character dolls created by California doll maker Barbara Brooks and described by Laura in the only known recording of her voice.
UPDATE: I appreciate the people who commented on the post with things in your collection. I’d have to say the only thing odder I’ve added to my collection is a paperdoll of me as Laura.
Sarah S. Uthoff is the main force behind Trundlebed Tales fighting to bring the History, Mystery, Magic and Imagination of Laura Ingalls Wilder and other greats of children’s literature and history to life for a new generation. Attend one of her programs, schedule one yourself, watch her videos, listen to her podcast, and find her on Facebook, Twitter, Google+,LinkedIn, and Academia.edu. She is currently acting President of the Laura Ingalls Wilder Legacy and Research Association. Professionally she is a reference librarian at Kirkwood Community College and director of the Oxford (Iowa) Public Library.