Readers ask about Tamu and Terri Lee dolls
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    Auction Finds

    Readers ask again about Tamu doll & Panther memorabilia

    Friday at Auction Finds is readers’ questions day. I try to guide readers to resources for them to determine the value of their items. I’m not able to appraise their treasures, but I can do some preliminary research to get them started. So, these are market values based on prices I find on the web, not appraisal for insurance purposes that I suggest for items that have been determined to be of great value.

    This week’s questions are from a woman trying to find a black Tamu doll for her mother, and a man with a truckload of Panther and other protest memorabilia.

    Tamu doll by Shindana

    A Tamu doll by Shindana Toys, an African American company from the 1960s. Pull her string and she speaks. This doll sold on eBay in April for $125.


    Hi Sherry! I just found your wonderful site while I was searching for a Tamu doll for my mother. I was wondering if you actually have one for sale or if you could give me some tips on where to locate one. I checked Ebay many times but I haven’t seen one. I’ve been looking for years! I’d appreciate any help you can offer, it’s been such an exhaustive search. Thank you!


    Thanks for visiting my blog. It’s tough trying to find black dolls. Ebay is still one of the best places to check. When I wrote a blog post in answer to a question about the doll last year, I found five of them that had been sold on eBay. So they do come up from time to time. Tamu was a stuffed cloth talker doll first made during the 1960s by an African American company named Shindana Toys of Los Angeles.

    You have to be both vigilant and constant about checking eBay. I found two identified as Tamu that sold for $65.99 and $125 on the auction site last April. Another sold for $10 in May, but the seller apparently didn’t know the doll’s name because it was not identified as Tamu. Another sold for $9.99 the same month (not sure it was a Tamu, which resembles Shindana’s Dee Bee doll). Someone was even selling a poor little Tamu who had lost most of her hair for 1 cent.

    Another doll that resembled Tamu was offered for $10 in June but did not sell. That one may still be available; email the owner to find out if it’s actually a Tamu (most of the ones I saw on the web had yellow cloth bodies) and still for sale.

    Be sure to check auction houses in your area (via and call to see if any of them holds doll auctions. Some actually have special doll sales, but again, not many black dolls are usually offered. Try searching Some vendors on the site also sell black dolls.

    By the way, what’s the story behind your wanting to find the doll for your mother. I’m trying to find black doll collectors and I’m also seeking people’s doll memories. I’d love to hear the memories of you and your mother.

    Emory Douglas Black Panther poster

    This Emory Douglas image of a young boy hawking a Black Panther newspaper from the early 1970s was first published in the Panther newspaper and then as a poster. It sold at New York's Swann Auction Galleries in March for $850. Photo from the gallery website.


    As a University of Wis-Madison student in the late 60s and early 70s, I collected hundreds of posters, leaflets, broadsides, and other protest material. I have saved it in excellent condition and it still amazes me. Many Black Panther newspapers & underground newspapers, too. I wonder what I should do with my collection but I also want to create an e-book. I have created a primitive DVD of some of the material, but I have too much stuff and I am struggling to organize. Any other ideas?


    I wish I had an easy answer for you. It seems that you have already gotten started with the DVD but are having difficulty finishing the task.

    Sure, it takes time to go through the hundreds of posters, leaflets and broadsides that you have accumulated, but in the end, the effort is worth it. Don’t think about organizing and cataloging it all at one time; the thought is both overwhelming and immobilizing. Do it in small manageable pieces until you get it all done.

    A friend and I offer a presentation called “Historical Treasures in Your Home” to help people catalog, research and determine the value of their items. Some of us have treasures that we assume are of little value, but we won’t know if they’re worth anything unless we go through them thoroughly.

    I know it’s tough. When I first started going to auctions some years ago, I bought box lots that included papers, books and documents. Now, I have too much of the stuff and I’m determined to go through it all bit by bit to determine what’s the best way to dispose of it.

    I’ve developed a guide that I wrote for a blog post and distribute as a handout at our presentations that offers a step-by-step procedure for determining the value of your items. With an inventory in hand, you’re in a better position to decide what to do with your collection. You don’t want to give it away for little or nothing only because you didn’t do the research.

    My suggestion: Catalog your collection and then research the value. You may find that you have material for more than one e-book. Then decide what you’d like to keep for yourself, what you’d like to donate to a museum or historical society, and what you can sell to bring in a little money or big bucks. You can sell your surplus items through a local reputable auction house (you can find one through or one with a national reputation like Swann Auction Galleries or on auction sites like eBay.


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