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My late father-in-law remembered seeing as a child two ex-soldiers from the Great War busking on the street corners of Birmingham. One with a piano accordion and the other with a jig doll dancing on a board taken from an orange box. In Bethnal Green Museum there is a doll made in the trenches of World War I, carved to represent "Tommy Atkins".

Limberjacks, or Dancing Dans, are the New World's version of the Jig Doll. Probably carried to America by early British settlers, they are regarded by many, particularly in the Appalachian Mountains as a classical American rhythm instrument.

Although having its roots in folk art the jig doll has been commercially made on two or three occasions, the most successful being Mr Jollyboy (patent number 7725) in about 1903. Written articles appear spasmodically in magazines and only one book (to date) has been published on the subject, Jig Dolls - The Brightest of Entertainers by Rennie and Pat Pickles.

John Palmer

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