Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Product Review: Josefina's Writing Desk and Stand

So it's been a pretty exciting time in doll world! We've all seen the leaked pictures of Maryellen Larkin (if you haven't, go check them out on my and I must say-she is a beauty, from what I can tell. I am already saving my money for next month-the date I've heard is August 27.
Anyways, I realized as I went through my old posts that I have never reviewed any Josefina items. That's kind of odd, since Josefina is my main girl and the first American Girl doll I had. Josefina and I go way back-I remember reading her books in the school library (along with Sam, Addy, Molly, and Kirsten-still, I wanted Josefina) and I remember getting the catalogue in the mail and wanting her more than anything. I had never wanted a toy that much in my entire life! She was too expensive though-I got her at the ripe old age of 21.

The picture of her that I'm about to post is from the day I received her in the mail. I adore her.

Yet I haven't done any posts about Josefina. Not a product review, not a "who would they be?" post. Nothing. I'm not sure why that is.

Why do you ignore me? We're supposed to be close.

The future prediction posts are a lot of work to be honest-I put in research to write them up. I don't just write any thing I please on the blog. I wanted to go in order of release too. That means I have Felicity (with Elizabeth by extension) and Addy before I can get to Josefina. So I figured I'd better go ahead and do a product review.

Not too long ago, my husband gave me two things for our "little" anniversary (in the military you are often legally married before your wedding-we celebrate both, and call the date we were legally married the little anniversary). He gave me Felicity's Christmas outfit and Josefina's writing desk.

Both are great, but we're talking about Josefina.

The desk is lovely and a great example of craftsmanship. It is really detailed and just gorgeous. Here we go!


The stand is made of light wood, which I'm sure is meant to simulate pine. For all I know, the stand actually is pine. My set is sort of old, and I know Pleasant Company used a lot of authentic materials in their early pieces. It certainly feels like real wood. It has curved sides. It looks like something a man working on a ranch might make-it's beautiful, but it doesn't look so professionally done that I automatically believe it was made in a factory.

Whoever made this furniture, since he would have been working with basic tools (Josefina lived in a rural area), would have had to make do with simple designs. I think the basic structure of this stand is simple, but simple does not mean ugly!

The side of the desk while laid flat. You can see the graceful curves.

The top forms an "I" for the actual desk to sit on. This will later lead to the one complaint I have about this piece. I'll get to that in a moment.

 This is the base that the desk would sit on.
Writing Box/Writing Cabinet/Portable Desk:

The desk is actually a writing box. These were also known as portable desks, lap desks (this one is probably too big to be considered a proper lap desk), or a writing cabinet.

It's just a box meant to hold all of a person's correspondence. These boxes could then be taken from place to place. Transport of a box is obviously easier than transport of an entire desk. In the past, these would often be locked and have a key, for privacy. Josefina's desk does not have a lock or key, but I know that some did.

From the outside, the desk looks like a plain black box. Nothing special-the beauty is hidden.

Boring. That's just a plain black box. But wait...

When you open the lid, you see a desk with 4 little compartments on the top-Josefina or her Tia could easily fit pen nubs or whatever into these compartments.

I don't actually have Josefina's books and supplies, but I did buy her recently released bedtime accessories or whatever they're called. It's almost everything from her school supplies, plus Nina and the candle with candleholder. In later pictures, you'll see those displayed with the desk.

The back looks like a hand painted background with red, green, and yellow. Once again, beautiful, but not so perfect that I wouldn't believe an item like this would exist on an 1824 rancho in Mew Mexico. These are the details that I think are missing from the newly released stuff. I wouldn't be surprised if the stand was possibly made on the rancho and the box itself was imported and brought in on the caravan.

The back is supposed to have a chain attaching it to the rest of the desk, but mine is broken. It doesn't take away from the utility or beauty of the piece though.

See my broken chain right there? It's okay, but that's the price you pay for getting into collecting so late in the game!

When you pull the other black wall forward, you find two drawers. One drawer looks like three, but is really only one. This is actually one of my pet peeves with furniture, both human and doll. Why have a pretend drawer? I have a fake drawer in my apartment kitchen and I find it strangely irritating. Would it kill them to give me one more real drawer? I feel like I pay them enough for all my drawers!

The big drawer (the one that looks like three) can hold a fair amount of stuff. It has three compartments. Right now, I have the rancho ledger from her BeForever Nighttime Accessories in there. It could hold more. One compartment has a slanted bottom, but that could just be my set, and I'm inclined to believe it is.


The second drawer is a lot less deep but wider, without individual compartments. That currently holds her notebook. The bottom inside has the beautiful hand painted motif that I mentioned before.

Now on to my major complaint. The desk is just placed directly on the stand. There is no mechanism for attaching the desk to the stand when you place it there. This may be historically accurate, but I find it incredibly aggravating. If my cat so much as touches it with her nose (which she does) the desk falls off the stand. This thing was expensive! I don't want it breaking!

Remember this? So beautiful...yet so aggravating. 

Secondly-no chair is included. On the cover of Josefina learns a lesson, she is sitting at the desk. Yet-she doesn't get a seat. The rest of the dolls get to sit while they write, but not poor Josie. I guess you have to buy the New Mexican Table and Chairs to get a chair for her.

You can also see in the picture that there is a wooden part of the stand that is meant to slide out to support the bottom of the desk so that Josefina can actually write (see the light colored pine strip below the black box)-where else could she write? In the divided compartments? Yet that is not included on the stand, meaning the bottom just flops down, which sort of freaks me out to be honest. She couldn't write at this desk unless she placed it on top of the table, which negates the whole point of the stand.

I'm thinking that maybe the stand was used for storage and display. Whenever the writing box wasn't in use on the table, it was perhaps placed on the stand. That would make a lot of sense to me. Yet I expected differently because the illustration on the cover depicts it differently. Oh well.

You saw the ledger and the notebook displayed in the actual drawers. Now you can see the desk on the stand with the bottom flopping precariously down. On the top, I display the candle with candleholder and the green inkwell with pen. These aren't from the original school accessories-they are from the newly released bedtime set.

Josefina is dressed for summer!

I guess I can summarize my thoughts on this in this one sentence-Josefina's Writing Desk and Stand gets an A+ for beauty (I am hard-pressed to come up with an item released by American Girl that surpasses this in beauty) but an F for functionality. That averages to about a C. I don't regret buying it by any means-Josefina isn't real obviously, so she doesn't need a functional desk I suppose. It just would have been nice.

But overall, a beautiful item! It's obviously retired and sort of expensive. My husband paid $90 shipped for it on a Facebook Resale page. I'm a bigger fan of buying through those pages than going through eBay-you just have to hunt a little more on the pages.
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Before I go, I wanted to tell you about a post I'm working on: Pet Peeves in the American Girl Fandom. Boy, do I have a bunch! But I wanted to hear some other thoughts.
So what are your pet peeves in the fandom? Comment or send me a message on Tumblr! I will note the contributions of course! Thanks!


So, apparently, I was wrong and there are supports for the bottom of the desk. I'm an idiot. I still wish it came with a chair, but the desk is more practical than I realized. There are two beams that can pull forward, giving her a place to write. SMH at myself.

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