When explaining why he chose to use Tatung Co’s anniversary dolls to court his wife 10 years ago, 37-year-old Lee Chun-wei said that the commemorative dolls are one of his wife’s happiest childhood memories. Upon discovering that his girlfriend was so fond of the dolls, he immediately started collecting them in hopes of winning her hand in marriage. Starting with the doll from 1980, that his wife still treasures so dearly, the couple has already collected 80 dolls. They also collect imitations of the dolls, which have Common Era years painted on the doll’s chest. His wife sometimes gets jealous because he cherishes the dolls so much. Someone once offered Lee NT$100,000 for the entire collection, but he adamantly refused to sell.
Lee said his wife has liked Tatung dolls ever since she was a child, and that she still laughs out loud every time she spots one in a TV commercial and cries as soon as the commercial ends. A bunch of the dolls released in 1980 are stacked on their TV set. Always close to them, the dolls in the end became part of the family after they were wedded.
Lee said that Tatung Co started producing the dolls in 1969 to celebrate the company’s 51st anniversary. The company releases a new model of the rubber-made doll each year, and the only thing that noticeably changes is the number painted on the doll’s chest which represents how many years the company has been in operation. Everything else about the dolls stays about the same. The only time production of the dolls has ever significantly decreased was in 1982 during one of Taiwan’s worst economic recessions. For the following two years manufacturing of the dolls ceased entirely, and only resumed in 1985 for doll no. 67. Due to the minuscule production during those years, the 64 and 67 dolls are the most valuable, each doll worth between NT$30,000 and NT$40,000.
1. commemorative adj.
紀念的 (ji4 nian4 de5)
例: The government released a commemorative
coin to honor those who died in battle.
2. peruse v.
仔細研究 (zi3 xi4 yan2 jiu4)
例: I perused the shelves at the supermarket for a while, but never found what I was looking for.
3. invariably adv.
一定地 (yi2 ding4 de5)
例: A student who never studies for an exam will
invariably fail it.
In order to expand his collection, Lee often visits places in the countryside or military dependents’ villages, where they are usually easier to find. He also frequents flea markets and antique dealers, and never passes up a chance to peruse the Tatung service stations, which every small town invariably offers. It was not until Lee finally opened up his own shop in Taitung that he started putting the dolls on display for others to see.
(Liberty Times, Translated by Taijing Wu)