Effanbee Doll Co. and their famous “Dy-Dee” Line

Hello, dolly friends and followers!  I am so very sorry to be running late with this month’s blog.  Mr. BabyBoomerDolls, as you know, had a stroke earlier in the summer and we have been dealing with some issues held over from that incident.  We have been and will continue to be making visits to specialists in order to get these issues ironed out.  We are very much aware that the outcome is far better than it could have been and are VERY thankful to be so blessed.  However, we would appreciate your thoughts and prayers during this time.  Thank you in advance.  I will keep you posted.  I appreciate each and every one of you and what you mean to me.  

Now, on to the subject of this month’s blog – “

The story of the Effanbee Doll Co. and its founders, Bernard Fleischaker and Hugo Baum, is quite a success story.  They were not dollmakers, just businessmen taking a risk.  Much of their positive outcome can be attributed to research and new ideas.  They studied the market, found what was popular and then added their own creations.

One of their most popular “inventions” was their “Dy-Dee” doll.  The darling was introduced in 1933, and the first examples had rubber bodies and rubberized composition heads.  The doll could be fed through her open mouth.  Tubing ran from the mouth to her buttocks where a plug allowed her to wet on demand.  


Controversial? Of course, it was.   Some adults described the doll as offensive, but many admired the realistic baby.  She became one of the best-selling dolls ever and played a major role in the Effanbee Doll Co.’s success.

The doll was offered for sale through the Montgomery Ward catalogs as well as retail stores.  They literally sold by the truckloads.  Every little “mama” in the land wanted one.

The early dolls had molded hair and molded ears, but by 1940 Effanbee had added applied rubber ears.  These are quite distinctive, making Dy-Dee dolls easy to spot and identify.  Molded hair could still be found, but by the  ’40s some models had lamb’s curly wool wigs.  

Following Effanbee’s success, other companies began producing their own versions of drink-and-wet dolls.  Collectors recognize the names of Ideal’s  “Betsy Wetsy” and American Character’s “Tiny Tears.”

Meanwhile, Mr. Fleischaker and Mr. Baum expanded their drink-and-wet doll line until the Dy-Dee family had multiple members.  Sizes and names differentiated the dolls. The 9-inch was “Dy-Dee-Wee” and the 11-inch “Dy-Dee-Ette.”  “Dy-Dee-Kin was 13 inches while “Dy-Dee-Baby” was 15 inches.  Other names in the line were “Dy-Dee-Kins,” “Dy-Dee-Jane,” Dy-Dee-Louise” and “Dy-Dee-Ellen.”  The largest size produced was 20-inch “Dy-Dee-Lou.”

Competition among manufacturers continued to bring changes.  The Dy-Dee bodies were updated and made of longer lasting materials.  The early rubber bodies are very hard to find; many of them melted or disintegrated over time.  The very early heads have no markings, and collectors often don’t recognize them.  Other innovations include dolls that would cry when a pacifier was inserted in their mouths, and a bubble pipe in some of the special layette sets allowed blowing bubbles with the squeeze of a tummy.  

Of all the drink-and-wet dolls, Dy-Dee had the most accessories available for separate purchase.  There was clothing of all types.  There was a deluxe bathinette featured in the 1946 Effanbee catalog.  There was also a diaper can complete with clothesline, clothespins, and soap for dirty laundry.

As special as Dy-Dee dolls were, American Character’s Tiny Tears became more popular during the 1950s.  Although no longer the most sought-after drink-and-wet baby, Dy-Dee continued in the Effanbee line throughout the 1960s and into the 1970s.

In 1984, Effanbee honored the Dy-Dee doll with a 50th anniversary commemorative edition.  Collectors could pick from two models, both made in vinyl and dressed in the famous Dy-Dee basic outfits.  One version had the old caracul-type hair and the other’s hair was molded.  The limited editions were introduced during the summer and available until October 31st, 1984.  

In 2002, Robert Tonner Doll Co. purchased Effanbee Doll Co. and has since produced some of the popular vintage dolls that made Effanbee one of America’s longest success stories.  Once again, there are Dy-Dee dolls on the market.  “Dy-Dee Baby Holiday Sweetie” came in time for Christmas 2005 and a limited edition of 500 “Dy-Dee Babies” with layettes was available in 2006.

“Dy-Dee” has had many years of popularity amongst the little girls and now amongst the doll collectors!  If you have one of these dolls in nice condition, you indeed have a treasure.  They are so sought after that collectors will even purchase them in less than good condition.   The above photos are of the only Dy-Dee doll presently in my collection.  

I hope you have enjoyed the brief history of Effanbee’s Dy-Dee Line.  Until doing this research,  I had no idea that there were so many of the dolls in the Dy-Dee line.  

I hope to be back on schedule next month with getting the blog out….until then, enjoy this beautiful autumn season, stay well,  and most of all be kind to one another!  





Do You Have a Favorite Doll?

 A favorite doll, do you have a favorite doll? Or perhaps a favorite brand of doll…do you have a favorite brand?  As doll lovers we all seem to have some dolls that we like just a little more  than others.  I don’t really think I realized this about myself until just lately.  A good friend of mine sent me a photo of a Toodles doll and her comment was: “Anytime I see a Toodles doll, it makes me think of you.”  I found that to be a wonderful comment, but it also got me to thinking.  I began looking at my doll collection and notices just how many Toodles dolls (and different types of Toodles dolls) I own.  I was slightly stunned, and no, I’m not going to disclose that number (giggle).  When I come upon a Toddles doll, I try my best to rescue her and to give her a second round of bringing joy to doll lovers.  I’ve opened with those few statements to follow up with the following…

In 1955, the American Character Doll Company introduced the “Toodles” multi-jointed plastic doll.  The doll was able to “kneel, sit, and play in some 1,000 different positions.” Toodles became a big seller for American Character, including its associated products like “Toodles Toddler” (1955-1959), “Teeny Toodles” (1959-1960), and “Tommy Toodles” (1959-1960).

A brief description of the Toodles dolls:

  • Teeny Toodles (1959-1960) was 11″ tall, vinyl five-piece jointed doll
  • Tommy Toodles (1959-1960) was 22-23″ and marketed as Toodle’s Brother
  • Toodles (1955-1960s) was 19-30″ plastic multi-jointed doll
  • Toodles Toddler (1955-1959) was 19-1/2″, 21″ and 24″ vinyl multi-jointed doll also known as “Toodles the Action Doll”

1955-1960s American Character Toodles Doll was 19-30″ tall, hard plastic multi-jointed body including the elbows and knees, rooted or molded hair, flirty sleep eyes, drink wet doll, open mouth, the 1960-1961 Little Girl Toodles doll has teeth and an open mouth.  Toodles can kneel, sit, play and assume 1,000 different positions.  Some rare early dolls are marked Toodles, others were marked: AM, Amer9, American Char. or unmarked.

1955-1959 Toodles Toddler doll, 19 1/2″, 21″, and 24″ tall, vinyl head, flirty eyes, with multi-jointed body including elbows and knees; Toodles the Action Doll, Toodles with Poodle, and Toodles with her three-way Super Kart.

1959-1960 Teeny Toodles doll, 11″ tall, all vinyl, molded or rooted hair, drink and wet, five-piece jointed body.

1959 American Character Toodles doll, 19, 23-24 or 26″ tall vinyl head with rooted short curly hair or braids with curly bangs hair, flirty sleep eyes, real upper curly eyelashes, drink wet doll, open mouth, five piece plastic jointed body with straight legs, walker doll, doll came dressed in several different outfits, doll marked Amer. Char. Doll Corp. circa 1960.

1959-1960 American Character Tommy Toodles doll, 22-23″ tall, Toodles brotherwith lightly molded and brown painted hair, jointed five-piece toddler body with straight legs, flirty sleep eyes with real brush eyelashes, drink wet doll, open mouth, dressed in a blue and white striped short sleeve shirt, blue suspended shorts, white rayon socks and white shoes, doll marked Amer.Char. Doll Corp.

I was thinking I had all the Toodles dolls listed, there are still more which date back to the early 1930s!

1931-1937 American Character Toodles doll, 18″ tall, composition head with molded painted hair, green sleep eyes with special mechanism so the eyes only sleep when the doll is lying down with the head turned to the left, flex-o-flesh body with metal steel frame support, open mouth with tongue but no teeth, rubber bent arms and rubber bent baby legs.  doll is marked on head Petite, doll marked on body with a horseshoe symbol Petite, Pat. Pend.

1937-1949 American Character Toodles doll,  17″ tall, made of life like rubber composition parted head and limbs, cloth stuffed body, mama crier and a drink wet doll with a rubber tube inside the body.  Has molded painted hair, sleep eyes, open mouth with no teeth showing, wore a sheer baby gown and had a glass bottle with nipple, doll is unmarked. American Character named several dolls Toodles over the years.  Note:  If your doll is marked in script Toodles,it is by the Atlas Doll & Toy Company.

Toodles has basically been around since the early 1930s.  However, Toodles as we know her today has been loved by many since the mid 1950s.  I guess I relate to Toodles because she comes from the same time period as when I was growing up, she is a classic baby doll, and she has both the size and many of the movements of a real baby.  I love all my dolls, but I must admit that Toodles is a favorite.  So…I will ask again – do you have a favorite doll?  (smile)

I realize that this is a lot of facts and dates, but it just goes to show that even at her age, Toodles is still very much a classic!  There are many of us who collect and love her for many different reasons.  I guess you might even say that she is “timeless.”

That is a brief run of the “genealogy” of one of my favorite dolls – Toodles.  I hope you have enjoyed this brief condensed version of Toodles and her family tree.  Note that all photos in this piece were taken by me, and at the time the photos were taken, each doll belonged to me.  

Until next month, stay well, smile, and most of all be kind!  I appreciate those of you who are here with me and your kind support.




MANY thanks to YOU!


Hello to friends, followers, and Dolly Friends!! I am so happy to be here with you today!  I’m sure there are some of you out there who have noticed that the blog post is late this month.  Yes, yes, it is.  Those of you who know me know that being late is not something I do without an extremely good reason….so please bear with me while I write this blog.  Usually I research something that is of interest to me and that I want to share with you.   While I had started that research, I will save it for another time as I feel this is more important.  So, let me give you a little back story…..


The week of Father’s Day, I noticed my left foot begin to swell and to turn a nasty shade of blue not to mention that walking was becoming difficult.  This was an inconvenience I was not happy with.  I slow down for very little and I thought  just give it a few days rest and it would feel better.  Not so.  Begrudgingly I called the Ortho doctor in Kentucky and made and appointment for that week.  X-rays were made and sure enough – I had a broken foot!  How did I do this they asked.  I had no idea.  Didn’t it hurt they asked?   It might have, but I probably paid little attention and kept on going.  I wasn’t a lot of help.   What were my options at this point?  They suggested crutches, a cast, a boot.  My first question was if there were any other ideas.  Yep!  That’s how I roll.  So with a promise of keeping my foot elevated, ice and heat, and a brace they released me and instructed me to come back if it was still hurting in 4 weeks.  Little did I know…


Little did I know that the Saturday morning before Father’s Day that my husband, the love of my life, would have a stroke.  This was devastating because I was well aware of what the outcome could be and that our whole lives could be altered in just this brief moment.  Time spent in the local emergency room, a helicopter life flight to a stroke unit in an Indiana hospital,  several days in the hospital would be how the next days would play out.  My mind kept telling me that I should be really shook up, but my heart was at peace with the situation this whole time.  I believe God was at work on our behalf.  We had a team of doctors and nurses that were second to none.  The only bad thing to be said about this hospital stay was that the food was B A D!

Once later that night when all was quiet, I took to my phone and began to text friends and family of the news.  All were so supportive.  Now, you have to know that I am a very private person by nature.  I don’t know why or where it comes from but that is a big part of my character.  As I sat there watching my husband and praying for the restoration of his body, again, I’m still very calm.  Bear in mind that I’m tired but calm.  Doctors came in regularly letting us know what the next steps were and what tests would be used to determine the cause and the damages done.


As most of you already know, I have an Instagram account that I visit and post on daily.  It brings me great joy to interact with what I lovingly term “my tribe” and those who are like-minded.  Knowing how much I care about these people and that they care about me, I gave them a brief  run down of what had happened.  Again – not like me!!  But somehow it felt good to share with those people.  I was absolutely stunned at the number of messages and responses that came back within hours (and are still coming daily) asking about Mr BabyBoomerDolls and offering their support and prayers.  Let me tell you  that these are good people (friends) who will take the time to reach out to someone that they have never met face to face and support them with their prayers and friendship not just once but almost daily.  They genuinely wanted to know how Mr BBD and I were doing. There were not a dozen or so or even a hundred messages.  There were well over 1400 messages.    It still makes my eyes leak to think about that.   I read each of those messages to my husband and I think I answered them all.  If I missed one, please forgive me – total oversight.  Those messages caused us to smile and gave us strength and brought joy to our hearts.  It often felt as though we had angels gathered around us and praying for us.  


Yes, I am a woman of faith.  I care not what your faith is or what you believe or  put your faith/confidence in.  I do, however, care about you as a person and a friend.     Your beliefs  are between you and your god, but your show of love and concern touched our hearts in a way that is almost indescribable .  Reaching out and helping a fellow human in  time of  distress says that there is still good in the world no matter what the nightly news reports. You made a lasting impression that we have shared so many times with so many.  Thank you!!


We left the hospital with lots of PT, OT, and speech therapy sessions set up for us locally.  Some days we had two therapy sessions per day at the local hospital, not to mention the therapy we were doing at home on our own.  We were very determined to do our part to help bring the skills that had been compromised by the stroke back.  I am both thankful and proud to report that prayers were answered and Mr BBD is doing extremely well.  He still tires easily, but the doctors say that is part of the healing process.   Trying to ease back into daily life was sometimes a strain.  But again, messages from those of you kept us encouraged.  


Oftentimes, when the house was quiet, I found myself needing something “just for me.”  I found that release in my doll collection.  For me, there is joy in having those dolls in my hands working on them, repairing them, making them pretty.  Sometimes it was no more than 20 minutes at a time, but it was like my very own therapy session.  There was comfort there.  It was just me and the dolls.  I have always laughed and said that they know all my secrets.  It is for sure that they do now!   I have read many articles on therapy dolls.  I have always been amazed by that process.  I can say that holding those familiar little faces in my hands and straightening their clothing was definitely therapy for me.  It was a time when I could do something that I greatly enjoy and that was familiar to me.  It allowed what was to seep back in to the temporary state we were in and feel normal  again.  


Please bear with me for just a bit longer….obviously, I hadn’t done what I had promised the Ortho doctor I would do.  Even though, I had made that promise faithfully, I couldn’t keep it because I was literally on my feet for weeks looking after my husband.   So…I went back to the Ortho doctor last week.  I walked out of that office with a boot on my left foot – sometimes I have to be slowed down whether I like it or not.  My foot is getting better and looks like just a couple more weeks with “the boot” should put my foot back in good shape.  


Last weekend we had family visiting from Virginia.  To see my husband playing in the yard with our grandchildren was such a blessing!  To hear him speak clearly is music to my ears.  He has done very well and has amazed the doctors.  


I told you this story not to “preach” to you, but to thank you for what you mean in our lives.  To encourage you to continue to reach out with encouraging words to those who need encouragement.  Stories such as this should not go untold.  In our eyes, you were all a part of this story in some way or form.  There are good people all around us and those who need our love and encouragement all around us, too.  We may not know who they are, but they are there waiting for a smile or a kind word or deed.


Many thanks from Mr BabyBoomerDolls and myself.  We are so proud to be a part of the doll collecting family.  We appreciate each of you.  

Hugs to you,

Lynn & Mr BBD 

Memories of a Vintage Doll

Hello, Friends & Followers!  I am happy to be here with you again!  I hope you are enjoying the summer and all the activities!  This post is very dear to me and I hope you will enjoy it.  


Virginia.  Her name was Virginia.  She was beautiful with soft pale skin and beautiful red pigtails, and she had just a handful of freckles scattered across her little button nose.  And she was mine.  She was my little girl that took me everywhere with her, told me her secrets, shared tea parties with me, and snuggled me close at night.  She was mine and I was hers.  We were inseparable.  

I had been a birthday gift for her 6th birthday from her Granny.  I remember the joy on her face when she opened the package that held the box I was in.  I can’t recall who was happier  that day – me or Virginia.  From that day forward, we were together constantly.  

She washed my face every morning and combed my red tresses in a style just like hers that day.  Granny had made us matching dresses for each day of the week and they all matched the shiny red shoes we both wore daily.  She pushed me around the yard in my stroller and took me for rides on the swings.  We had daily tea parties and peanut butter cookies under the willow tree in the back yard.  We read books and played games.  I was just like a real little girl to Virginia.  I was much more than a doll.  I was a dear friend.  She had named me Kathryn, but she called me Katie.  

We grew up together for the next several years.  We celebrated Christmas and Birthdays together.  There was always a place for me at the table, and everyone in the family knew me by name.  When Granny made Virginia a new dress, she made me a matching one.  When Virginia got new shoes, she always got the red shiny ones just like mine.  We were peas in a pod, Virginia and I.  I even got to go on vacation with her family!  Not only did I have my own little girl, but I also had a family.  I was the happiest of dolls!  

Virginia was going to turn 10 years old soon.  We were busy making party decorations and hats for the guests to wear.  We had made invitations for several of the other little girls in the neighborhood.  Virginia’s mother had bought brightly colored balloons that had happy birthday printed on them.  There were streamers hung around the dining room and chairs around the table enough for all the guests and Virginia and I.  In the very center of the table sat the most beautiful white cake with pale pink roses around the edges that had “happy 10th birthday Virginia” written on it.  This was going to be the most glorious tea party we had ever had.  The whole house was buzzing with excitement over Virginia’s birthday party.

That afternoon around 2:00 o’clock, Virginia placed me in the chair right beside hers at the party table.  The doorbell began ringing and each time it rang, in came a beautiful little girl with a beautiful gift wrapped for Virginia.  The doorbell rang one, two, three, and finally there were seven little girls around the party table with Virginia and I.  I noticed some whispering going on between the little girls and they were looking at me and giggling under their breath.  Virginia noticed too…finally one of them giggled and said, “Oh, Virginia, you’re much too old now to play with that doll.”  I wasn’t just a doll.  I was her friend.   She would never get too old to play with me.  But while all the little girls were laughing and playing party games, Virginia quietly moved me from my seat at the table to a chair over in the corner of the room.  I watched the rest of the party from the corner – all alone.  Being a doll, I couldn’t cry, but I could feel my heart breaking and didn’t understand what was happening here. 


In the days to come, Virginia’s mother helped Virginia to place her new gifts in an orderly fashion in her bedroom.  There was a big troll looking doll and she sat him in my rocker right next to Virginia’s.  That had been my spot since Virginia’s 6th birthday…There were too many toys and the room looks cluttered announced Virginia’s mother.  She made straight away to the attic and brought back a big box.  She instructed Virginia to put some of the older toys into the box to be taken to the attic for storage.  Virginia did as mother asked.  Whew!  I was still safely sitting in the center of Virginia’s bed.  Mother came back shortly and asked Virginia if she had everything ready to go to the attic.  Virginia nodded and pointed to the box in the center of the floor that was teeming with older toys and games that now seemed baby-like for a 10 year old.  Mother picked up the box and started out of the room, then looking back at me, she said, “You’re getting too old to play with dolls, Virginia.  Let’s put Katie in the box and take her to the attic for safe keeping.”  I could feel my heart sink.  

It was happening.  I was on my way to the attic with all the other toys that were no longer going to be played with.  Mother announced on her way up the stairs that these could be sold at the neighborhood yard sale.  She plopped the box down in the far corner of the attic.  She promptly went downstairs with her heels clicking on the wooden steps and I heard the door solidly shut.  It was dark up here and I didn’t have the safety of cuddling next to Virginia.  I knew that soon she would be up to get me when she realized the mistake that had been made.  I waited for what seemed like days, and still Virginia didn’t come to retrieve me.  I could hear her sweet voice talking to the troll doll…tears stung my eyes.  Days turned to weeks, weeks to months and months to years.  The box was so far in the corner that everyone had forgotten it was there.  That meant that I was just a memory in some old photographs by this time.  

Sometimes the attic was frigidly cold and sometimes it was sweltering hot.  Those are not very good conditions for a beautiful doll such as myself.  My hair began getting dusty and my  curls were drooping.  My beautiful dress was creased and wrinkled and my shiny red shoes were no longer shiny.  What was happening to me?  I finally closed my eyes and took a long nap hoping that when I awoke I would see this had all been a bad dream.  

I awoke to the sound of the attic door opening and footsteps on the stairs.  There stood mother with her hands on her hips as if looking for a place to begin.  Behind her stood a beautiful young lady that reminded me of my Virginia, but she was much taller and thinner and didn’t have on the red shoes like mine. Had I napped that long?  Had Virginia grown up?  The two began hauling boxes from the attic down to the garage.  I overheard them talking that there was going to be a yard sale….whatever that is.  Boxes full of things accumulated over the years began to line the wall along the floor of the garage.  Soon the boxes were emptied and items place on tables with stickers on them that were “prices.”  What was a “price?”  I would find out soon enough.  

Once that day, Virginia picked me up and I recalled her warm hugs.  She held me close and reminisced  of the good times we had shared so many years ago.  Surely she would have missed me and save me from this terrible thing called a yard sale, but no.  She placed me back on the table and put a sale price on me!

Early the next morning, the garage door went up and there were so many people outside in the driveway.  Some were carrying chairs and games, and there was a lady carrying the pillow from off Granny’s sofa! Those were all items from our home.  They were trading money for them and taking them off to their own homes.  I was beginning to understand the meaning of a yard sale.  It was very scary to me. 

It was getting early in the afternoon and a lady with a kind face and red curly hair walked past the table on which I sat.  She walked on by and quietly turned around and picked me up.  Her hands were smooth and her grasp was gentle.  She asked how much is this doll?  She was told that it was late in the day and everything on that particular table was on sale for one dollar.  She reached into her bag and handed Virginia’s mother the dollar bill.  She held me at arm’s length and smiled and down the driveway we went to her parked car.  I watched as Virginia’s face faded in the distance.  That was the last time I would see my Virginia.  Little did I know what was in store for me.

We reached the lady’s car and she sat me in the front seat and put a strap around me to hold me in.  This was certainly a lot different that the stroller rides I remembered.  I watched the houses and unfamiliar streets breeze past the windows.  Finally we pulled into a driveway and stopped.  She picked me up and carried me in to the most beautiful house.  It had beautiful colors on the walls and paintings.  It was a far cry from the attic where I had been for the past several years.  She took me to the back of the house to a place she called her workshop.  She began to explain that she loved dolls and that she collected them.  She hung up her coat and picked me up.  We went to the next room and she turned on the lights.  I could see all the beautiful dolls in their beautiful dresses and hairstyles.  Some were set up on rocking horses, some were having tea, others were playing London Bridge.  She showed me around and smiled and gave me a hug. ” Soon, you too, will live in this room with all the other beautiful dolls.  I was very uneasy with that as I felt old and frumpy not to mention dusty from the attic.  I was pretty sure I wouldn’t fit in here…. You are such a beauty, I think I will call you Katheryn.”

Back to the workshop we went and a flurry of preparations began.  I had a warm, soapy bath to get the years of dust off of me.  She washed and set my hair.  She picked out a new dress for me and it was one that matched my  red shoes!  She cleaned and buffed them and made them shiny again.  I began to feel safe and even loved again that afternoon.  She worked nonstop on me for two days all the time saying that I was going to be pretty again.  I was beginning to have hope again.  She kept saying that she was a doll collector and loved to restore vintage dolls and that I was a perfect doll for restoration.  She kept saying that I was going to be beautiful again almost as though she was trying to convince me.  When she was all but finished, she tied a beautiful bow in my hair.  She stood back and looked at me and smiled a very contented smile.  She said the bow in the doll’s hair is always the final step of the restoration and it was like putting a crown on my head.  She proudly proclaimed me PRETTY once again.  We went past a mirror on the way back to the room where the beautiful dolls were and I caught a glimpse of myself as we went by.  She was correct!  I WAS pretty!  And there were my shiny red shoes on my feet just like always.  

The kind lady found just the right spot for me in what she called her doll room.  I loved it there.  Everyone was so nice and the lady assured me that I had a forever home there with her and the other dolls.  Evidently doll collectors keep their dolls for a very long time.  Every afternoon she came in and had tea in the arm chair in the corner.  She talked to each of us and reminded us of how very special we were to her.  Occasionally she would bring in another doll, but there was always room for one more and we knew we were all loved.  

I occasionally still think of Virginia and our years together, but I always look around the room at all my dolly friends and rest easy that I now live with a doll collector and I will always be loved and appreciated.  


Well, that’s it for this edition of BabyBoomerDolls.net.  I will look forward to being with you again soon. Stay well.  Stay safe.  Most of all, be kind to one another!





SO Many Reasons Why We Like to Collect Dolls…

Hello!  I’m happy to be back with you here again!  Tomorrow will be June 1st!   We will soon be into the full swing of summer fun and activities here in the Midwest, USA.   I hope the weather is nice in the area that you call home.  In recent weeks, I have been asked on several occasions “why do I like/collect dolls?”  To me, it seemed like an odd question as many people collect many different things in life.  After giving the subject some thought, I came up with several “reasons” why people collect dolls.  Please grab a cool drink and sit for just a moment to read through this post to see if any of the ‘reasons” fit you…..

You’re in GOOD company if you love to collect dolls of any kind.  “Doll People” are good people.   Some famous people, such as actress Demi Moore and actor Johnny Depp, collect dolls.  Some collect dolls because they are full of personality and charm.  You may collect purely for investment purposes.  After all, an original and mint condition G.I. Joe doll can bring in a pretty penny, as can a rare, vintage, or designer Barbie doll.  You probably already know that not all dolls are worth a fortune, so there may be other reasons behind your collecting – such as…..

You Love Antiques – Some of the most beautiful antiques are dolls.  Antique dolls are also accessible and can be kept in small spaces and moved when necessary, unlike a large piece of antique furniture.  Antique dolls can also be affordable.  China, or porcelain dolls from the mid-1800s can be relatively inexpensive to collect.  If you love antiques of all kinds, dolls can fit in well with other collections such as vintage toys, trains, and Christmas items.  It is widely debated as to what makes a doll antique.  In general terms, a doll that is at least 100 years old is considered to be antique.  A doll manufactured before 1960 may be called vintage.  Finally, a doll made between 1960 and 1980 might be considered a modern collectible.  

You’re a History Buff – You may just love historical items.  Dolls from various eras are considered iconic.  Consider a Barbie from 1966 or a bisque doll made in either France or Germany during the 1800s.  You may find it appealing to focus on one time period in history and the dolls that were manufactured then.  Visiting doll museums and attending historical lectures can give you great pleasure.  Studying up on dolls from your favorite era can offer you a wealth of knowledge.  

You Love Vintage Fashion – Oftentimes, it is a love of vintage fashion that calls to doll collectors.  Through dolls, you can collect fashion history.  You might be drawn to outfits with hoop skirts, pantaloons, layers of outerwear, formal gloves, and hats.  Or you may adore the mod look of vintage Barbie dolls in mini-skirts.







You Like Sewing Costumes – Costuming is a skill you can use on dolls.  You may love to sew literary-era costumes,  simple baby doll or children’s play outfits for your dolls.  You can find a plethora of sewing patterns available for dolls of all types, from American Girl to Barbie to Patti Playpal to antique dolls.  Finding miniature and to-scale materials, buttons, and trim is half the fun.  

Nostalgia Warms Your Heart – You may have come into doll collecting after coming across a group of your childhood toys.  Nostalgia may have hit you hard! Some collectors fervently try to find and replace lost childhood toys and dolls to honor their youth.  It can be a poignant moment when recapturing the joys of your childhood.  

Dolls Brighten Up Christmas – If you collect vintage or antique Christmas ornaments, you may also collect equally ornamental dolls.  Dolls can make beautiful displays under or next to  a beautiful, dazzling Christmas tree.  

Dolls Soothe Your Soul – Dolls can look so lifelike that they can soothe your emotional needs.  If you are feeling lonely or grieving, the presence of your doll collection can make you happy.  Sometimes a collection of dolls helps you uncover and let loose emotions that need to be expressed.  If you’ve ever talked to a pet before, you will understand the power of having a doll nearby when you are feeling a bit blue.  

Dolls Fit With Your Decor – You might like decorating with dolls.  A single doll is a dramatic accessory that can become the focal point in a room.  A period doll in a room decorated from the same era is an especially thoughtful decorating touch.  You might prefer placing a larger, almost life-size doll on an antique chair that you want  to preserve.  Or, organizing a larger collection can make a classic backdrop to a room.  A display of Barbie dolls dressed all in red ball gowns can make a striking collection, for example.  

You’re Carrying On a Tradition – There are people who have inherited an estate from a mother, grandmother, or other beloved family member who was an avid doll collector.  You may have strong feelings of keeping the collection rather than selling it.  Continuing the collection, researching the origins, and identifying the value of the dolls can be a way to honor and to feel close to a cherished family member.  

You Just Think Dolls Are Cute – Many dolls are cute.  Remember the Cabbage Patch Kids?  What is considered cute to one collector may not be to another.  Sometimes miniature dolls are sweet.  Or how about the pouting face of another stye of doll?  As human beings, we are drawn to cute items and objects.  Cute dolls can fill you with joy, make you smile, and bring out your most tender and compassionate feelings.  

Celebrity Dolls Are Fun – A celebrity doll is created in the likeness of a famous person.  The concept is actually much older than most people think.  Commemorative dolls celebrating the birth of royal babies and marriages of royal couples are common.  Today, many collectible dolls in demand are celebrity dolls modeled after singers, actors, and dancers.  You will find vintage dolls that look like Shirley Temple, Cher, Dolly Parton, or Marilyn Monroe, for examples.  There are even celebrity Barbie dolls, the first one was a likeness of a supermodel, Twiggy, and produced in 1967.  

So, let me ask you….did you see yourself in any of these scenarios for being a doll collector?  I honestly found myself in several of these reasons for doll collecting, depending on the doll being collected.  For whatever the reason you collect dolls, whether your collection is large or small, dolls are something that bring joy to our hearts.  They pull us together as a “tribe” if you will.  As I stated early in this post – doll people are good people.  We all have our own personal reasons for our collecting of dolls.  To me, one of the most important reasons not mentioned is preserving that antique, vintage, or modern collectible doll….they may produce copies, but the originals are pieces of doll history and deserve being preserved.  

Well, that wraps up the BabyBoomerDolls post for June.  I hope you have enjoyed it and I hope you could find yourself in at least one of the reasons that dolls are collected.  Enjoy your dolls!  Share your passion for collecting with others!  Enjoy the hunt for that special doll!  

Until next time we are together…Be Safe.  Stay Well.  Most of all Be Kind.  Share your smile with someone today!

Big Hugs,



Penny Dolls vs Frozen Charlotte Dolls

Hello, my dear doll friends!! May has finally arrived and hopefully Mother Nature has gotten the memo that here in Southern Illinois, USA, it is time for the temperatures to begin to warm consistently.  Thus far, it is still in the mid thirties at night.  I’m over that!  I am ready to get outside and play in the dirt!  It is odd that we should be chatting about cooler temperatures, as today we will touch briefly on Frozen Charlotte dolls.   Won’t you join me for just a few minutes and put your feet up with a hot cup of tea and “Let’s Talk Dolls!”

Are you familiar with the term “Frozen Charlotte” dolls?  These beautiful and slightly creepy pieces of Victorian history came in a variety of styles and sizes, and have a notoriously dark origin history story.  The tale goes like this: a young woman Charlotte wanted to attend a New Year’s ball on a particularly cold night.  She insisted on traveling in an open sleigh so she could show off her beautiful gown, despite her mother’s many warnings and pleading advice to dress more warmly.  Foolish and vain, Charlotte disobeyed her mother and froze to death on the sleigh ride to the ball.  

The bleak story of Frozen Charlotte originated in a New York Observer article in 1840 that described the frigid death of a real-life young woman somewhere in upstate New York.  Over the next few years, there were some songs and poems that helped to further the popularity of the story, and soon it caught fire in America.  The story has a clear and easily-understood moral:  listen to your mother and don’t be vain.


By the time the small, white porcelain dolls were introduces to the United States by Germany in the mid 1800s, they were quickly and commonly dubbed “Frozen Charlottes” – except….they weren’t.  It is a complete historical inaccuracy.  There is not a single reference of these porcelain dolls being called “Frozen Charlottes” in the entire 19th and early 20th centuries.  This is remarkable, considering the near-universal belief that this time period was the origin of the dolls’ name.  

It’s commonly accepted that these dolls were instructional tools, physical representations of the consequences of parental disobedience.  It’s widely believed that Victorian children were well-aware of the origin story of these dolls and played with them nonetheless.  After all, many aspects of Victorian culture are openly macabre and death-obsessed, so this grisly historical narrative isn’t entirely outlandish.  But…it doesn’t change the fact that it is false.  All mentions of these dolls from the time period call them “penny dolls,” not “Frozen Charlottes.”  So when did the name we use today actually become connected to these  little porcelain dolls? It was likely coined by doll collectors as late as the mid-1940s. when mentions of “Frozen Charlotte dolls” in ads, newspapers, books and magazines skyrocketed, and soon became the common way to refer to these Victorian playthings.  


So, while it makes a compelling and delightfully morbid origin story, none of the children who actually played with these dolls knew of a connection between their favorite toy and a foolish young woman’s frostbitten corpse.  And even though they have lost a bit of their historical creepiness, don’t let that stop you from being excited if you find one of these small porcelain dolls.  They’re still strangely beautiful, wonderfully creepy, and rare – plus if anything, this small scandal of historical inaccuracy makes them even more interesting!

To be a Frozen Charlotte, the body of the doll must be frozen – no jointed arms!  The Frozen Charlotte doll is made in the form of a standing, naked figure molded all in one piece.  These dolls may also be described as pillar dolls, solid chinas, or bathing babies.  The dolls range in size from under an inch to 18 inches plus.  They are also made in bisque, and can come in white, pink-tinted, or, more rarely, painted black.  Male dolls (identified by their boyish hairstyles) are called Frozen Charlies.  


The dolls I have more of are actually “Penny” dolls with the easiest to find on the market are from Japan but there are wonderful versions from Germany and France as well.  These dolls are usually made in bisque and are painted in bright colors.  Since the bisque is not fired a second time after painting, the paint wears off easily.  Value is more based on details, condition of paint and arm positions, with crossed arms being the most unusual.  The dolls were often sold in sweet shops for a penny – thus the name.  The dolls were also sold in theme sets such as a wedding party complete with  a little church or a group of cowboys, cowgirls, and Indianas.  It is more difficult to find these still in sets, but they do occasionally show up.  These are fun to collect since there are so many fun varieties out there.  Mine are on  display in various ways around the doll room so that I can enjoy them.  They are small and fit in many places and make a nice addition to a little vignette.  


So, this is just a brief history lesson on Penny Dolls vs Frozen Charlottes.  I hope you have enjoyed it and that the story of “Frozen Charlotte wasn’t too creepy for you.   I will take some photos of my Penny dolls to display here in this blog.  I hope that you will enjoy them!  These dolls are something I have collected since I was a young child.  My paternal grandfather bought me my first one and I was hooked!

The next time we are together, the weather should be a little warmer (at least here).  Until that time, be happy, stay well, and most of all be kind!

Big Hugs




Uneeda Doll Company

Hello, Dolly Friends!  I hope this finds each of you and yours doing well.  Today is April 1st.  Hopefully spring and warmer weather is around the corner here in Illinois.  Has the weather been nice where you live?  Personally, I am ready to get out in the yard and play in the dirt.  

I have been doing research for this blog post for several days now.  I’ve always been fascinated by Madame Alexander and her doll company.  Out of curiosity, I thought I would do some research on another doll company.  This month we are going to talk briefly (and yes, it will be brief because there isn’t a lot of information out there) about Uneeda Doll Company.  Grab your coffee and put your feet up and join me  for just a few minutes.  “Let’s talk dolls!”

The Uneeda Doll Company has existed in one form or another for over a hundred years.  The company initially made cloth and composition dolls.  They are best known for the vinyl dolls produced in the 1950s and ’60s, including Dollikin, Wishnik trolls, Pee Wees, and Miss Suzette.  

The company was founded in New York City in 1917.  They were one of many firms that saw an opportunity during WWI to fill the void left when German dolls became unfashionable, and then unavailable.  Uneeda manufactured mama dolls with composition heads, as well as other styles of composition and cloth dolls.  Business was good, and in 1927, the company moved to larger quarters.  

Uneeda’s golden age began in the mid-1950s with an era of innovation.  They produced a line of baby dolls that could move and make sounds when squeezed.  Dollikin was a high-heeled glamour doll with multiple joints that could assume many different positions.  They also copied best-selling dolls by other manufacturers.  Tiny Teen was a knockoff of Ideal’s Little Miss Revlon, and Toddles copied Ideal’s Patti Playpal.

In the 1960s, Uneeda began outsourcing the manufacture of its dolls to Hong Kong and other countries.  The New York factory was still used for assembling and packaging some of the larger dolls.  The Company’s biggest success came with its Wishnik trolls, which debuted in 1964.  They were made in a large range of styles and sizes.  Wishnik was the company’s most recognized brand for the next three decades. Do any of you remember having these little trolls with their big noses and long, brightly colored hair?  I just remembered that I learned to braid hair by practicing on one of these.  (LOL!)  In 1996, Uneeda lost the right to make Wishniks after the copyright was restored to the heirs of the designer, Thomas Dam.  That same year, the company, which had been named  Uneeda Doll Co., Inc. was reorganized as Uneeda Doll Co. Ltd.  It changed ownership several times in the next twenty years.  

Briefly, the Uneeda Story:

For over 100 years, the Uneeda Doll Company has been putting smiles on children’s faces with its lovable dolls.  With its mission of making children happy, Uneeda Doll has been manufacturing dolls with excellence and efficiency since 1917.  Their well-made dolls include baby dolls, fashion dolls, soft infant dolls, walkers, electronically functioning dolls, accessories and outfits, gift sets, and infant learning and play toys. 

Uneeda Doll Company was founded in 1917 as stated earlier.  The company produced dolls that were “well-made and reasonably priced.”  In the 1930s, Uneeda Doll was advertising over 400 doll models from 14 to 28 inches tall.  In 1939, the company even created a Rita Hayworth doll as Carmen.  It was a 14″ doll with a fully jointed body, long lashes, smokey eye shadow and a red mohair wig.  Over the years, other types of dolls were included.  Later Uneeda was known as the Tony Toy Company of Hong Kong.  Uneeda Dolls are often unmarked or marked with Uneeda inside a diamond, U or UN or (later dolls) with Tony Toy Co Hong Kong, in the marking. In 1991, the company closed. 

The Uneeda motto was “A Uneeda Doll is a gift to be treasured.”

Now granted, I’m primarily a Madame Alexander or and Ideal doll lover, so looking through my doll collection, I could find very few Uneeda Dolls.  I have included photos of my Uneeda Dolls to share with you.  Do you have many Uneeda Dolls? If you would like, please reach out to me on my IG account and share photos of your Uneeda Dolls. 

I told you when I started writing this that it would be short and sweet.  At any rate, my Baby Dollikin Dolls are some of my favorites.  They are a nice size and have wonderful flexibility.

When we get together again, it will be warmer weather!  Flowers will be blooming and I can make doll photos outside! YAY!!!  Until then, stay safe, stay well, and above all be kind.  Thanks for being here with me!






This Vintage Doll’s Popularity Just Keeps Growing and Growing

I’m happy you’re here with me today!  Can you believe it is already March?  I’m so glad to see the bulbs begin to peek their heads above the cold ground.  It reminds me that spring is on the way and soon the yard will be scattered with spots of beautiful, bright colors from those bulbs.  Are you looking forward to spring?  Where ever it is you call home, I hope the weather is nice.  This month we are going to talk about a doll that is so very popular right now.  Can you guess?  Well, grab your coffee and put your feet up for just a few minutes and “Let’s Talk Dolls.”  Without a doubt one of my favorite subjects!

How many of you have a Thumbelina doll (or more than one)?  Do you remember Thumbelina from your childhood?  She varies in size, has rooted hair, painted eyes, and a cloth and vinyl body.  She has a round knob on her back which, if you’re lucky enough to have one that still works, will make this doll move gently.    This movement is meant to imitate a wriggling baby.   Some dolls may also walk, cry, or blow kisses.   This chubby cheeked doll was made by the Ideal Toy Company beginning back in 1961 and continuing into the 1976. 

Thumbelina’s playful face and body were a big hit in many households across America.  Thumbelina is still so popular right now that she has her own Facebook group, Ideal Thumbelina Doll Family and Friends.  The group consists mostly of women exchanging beautiful and spectacular photos of their own Thumbelina dolls in many adorable outfits. 

So, WHY is Thumbelina named Thumbelina? Think back to your fairy tales…you will remember.  Thumbelina comes from the Hans Christian Andersen’s story about a thumb-sized girl.  Ideal created different versions of this doll.  There were newborn, tiny, and toddler models with sizes ranging from 9 to 20 inches.  Most had blonde hair and blue eyes, but others had brown hair and green eyes.  Moveable, sleep, and fixed, painted eyes were common among models.  Hairstyles were either a pixie or a bowl cut.  Back in the day, (when I was a kid) you could find these dolls at most department stores, including Kresge’s (anyone remember Kresge’s aka the Dime Store??) Spiegel, and Montgomery Ward.   In addition, television commercials during children’s programming advertised Thumbelina dolls. 

Thumbelina dolls appealed to children because they are the same size a real babies and had realistic movements.  Thumbelinas are among the best-selling baby dolls in toy history and beloved among doll collectors.

As the years passed, many variations of Thumbelina were introduced with different outfits and accessories like cradles, rocking horses, and even Beetle cars.  Ideal was bought out by CBS Toys in 1982 and eventually became a subsidiary of Mattel.  Therefore, Thumbelina dolls from the 1980s onward have different composition and manufacturing.  When Thumbelina was reissued in the 1980s, the company added an African-American version of Thumbelina for the first time. The 1980s Thumbelina dolls are the only lines that include African-American models.   

  • The first Thumbelina doll was 20 inches, and a 14-inch Tiny Thumbelina came shortly after.  The Newborn Thumbelina was from 1967 and was 9 inches tall.  Other Newborn Thumbelina dolls were made until 1970.  
  • Ashton-Drake licensed a 10-inch Newborn Thumbelina under Mattel.  There is also a Newborn Thumbelina doll in a Christening Dress. 
  • The 19-inch Bouncing Baby Coos dolls are from 1962 and 1963.  Due to the short production span, original Baby Coos doll are considerably rare.  Baby Coos dolls have a yawning Thumbelina face mold and a serial number but no movement or sound mechanisms.  
  • The Thumbelina Snoozie doll had sleep eyes.
  • The Bye-bye Thumbelina came with a special VW-type car with the winding knob on the trunk.
  • The Sister Thumbelina dolls were from 1968.  They were either blonde or brunette. 
  • The Toddler Thumbelina dolls were “early walkers” that came in standard or “jingle” versions.  Accessories included a walker, a rocking horse, and Jingle versions had bells attached to their socks.  
  • Kissing Thumbelina had a spring-activated arm that mimed blowing a kiss once wound, and Tearful Thumbelina was a crying doll.  
  • The 1976 Wake Up Thumbelina was a doll that responded to a pat on the back.  The touch activated a mechanism that made the doll wiggle, turn its head upward, and roll onto its back.

The Thumbelina dolls with cry boxes had a hold in the ear.  If operable, the sound came out of the ear hole when the pull-string was activated.  The string was the movement mechanism instead of a knob on later dolls.  Therefore, the ear hole is a more reliable identifier.  Ashton-Drake and Tycho released reproductions of Thumbelina dolls. The name “Thumbelina” has since been used by different doll manufacturers.  

Ideal Thumbelina Dolls – Marks

The Ideal toy Corporation marked each Thumbelina doll with a serial number and tag.  The head mold has the serial number at the base of the neck.  The letters “OTT” are followed by a number for most dolls.  On the other hand, the Thumbelina Snoozie and Baby Coos dolls have “YTT”before the number.  The first numbers represent the doll’s height in inches.  The Thumbelina dolls’ cloth bodies often have tags.  The tag has the name of the doll.

Well, as you  can see, Thumbelina has quite a history!   Now as doll collectors many of us strive to find a Thumbelina doll that looks just right and will still wriggle.  For me, I searched for years and more years for Baby Coos.  I would still be searching if a friend hadn’t let me adopt hers.  That doll is among one of my most cherished for many reasons.  Each of our dolls had a story to tell before we adopted them, and that story will continue long after someone else adopts them.  I’ve often wondered what stories they would tell if they could talk…

So, the next time we are together, it will be April!  Until that time, please stay well, stay safe, and be kind to others.  Your smile may be the only smile someone sees today.  Make it count! 

Warm Hugs,




**All photos were taken by me and the dolls photographed belonged to me at the time photos were taken.**


Madame Alexander Has Earned Her Place in the Hearts of Children, Doll Collectors – and in History


Hello dear friends!  I’m happy you are here with me again today!  The holidays are now in the rear view mirror and we are almost through the first month of 2023.  I hope you and yours are well.  The research for this post has been lengthy and I even thought of dividing it up into two posts, but decided to make it just one.  So – grab your hot tea or coffee and “Let’s Talk Dolls!”

I have heard people ask if Madame Alexander is a real person or just the name on the end of the doll box.  Yes!  She was not only a real person, she was considered a true American original – an iconic figure in the world of toys as unique as the dolls she created.  As a pioneering businesswoman and exquisite doll designer, Madame Alexander shaped the doll industry with her revolutionary innovations and vibrant vision.  She embodied a bold spirit and a classic sense of style that she poured into each and every doll created for the Madame Alexander Doll Company.  She viewed dolls as a valuable learning tool that could teach children empathy, compassion, and responsibility.  This passion to make high-quality dolls that could be played with and loved led her to create the premier American doll brand that we still know and love today.  

The doll play we know today, we owe to Madame Alexander.  Madame’s earliest contribution was inspired by her time spent as a young girl in her stepfather’s doll hospital, where she saw many beautiful porcelain dolls in constant repair.  During a time when breakable, porcelain dolls were the standard, she fashioned a cloth doll that was meant to be both beautiful and to be played with.  But that was just the beginning…Madame brought to life literary characters and notable people in a way not previously done before.  An era of toy industry firsts cemented her legacy as the mother of all modern doll play.  

Madame Alexander Pioneered Many Industry Firsts

1895 Born

1912 married Philip Behrman

1923 Established Alexander Doll Company; Replaced typical porcelain with cloth to encourage play, then went on to innovate with materials throughout her career

1930s Created the first toys with officially licensed tie-ins to entertainment properties: Alice in Wonderland, Gone With the Wind, and Little Women among them         Popularized “sleep eyes” – the innovation that allows dolls to close their eyes

1936 Created the Scarlett O’Hara doll

1937  Created the first doll of a young Queen Elizabeth to commemorate her father’s coronation 

1942 Introduced Jeannie, one of the industry’s first walking dolls 

1947 Created the first plastic face mold, changing the doll industry forever

1951 Won the first of four consecutive Fashion Academy Gold Medals for design

1953 Developed a 36-doll series to honor the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II

1955 (One of my favorites) Debuted Cissy, the first fashion doll in America

1957 Introduced Cissette, a 10-inch version of the popular Cissy doll 

1988 Officially retired and sold Alexander Doll Company

1990 Died

Madame Alexander was Creating a Better World, Not Just Better Dolls

Madame Alexander believed in furthering compassion, empathy, and meaningful relationships through doll play and creativity.  Nearly a century later, the Madame Alexander Doll Company continues to honor her originality, vision, and purpose of making the world a kinder place.  

Born more than a century ago, Madame Beatrice Alexander Behrman is still a role model for girls today.  Founding her company in 1923, Madame set out to create her own success through unmatched quality and ambition.  As the daughter of two immigrants, Madame defied expectations and stereotypes to become a successful businesswoman in a world filled with businessmen.  Her passion for literature, art, and culture combined with her love of dolls earned her numerous awards over her lifetime.  Not only was she dedicated to her craft, she was also a dedicated mother who envisioned a better future for all women.  

After 100 years in business, the Madame Alexander Doll Company is devoted to carrying on Madame’s mission of creating beautiful, quality dolls that deliver invaluable play experiences for children and inspire passion in collectors.

All of the above information will serve as an “outline” for the history of Madame Alexander Doll Company.  Now we can fill in the blank spaces with the details….

Madame Beatirce Alexander Behrman

(1895 – 1990)

Alexander Doll Company

Madame Beatrice Alexander Behrman, often referred to simply as “Madame Alexander,” became know as the First Lady of doll making of the twentieth century.  Her innovative, high quality dolls new first introduced in the 1920s, and over the next 65 years, Alexander designed a wide array of highly popular dolls that remain valuable collectors’ items.  

Beatrice Alexander Behrman was born on March 9, 1895, in Brooklyn, New York as Bertha Alexander – a name she later changed because she thought Beatrice sounded more sophisticated.  Her mother, Hannah Pepper, was born in Austria and lived in Russia for a time before immigrating to the United States as a young woman to escape Jewish persecution.  There are two stories that circulate among Alexander’s descendants regarding her mother’s early life.  Regardless, it is certain that Alexander’s mother was widowed and married again shortly after arriving in the United States.  Maurice Alexander, another young Russian immigrant, became Alexander’s much-adored step-father and the man she always considered her father.  The family, including Alexander’s three sisters, Rose, Florence, and Jean, grew up in the center of New York’s thriving immigrant community of the Lower East Side on Grand Street.

Alexander was introduced to the world of dolls in infancy.  In the same year as her birth, her stepfather opened the first doll hospital in the United States.  By the time she was eleven years old, Alexander knew she wanted to enjoy the finer things in life, often dreaming of riding in a carriage wearing a hat with ostrich feathers.  



Shortly after graduating from high school as  valedictorian on June 30, 1912, Alexander married Philip Behrman.  In 1915, the couple’s daughter, Mildred, was born.  Alexander’s life was disrupted by the onset of  U.S. involvement in WWI.  Her family remained physically safe, the economic impact was devastating.  Because most of the dolls (and doll parts) were manufactured in Europe (primarily Germany and France), the source of dolls dried up as did the market for doll repair.  With the future of the doll hospital, and her parent’s financial well-being, highly uncertain, Alexander became determined to keep the family business open.  

Soliciting the help of her three sisters, Alexander began sewing cloth dolls to sell in her father’s shop.  The dolls, made of inexpensive cloth rather than expensive and often unavailable  china, were a great success and provided enough additional income to keep the doll shop open during the war years.  The first doll designed by Alexander was based on a Red Cross nurse, thus drawing on the common national interest in the war effort, and foreshadowed Alexander’s life-long ability to select models of her dolls that appealed to the general public.  

In 1923, Alexander secured a $1,600 loan and established the Alexander Doll Company.  Thus she began her career as the world’s leading lady of dollmaking. 

Over the next 60 years, Alexander Doll Company grew from four sisters sewing around the kitchen table to a  multi-million dollar business, the largest American doll company and the largest employer on the Lower East Side.  The Madame Alexander Doll Club was formed in 1961, with membership growing to over 12,000 by the early 1990s.  At some point, probably during the 1920s, an advertising executive who thought Alexander looked French dubbed her “Madame Alexander,” a name of honor that remained throughout her lifetime. 

Alexander remained actively involved in her company into the early nineties.  However, during the 1970s, she gradually turned over daily operations to her son-in-law, Richard Birnbaum, and grandson, William Birnbaum.  She spent more and more time at her second home in Palm Beach, Florida, making rare appearances on the company’s behalf.  At the age of 93, Alexander sold her company to private investors, and she officially retired, although she did maintain a primarily honorary position as design consultant.  Two years later, on October 3, 1990, Alexander died in her sleep at her home in Palm Beach; she was 95 years old.

Alexander was attentive to the minutest details of her dolls’ features: “I didn’t want to make just ordinary dolls with unmeaning, empty smiles other painted lips and a squeaky way of saying ‘mama’ after you pinched.  I wanted dolls with souls.  You have no idea how I labored over noses and mouths so that they would look real and individual.”  Alexander also introduced the use of rooted hair, sleep eyes, and walking dolls. 

As just a little fun fact – Alexander made headlines again in 1955 when she introduced the world to the 20- inch Cissy doll, the first full-figured, high-fashion doll, complete with high heels and lacy undergarments.  Cissy, on the market four years before Barbie, caused a stir and became an overwhelming success.  Cissy was followed two years later by a 10-inch version, named Cissette.  Alexander boasted in a promotional brochure, “Cisette is jointed at the knee, hips, shoulder, and neck, and is so exquisitely modeled that she looks like a real person, tiny and perfect.”  These dolls, considered the hallmarks of the Alexander Doll Company, had their own catalog that offered innumerable accessories, including a complete wardrobe from hats and shoes to lingerie, casual wear to formal wear, and brass furnishings such as a bed, dining table and chairs, and a tea set.  

Alexander was also pleased by the collectors’ desire for her work.  “Doll collectors are highly cultured people who have the capacity to appreciate my work.”

Alexander had a complex relationship with her social and business surroundings.  On one hand, she was a great woman entrepreneur during a time when the business world was unaccustomed to female competitors.  Alexander built her doll company into a multi-million dollar business.  Until her retirement, Alexander ran her company with an unfailing sense of style, business sense, and independence.  On the other hand, even though she as a pioneer for women’s place in the industry, her products often left her at odds with the growing feminist movement, who viewed the pretty dolls as a step back for women’s rights and self-worth.  Alexander argued strongly that the dolls provided positive roll models for girls, teaching them how to love others and themselves.  Nonetheless, her love of high fashion and pretty hats with ostrich feathers did little to endear her to the feminist movement. 

At its peak, the Alexander Doll Company employed some 1,500 people at numerous factories and produced over a million dolls annually, with annual sales topping $20 million   by the mid-1980s.  The company’s most popular doll, the 8-inch Wendy doll was introduced in the 1950s.  Madame Alexander Dolls take up to three weeks to craft by hand and are the foremost collectible dolls in the world.  The company introduced more than 5,000 different dolls. 

So, this has been a brief rundown of the 100 year anniversary (1923-2023) of the Alexander Doll Company and the achievements of a talented, determined woman with a vision.  I hope you have enjoyed it!  *All photos used in this post were taken by me, and the dolls belonged to me at the time photo was taken.*

Until we get together again, stay well, stay safe, and be kind to one another!




Toodles and the American Character Doll Company

Hello  fellow doll collectors!  I’m so glad you’re here!  This will be the last post written for 2022…this year has been a difficult one here due to learning the ropes of taking care of an aging parent.  It has totally been new ground!  But I am learning.  The prospect of a New Year and the opportunities it offers is a exciting time!  There are so many new ideas percolating inside my head.  Wherever you live, and whatever your plans for the new year, I pray health and happiness over you and those you love.  May the coming year bring much joy into your life!

We still have a few fleeting hours of 2022, so “Let’s Talk Dolls” for just a bit.  Grab your coffee/tea and put your feet up for just a few minutes.   Taking down the holiday decorations and the laundry can wait for just a little while.   I want to hit the high points of one of my very favorite dolls and a little history of the company that created her.  Today we are going to talk about the American Character Doll Company

The American Character Doll  Company was and American toy company specializing in dolls.  Their most popular dolls included “Tiny Tears,” “Tressy,” “Butterball doll,” “Sweet Sue,” and “Toodles.”  Founded in 1919, the company’s fortunes peaked in the mid-20th century, as they sold literally millions of dolls exclusively to retailers and mail order houses such as Sears and Montgomery Ward.  The company was the first to produce mass-marketed rubber dolls in the United States.  American Character Dolls went bankrupt in 1968, with their assets being acquired by the Ideal Toy Company.  

The high points of the company’s history include that the company made the news in 1937 when it was ordered by the Federal Trade Commission to stop claiming that its patented “paratex” (a hard rubber made from a “secret formula”) was superior to composition dolls which were popularly made by American Character’s competitor the Ideal Toy Company.  American Character switched their formula from composition to their branded “Paratex” in the mid-1930s.  

By 1967 the company’s fortunes were in decline, with unsecured claims said to be approximately $1.4 million.  Settlements were arranged in March and June 1967, and the company continued to operate on a limited scale.  Shortly thereafter, in 1968, American Character Dolls filed for bankruptcy and went out of business.  Molds for some toys were sold to Mattel and Ideal Toy Company, which acquired the defunct company’s dyes, patents, and trademarks.  

Now that you have a brief history of the American Character Doll Company, let’s backtrack just a bit to 1955 to when the company introduced the “Toodles” multi-jointed plastic doll.   The doll was able to “kneel, sit, and play and some 1,000 different positions.”  Toodles became a big seller for American Character, including its associated products like “Toodles Toddler” (1955-1959), “Teeny Toodles” (1959-1960), and “Tommy Toodles” (1959-1960).  

Just a brief description of the Toodles dolls:  

  • Teeny Toodles (1959-1960) was 11″ vinyl five-piece jointed doll
  • Tommy Toodles (1959-1960) was 22-23″ marketed as Toodles’ Brother
  • Toodles (1955-1960s) was 19-30″ plastic multi-jointed doll
  • Toodles Toddler (1955-1959) was 19-1/2″, 21,” and 24″ vinyl multi-jointed doll also known as “Toodles the Action Doll”


1955-1960s American Character Toodles Doll was 19-30″ tall, hard plastic multi-jointed body including the elbows and knees, rooted or molded hair, flirty sleep eyes, drink wet doll, open mouth, the 1960-1961 Little Girl Toodles doll has teeth and an open mouth.  Toodles can kneel, sit, play and assume 1,000 different positions.  Some rare early dolls are marked Toodles, others were marked : AM,  Amer 9,  American Char.  or  unmarked.

1955-1959 Toodles Toddler doll, 19 1/2″,  21, and 24″ tall, vinyl head, flirty eyes, with multi-jointed body including elbows and knees; Toodles the Action Doll, Toodles with Poodle, Toodles with her three way Super Kart.  (I loved this description as it almost made her sound as a super hero action figure.)

1959-1960 Teeny Toodles doll,   11″ tall, all vinyl, molded or rooted hair, drink and wet, five piece jointed body. 

1959 American Character Toodles Toodles doll,  19,  23-24  or 26″ tall vinyl head with rooted short curly hair or braids with curly bangs hair, flirty sleep eyes, real upper curly eyelashes, drink wet doll, open mouth, five piece plastic jointed body with straight legs, walker doll, doll came dressed in several different outfits, doll marked Amer. Char. Doll Corp. circa 1960.

1959-1960 American Character Tommy Toodles doll,  22-23″ tall, Toodles brother with lightly molded and brown painted hair, jointed five piece toddler body with straight legs, flirty sleep eyes with real brush eyelashes, drink wet doll, open mouth, dressed in a blue and white striped short sleeve shirt, blue suspended shorts, white rayon socks and white shoes, doll marked Amer. Char. Doll Corp.

Just when I thought I ALMOST had all the Toodles dolls listed, there are still yet more which date back to the early 1930s!  

1931-1937 American Character Toodles doll,  18″ tall, composition head with molded painted hair, green sleep eyes with special mechanism so the eyes only sleep when doll is lying down with head turned left, flex-o-flesh body with metal steel frame support, open mouth with tongue but no teeth, rubber bent arms and rubber bent baby legs.  Doll is marked on head Petite, doll marked on body with a  horseshoe symbol Petite, Pat. Pend.

1937-1949 American Character Toodles doll,  17″ tall, made of life like rubber composition paratex head and limbs, cloth stuffed body, mama crier and a drink wet doll with a rubber tube inside the body or all paratex.  Has molded painted brown hair, sleep eyes, open mouth with no teeth showing, wore a sheer baby gown and had a glass bottle with nipple, doll is unmarked.. American Character named several dolls Toodles over the years.  Note:  If your doll is marked in script Toodles,  it is by the Atlas Doll & Toy Company.

Well!  That is the high points of the history of the American Character Doll Company as well as the “genealogy” of one of my favorite dolls – Toodles.  

This was an enjoyable blog to write even though it required lots of date checking and descriptions.  I definitely found out things that I wasn’t aware of.  I hope you, too, have enjoyed this brief condensed version of Toodles and her family tree.  

The next time new are together, it will be 2023!  I wish you all the very best in this coming new year!  Stay well, smile, and most of all be kind!   I appreciate each of you being here with me and your kind support.  

**All photos were taken by me.  At the time photos were taken, each doll belonged to me.**