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.**







Our Beloved Kewpie

Hello, dear friends and followers!  By the time you read this post, it will be November!  Seems as though this year has swooshed past and left me in a whirlwind!  I hope you are all doing well and are healthy!  This post we will briefly dig into the come-up-ins (I’m not sure that is even a word, but I’ve heard my Granny use it all my life!) of our beloved Kewpie doll.  Most of us know the background stories of Rose O’Neill, but the roots go just a little deeper.  Grab your favorite coffee/tea and put your feet up for just a few minutes and “Let’s Talk Dolls!”

Kewpie is a brand of dolls and figurines that were conceived as comic strip characters by cartoonist Rose O’Neill.  The illustrated cartoons, appearing as baby cupid characters, began to gain popularity after O’Neill’s comic strips in 1909.  O’Neill began to illustrate and sell paper doll versions of Kewpies.  The adorable characters were first produced as bisque dolls in Germany, beginning in 1912, and became extremely popular in the early 20th century.  

The Kewpie dolls were initially made from bisque exclusively, but composition versions were introduced in the 1920s and celluloid versions were manufactured in the following decades.  In 1949, Effanbee created the first versions of the dolls, and soft rubber and vinyl versions were produced by Cameo Co. and Jesco between the 1960s and the 1990s. 


As demand for the Kewpie characters increased, George Borgfeldt & Co. in New York contacted O’Neill in 1912 about developing a line of dolls and figurines.  O’Neill agreed, and J.D. Kestner, a German toy company located in Walterhausen, set forth to manufacture small bisque dolls of the Kewpies.  After manufacturing the first run of dolls, they sent samples to O’Neill, who disapproved of the design because she felt they “did not look like her characters.”  O’Neill traveled to Germany and had the company destroy the moulds of the dolls, and oversaw the final redesign of them, working with a 17-year-old art student named Joseph Kallus.  The dolls were then released in nine different sizes ranging from 1 to 12 inches in height.  These early Kewpies wore a heart- shaped decal on their chests, which read “Kewpie, Germany”, and some had jointed arms.  Many of the original German Kewpies were signed by O’Neill herself.  Some were even featured in different poses.  

The small dolls became an international hit, and by 1914, O’Neill had become the highest-paid female illustrator in the country garnering a small fortune from the wild popularity of the dolls.  The Kewpie brand soon became a household name, and was widely used in product advertising, including promotion for Jell-O, Colgate, Kellogg’s Corn Flakes, and Sears.  The Kewpies also appeared as a brand on a multitude of household items and other memorabilia, such as dishwater, rattles, soap, pepper shakers, coloring books, poetry collections, and stationery.   O’Neill also used the characters to famously promote the women’s suffrage movement, using the illustrations in slogans and cartoons.  

After WWI began in Europe, production of the bisque Kewpie dolls moved from Germany to France and Belgium, due to the rising tensions.  Around this time, the dolls also began to be produced in the United States being made of composition material rather than the bisque, due to the bisque’s fragility.  The manufacturers also began o increase the size of the dolls, producing 22-inch versions in addition to the 12-inch versions.  The American composition dolls also had the distinctive heart- shaped decal on the chest.  Like the original bisque Kewpies, some of the composition Kewpies were also hand-signed by O’Neill.


In the mid-1920s, small sized celluloid  versions of Kewpies appeared, and were often given out as prizes at carnivals.  Many of the celluloid versions were mainly manufactured in Japan, unlicensed, and were of a lower quality than other Kewpies.  

As photographs became more popular in advertising, the prominence of Kewpies in the marketing circuit began to wane. O’Neill returned to Missouri where she died of complications of a series of strokes in 1944.  Despite the lessening in popularity, Kewpies continued to be manufactured for the majority of the century.  those included plastic versions, as well as all-bisque replicas of the original Kewpies produced by Jesco and Cameo Co.  in the 1960s-1990s.  These reproduction copies lack the heart-shaped decal that distinguishes the original, older versions.  

Now, you have the basic history, let us step back for just a moment….In 1911, O’Neill advertised for a sculptor who could translate her Kewpie design into a doll form.  Joseph Kallus, a 17-year-old student at Pratt Art Institute, applied for the assignment and became a life-long associate of Rose O’Neill.  He sculpted the models for the first bisque and celluloid Kewpie dolls that were made in Germany in 1913.  

In 1925, Kallus founded the Cameo Doll Company and produced many dolls from his own design.  His creations were made into dolls by other firms.  Kallus designed Scootles, Joy, Margie, Pinocchio for Ideal, Miss Peep and others.  She, Rose O’Neill died in 1944, she assigned all merchandising rights to Joseph Kallus.  In 1969 when Kallus retired from active participation in the doll industry, he licensed Strombecker and later Milton- Bradley Company to manufacture Kewpie.  The Kewpie and Cameo properties now belonged to Jesco Imports, Inc., of Los Angeles, CA.

In 1982, Nancy Villasenor, the President of Jesco, met with Joseph Kallus to discuss the Kewpie properties.  In the spring of 1982, Nancy went to New York to meet with Kallus, then age 89, to discuss licensing arrangements for making Kewpie dolls.  Kallus saw in Nancy a person who would do with Kewpie as he had done.  He said he was not interested in making money at his age as he was continuing in the traditions of excellence that had always been associated with Kewpie and the Cameo and he thought that Nancy would do this.  Kallus agreed to assign all the right to Kewpie and the rights to Cameo design to Nancy Villasenor when he realized her business goals equaled his.  She was committed to developing a business based on quality toys for the quality toy market.  

After Kallus and Villasenor had concluded the initial part of their business arrangement, Kallus was injured in a traffic accident and died suddenly.  Rita Abaraham, Kallus’ daughter, who had no interest in her father’s designs met with Villasenor when she went to New York to supervise the transportation to California of the original Kewpie and Cameo molds.  Mrs. Abraham wanted Nancy to have the 12 trunks of Cameo design dolls, clothing patterns, and Rose O’Neill art work that Mr. Kallus had sorted in his apartment, along with many boxes of files and business records.  

Villa seniors first Kewpies released in 1983, were a re-issue of the 27-inch Kewpie of 1966.   “Yesterday’s Kewpie,” a 16-inch dressed un outfits from the past, and “Kewpie Goes”… a 12-inch series in theme oriented clothing designs.  

The re-issued Kewpie from 1966 for collectors as made by Jesco is slightly smaller than the original version.  This is because the older version was made from a stock body and legs, whereas the Kewpie made by Jesco is cast from Kallus’ original molds.  Villasenor stated that, “It would have been more cost effective to make new molds, but we were committed to using the original molds as we promised Joseph Kallus.”

Villasenor has given up much of her European product import company to concentrate on developing and manufacturing Cameo designs by Joseph Kallus.  Said dolls are manufactured in California, from American components.  Jesco promised to pursue the directions relating to Cameo dolls, continuing the tradition of Joseph Kallus.  Doll design, development and manufacture will expand in both areas.  Jesco does not take any short-cuts, such as using cheaper blow-molded doll bodies.  Jesco’s attitude is that its growth pattern should be for “better dolls,” not “more dolls.”

In addition to the return of Kewpie for 1983, Jesco has also developed a series of 15 high-quality dolls in the selection called “Cameo’s Storybook.”  These are familiar characters from children’s fiction, like Goldilocks, Sleeping Beauty, and Pinocchio.  Doll collectors and children of all ages are delighted that Kewpie is back again – and back to stay at Jesco.  

Okay, friends, that is the history of Kewpie up to and through the early 1980s.  Obviously there is more to follow, but for the sake of time, we will pursue that on another post.  I hope you have enjoyed this synopsis of Kewpie History.  I must admit that I truly enjoyed researching the information to put this blog together. 

Until we are together again, stay safe, be  well, and most importantly BE KIND TO ONE ANOTHER!



The Legacy of Eloise Wilkin and Baby Dear

Dear Friends and Followers,

By the time this post is published, it will officially be FALL!  For many this is a favorite time of year with all the beautiful, warm colors, the falling leaves, the cozy sweaters, and of course the Pumpkin Spice!!   Do you have a favorite characteristic of this gorgeous season we are entering?  I would love to hear about it!   In the meantime, have  a cup of coffee or hot tea and “Let’s Talk Dolls”…..


Those of you who have followed my IG account, BabyBoomerDolls, and read my blog,, know that  baby dolls from the 1950s and 60s era are among some of my very favorites.  I was redressing and repositioning some dolls in my collection this week and I noticed that there are several Eloise Wilkin dolls AND look alikes in my collection.  With that being said, I thought we would take a brief glance at the life of Eloise Wilkin.  She was a fascinating woman of many talents that have endured the test of time for many decades.  Grab your coffee/tea and put your feet up for a few minutes and enjoy the background history of one of my favorite dolls – Baby Dear.  

 Eloise Margaret Wilkin was born Eloise Margaret Burns on March 30, 1904.  She was an American illustrator best known as an illustrator of Little Golden Books.  Many of the picture books she illustrated have become classics of American children’s literature.  Jane Werner Watson,  who wrote and edited hundreds of Golden Books called Eloise Wilkin “the soul of Little Golden Books”, and even today Wilkin’s books remain highly collectible.  Her watercolor and colored pencil illustrations are known for their glowing depiction of babies, toddlers, and their parents in idyllic rural and domestic settings.  

She was born in Rochester, New York, the third of four children.  At age 2, she moved with her family to New York City, but she and her siblings spent every summer at a relative’s home in western New York State.  Memories forged there of family togetherness and the outdoors would influence her famous illustrations of family life, nature, and children.  Wilkin won a drawing contest at age 11,  and when she was older she graduated from the Rochester Athenaeum and Mechanics Institute (now the Rochester Institute of Technology) in 1923.  

Soon after graduating college, Eloise and friend Joan Esley opened an art studio in Rochester, NY.  They were struggling to find work, so the pair moved to New York City where Century Company gave Eloise her first book to illustrate, The Shining Hours.  Many of her early illustrations were for school books.  Early in her career, she illustrated paper dolls for Samuel Gabriel & Sons, Playtime House, and Jaymar.  Her sister Esther Burns Wilkin married Eloise’s brother-in-law.  She often illustrated the titles of her sister’s children’s books.  The first of the Wilkin’s collaborations was Mrs. Peregrine and the Yak which was published by the Henry Holt Company.  


In 1944, Wilkin signed an exclusive contract with original Little Golden Books publisher Simon & Schuster requiring her to illustrate three books each year.  She frequently used her children and grandchildren and their friends as models for her illustrations.  Wilkin, a devout Christian, frequently illustrated religious picture books including several compilations of prayers for children.  


Occasionally, Wilkin revised her illustrated works to reflect the changing cultural norms.  The New Baby, first published in 1948, depicted an expectant mother just days away from birth with no visible signs of pregnancy.  For the 1975 reprinting, Wilkin more realistically portrayed the mother and her pregnant form.  The 1954 cover of “The New Baby” shows and infant sleeping on her tummy, which Wilkin changed for the edition in 1975 after increasing societal awareness of sudden infant death syndrome.  The original 1956 edition of My Little Golden Book about God featured caucasian children only.  Wilkin re-illustrated several pages to include children of several races in 1974.


Many of Wilkin’s illustrations for golden Books appeared on calendars, puzzles, and record sleeves of Little Golden Records, and were also found on china plates, Hallmark Cards, and in Child’s Life, Story Parade, and Golden magazines.  Wilkin’s Golden Books have been published in French, Hebrew, Portuguese, Spanish, and Swedish.  


Now that you have the background story… 1960 Vogue Dolls, Inc. launched the first doll designed by Eloise Wilkin.  “Baby Dear” came in 12 and 18 inch-sizes and sold for $6 and $12 respectively.  (I’m pretty sure I paid more than that for mine!) In all, Eloise designed eight dolls for Vogue and Madame Alexander.   The  Baby Dear and So Big books were  both written by Esther Wilkin and illustrated by Eloise Wilkin and featured the Eloise Wilkin dolls. 


 A few other facts about Eloise Wilkin… Wilkin married Sidney Wilkin on August 18, 1930.  She took a decade off from illustrating in order to raise her four children: Ann Wilkin Murphy, Sidney, editor Deborah Wilkin Springett, and Jeremy.   Eloise Wilkin died of cancer in Brighton, New York, on October 4, 1987 at the age of 83.  She is buried in Holy Sepulchre Cemetery in Rochester, New York.   There are 47 Golden Book titles illustrated by Wilkin.  


The original E. Wilkin Vogue Baby Dear doll issues in 1960 was the first year with the top knot.  Baby Dear was designed and signed on her left leg by the famed children’s illustrator, Eloise Wilkin.  The first Baby Dear was 18 inches tall and had a top knot of hair on her head. The dolls were designed to resemble a one month old baby.  Her vinyl face, hands and feet were amazingly realistic and her very soft, floppy body was cloth.  One of her outfits was actually manufactured by Carter’s who is a well known quality producer of baby’s clothing.  In 1961, Vogue changed the doll to have a full head of rooted hair.  This version of Baby Dear was produced until 1964.  In each of the early years, Vogue added a few extra outfits for the doll.  Each of the outfits fastened with the Vogue “star” snap.  Not all of the outfits were tagged.  The dolls themselves were tagged on the back of the neck with a blue lettered “Vogue Dolls, Inc.” cloth tag.  The dolls came in 12 and 18 inch sizes.  In 1962, Vogue added a moving musical version of the doll.  The Baby Dear Dolls were so popular that many companies manufactured very similar versions.  The realistic style of the Baby Dear doll revolutionized the doll industry at the time, encouraging more realistic baby dolls. 


I hope you have enjoyed this brief history of the life and accomplishments of Eloise Wilkin.  It was a pleasure for me to do the research on a doll that I personally hold so dear.  


As we approach the coming months and for many of us the holidays, I wish you good health, stay safe, and above all be kind to one another.  See you soon!





**All photos and dolls used in this post were taken by me and at the time taken, the doll belonged to me.**




How Will I Ever Decide?

Happy September!!  I am hoping for the heat wave we have been having to pass and the weather begin to cool down some.  Has it been hot where you live?  I hope you have had a good summer and enjoyed the kids being out of school, possibly some travel, or whatever brings you happiness.   In the meantime, pull up a chair and a cool glass of lemonade and “Let’s Talk Dolls” for just a bit!


 Has anyone gotten any new dolls lately?  If so, were they large, medium, or small dolls?  I must admit, I have added to my collection considerably this summer.  So much so that I am now to a point where I need to thin down my collection…..that seems like such a daunting task to me.



In short – my doll room just needs more real estate.  I’ve suggested to Mr. BabyBoomerDolls that we add on to the house….it certainly didn’t take long for that idea to be rejected!  He countered with maybe thinning out some of my dolls would be a viable option.  Well, to me that was like saying get rid of one of your children!! WHAT could he have been thinking? I am very efficient at getting the most out of my space, but even I know that I am to the point where some drastic decisions have to be made in regards to my beloved doll collection.  It just isn’t physically possible to squeeze any more dolls into that room.  I am not a person who wants to put my dolls in a box in the top of the closet and look at them occasionally either.  I want them to be seen and appreciated for the treasures they are.  (I should keep this thought in mind – that they will be going to places where they will be appreciated for the treasures they are.).  So…….I guess I know where that leaves me…..



Next issue – HOW to decide which ones should be rehomed?  Which ones can I live without?  I have personally restored most of my dolls, so I have an emotional investment in them also.  There are dolls that are restored and I know that their stay here will be shorter because I always knew that they hadn’t found their forever home here.  I knew that they would move on and be enjoyed by someone else.  But, my Toodles dolls, on the other hand, I’ve known they would stay here with me and the same for my Gerber babies.  My PlayPal dolls!  They can take up some huge chunks of space in a hurry!  Again, I really have no desire to part with any of them.  I searched for some of them for years to find one that I could afford to purchase.  I dreamed of having those dolls in my collection!  I enjoyed the challenges that seeking each one out presented, the satisfaction of restoring them brought and the new skills each of them taught me.  In spending that much time with a doll, a bond develops.  Now to someone who doesn’t collect dolls, that statement sounded like I’m a crazy woman.  I’m really not – but I know I am going to have to make some difficult decisions in deciding which dolls I am comfortable with finding new homes for.  



I have started parting with some of my smaller dolls and even graduated to some of the medium size ones.  I think they have gone to good homes.  Just this week I listed my Debbie Ann doll in my Etsy shop.  I searched for what seemed like forever for that doll and she is in such wonderful condition.  I know that to find another like her would be a daunting task.  You’re probably asking yourself how did I come to the decision to start with those few?  Well, here is what I did…I took the dolls that I thought I would part with and put them “out of sight and out of mind” so to speak.  I literally put them where I couldn’t see them for a couple of weeks.  During that time period, if I didn’t miss them terribly, I knew it would be okay to part with them.  I didn’t like the idea, but I knew I could do it.   I thought this was a better solution that putting their names in a hat and drawing one out!  


When you are faced with the decision to part with some of your dolls, do you have a method for doing so?  Is it that your space limitations have filled to capacity or that your tastes have changed and your collecting has gone in a different direction?  How do you decide? 

I am still struggling with the decision of which dolls I will part with, but I know that there are other collectors out there that have been looking for just that doll and they would enjoy giving one of my dolls a good home.  For now, Debbie Ann and some of my large companion dolls, along with some of the smaller dolls will be in need of good homes.  You will probably see them listed in my Etsy shop.  I also sell some of them via private sale.  If you should see one of them, please know that it was with great difficulty that the decision was made to find them new homes.  It was a process and was not taken lightly.  


In the long run, it will be the best thing to do.  Still, it makes a part of me sad.  It feels like parting with an old friend. It leaves my eyes teeming with tears…

Anyway, this is the dilemma that I am currently faced with.  I appreciate your taking the time to read this and letting me vent my grievances for the lack of proper doll real estate at this time.   Until we can get together again, please be safe, stay healthy, and above all be kind to one another! 









The Life and Times of Mrs. Beasley

Hello, Friends!  I’m so happy to be here with you today!  I have been working on some research that I hope you will enjoy.  Today we are going to briefly go over the life and times of Mrs. Beasley.  Grab a cup of coffee/tea and “Let’s Talk Dolls…”

Mrs. Beasley has had a very long and eventful life, especially considering that she was only a toy on a TV show that only aired for 5 years, the last of which was 42 years ago!  The TV show was “Family Affair”.  It began in 1966 when I was 8 years old.  I loved this show and was very faithful to tune in weekly to see the latest adventures of Buffy, Jody, and Mrs. Beasley.   Family Affair was an American comedy series that aired on CBS from 1966 to 1971 and Mrs. Beasley doll was the favorite doll of Buffy (played by Anissa Jones).  The sitcom explored the trials of the well-to-do engineer and bachelor Bill Davis as he attempted to raise his brother’s orphaned children in his luxury NYC apartment.  Davis’ traditional English gentleman’s valet, Mr. Giles French, also had adjustments to make as he became saddled with the responsibility of caring for 15-year-old Cissy and the six-year-old twins, Jody and Buffy.

The Mrs. Beasley doll was Buffy’s security blanket and confidant who listened to all her problems. 

A little history on Mrs. Beasley…she began life as a Rushton “Jill” doll (yes as in Jack and Jill).  somewhere along the way, the doll changed to the Mrs. Beasley we know and love made by Mattel.  In today’s world, Mattel would have to license the look of Rushton’s Jill or find themselves in a law suit.  I guess things just weren’t as complicated then.

The full size Mrs. Beasley is 21″ and is a pull string talker.   Mrs. Beasley wore a blue dress/pants with white polka-dots, yellow shoes, and a pair of black square-rimmed glasses.   She says 11 different phrases, like “Do you want to try on my glasses?”  Her voice was by an actress named Georgia Schmidt, who people remember mostly as the first Talosian on Star Trek.  The pull string talking doll was produced for several years, beginning in 1967.  She actually outlived the show she was from!  Mrs. Beasley was so popular that she was sold in several other forms, including paper dolls, a non-talking rag doll version with yarn hair, complete with removable clothing that was fully washable, and finally a smaller Beasley that came with a 10″ talking Buffy doll and a 4″ Mrs. Beasley.  (Maureen McCormick of THE BRADY BUNCH fame loaned her voice to the doll’s voice box).  There was also a 6″ non-talking , bendable Buffy with a 3″ Mrs. Beasley.   By the way, Buffy had the same head as the Mattel Small Talk dolls.  [source: Wikipedia]

The phrases of Mrs. Beasley were recorded onto small records and included the following:

  • It would be such fun to play jump rope, don’t you think?
  • Do you want to hear a secret? I know one.
  • Gracious me, you’re getting to be such a big girl.
  • Speak a little louder dear, so Mrs. Beasley can hear you.
  • I do think you’re the nicest little friend I ever had.
  • If you could have three wishes, what would you wish for?
  • If you were a little smaller, I could rock you to sleep.
  • You may call me Mrs. Beasley.  Would you like to play?
  • Long ago I was a little girl just like you!
  • Would you like to try on  my glasses? You may if you wish. 

The smaller Mrs. Beasley dolls that were produced at the time came with removable glasses.  That removable factor is why you almost never see one of the small Mrs. Beasley dolls with glasses.  The larger ones were hard enough to keep track of, as evidence that they are few and far between too.  When I was searching to find my Mrs. Beasley doll to go with my Talking Tandy doll (which resembles Buffy so much that she is also called Buffy), I almost never found a Mrs. Beasley  doll with her glasses! 

Unfortunately, Mattel never made a doll of Buffy’s twin brother, Jody.  I especially liked him because he had RED curly hair.  Maybe Mattel just wasn’t up to that yet….?

Even though Family Affair ended in 1971, Mrs. Beasley continued to be produced until 1972.  And apparently even longer…..In 2000 Ashton Drake manufactured a new Mrs. Beasley doll based on the original Mattel version.  She didn’t have quite the appeal that the Mattel version had. Her voice had even been rerecorded by Cheryl Ladd.  She’s a Charlie’s Angel, not an old lady…many a Mrs. Beasley fan from the original show didn’t find quite the warmth and comfort that the original doll had. 

After the “success” of the new Beasley, Ashton Drake produced a porcelain and the “Me and Mrs. Beasley” doll set.  (I have mine pictured here in this post.). The set contained a cute Buffy doll with a mini Beasley and a tiny reproduction of the Family Affair lunch box!  They also made  a blown glass character ornament. 

A Mrs. Beasley doll value and Price Guide for 2022 just in case you’re interested….

  • Original Canadian Mrs. Beasley $349.00
  • Barbie Buffy (NRFB) $359.99
  • Original Mrs. Beasley 1967 $311.00

So, that’s the story of Mrs. Beasley and her claim to fame.  I hope you enjoyed this post.   The photos used in this post were taken by me and the dolls belong to me.  

Until the next post, stay safe, stay well, and be kind to one another!

Hugs to you all,



The Bannister Babies

 Hello, fellow doll collectors!  I hope you are enjoying the summer!  Have you recently taken in any good estate sales or flea markets for doll finds?  I have recently come across a doll that I have fallen in love with and today I want to share a little information about her origins.   So grab a cool drink and “let’s talk dolls” for just a few minutes…..

I am always scouring the doll market looking for something I may have previously missed.  Do you do that?  Recently, I found a doll that I hadn’t seen before.   She had such a sweet face and the moulded hair, which by the way, has become a new favorite with me.  I flipped her over to see the maker’s name on her neck.  That’s the first place to look to find out who made the doll be it a vintage or modern doll.  I could barely make out the letters….the dim overhead lights and my aging eyes weren’t giving me much aid in deciphering the tiny inscription.  I got a little closer to the window where the light was a little brighter.  The last name appeared to be a little clearer: Bannister.  I spent a while looking the doll over and finally turned her over again and the name was finally clearer to me: Constance Bannister.  That wasn’t a maker I was familiar with like Madame Alexander or Effanbee.  Those names show up quite frequently.  

She was a cute little pink baby doll with red fever cheeks, sleep eyes that opened and closed, moulded curly brown hair, and she wore a cotton robe that desperately needed a good soaking.  She was a little dirty (no, it was a lot dirty) but she did have all her fingers and toes!  I wasn’t yet sure if I would purchase her, but I was certainly curious about who this Constance Bannister person was and why had I not encountered that name on a doll previously.  So I went on a quest in search of her, and what I found out was very enlightening. 

Bannister was a photographer, very well-known in the 1940s and 50s for her photographs of babies.  She had come YEARS before the famed Anne Geddes captured a diverse group of babies as flowers, animals, and arranging them in unusual surroundings.  

The baby doll I was presently looking at was made by the Sun Rubber Co. which apparently took advantage of the photographer’s fame in the 1950s by making a doll in the image of her babies.  I am very familiar with Sun Rubber dolls as they are amongst my favorites, so I felt as though progress was being made as to who Bannister really was….She was one of more than 10,000 female photographers of this era, with numbers increasing after WWII, according to the book “A History of Women Photographers,” published in 2010 by Naomi Rosenblum.

Born in Tennessee, Bannister moved to New York as a teenager in the 1930s to attend photography school, after which she got her first job with the Associated Press in Palm Beach, Florida, according to the website maintained by her daughter Lynda.  Bannister returned to New York and began working for the Chicago Tribune, shooting shows headed from Broadway to the Windy City on road tours.  She also opened a studio near Central Park and was a photographer for  the Ice Capades and the ballet.  

Later, she started photographing babies in diapers, taking more than 100,000 photos and becoming famous worldwide.   Now mind you this was prior to the age of digital photography.  These photos became known as “Bannister Babies,” and she wrote cute and humorous captions to go with the photos.  These photos of adorable babies in diapers accompanied by amusing captions became her signature.  They could be seen in books, magazines, calendars, and on posters, billboards and TV shows, according to the website.  They even sold war bonds during WWII.  During WWII, the Bannister Baby Posters helped sell War Bonds and contributed her service to the USO by doing camera stories.  No one thought of “pin up babies” until Miss Bannister tried a few.  One of her baby pictures which had been reproduced in a national magazine was found in the possession of a German soldier captured by the U.S. infantry group.  “The March of Time” featured the incident in one of its films, and thereafter, Miss Bannister was firmly established as a baby photographer.

The baby pictures have appeared on TV, Garry Moore Show, Perry Como Show, Frank Sinatra Show, Steve Allen Show, Ernie Kovacs Show, Jack Parr Show, and the Joey Bishop Show.  Her baby pictures have appeared so frequently and with such wide distribution that the name “Constance Bannister” had become synonymous with babies.  Jack Parr titled her “Constance Bannister – World’s Most Famous Baby Photographer.”

Babies by Bannister have been printed in advertising campaigns  in many different languages and have traveled the world many times.  Her comic strip “Baby Banters” was a popular twice weekly syndicated feature for six years to approximately 50 newspapers.  A line of “Bannister Baby” dolls were produced in the 1950s.  

It goes without saying that I purchased that Bannister Baby that very day and have since purchased several.  They are very difficult to find.  The doll has a very special look to her, but became even more so after I knew more of the history behind her.   The photos pictured in this blog post were made by me and are of my dolls in my private collection.  (BTW, the picture of the trio has yet to be cleaned up.). The photo of the doll’s neck reads “Constance Bannister – New York, New York.”  Lower down her back are her Sun Rubber manufacturer’s marks.  The beautiful doll in the photo alone is the first I purchased and she has been restored.  It is so easy to love her…just look at that precious face! 

This small bit of information is only a slight bit of the wonderful stories behind the Bannister Babies.  I am very happy that this little doll’s sweet face and endearing looks pulled me in that day and I made a purchase that I have enjoyed so very much!  My Constance Bannister doll ranks right up there with my Gerber Baby doll – both being manufactured by Sun Rubber Co.  I hope you have enjoyed this post and will be in search of your own Banister Baby….

Until next time we are together to talk dolls, stay well, be safe, and most of all be kind to one another.  I love you all and appreciate you taking the time to read the BabyBoomerDolls blog. 

Big hugs to you,




**All photos in this post were taken by me and all dolls belong to me**

Are You Stopping to Smell the Roses?

Hello!  I’m happy that you are here with me today!  Are you having a busy June so far?  Here in the United States, this is the time of year where life is a flurry of summer activities.  Usually by this time of the month, I have already made the blog post for this month.  I’m sorry to be late!  While usually we “talk dolls”, I have things on my mind that I wish I had paid attention to earlier in life.  Hopefully, by putting them down in writing and sharing them with you, it will draw my attention to them more frequently and cause me to realize their importance.  With that having been said – let’s get started! 

I have been given so many blessings in my lifetime.  Yes, there have been ups and downs just like everyone else, but in retrospect I can look back and see the blessings even though at the time they may not have looked that way to me.  I could list them and this post would go on for a very long time, but that isn’t what this is about today.  I am a person who wants to squeeze every minute from every day.  I don’t want to miss a thing!  When I get older, I don’t want to look back and think “I wish I had done that…” 

As a young woman, I thoroughly enjoyed the phase of having a young family and all the busyness that went with those years.  The ballgames, the track meets, the piano lessons, the dance recitals, the 4H meetings,  church activities, and the list was endless as the years quickly flew by.  Before I realized it, my children were driving and life was changing and we were entering a new phase.  That’s good….change is good….

Soon it was dating and high school proms and college exams and applications and seeing my babies walk across the stage at their high school graduations.  Still, I was very focused on meeting the needs of my family.  Not to mention, there was also a 9 to 5 job thrown into this mix.  Soon, they were off to college, yet more changes in store.  Still, change is good and I am a very focused person and very determined to get the task at hand completed to the best of my ability.  Life quickly moves on and my children are married with families of their own.  More change…

For me, being a grandmother was  (is) the best job I have ever had!  All the FUN without as many of the responsibilities!  Once again, I found myself at dance recitals, plays, and all the activities that young children are involved in.  Of course, I was a proud grandmother and I didn’t want to miss a moment of these wonderful years.  I wanted them to know that Papaw and I were there cheering them on and enjoying life with them!  We have always been a close knit family and this sense of togetherness is important.

That wonderful time of life called retirement finally approaches! Yes, life is a little slower pace, but my mind still races to look after those I love and to get all I can out of each and every day.  I always giggled at those folks who said they were busier after retirement than they were before.  It is TRUE!  But it is a different kind of busy.    I enjoy the big family gatherings and the buzz of laughter and children in the house.  After all, Isn’t this how it is supposed to be?  Isn’t this the way I have always gone at life?  Indeed, it is.  (Granny was good with her sage advice – she always said I went at life as though I was killing snakes!) LOL!  I guess maybe I did. 

I remember my Granny telling me many times in my younger years to slow down and smell the roses along the way and to enjoy the trip.  I thought I was doing exactly that.  And I was – except it was always for someone else.  I didn’t take the time to enjoy life  for myself.  I worked what I wanted to do into the schedule when there was a few minutes to spare.  No, I have not resented it, but I wish I had taken more time to enjoy the “me time”.  

As women, I think we are programmed to do for others, for  being caregivers,  and seldom taking enough time for ourselves.  I’m sure this is also true for men.  They are busy making their way in the world and taking care of their families.  

During this  present stage in life, minor health concerns and just general slowing down have caused me to realize something very important.  I always thought that I would get around to enjoying those things, there would be time later on when the kids were older.  For every change that occurred, there was quickly something filling up that time slot in my life and it wasn’t working out to be that “me time” I spoke of earlier.   

So…after FINALLY waking up and smelling the coffee, I have made some changes in my life.  I have vowed to live with the attitude of taking advantage of more “me time”.  I am not short changing anyone in the process, but I am a much more relaxed and happy person because I have realized the importance of doing for myself other than just squeezing myself into the busy schedule. 

Friends, I have found out that I love to restore antique furniture, to sit down and embroidery, to enjoy that extra cup of coffee while watching the birds at the bird feeders.  So many things that I just didn’t think I had the time for before, I now be sure to take the time for.  This was a problem of my own making while all the time I was sure I was enjoying the journey.  Now, I take the time to refresh and to ENJOY the trip.  I take time for me.  You know how much I adore restoring old dolls and giving them a second opportunity.  I feel like I have also been shown that I need to slow down and enjoy so that I won’t have as many of those things left on my list as time goes on that I wish I had done and simply didn’t take the time for myself to enjoy them. 

After all these years, I am taking Granny’s advice and doing the things I enjoy, too.  I restore dolls, refinish antique furniture, I’m learning to paint, I embroidery more, I garden because I enjoy it – not because it needs to be done.  Again, change is GOOD!  This change is now becoming a way of life me.  My life had previously been about doing for everyone else and that was good.  Now, it is also about doing for me and that is BETTER for me and those around me.  How about you?  Do you take care of yourself and enjoy the journey?  Make it a practice while you’re younger – even if it is just 15 minutes a day.  Take the long bubblebath rather than the quick shower.  Enjoy life!  We only get one shot at it! 

Next month I promise to go back to the format of talking dolls as we usually do here!  I just felt it important to remind each of us to take the time for ourselves that we deserve even when it seems like we can’t spare 60 seconds.  Until next time, stay well, be happy, and most importantly be kind to one another.




The Era of Modern Dolls

Hello, friends!   I’m happy you’re here today!  May has FINALLY arrived and I hope it is warmer where you call home than it was when we were together in April.   Today we are going to talk briefly  about the era of modern dolls, so….”Let’s Talk Dolls”!


Some American composition dolls made in the early twentieth century were thought to be almost revolutionary at the time, however, the real “modern” era in the history of dolls begins in the 1940s – the decade that saw plastics boom and the move to production on a massive scale.  Yet, not all modern dolls are plastic, nor are they mass-produced.  

World War II had a major impact on the doll industry in Europe.  Suddenly most production ceased where an industry had been built up over centuries.  When peace did at last return, it brought with it revolutionary new plastics which were developed to help the war effort and were now available for all manner of applications.  


Plastics were light, strong, and easily moulded into an infinite variety of forms.  The new plastic material required new equipment and new technologies for production.  Initial investment costs were high,  but manufacturers found that they could produce millions of dolls that were all identical,  or even create a range of dolls based on the same basic model, making only minor modifications to give each doll its charismatic features.  Plastic dolls of the 1940s are vastly different than those of today.  They were made of hard plastic and although they looked like the  composition dolls they largely replaced, they were more durable, lighter, and tougher.   Introduced in the mid 1950s was the polyethylene compounds aka vinyl.  It is a much more flexible material and available in both hard and soft forms.


The introduction of vinyl brought with it a whole new ballgame.  There was now a key difference in doll hair: whereas composition and hard plastic dolls had wigs or moulded and painted hair,  the use of vinyl allowed the hair to be “rooted”into the head. Facial features, hands and feet tend to be less moulded and more defined in these new vinyl dolls than those of their predecessors made from composition or hard plastic.  Most dolls today use a combination of vinyls in construction of the doll.  Soft vinyl is used for the head and limbs and hard vinyl for body.

Strong competition and financial difficulties have forced the closure of many of the small individual companies that survived the war years.  Today most doll companies belong to giant corporations.  They have been forced to merge or to close down completely.  


In contrast to large corporate enterprise, doll making still survives as a cottage industry to this day.  Across the world, dolls can still be found created in the traditional methods.  Only a few of each model are produced and wood or other natural materials take the place of the modern synthetics.  These dolls are usually classified as art dolls and are meant to be displayed rather than played with as toys.  


The popularity of modern dolls seems to be much more fleeting that that of their predecessors.  New models come and go continually as the power of advertising, the influence of the media particularly television and movies encourage the fads and fashions that seem to change almost overnight.  


While the charm of many traditional dolls guarantees their continuing appeal, novelty dolls are very much in demand.  The great commercial successes of the age are the “dressing” dolls, especially not only those complete with clothing but also with every conceivable accessory.  I continue to be amazed by this!  Mattel’s Barbie truly embodies this “more is better” philosophy of today’s society.  Per Forbes, one billion Barbies have been sold (this is an estimate) since her debut in 1959.  Barbies have been sold world wide in over 150 countries.  Mattel makes the claim that three Barbie dolls are sold every second.  They also claim to have more than 170 types of dolls with different skin tones and hair styles.  Barbie has managed to change with the times over the past 60 years and to still be going strong! 


There are always going to be doll collectors and everyone will always like/want to collect what appeals to them personally.  With that having been said, there will always be appeal and value to either the early composition dolls down to the truly modern dolls of today.  I tend to lean toward collecting the dolls I played with as a child, but my oldest granddaughter believes that I need to add a few American Girl dolls into the mix of my collection which is fine with me.  It gives us a common ground on which to talk doll collecting, AND I love all dolls!  


I hope you have enjoyed this brief synopsis of the evolving of the modern dolls.  Until we are together again, stay safe, stay well, and above all be kind to one another!







Let’s Play Paper Dolls!


Hello and welcome to BabyBoomerDolls blog!  I’m glad you’re here!  I live in the Mid-west United States.  Here the weather can’t decide if it is still winter or welcoming spring.  At this point, I have decided that Mother Nature is indeed very fickle!  I am so ready for some warm sunshine and dry weather!  The nights are still in the low 30s here.  I hope wherever it is that you call home the weather is more pleasant than it has been here in recent weeks.

Dolls have always been a first love for me.  I love collecting dolls and learning all I can about them.  I am a baby boomer myself, and grew up in a time where there wasn’t always money for the beautiful dolls in the store windows.  Oftentimes, they were only dreams on my wish list.  That wish list was usually confined to Christmas and Birthdays, so you had lots of time to think over which doll was the very best.   However, today we are going to briefly chat about dolls that are often overlooked….paper dolls!  More times than not, paper dolls were a nice substitute for those dolls in the department store windows and still had all the pretty outfits and hours of endless play and imagination for me.    So, let’s get started and “Let’s Talk Dolls”!

Paper dolls are a generations-old toy.  Dress -up paper dolls owe their origins to 18th century France.  At that time, they often had moveable limbs and were akin to puppets.  A London company produced the first commercially available paper doll in 1810. The product appeared in American two years later.  Did you have any idea that paper dolls had entertained children for that many years?  Neither did I until I began to dig into the subject!  

The biggest American producer of paper dolls, the McLoughlin Brothers, was founded in early 1800 and was sold to Milton Bradley in the 1920s.  It was around this time that paper dolls really began to catch on in the USA and then grew in popularity in the decades to follow. 

Paper dolls are figures cut from paper or thin card stock, with separate clothes which are also made from paper that are usually held onto the dolls by folding tabs.  Paper dolls have been inexpensive children’s toys for almost two hundred years.  Today, many artists are turning paper dolls into an art form.  I have several framed paper dolls in my doll room that I have embellished with ribbons, lace, etc. so that I can enjoy them rather than keeping them stored away where they can neither be seen or enjoyed.  There are those who would argue that this is not the best way to preserve the paper doll, but for me, it is the way to be able to enjoy them daily.  


Paper dolls have been used for advertising, and  appeared in both magazines and newspapers.  Today, they have become highly sought- after collectibles.  This is especially true as vintage paper dolls become rarer due to the limited lifespan of paper objects.  Paper dolls are still being created today.  

Paper dolls have regained popularity with young children featuring popular characters and celebrities.  there are also online and virtual paper dolls where the users are able to drag and drop images of clothes onto images of dolls or actual people.  While this is wonderful, I am still old school and I still to this day enjoy the cutting out of the doll and the accessories from the paper doll book.

The first manufactured paper doll was “Little Fanny”, produced by S&J Fuller, London in 1810.  “The History and Adventures of Little Henry,” by J Belcher, was the first American toy that included paper dolls.  Published in 1812, this book prompted children to act out various scenes with the paper doll that were included in the book.  Around 1920 paper dolls became popular in the USA and then grew in popularity in the following decades.  The rise of paper doll production in the mid 19th and 20th centuries was partly due to technological advances that made printing significantly  less expensive.  Movie stars and celebrities became the focus in the early days of paper dolls in the USA.  Paper dolls are still produced today and Whitman and Golden Co. still publish paper dolls.  


Vintage paper dolls with hand-painted artwork are becoming increasingly rare due to paper aging issues.  they have become collectible, and the prices for mint sets can range from $100 to over $500 for a sought after title.  I find this amazing as I have recently purchased paper dolls that I had as a child and while I thought them pricey in the $30-50 price range, I can’t imagine purchasing paper dolls for over $500!  I guess that is because I still have visions of my younger sisters tearing the head off the doll or the tabs off the clothing and my mother using scotch tape to repair them  and trying to convince me that they were as good as new…….

I can remember taking a quarter to Kresge’s Dime Store and staring intently at all the paper doll books.  Picking just the right one was always such a difficult decision.  I  remember taking my choice to the front of the store where the check out lady was and carefully placing my paper doll book on the counter so as not to bend the edges of the book  along with my quarter and intently pushing the quarter toward  the nice lady.  I was always so pleased that I had paid for the paper doll myself.  I then proceeded to take my new treasure home and spend countless hours, sometimes days, carefully cutting out each piece and dressing the paper doll for hours.  It was pretty good entertainment for a quarter!  This still allowed me to have some form of those lovely baby dolls in the department store windows.  


Many of us have spent innumerable hours using our imaginations and playing with those wonderful paper dolls.  I have included a few photos of some of my collection.  While they are not the pricey dolls mentioned above, they are dolls I remember from childhood.  In my eyes, that is what counts.  I like something that I can relate to and that brings back fond memories (except for those incidents where my little sisters got hold of them).  LOL!


I hope you have enjoyed this brief piece on paper dolls.  They still remain a favorite in my heart.  I currently have a piece I am working on with a vintage paper doll and I enjoy every minute of it!  Until we are together the next time, stay well and above all be kind to one another!