Debbie Ann by Valentine Doll Company

Hello, Friends!  Can you believe it is November 2nd?  The holidays are right around the corner.  This is a busy time of year when our thoughts turn to family gatherings and decorating the house for the holidays.  But for just a brief moment – “Let’s Talk Dolls.”  Grab a cup of coffee or hot tea and spend some time reading about a doll with a very unique past.  Today we’re going to talk about Debbie Ann.

Debbie Ann is a rare and sought after treasure.  She was manufactured by the Valentine Doll Company,  which was later to become the Debbie Doll Company in the 50s and early 60s.  The Valentine Doll Company was a USA manufacturer of hard plastic and vinyl dolls.  They are best known for their ballerina dressed dolls of the 1950s which John Landers was responsible for.  Later he founded the Debbie Toy Company along with partner Shelly Greenburg, which made vinyl dolls named Debbie and a line of baby items.

Debbie Ann stands 30″ high, ( Playpal size) was manufactured in 1960, has  a hard vinyl face and arms, and plastic body and legs.  She is marked with a D.   In addition to being a child’s doll, these dolls were often used to display children’s clothing in department stores.  She has an adorable character face making her very similar to the Saucy Walker Playpal doll.  She has big eyes and brush lashes and painted lower lashes.  She has feathered eyebrows and closed pink watermelon smile, and rosy cheeks.  Her head has a slight forward tilt, making her look more lifelike.  She has molded hair which is very unusual for a doll of her size.  Mine has blonde hair, but I have also seen them with red hair.  Her molded hair made displaying hats and bonnets easy as well as dressing and undressing, and her hair never became a mess or required any attention.   This saved time for employees dressing the doll (mannequin) on which to model the children’s clothing.  Her body is very sturdy.  She models well.

She’s quite unique in that she was manufactired as  a child’s doll but could also be used as a mannequin in department stores.  Speculation has been made that she was The Debbie Toy Company’s answer to the popular Playpal dolls of the time.   She was light weight enough for a child to play with yet sturdy enough to be used as a model in department store windows.  She could easily wear children’s clothing and shoes.


Because of her history as either a doll or a mannequin or both, to find a Debbie Ann in good condition now is a very rare thing.  They are highly sought after by collectors.  Many times she is mistaken for a Saucy clone due to her smile.   She is a wonderful addition to a doll collection due to her multi functions.  Not much is known about this doll.

I’ve included several photos of my Debbie Ann for those of you who may not be familiar with her.   She’s a very unique doll and I am very pleased that she is a part of my private collection.  I’m also pleased that she is “low maintenance”…  Just as she was designed, she dresses quick and easily with no mussing of her hair.  I wouldn’t want all my large dolls to have molded hair, but she does add a nice variety to the group.                                          

I hope you have enjoyed this brief article on Debbie Ann.  When next we chat, Thanksgiving will be in the rear view mirror and we will be making out way towards Christmas!  Until then….I wish a Happy Thanksgiving to you and those you hold dear.

Big Hugs,



Can you pick her out of a crowd?

Counting My Blessings

Hello, friends!  I’m so glad you’re here!  Today we’ve turned another page on the calendar.   It is now October!  I’ve always heard the phrase that “time flies when you’re having fun”.  While that is true, “time also flies as you get older.”  Seems as though I have just gotten things back in order from this time last year.  Thinking about time passing so quickly has also made me think about all the blessings in my life.  I have many, but right now, I am primarily talking about BabyBoomerDolls.

When I was younger, I often had dreams of a small business of my own.  I have been able to do that to a small degree as I have sewn for others in some capacity since I was sixteen.   Still, that wasn’t quite the dream I had in mind.  That was more like work, and I’ve heard it said if you like your job, you will never work a day in your life.  THAT sounded like the place I wanted to be.    I was blessed with the sewing of wedding/prom dresses, special occasion dresses, and the like for others.   That was advantageous as it brought extra income into my home.  I met some wonderful people and made some life-long friends while sewing.  To this day, some of those people  are among my closest friends.

Still, I had a home, a young family, a job, church activities, and just life in general.  There wasn’t time left over for fulfilling dreams just yet.  However, I knew that someday there would be time to revisit those dreams.  This would require patience, which has never been one of my greater virtues.    During all this time passing, I added and subtracted and revised the dream many times over as it rolled around like a pinball inside my head.   It was always in the back of my mind.  The seed was sown and I had been unknowingly nurturing it.

Years past and long story short, kids grew up, married, and have families of their own.  My husband and I retired.   No longer was there a nine to five job to think about.  Retirement has it’s own schedule!  We enjoy so many things together and enjoy that time we are now able to spend  with our family.  Life became different, but it was a good different.

The dream was slowly seeping back into the foreground of my conscious thoughts.  I began to buy and sell dolls in my newfound “extra” time.  I have always loved dolls, so this was a natural progression for me.  I was amazed at the information I was acquiring.  I was able to make repairs and restorations to many types of dolls now.  I was able to combine the dolls with my sewing abilities.  This was fantastic!    This chapter of the dream continued for several years, again allowing me to come in contact with those of like mind.  Doll collectors are wonderful people and are always willing to share information.

Anything I did with the dolls at this point  was done under just my name.  I was pretty pleased with being able to do something I enjoyed so much and still realize an income.  (Even though most times I reinvested in supplies).  One evening while at the dinner table, I announced to my husband that I was going to  develop an Instagram account and call it BabyBoomerDolls.  I am a baby boomer and this seemed like just the right fit for my love for dolls of the 50s and 60s.   I wanted/needed to have someone to really share my passion about the dolls with.  I had to seek out my “tribe” so to speak and find those who  also knew the joy of dolls.

  Late in the  summer of 2020, during the midst of the pandemic, I began posting my dolls on Instagram.  What fun!   Personally, in my humble opinion, Instagram is a wonderful platform.  To have daily exchanges with those who enjoyed dolls as much as myself was a lifesaver during this time of what seemed like isolation from life as we knew it.     All  the while, I was continuing to restore, sew for,  and sell my dolls.  I can feel the dream unfolding….suddenly BabyBoomerDolls was a reality in my life!  I was beyond thrilled!  My tiny little hopes/dreams from so long ago were seeing the light of day.

For well over a year, I was faithfully posting daily to my account and gaining both  followers and friends.  These wonderful people became such a large part of my daily life. You begin to know their families, their pets,  what part of the world they live in, what types of dolls they collect, etc.   You begin to know them as friends.  These were solid relationships developing that I’m confident brought all of us through some dark times during the pandemic.  I have made friends all over the world.  I have met people I’m confident I wouldn’t have otherwise encountered.  I have been able to sell my dolls all over the world.   I will forever be grateful for this time in my life.

This small IG account was placing me on the path of my dream.  People asking for a special doll to be restored, for a special outfit to be sewn were becoming more and more frequent.  It was becoming more and more difficult to keep dolls to sell.   I began to find myself feeling overwhelmed, plus I don’t like the feeling of knowing someone is patiently waiting for me to finish their project.  It was becoming very obvious that I was going to have to make some adjustments in my time.  But where?

A lot of thought and even more prayer went into the brainstorming of solving this complicated situation in which I found myself.  It seemed like this was the only thought on my mind for weeks.  Finally, I was clear on what was the best solution to free up some time and still be able to enjoy my passion for my dolls.

I discussed it with Mr. BabyBoomerDolls and felt good about the conclusions we had arrived at.    I posted on my IG account page that I was not leaving IG.  I would be daily checking my account and posting on my stories.  However, I would be cutting down my daily posts/reels to twice weekly.  This would give me the time needed to fill the private orders for both dolls and sewing.  It felt like the best of both worlds.

To date, things are running smoothly which I am very relieved to be able to say.  I have the time to do the private orders as well as to work on other facets of “my dream”.   I feel truly blessed to have made so many good friends over the years, to be able to hone my skills at both my sewing as well as my dolls, to have the love and support of my family and friends,  to have the peace  and acceptance I have with the changes/decisions made, and the opportunity to continue to nurture and grow my dream into what my heart knows it can be.  Yes, I am counting my blessings!  I have been blessed in ways I am sure I am yet unaware of.

Usually when we get together here, it is a brief moment to share some information on a special doll or manufacturer.   This is our time to “Let’s Talk Dolls.”   This time, I wanted to say thank you to each of you, whether you knew it or not, for helping me along this journey,  for your continued  support of my IG account, for your support as I make changes, and for the encouragement many of you have offered.  You have blessed my life in so many ways and I count each of you as a blessing.

Next edition of BBD Blog will be more like you are used to.  Thank you for your time and your loyalty.  Please share the blog with a friend.  Stay well!  Be kind to others.

Big Hugs to each of you,





Shirley Temple – A Child Phenomenon

Shirley Temple….There is so much that could be said about Shirley Temple and how this child star was a bright spot in the bleak grayness of the Great Depression.  The doll that this child star inspired brightened the lives of hundreds of thousands of children during that time.  To those of us who collect dolls, she still brightens our days and brings a smile to our faces.

The six-year-old actress, became a national film phenomenon who illuminated the silver screen.  Shirley Temple, the doll, was introduced to little girls in 1934.  By the end of her first year acting, Shirley would be featured in seven films and would become the top-grossing box office star in the world.

Meanwhile, the Ideal Novelty and Toy Company approached the Temple family with its Shirley Temple doll concept.  After months of negotiations with Temple’s parents, the company secured an exclusive contract to produce a doll of the movie star.  Ideal had the body as they had perfected the torso for a doll called Ginger the year before.  Reportedly, the designer Bernard Lipfert had to make twenty molds before the head was finally approved by everyone involved.  Those first dolls were composition dolls.

The first costume for the Shirley doll portrayed the actress as she looked performing “Baby Take a Bow” in Stand Up and Cheer, her movie of that year.  This inaugural doll had a slightly chubbier face than the real Shirley.  The faces of the later dolls were slimmed down.  At first the dolls were made in four sizes, which prices ranging from three to seven dollars.

The Shirley Temple doll was perfect for a marketing campaign of Hollywood proportions.  Playthings, the industry trade journal reported in 1936 that Ideal pitched “one of the largest national promotions ever undertaken by any doll or toy manufacturer.”  Along with an advertisement for the doll, a contest was announced in the comic strip sections of fourteen million Sunday newspapers.  The top ten prizes were REAL Scottish Terrier puppies like Shirley’s pet, Corky.  Other prizes included doll accessories as clothes and carriages.

The Shirley Temple doll was not only the most popular celebrity doll ever made, she was also the most copied.  Nearly everybody wanted to get onto this band wagon.  Even the renowned doll maker Madame Alexander, after publicly opposing the exploitation of Shirley Temple’s fame as an actress, produced a Little Colonel doll in 1935.  Alexander maintained that the doll was based on the children’s book on which the character was based.  It just happened that the release of the doll coincided with the release of Temple’s movie The Little Colonel.  The doll looked very much like Ideal’s Shirley….

By 1939, the Great Depression drew to a close and the dark clouds of WWII were gathering.  Shirley’s reign as a box-office queen had come to an end.   That same year, Ideal ceased production of the doll.  Ideal was never a company to turn its back on success, they did use some of the Shirley molds for other dolls, including Snow White.



The Shirley Temple doll did make a comeback in the 1950s in vinyl and plastic.  Then, again in the 1970s, she took yet another bow.  I guess, like her movies, Shirley doesn’t age…..

Those of you who read my blog know that all the photos featured here are both taken by myself and the dolls are mine.  I have only three Shirley Temple dolls, but they represent a broad range of the 1950s thru the 1970s dolls.  The first doll pictured is the one  I am most proud of.  I love her size and the sculpt of the doll.  And she also has on all original clothes.   She is the oldest that I have. My plans are to restore her, but quite frankly, all those sausage curls are quite intimidating to me as her hair will have to be washed…I will wake up one morning feeling “brave” and go for it.  That’s how I roll. LOL!

The second doll pictured is a reproduction by Ashton Drake Galleries which has never been out of the box and more than likely will be sold at some point.  The third doll is a small 17″ plastic doll that is simply used as a prop with my large dolls.

Any way you choose to look at it, Shirley Temple was a glimmer of hope when we as a nation needed it.  She has remained a sought after doll to many collectors, me included.

I’m happy you chose to share this little bit of time with me.  I hope you will share this blog with a doll-collecting friend.  Until the next time we get together and “Let’s Talk Dolls”…stay well and be kind to one another.



BabyBoomer Dolls

Madame Alexander Dolls

Hello!  Can you believe that August is just around the corner?  I hope you are all well and enjoying the summer.  Today I would like to briefly tell you of the history of Beatrice Alexander.  She was and remains one of the most renowned doll manufacturers of this century.

To generations of women Beatrice Alexander needs absolutely no introduction.  “It’s a Madame Alexander – That’s All You Need to Know” was the slogan printed on the boxes holding the prettiest and most beautifully dressed dolls.   The Alexander Company has produced many of the most beloved dolls of the century.  If you played with dolls, it is very likely that at least one of them was a Madame Alexander doll.

Beatrice Alexander Behrman was born on March 3, 1895, being the eldest of four daughters of a Russian immigrant who opened the first doll hospital in the United States.  Beatrice was artistic.  When WWI interrupted the import of bisque dolls from Germany, she seized the opportunity and designed and made Red Cross nurse dolls to be sold in her father’s shop.

In 1923, she founded the Alexander Doll Company and adopted the appellation Madame, giving her signature and her products the status that she made sure they deserved.  In the middle of the Great Depression, she secured exclusive rights to manufacture a set of authorized Dionne Quintuplet dolls.  Two years later, the film version of Gone With the Wind was made.  She designed and produced a Scarlett O’Hara doll because she loved the novel so much.  By the time the film was released, she had exclusive rights to manufacture the dolls.

Alexander’s dolls of the 1930s were made of composition .  She switched to plastic after WWII. The plastic dolls produced by the Alexander Doll Company during the 1950s are considered to be among the most beautifully designed and dressed dolls in the industry.

Alexander’s marvelous business sense and her energy was a renowned insistence on quality.  The costumes she designed and produced for her dolls were their defining element and still considered to be the best in the doll business.  All this, combined with her instinct for getting good publicity made her almost a legendary figure even outside the confines of the doll industry.  She was one of very few whose name was recognized as well as favored by the general public.


She went on to  be commissioned to make dolls commemorating the coronation of Queen Elizabeth of England in 1953.  The thirty-six dolls were magnificently dressed with every attention being paid to the smallest of details. Today, those dolls are the keystone of the doll collection of the Brooklyn Children’s Museum in New York.  In 1965, on United Nations Day, Alexander was honored for her International Doll Collection.  These were a group of eight-inch dolls authentically dressed in the costumes of every member of the United Nations.  The dolls produced by the Alexander Doll Company are in the collections of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C.



However, the Alexander dolls are not yet relics.  After the death of Beatrice Alexander, at the age of 90, in 1990, the company floundered.  Five years later, it was purchased by and investment team, Kaizen Breakthrough Partnership.  At the factory, in Harlem, New York, more than 400 workers still produce dolls in the same hands-on way that they were made during Alexander’s peak years.

The main line of dolls is prized by collectors.  Doting grandmothers and mothers who are unable to part with their own Alexander dolls buy similar dolls for their children and grandchildren.  The company still prints the old slogan on the dolls’ boxes – “The Most Beautiful Dolls in the World Are by Madame Alexander.  Millions of men and women of all ages agree.

Madame Alexander dolls are among some of my very favorites.  How about you?  Are you a fan of the Alexander dolls? Do you still have one from when you were a child? I hope you have enjoyed this brief synopsis of Madame Alexander and her many accomplishments.  She has forever left her mark on the doll industry all over the world.

Please share this blog with a doll-loving friend and join us next time when we meet up here and “Let’s Talk Dolls.”

Hugs to All,







“It’s Howdy Doody Time!”

Yes, I am a Howdy Doody lover!!  I have been since I was a child.  My mother never misses an opportunity to share a story where she says I could be having a red headed fit (that’s her affectionate term for it), and I could hear the Howdy Doody program coming on the television and I would automatically shut down the “fit” and be all smiles.  I, personally, believe there is some exaggeration to her story, and it seems to become more graphic with every time she retells it, but she enjoys sharing her version if nothing more than to embarrass me.  LOL!

So let’s get started with the brief history of the iconic Howdy Doody.  Howdy Doody is an American children’s television program that was telecast on the NBC network in the United States from December 27, 1947, until September 24, 1960.  It was a pioneer in children’s television programming and set the pattern for many similar shows.  The show was also a pioneer in early color production as NBC (at that time owned by TV maker RCA) used the show in part to sell color television sets in the 1950s.  How’s that for marketing? What child wouldn’t want to see Howdy Doody in living color??

Buffalo Bob Smith created Howdy Doody during his days as a radio announcer on WNBC.  At that time Howdy Doody was only a voice Smith performed on the radio.  When Smith made an appearance on NBC’s television program Puppet Playhouse on December 27, 1947, the reception for the character was great enough to begin a demand for a visual character for television.  A puppeteer for the show was asked to create a Howdy Doody puppet.

To cut right to the chase, Howdy Doody was the all American boy, with his red hair, his Alfred E. Newman-like grin, and his forty-eight freckles (one for each state in the Union at the time of his creation), and his ears that seemingly stuck out the sides of his head far beyond normal.   All these things made him  just right for merchandising.  Soon there were Howdy Doody hand puppets, storybooks, coloring books, puzzles, craft sets, lampshades, dishes, masks, umbrellas, pail-and-shovel beach sets, bubblebaths, ukuleles, windup toys, shoe polish, and naturally DOLLS.

Almost as soon as Howdy Doody hit the airwaves, two companies nailed down licenses to manufacture Howdy Doodys.  The Ideal Toy Corporation and the Effanbee Doll Company produced a variety of Howdy Doodys.  The early dolls had composition heads and cloth bodies.  A feature of some of the dolls was a string at the back of the neck, which, when pulled would open and close Howdy Doody’s mouth.  Later, Howdy had a plastic head, blue or brown eyes that opened and closed, molded red or brown hair, a big nose, and stick out ears.  Both companies dressed Howdy Doody in pretty much the same outfit – dungarees, a long-sleeved plaid shirt, plastic cowboy boots, and a bandanna with his name on it, just in case the child did not recognize that famous face.

The Howdy Doody Show ran in various time slots from 1947 until its final broadcast in September 1960.  The show continued as reruns until the early 1970s.  Many of the 1949-54 episodes were released on DVD. Howdy Doody has been teaching/entertaining children of all ages for decades now.  There is still vintage Howdy Doody merchandise to be collected while there is still nostalgic merchandise being manufactured.  Howdy Doody is a part of American Children’s Television History.

Howdy Doody is definitely a part of my doll-loving history.  I have an original composition head doll of Howdy that belonged to my Aunt, which I treasure.   When I was a child, he “lived” in my Granny’s window seat and occasionally made an appearance.  I was allowed to touch him, but never to play with him.  He is now in my custody and resides happily with all the other dolls.   I also have a Madame Alexander marionette of Howdy as well as Christmas ornaments, etc.  Seems as though Howdy Doody has always been a favorite for me.  I have always believed it to be because of his red hair and freckles (just like mine).

That, my doll friends, is a BRIEF story of Howdy Doody and his history.  There is so much more, but I will leave that for you to discover.  I hope to see you all back here in August!

“Let’s Talk Dolls” again soon!

Hugs and be well,



The Gerber Baby Doll

    In the summer of 1927, Dorothy Gerber started straining solid foods for her 7-month old daughter Sally.  After repeating this process several times, Mrs. Gerber suggested her husband try it.  She also pointed out that the work of straining fruits and vegetables could easily be done at their canning business, based in Fremont, Michigan.  Workers in the plant began requesting samples for their own babies, and the legacy of Gerber baby foods began.

The Gerber baby has a face that has launched millions of containers of food specially prepared for babies.  In response to an advertising campaign to find just the right baby to publicize the new line, Dorothy Hope, an artist, submitted a charcoal drawing of Ann Turner, the baby daughter of her neighbor.  Dorothy Hope had offered to add more details if her drawing was accepted, but when the executives at Gerber saw it, they wanted it as-is.   In 1931, baby Ann’s face became the officially registered trademark of Gerber baby food – the Gerber Baby.

The first Gerber Baby dolls appeared in 1936.  They were made of sateen, pink for girls and blue for boys.  They had a screen printed face.  Each doll held a plush “jar” of baby food and a toy duck or dog.  These dolls were about 8″ tall and were stuffed with cotton.  To get a doll, all that was necessary was to return a coupon from a Gerber Baby Food advertisement, along with a dime, and three labels from three Gerber baby food containers.  That first Gerber Baby offer ran for three years, during which more than 26,000 dolls were shipped.

The next Gerber premium doll was made in 1955 by the Sun Rubber Company.  It was twelve inches tall, had “drink & wet” capability,  a crier,  jointed arms and legs, and a soft vinyl head that could turn.  The baby was dressed in a diaper and a bib, came with a glass bottle with a rubber nipple, miniature Gerber cereal boxes, a cereal dish, and a spoon.  All this for $2 and a dozen Gerber baby food labels.

Sun Rubber also produced 14″ and 18″ Gerber Babies, which for three years of the premium campaign were sold through Sears, Roebuck catalogs and in toy shops and department stores.

There was another premium Gerber Baby from 1966 to 1968.  It was almost identical to the 1955 baby and the cost was the same.

In 1971 and 1972 two more Gerber Baby premium dolls were made.  Amsco Industires produced a 10″ white baby the first year of the campaign and a 10″ African-American baby the second year.  Both dolls were vinyl, were jointed, and had painted eyes.  These dolls didn’t come with bottles.  Instead they were dressed in cotton sleepers.  These dolls had more of a toddler appearance rather than that of an infant.  They had eyes that roll from side to side and are known as “flirty eyes.”   They cost $2.50 and 4 labels from any Gerber Toddler Meal, Strained or Junior Meat Dinner, or 2 box tops from Gerber fruit cereals.



In 1979, Gerber celebrated its 50th anniversary and there was a new Gerber Baby doll, the first that was not a company premium.  This baby was the work of sculptor Neil Estern,  The doll was 17″ tall, soft-bodied, and had sandy colored molded hair. Estern was also responsible for the porcelain head of the soft-bodied doll which was beautifully dressed.  This Gerber Baby Limited Edition Collector’s  Doll was made in 1983.

In 1996 the Gerber Baby was again back on store shelves.  To be instep with modern times, there were four variations.  Feel Better Baby, Loving Tears Baby, Potty Time Baby, and Tub Time Baby.  Each 20″ doll came with accessories appropriate to its name.  All had little Ann Turner’s adorable face.

That original Gerber Baby is not so little anymore.  Ann Turner Cook was only 4 months old when she became famous as the original Gerber baby.   On November 21, 2020, she celebrated her 94th birthday.  She’s all grown up now.  She still has those sparkling eyes and a cherubic face, but with a head full of gray hair and that same wonderful, contagious smile that we have all come to recognize.  Ann Turner Cook taught English in Florida up until her retirement and then began writing mystery novels.

Many of us have one or more Gerber Baby dolls in our doll collections.  We now have a little more knowledge of the history of this iconic doll.  Please join us again next month and “Let’s Talk Dolls.”

Hugs to all,



**All photographs were made by me and are my dolls.**

One of my Favorites……

“Let’s Talk Dolls”…. Today let’s talk about an old favorite…Raggedy Ann.

I love dolls of all kinds and all sizes.  I will say, however, that Raggedy Ann is one of my favorites.  I think that is because she’s soft and cuddly and almost indestructible.  When you’re a little kid, that is important! LOL!  Many of us remember the great pleasure a favorite doll gave us during childhood.  With a doll, unlike almost any other object, there can be an emotional tie that carries through our lives.  Many of us still have dolls from our childhoods.

Raggedy Ann has almost a timeless quality and has become a household name.  She is made of soft, cuddly fabric.  Her clothing is usually bright colors and she almost always wears a white apron and white pantaloons.  She has on striped socks, and her hair is made from soft yarn.  Most of us could draw her picture from memory.  Can you think of any other doll that can make that claim?   Everyone knows who Raggedy Ann is!

Cloth has been a traditional material for making dolls.  Scraps of a sewing project, outgrown clothing, and other discards could easily be fashioned into a child’s toy by a mother or grandmother.  Many rag dolls have long since been lost or loved to pieces, but the comfort a rag doll gives and the cuddly comfort she offers lives on in descendants such as Raggedy Ann.

Raggedy Ann is arguably the most beloved doll of the twentieth century.  She’s not glamorous.  She doesn’t even have her own wardrobe!  Her beginnings are shrouded in legend.  Some stories say that Johnny Gruelle, an artist and the doll’s creator, found his mother’s old doll in the attic.  He dusted off years of storage, painted a new face on the old faded one and presented the doll to his daughter, Marcella.

On Christmas Eve, 1880, Gruelle was born in Illinois.  He grew to be an astute businessman and registered Raggedy Ann as a trademark as early as 1915.  The doll’s name was culled from two characters of the times – The Raggedy Man and Little Orphan Annie.

In 1916, Marcella died at the age of fourteen.  Gruelle’s book, Raggedy Ann Stories, inspired by her devotion to the new old doll was published two years later.  From the start, children wanted a Raggedy Ann of their own.  It is believed that the first dolls were made by members of the Gruelle family.  Eventually, demand overran production and commercial mass production of the beloved doll began.

The early Raggedy Anns have a brownish hair rather than the red hair that most of us recognize.  Sixteen inches tall seems to have been the most common size, but the doll may have been made in other sizes also.  It is said that the earliest of dolls, those made by the family, had candy hearts with “I Love You”printed on them like the doll heroine in the book.

In 1920, Raggedy Ann’s brother, Raggedy Andy entered the scene.  The Raggedy doll’s popularity was not regulated to the children’s nursery.  No one could resist the Raggedys.  There were greeting cards, games, paper dolls, and even even a fox-trot called the Raggedy Ann.

Raggedy Ann began to range in height from 12 inches to more than 30 inches.  During the 1940s, McCall’s Pattern Company was licensed to market do-it-yourself patterns for Raggedy Ann and Andy.  This resulted in an abundance of homemade Raggedys during the late 1940s and 1950s.  Since the 1960s, Knickerbocker Toy Company, Applause Toy Company, and Hasbro have all produced the Raggedy dolls, all ensuring that after all these years, Raggedy Ann and Andy will continue to delight both children and adults alike.

I hope you have enjoyed this brief genealogy lesson on Raggedy Ann!  Until we are together again to talk dolls…stay well.



The Kewpies

I am a Kewpie Doll lover from waaaayyy back.  I love those sweet little mischievous faces and side glances.  What about you?  Do you like Kewpie Dolls?  Do you know any history on those little sweeties other than they were created by Rose O’Neill?  I have been doing some research and found out several things about Kewpies that I didn’t know.  I will share them with you  on this post….

Rose O’Neill claimed that the idea of Kewpies came to her in a dream.  According to O’Neill, these chubby, sexless, elfin cherubs were modeled after her baby brother.  A Kewpie’s purpose is to do good deeds in a humorous way, brightening the lives of humans with love and laughter.

The first Kewpies began as decorations for love stories published in Ladies Home Journal.  The editor suggested that O’Neill develop the characters and add stories in verse for the young readers.  (Young readers for a ladies magazine??). The first Kewpie story appeared in 1909.  The title of said story was “The Kewpies and the Airplane”.  It showed the Kewpies investigating the new mechanical wonder of the day.  Their popularity exploded.  Children loved them and wrote in to the magazine asking if there was a Kewpie they could actually hold and cuddle.

O’Neill sculpted the first Kewpie herself.  She visited doll factories in both Europe and the United States before selecting a manufacturer in Germany.  The rest is history…

The Kewpies were BIG.  The Kewpie craze became so big that thirty German factories were kept busy manufacturing the dolls.  By 1913, about five million Kewpies had been sold.  World War I began and put an end to the German connection.  But even the war didn’t keep Kewpies out of the stores.  Factories in Japan, many unauthorized, took advantage of the opportunity and launched thousands of Kewpies into the American market.   After the war ended, O’Neill delegated the manufacture of these precious Kewpies to Joseph Kallus, a young sculptor.  In 1916 Kallus had founded the Rex Doll Company to produce composition Kewpies when supplies from overseas had been halted by the war.  Later Kallus’s Kewpies were plastic, then vinyl.  He kept Kewpies alive until the early 1980s.

Over the years, many manufacturers were licensed to produce Kewpies.  You may have a Kewpie produced by the Effanbee Doll Company.  Or if your Kewpie is from the late 1960s, your Kewpie might have been made by Knickerbocker or by Milton Bradley.

The International Rose O’Neill Club, founded in the late 1960s, holds a Kewpiesta!  This is a FOUR day Kewpie collector’s convention and festival.  It is held every April at Bonniebrook.  This is O’Neill’s Missouri home.  Sounds like fun!

During World War I, soldiers marched off to war with tiny Kewpies in their pockets.  The tiny dolls were reminders of loved ones back home and were thought of as good-luck tokens.  There are many collectors that still keep Kewpies around for pretty much the same reasons.  The Kewpie is over a century old and STILL doing their intended job – they make people happy!

I have looked through my photos and found a few of my own Kewpies to share with you here.  They do, indeed, do the job for which they were intended….They bring a smile to your face!

Is there a doll that you would like to know more of the history behind it?  Let me know if so and we will try to get some of that information here at  Until we get together again and “Let’s talk Dolls”….




Hello!  When last we were together, it was February and cold and snowy.  It is now early in March with the hope of spring being around the corner!

As thoughts come to me that I want to add to this blog, I jot them down in a notebook reserved just for those thoughts.  I sat down to organize my thoughts into a cohesive article and upon looking at it objectively, it was a MISHMASH of various things none of which were very big, but all being things that I felt were topics to share.  The meaning of mishmash is a confused mixture of things.  So….here goes….

First on my list of thoughts – At some point in time, all doll collectors have purchased a doll that we have absolutely no idea who she is, who manufactured her, when or where she was manufactured, for how long she was manufactured, and the list of unknowns goes on and on.  Yet, we purchase the doll because there was something about her that appealed to us in some way.  It made no difference that we knew not who she was.  In today’s world we have the internet, scads of older reference books and old photographs plus the advantage of older collectors. Our resources are almost limitless.  I have done this on numerous occasions.  While researching a doll late one evening, I giggled to myself wondering if the designers, manufacturers of that doll that is 65+ years old ever had any idea how we collectors would struggle with the identification of some of our dolls.  They, without a doubt, had no inkling that we would pour over old photos, old catalog pages, old advertisements, etc. for some identifying mark or similarity to another doll that might help us in the identification of our new acquisition.  The struggle is real to us until we can come to some sort of conclusion as to the beginnings of this precious doll.  The more information we can acquire about her, the better.  We want to know all the THINGS there are to be known about THIS doll.  I think the part that is most humorous to me was that I viewed it as “doll genealogy.”  According to Wikipedia, genealogy is from the Greek language meaning “the making of a pedigree.”  It is the study of families, family history, and the tracing of their lineages.  In a loose form of the word, we as doll collectors are researching the doll’s genealogy in order to find out the history behind her.  I feel as though this might be a source of amusement to many makers and manufacturers to know that we in the year 2021 are grappling to know more of this doll’s background.  Yet we are more than pleased to dig through information until we believe we have the true identity of our doll.  So am I the only one who finds this humorous or have you ever really given this any thought?

This, friends , is one of those dolls I was talking about.  I know nothing about her other than I liked her and I wanted her to be mine. Any information you can contribute is appreciated!                   Photos are of her being unpacked.


Next on my list of thoughts – Properly storing your older dolls when you no longer want them on display.  Oh my!  This is something that I see regularly and as a person who restores old dolls, I deal with it often.  It always saddens me because so much damage to the doll could have been prevented with just a few easy steps.  These things will not totally keep the doll in pristine condition, but they will certainly preserve it for your children/grandchildren.  The thing I see most often is people become tired of the dolls being on display so they heap them all into a big box, which by the way is over stuffed, tape it shut, and heave it into the attic or push it into the darkest, most damp corner of the basement.  Either way the doll will be exposed to poor conditions such as extreme heat in the attic or wet, damp basement floors.  Vintage dolls of any kind were not made to be exposed to extreme temperature conditions.  Those conditions can cause composition to crack and flake, vinyl to break down and form in odd ways such as pressing the doll’s chin into its chest, clothing to fade onto the plastic/vinyl skin of the doll leaving it permanently dyed the color of the clothing, and the rusting shut of sleep eyes, or even worse become moldy and crack.   These are just a few of the things that can happen to that doll while in that box for just a few years, let alone that many are stored for 20-30 years under those conditions.  I’m sure you have all seen dolls in these conditions.

After all, we are custodians of these objects for the next generation.  Let’s take a minute and do this right.  If you have a doll still in the original box, take the doll out of the box as the dyes in the cardboard of the box can transfer to the doll’ s skin.  Consider removing the doll’s clothing and shoes  to prevent dye transfers and wrapping the doll in unbleached cotton muslin cloth (can be purchased in most fabric departments) and then put her back into the original box.  Never wrap the doll in newspaper as the ink also transfers.  Wrap the box to keep out the dust and store upright to prevent crushing if stuck at the bottom of the pile.

I’m sure you have heard it said that humans begin to die the minute we are born.  The same can be figuratively said of dolls from the 1950s.  They will begin to degrade in a way that emits a vomit-like smell or have a stickiness to the vinyl.  Their elasticity slowly begins to seep out over time.  Once the plastic is made, it starts degrading.  Storing at a constant temperature slows this process drastically.

Both these dolls had been stored is drastic heat in cramped conditions.  The one on the left had developed a jowley appearance and her face was flattening.  With a lot of work, those things were corrected and now she appears as the doll in the blue dress.  The vinyl doll in the right was stored in bad conditions also.  He was beginning to mold slightly inside and his chin was literally resting on his chest.  Both of these instances were preventable had the dolls been stored properly.


When storing antique porcelain dolls, store them face down.  There is a lead weight in their head that performs the opening and closing of the eyes.  If stored improperly, it can cause pressure to the doll’s head and cause it to break.

Rather than move your dolls to the attic or basement, find a spot out of direct light in a closet.  Also be sure that the temperature is fairly constant rather than extremes either hot or cold.

Also, when you clean up that old doll, sometimes you have to accept damage, flaws, or soiling.  It is part of that doll’s history.

Last on my list of thoughts – We doll collectors love our dolls.  We love them all, but some more than others.  We tend to give them their own personalities.  I smiled to myself when a fellow doll collector said to me that she liked a particular doll in her collection because to her, the doll ‘just looked as if she had something to say.’   I loved that thought and gloried in her courage to say it.  I guess if we were honest, we all have a doll or two in our collection that just looks as if she has something to say!

                                    SHE has something to say….I think she has a secret…..


Now, after reading this, I hope the title of the article made more sense than when you began reading.  Let’s talk dolls again soon!  Until then, stay well!  Please feel free to leave your comment below. 




How Many Dolls Are Too Many Dolls?

Fact:  Anyone who does not collect dolls will say that ALL we doll collectors have TOO MANY dolls.  I don’t think they intend to be mean, I just don’t think they understand us and the passion we have for collecting dolls.  But still….this brings up yet more questions, such as….

*Is it time to thin my collection?*

This is a question that no one except you can answer.  The answer could  be found in have your tastes changed?  When did you begin collecting?  What dolls were you interested in at that time?  Are you still interested in those same dolls? Your answers to these questions will help you decide if it is time to thin your collection.

If your answer was yes, it is time to thin my collection….What dolls could you sell or give away to say a collector just beginning their adventure with dolls? You have enjoyed many of them for many years.  Maybe it is time to re-home them to let someone else enjoy them.  This can be a painful experience in making those decisions.  I have had to make those decisions myself and most of the time, they were well made decisions.  Admittedly, there have been a few that I wish I hadn’t parted with.  But, such is life!

There is the pain of thinning, but often in thinning you have created a spot for a new doll!  This, doll friends, will help ease the sting  of saying good bye to a doll.  There are those of you saying, “that isn’t helping my situation at all”.  And you are probably correct, but the love of dolls can be a driving force to a doll collector.  And this philosophy will more than likely hold true for a collector of just about any type.  And after all, the hunt for that new doll is a very big part of the experience.  When my husband is looking to trade vehicles, this is what he terms the thrill of the hunt.  LOL!  We doll collectors  enjoy the wishing, the planning, the searching, and yes, even the bargaining  for that one sought after doll that seems to be so elusive.  We enjoy the thrill of the hunt for that one special doll.

Then there is the expense involved in being a doll collector.  Personally, I would rather purchase a doll who is less than perfect and have the opportunity to work on her and bring her back to her former glory days.  If this is what you choose to do, don’t bite off  more than your abilities can handle.  Frustration can take the enjoyment out of restoring the doll very quickly.  I enjoy spending time cleaning, washing & setting her hair, redressing her.  But that is only my take on the subject.  There are doll collectors who  want to purchase their doll ready for display.  That’s wonderful!  As a collector, you get to do things your way.  There are no hard and fast rules to follow.  Thank goodness!  By this time, I’m sure I would have probably broken them all! The one thing I try very hard to maintain is not to overspend my budget.  I know what I have to spend and try to stay there.  Although, I have been known to actually give more for a doll than she was valued at because I wanted her that badly.  I own a Dryper Baby that I gave more than I should have for her, but to this day I still enjoy her.  I am as pleased with that purchase now as I was the day I unpacked her.  She was and remains a favorite in my collection!

For me personally, rotating my collection is a good idea.  Just like our taste will change in the clothes we wear, it will also change in the dolls we collect.  At one time, I adored Madame Alexander 8″ dolls.  I had a lovely collection and enjoyed them.  One summer several years ago, I decided it was time to thin.  And boy oh boy, did I ever thin!  I kept my complete Gone With The Wind Series and my Wizard of Oz series and a few of my holiday dolls.  Everything else was either sold or given away.   I feel confident that at some point I will also thin those I kept and make some other collectors extremely happy!  I’m just not yet to that point.  For me, rotating my collection is also a good idea as doll sizes change and space availability changes.  You can’t get near as many Patti Playpal dolls  in the same space as those 8″ Madame Alexander dolls.  So decisions are made for changing the direction of your collection.  That doesn’t mean you have to get rid of everything you once collected.  To quote my granddaughter, “keep the bestest ones for yourself.”  Even at her young, tender age she understands that the dolls you keep are not necessarily the newest or the prettiest but often those that have been with you a lifetime and show the signs of being well loved.  THOSE are some of the bestest ones!   Keep what makes you happy, what makes you smile, what you have memories tied to.  There are reasons that some dolls will never rotate from your collection.  Don’t overlook those reasons in an effort to make space.

These photos are pictures of my collection in the past.  I can look at these photos and see many dolls that have been re-homed for whatever reason.  I have dolls that I have re-homed to both Canada and Australia.  I have pictures of them, but I am happy knowing that they are being appreciated.  Chances are that some of you who are reading this blog have one of these very dolls in your home.

Right now, you may not be ready or want to thin down your collection and that’s fine.  These are just some thoughts that helped me to be able to thin down my own collection at times.  Hopefully, there is something here that you will be able to use should you find yourself in that situation.

You are invited to leave your comments below and “Let’s Talk Dolls”.   Maybe you have an idea that would help others.  Share it with us, please.  Until we are together next time, Doll Friends, stay well!

Best Wishes,