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,

Lynn

BabyBoomerDolls

 

 

 

 

“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,

Lynn

BabyBoomerDolls

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,

Lynn

BabyBoomerDolls

**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.

Hugs,

Lynn

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 Babyboomerdolls.net.  Until we get together again and “Let’s talk Dolls”….

Hugs,

Lynn

Mishmash

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. 

Hugs,

Lynn

BabyBoomerDolls

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,

Lynn

BabyBoomerDolls

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year from BabyBoomerDolls! 

Well, the new year is here, a new page has turned…for some it is a time of hope, for others a time for resolutions, and still something different for someone else.  What does a new year mean to you?  

For BabyBoomerDolls, the new year holds many new possibilities and changes.  Not all things will happen immediately, but the groundwork is being put into place for the future.  It is an exciting time and holds great hope for the days and months to come.  I am both amazed and humbled at the wonderful things BBD experienced in this past year.  It was such a blessing to me in what might have otherwise have been a very dark time.  I met hundreds of new friends and developed relationships with people all over the world.  I have experienced seeing and learning about new dolls and their origins.  I have been amazed at the talent that is out there! Yet at the end of the day, we all wanted the same thing…..”Let’s Talk Dolls”…..

We found common ground in the most simple of things…a doll!  We have built a community amongst ourselves in that we now call one another by our first names. We are friends.   We know one another’s pets and children.  Often times, we know when another is experiencing a difficult time due to sickness of a family member or a like situation.  We look forward to sharing a new technique or that new doll that the postman has just delivered.  We are in a friendly place and can share (even if just for a few minutes a day or once a week – whatever your time schedule allows) the pleasant, little victories that the day has given each of us. We share a brief respite from the hectic lives we lead daily.   In today’s world, what a WONDERFUL community to be a part of!  

I am so excited that at this time in my life,  I am able to take my lifelong love for dolls and nurture  it to grow into the passion it has become.   Something that has been a hobby to me  for many years has evolved into a boundless enthusiasm!  It hasn’t been easy and has required long hours of hard work and planning, but it has brought me so much joy!  I hope along the way, our time together has brought you brief moments of joy also.   It has stretched my capabilities, my creativity, and my imagination just to name a few things.  Those of you who have shared this time with me, I thank you and hope you will continue to be a part of this.  To those of you who have not yet discovered the joy of doll collecting and the enjoyment it offers, I invite you to join us.  

It makes no difference if you have collected for 40 years and have a massive collection or if you are just beginning to collect.   No matter where you call home or your station in life, we all have at least one common thread – the delight of a doll.  

We would love for you to join us!  “Let’s Talk Dolls!”

Hugs,

Lynn 

BabyBoomerDolls

Interview With Patti Playpal (Part IV)

Friends, can you believe Christmas is just a few days away? I want to take this opportunity to say thank you to those of you who have followed this blog during our beginnings this year, but also to say thank you for your continued support in the coming year.  And to those of you who are here for the first time – WELCOME!  I’m glad you are here! 

As this year draws to a close, I am humbled by the interest shown in BabyBoomerDolls.  I am thankful for the new friendships made this year through social media.  I look forward to what the new year has in store for BabyBoomerDolls as there are many plans in the works even as I type this.  This is my passion and I couldn’t be more pleased to be able to share it with those of like mind…YOU!  

With that having been said, “Let’s Talk Dolls”….In this post we will complete our interview series with Patti Playpal. Let’s get started!

LYNN: Patti, we are so pleased that you are back with us again to wind up this series of interviews.  Thank you again for joining us and sharing your inside information on the Playpal series of dolls.

PATTI:  Thank you, Lynn.  I am so happy to have been here.  I hope everyone has enjoyed the information shared.   So, where shall we begin today?

LYNN: Patti, give us some information that might not be known about the Shirley Temple dolls, please.

PATTI:  Shirley Jane Temple was born in 1928.  She became the first child to win an Academy Award.  Over the decades, a parade of Shirley Temple dolls were made, but the first life-size Shirley Temples were made by Ideal during the Playpal years.  There were many variations, all with only slight differences.  Today, these dolls are respected by collectors. 

Like Pattite, the 19″ Shirley Temple, made by Ideal in the 1960s is a miniature version of her 36″ Playpal counterpart.  Today, she is valued at about $1000.

There was also an African American 36″ Shirley Temple doll made in the mid 1980s.  Only a very few of them were made and they were never put on the market.  No value has been established for this doll.  

In 1985, a reissue of the 36″ Shirley Temple was produced by Dolls, Dreams and Love, a company owned by a former Ideal employee, Hank Garfinkle.  

LYNN: Wow!  Those were some interesting, little known, facts….Moving forward, lets talk briefly about original TV and catalog ads and playsets.

PATTI: There was The Patti Playpal Game also by Ideal which is played similar to the Candyland game. In 1960-61 Gambles fall catalog offered a pink Rite Bite Steel Kitchen for Patti.  The entire kitchen sold for about $30.  A 1965 magazine ad for Grant’s Department store spotlighted companion dolls.  Little girls could get matching dresses for their companion dolls through the 1961 Wards Christmas Catalog. 

Saturday morning television commercials kindled and captivated the hearts, minds, and imaginations of America’s 1960s children. After watching weeks of these commercials, the dolls seemed to take on exaggerated prominence.  When you see a doll under YOUR Christmas tree that you have seen over and over again on television, well…..you know how that felt to those children. 

LYNN: Patti, were there other large dolls of this same era?

PATTI: The Lori Martin Doll (or Velvet Brown) – Every Sunday evening in the early 1960s, NBC-TV and Rexall presented MGM-TV’s “National Velvet.”  Lori Matin was the actress that played the lead role of Velvet Brown.  Her image appeared in TV Guide, coloring books, and  paper doll sets.  The doll made in her likeness is a sought after and pricey doll on today’s collector market.  The dolls were made around 1961 and came in 30, 36, 38, and 42″ sizes.  All these dolls are marked Metro Goldwyn Mayer and Ideal Toy Corp. 

Daddy’s girl by Ideal, a hard to find doll, came in two sizes, 42 and 38 inches.  The 38″ doll is extremely rare and is valued at about $300 MORE than the 42″ doll in the same condition.  This doll came in three hair colors being blonde, brunette, and auburn.  The auburn is the hardest to find.  

Then, there is one of everyone’s favorites – SAUCY WALKER.  She was made by Ideal in 1960.  She is an adorable doll that Playpal collectors seem to be very fond of.  MUCH different than her 1950s counterpart.  She is a winning combo of chubby cheeks and a smirk-ish grin.  She came in two sizes – 28″ and 32″.  The 32″ doll is sometimes referred to as the “Playpal Saucy Walker” by collectors.  Both dolls are marked Ideal.  In the 1960s Sears Wish Book, Saucy Walker was called “Chubby 2 Year Old,” and sold for $21.88 for the 32″ version and $18.88 for the 28″ version.  

Miss Ideal is jointed at wrists, above knees, and at waist.  She came in both 25 and 30″ sizes.  The hair color was dark blonde, but a very rare version was a platinum blonde.  She also came with a pretend “perm” kit! 

Bye Bye Baby was one of the life-sized baby dolls that Ideal made during the 1960s.  

Madame Alexander’s Joanie was made in 1960 and was dressed in a white nurse’s dress with a white apron and cap.   She was 36″ tall.   The Joanie Doll sold in the Sears 1960 catalog with an all steel nurse’s cart with 30 hospital play items for $28.88.  

Betsy McCall was 36″, marked McCall Corp, and appeared in 1959. She was easy to pick out of a crowd of companion dolls with that distinctive McCall turned up nose!  Soon to appear were Linda McCall and Sandy McCall.  

The Mary Jane Doll by Effanbee –  although she is not a Playpal doll, she has managed to turn heads of many Playpal collectors.  Her overall quality is above and beyond the great majority of Playpal look-alikes.  She is a 32″ vinyl walker with flirty eyes.  She was produced from 1959-62 and originally sold for about $20.  

Princess Peggy was Horsman’s answer to Patti Playpal. She was marketed from 1960 to 1966.  During those years, she had quite a variety of hair colors and styles – from bobs to ponytails.  She was also made in an African American version and was a walker.  Princess Peggy is marked “Horsman – 1959” on her head. 

The list could go on and on to include Little Miss Echo by American Character, Buffy, Betsy Wetsy by Ideal, Ideal Kissy, Mary Poppins by Horsman, Snow White, Little Orphan Annie issued by the Chicago Tribune/Daily News, Arranbee’s My Angel, Vogue’s Life-size Ginny, Goody Two Shoes, and the list goes on and on.  These are only a few of the Companion Dolls of that era.  

There are larger companion dolls (40″ or taller) have high values, even when they are unmarked, because they are harder to find, and collectors appreciate their uniqueness.  These dolls were often used a mannequins in children’s shops. 

LYNN:  My goodness! Patti, you certainly know your doll history.  Thank you so very much for sharing with us in these four interviews.  We have thoroughly enjoyed the information that you have provided.  Please come back again, soon.

PATTI:  Thank you so much for having me here and for your interest in both my Playpal family and other companion dolls of our era.  It was such a wonderful time in doll history!  But times now are just as special since the little girls that played with us when they were children are now seeking us out again as collector dolls!  We have a second opportunity to play and share the secrets with some of those same “little girls.”  After all, in some way, we are all children at heart and are touched by fond memories of favorite toys/dolls.  We are all happy to be a part of those memories!

From all of us at the Playpal family, we wish you a Merry Christmas! We would love to once again be under the Christmas tree for those who love and appreciate beautiful dolls. 

LYNN:  Yes, there are many of us collectors who would love to have that special doll under our Christmas trees.  The next time we are together will be a New Year.  There are so many plans in the works for the coming year.  I sincerely hope that you will join us on this journey!  Come join us in January and “Let’s Talk Dolls!”  See you soon!

Merry Christmas and Much Love from Lynn, Patti, and all the gang at BabyBoomerDolls! 

Interview with Patti Playpal (Part III)

Hello, Friends!  We are here with Patti Playpal with some very enlightening information for you today.  So….”Let’s Talk Dolls”….

LYNN: Patti, you have given us so much information on the Playpal Family.  We have learned so many facts and tidbits that many of us had absolutely no idea about.  Could you give us some quick facts now that readers might not be aware of?

PATTI:  Oh, I’d be happy to!  

*Most collectors will agree that the 1959 Pattis were non walkers with swivel wrists, and that the 1960 Pattis were walkers with stationary wrists. 

*”Generic” outfits sold in the Sears catalog for Playpal size dolls for between $3 and $4.

*There are many SALLY STARR outfits floating around out there and are coveted by collectors.  This outfit was not made by Ideal, but was made especially for Playpal dolls.  Sally Starr was a 1960s TV cowgirl.  The hat and boots were not originally included with the outfit.

LYNN: Those are some very interesting facts.  Speaking of facts, let’s talk about your Playpal family a bit.  Let’s begin with Peter.  I know that Peter has a charm about him that makes him very collectible in today’s collector’s market.  He is the most expensive in today’s market.  So, Patti, what information could you share from there?

PATTI:  Peter was made in 1960 and 1961.  He is 38″ tall making him about the size of a 4 year old child.  But did you know that a rare 36″ size was made?  The rare 36″ Peter was a “salesman” doll that came about as a result of the Playpal traveling salesmen complaining that the original 38″ versions were too tall to fit in the trunks of their cars.  As the story goes, Ideal shrunk these salesmen demo dolls down by 2″.  These shorter Peter Playpal versions are too rare to even come up with a value on! 

In addition to being difficult to find, Peters are especially special in the fact that boy dolls, in general, are hard to find.  Peter dolls are marked c Ideal Toy Corp / BE – 35 – 38 (on head) and c Ideal Toy Corp / W – 38 / Pat Pend (on body).

To my knowledge, all Peters were made to be walkers.  Some, over the course of all these years, may have loosened up or been poorly restrung and no longer appear to be walkers. 

Peter’s original hair colors were: sandy blonde, auburn, brown, and brown-black (rare).

His original eye colors were: hazel (brownish green), light green, gold or golden brown. 

LYNN:  Wow! All that information is more than valuable to the collectors of today.  What information can you share with us about Penny Playpal? 

PATTI: Penny was made for only one year, 1959.  She is 32″ tall and is the size of a 2 year old child.  She has a soft, rounded face that can cause anyone who sees her to love her.  She is marked “Ideal Doll / 32 – E – L” or “B-32 Pat. Pend.” (on her head) and “Ideal” in an oval on her back.  

Original hair colors for Penny were: sandy blonde, auburn, brown, dark brown/black.

Penny’s original eyes colors were: blue, green, and brown. 

LYNN:  This information is good to have when contemplating making a Playpal purchase to ensure that you are getting a genuine Playpal.  What about Suzy?

PATTI:  Suzy is an angelic babydoll in every sense of the words.  She is the size of a 1 year old child at 28″ tall.  In the ads of the era, her name was spelled both Suzy and Suzie.  She is noted for the detail on her chubby arms and legs.  

She came in both straight and curly hair with the curly hair being the most common.  Suzys are marked “Ideal Doll / O.E.B. – 28 – 55” or Ideal OB-28 (on her head) and “Ideal Toy Corp B 28” or “Ideal” in an oval on the back.  

Suzy had original hair colors of sandy blonde, light brown, auburn (rare), brown/black (rare).  Suzy’s hair was tightly curled.  A rare version had straight hair in a pixie cut.

Suzy’s original eye colors were blue, brown, and green.  

LYNN: How about a quick rundown on the twins Bonnie and Johnny Playpal….what can you tell us about them? They have been on my ‘wish list’ for quite some time now.  Since babyboomerdolls.net uses only  our own photos, I guess we will have to wait a little longer for pictures of The Twins. (giggle…)

PATTI: These two are exceptionally difficult to find, with Johnny being the harder of the two.   Bonnie has rooted hair and Johnny is the only Playpal doll with painted hair.  They are 24″ long making them the size of  3 month old  babies.  They are marked as follows:

Bonnie – Ideal Doll / OEB – 24 – 3 (on her head), Ideal (in oval)23 on her body.

Johnny – Ideal Doll / BB – 24 – 3 (on his head) and Ideal (in the oval) on his body.  

Hair colors were: Bonnie – blonde, dark brown, & auburn

Johnny – Painted on brown hair

Eye colors were: Bonnie – blue and green

Johnny – blue

Bonnie’s original outfit was a blue and white checked dress, and Johnny’s original outfit was a purple and white checked smock.  

Bonnie is very frequently confused with the Dryper babies.  Look for a nurser mouth to identify a Dryper baby.  Bonnie’s mouth is open/closed, but is not a nurser mouth.  Dryper babies are adorable, but do not command Bonnie Playpal prices.  Below is a picture of a Dryper baby during her day at the spa.  Notice her nurser type mouth.  

LYNN: Patti, I am so pleased that you have been with us today to give us all these valuable facts!  Our next (and final) interview with Patti will hit the highlights of the Shirley Temple dolls, advertising, companion dolls, and a few other large dolls of the era.  You won’t want to miss it! 

Please join us again.  If you like, leave your comment below as we would love to hear from you.  Stay well and see you soon!

Let’s Talk Dolls,

Lynn 

and our guest, Patti Playpal