May 232016

Sweet Ann doll by Deluxe Reading has a sweet face. Her box has an illustration of her against a blue background. Photos courtesy of Francie Owens.

Sweet Ann and Sweet Gail are the same doll, only the color of their gown differentiates them. They were sold in grocery stores in the late 1950s or early 1960s.

Body Construction
Sweet Ann and Sweet Gail are among Deluxe Reading’s larger glamour dolls at 30″ tall. They are made of rigid vinyl or hard plastic, with a softer vinyl head, jointed at the neck, shoulders and hips.

She is marked “AE251/3” or “AE251/4G” on the back of her neck.

Sweet Ann wears her fabulous red gown with silver and white underskirt, with red mitts. The bright red satin fabric fades to a duller red or orange over time. Around her neck is a pearl choker, and she wears drop pearl earrings and a tiara of silver sequins. Sweet Gail wears the same style gown, except that it is royal blue instead of red. This blue has often faded to purple over time.

Sweet Ann’s original box is pictured above. Sweet Gail’s is the same basic design, but the dress is blue and the background is red.

This doll has lost her jewelry, but her dress retains its vibrant red color.

Copyright 1998-2016 by Zendelle Bouchard

May 172016

Madame Alexander issued six series of 14″ First Lady dolls beginning in 1976 and ending in 1990. The first series, available from 1976 through 1978, included Martha Washington, Abigail Adams, Martha Randolph, Dolley Madison, Elizabeth Monroe and Louisa Adams. The dolls are not portraits of the actual women, and Madame Alexander used creative license in selecting the hair and eye colors of the dolls. They are made of rigid vinyl, with rooted hair and sleep eyes with brush lashes. They are jointed at the neck, shoulders and hips, and wear beautifully made outfits. In addition to the outfit pieces described, each doll wears white stockings.

Martha Dandridge Custis Washington was the wife of George Washington, our nation’s first President. She was a young widow with two toddlers when she married Washington in 1759. Although the doll has light blonde hair, the real Martha was a brunette. She is remembered today as a warm and gracious hostess who treasured her privacy.

Martha Washington wears a silver and taupe brocade gown trimmed with champagne lace and ivory braid, with an attached lace stole and a lace mob cap. Her white cotton and net petticoat and pantalettes are trimmed with pink satin ribbon and white lace. She carries a brown velveteen bag adorned with an ivory lace motif. Pink satin shoes and a graduated “pearl” necklace complete her ensemble.

Abigail Smith Adams, wife of John Adams, got her feet wet by being the Vice President’s wife (now sometimes called Second Lady) before becoming First Lady when her husband was elected President. In 1825 she also became the mother of a President when her son John Quincy Adams was elected. Her admonition to her husband to “remember the ladies” as he worked with the Continental Congress to build a new nation is still quoted today.

Abigail Adams wears a long sleeved royal blue satin gown with a delicate leaf print, with white lace at the cuffs. Her white lace shawl is attached at the neckline and held in place with a rhinestone pin at her bodice. Her white cotton and net petticoat and pantalettes are trimmed in white lace and pale blue satin ribbon. She wears a blue velvet ribbon in her hair and black velveteen shoes. A graduated “pearl” necklace provides a finishing touch.

Martha Jefferson Randolph was the daughter of the third American President, Thomas Jefferson. She acted as his occasional hostess due to the death of her mother several years before. She and her husband had twelve children – her son, James, was the first child born in the White House, in 1806. Known as Patsy to her family, Martha took devoted care of her father in his declining years.

Martha Randolph wears a short sleeved pale pink taffeta gown with an ivory lace panel down the front. Her pink taffeta petticoat and pantalettes are trimmed with pink satin ribbon and white lace. She wears a pink organdy wrap around her head and a long black cape trimmed in fancy brocade ribbon. A graduated “pearl” necklace and pink satin shoes complete her outfit.

Dolley Payne Todd Madison was the wife of America’s fourth President, James Madison. She was the first First Lady to embrace a public role, and helped to found a home for young orphaned girls. When the British burned Washington during the War of 1812, she refused to evacuate the White House until Gilbert Stuart’s portrait of George Washington was removed from the wall and secured.

Dolley Madison wears a sleeveless champagne satin dressed flocked with silver glitter in a floral pattern, and decorated with champagne and silver metallic braid. She wears a matching long coat and an ivory organdy head wrap. Her white cotton petticoat and pantalettes are trimmed with white lace and pink satin ribbon. Champagne satin shoes provide the finishing touch.

Elizabeth Kortright Monroe was only seventeen years old when she married the future fifth President of the United States, James Monroe. Due to her frail health, her oldest daughter often assumed the duties of hostess at the White House.

Elizabeth Monroe wears a long sleeved gold and pink satin brocade gown, trimmed in satin ribbon and lace. Her white cotton and net petticoat and pantalettes are trimmed with white satin ribbon and lace. A lace shawl attached to a long brocade panel at her back is held in place with a goldtone bow pin at her waist. She wears a rhinestone tiara and a rhinestone pendant necklace on a goldtone chain. Champagne colored satin shoes complete her ensemble.

Louisa Catherine Johnson Adams, wife of John Quincy Adams, was born in England, to a British mother and American father. She wrote music and poetry, and played the harp. She followed her husband in his diplomatic travels around the world, once crossing Europe by coach in the winter to join him.

Louisa Adams wears a short sleeved white satin gown decorated with white and silver metallic braid, and ruched bands of tulle. Her white taffeta and net petticoat and pantalettes are decorated with gathered white lace. She wears graduated “pearl” necklace and a cluster of rosebuds in her hair.

Copyright 2016 by Zendelle Bouchard

Sweet Rosemary Doll by Deluxe Reading

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Apr 212016

Sweet Rosemary is one of the big glamour dolls Deluxe Reading made in the late 1950s, which were sold in grocery stores. Although she is a lady doll, she was made with a variety of head molds that are very childlike.

Body Construction
This doll is approximately 30″ tall, jointed at the neck only. She is all vinyl and her body is stuffed. She has short, curly blonde rooted hair and blue sleep eyes with brush lashes, with painted lashes below her eyes. She has pierced ears with drop pearl earrings. Her finger and toenails are unpainted. The same dolls were dressed in different outfits and sold as Darling Debbie, Beautiful Gail, Betty the Beautiful Bride, and Cinderella.

Sweet Rosemary wears a pink taffeta gown with rows and rows of pink and silver lace ruffles decorating the skirt. The same lace also frames the neckline and she wears matching detached sleeves. A deep pink velveteen cummerbund accents her waist, and a pearl choker encircles her throat. She also wears white cotton panties. The doll was also packaged with a pink plastic purse with goldtone chain strap. The bases of her high heeled shoes are gray plastic with white elastic straps across the instep, accented with a circle of rhinestones.

The large stuffed vinyl dolls have various markings.

Her original box is pictured below.

Copyright 2000-2016 by Zendelle Bouchard

Ballerina / Skater Doll by Deluxe Reading (1959-60)

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Mar 312016

Deluxe Reading made several different high heeled dolls in the late fifties and early sixties. The Ballerina / Skater came with outfits for both activities to provide hours of fun for a little girl.

Body Construction
This doll is 20″ tall, with a soft vinyl head, rigid vinyl arms and torso, hard plastic legs and feet. She is jointed at the neck, shoulders, waist, hips, knees and ankles. Her lower legs and ankles are strung, the rest of her joints are flanged. She is a walker. Her blue sleep eyes are framed by brush lashes, with three painted lashes at the outer corner of each eye. She has the typical “chipmunk-cheeked” face seen in many of Deluxe Reading’s dolls. Dolls with this body type came with either a bubblecut or ponytail hairstyle, in dark blonde and possibly other colors. She has no earring holes.

A similar doll, with the addition of jointed wrists, was also made by Deluxe Reading.

Deluxe Reading’s Ballerina / Skater doll has jointed ankles.

She is marked “21 HH” on the back of her head below the hairline.

This doll was sold in the Sears catalog of 1959 as a Ballerina/Skater, wearing a long-sleeved ice skating costume with tights, skates and a scarf. She also came with a complete ballet outfit. In 1960, the ponytailed version was available as a Ballerina with Wardrobe. Her extra clothing included a leotard, rayon party dress, and cotton dress with jacket. The Ballerina/Skater was also described, but not pictured.

Scan from 1959 Sears Christmas Catalog, courtesy of Wishbook Web.

The doll in the photo at top wears a strapless dress with cotton bodice trimmed in gold braid and a taffeta print skirt. A flocked flower corsage is pinned to the bodice. This is very similar to another Deluxe Reading outfit also pictured in the 1960 Sears catalog. This may have been the party dress that came with the Ballerina doll, or perhaps this particular doll was sold as simply a fashion doll wearing this outfit. Her petticoat, hose and shoes may not be original.

Copyright 1999-2016 by Zendelle Bouchard

Dee an Cee Doll in Black Cocktail Dress

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Mar 242016

This doll has not been identified, but she is most likely Cindy made by Dee and Cee in the early sixties, as she closely resembles their other Cindy dolls. She is also virtually identical to Royal’s Lilo doll.

Body Construction
This pretty lady is 17″ tall, all vinyl and jointed at the neck, shoulders, waist and hips. She has sleep eyes with brush lashes, pierced ears and red painted finger- and toenails. Her rooted blonde hair is styled in a short bubblecut.

She is marked “D & C” on the back of her head below the hairline.

This doll wears a black satin cocktail dress with a black knit and silver lurex bodice and a black net overskirt. The dress is fastened with two black buttons in the back. Pinned to her head is a small circle hat of the same material as the bodice trimmed in the black net. She’s also wearing black satin panties, sheer beige nylon hose and black plastic ankle strap shoes.

Copyright 2000-2016 by Zendelle Bouchard.