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Sweet Sue with Flexible Foot / Toni Ballerina Doll

 American Character  Comments Off on Sweet Sue with Flexible Foot / Toni Ballerina Doll
Dec 032015
 
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American Character’s Sweet Sue with Flexible Foot has the same face as their Sweet Sue Sophisticate doll.

This version of American Character‘s Sweet Sue doll, described in their brochure as a “sub-teen,” bridges the gap between the hard plastic little girl version, and the mature all-vinyl Sweet Sue Sophisticate. Her jointed ankles enable her to wear medium heels, flats or toe shoes, although collectors should be aware that leaving the feet flexed into the highest position often causes them to split.

20″ Sweet Sue with Flexible Foot in Collegiate outfit.

Body Construction
Flexible Foot Sweet Sue is a walking doll with rigid vinyl torso, legs and arms, with a softer vinyl head and hard plastic feet. She is jointed at the neck, shoulders, waist, hips and ankles. Her arms are flange jointed and positioned very close to her body, with palms facing inward. The waist and neck joints are articulated to allow them to tilt as well as rotate. The most significant feature about this doll is her “sub-teen” bustline, much less developed than Sweet Sue Sophisticate.

She was made in 14″, 20″ and 25″ sizes, and is a walker. Her rooted hair, pulled back into a curly bob with bangs, is most often auburn, but is found in other shades as well. She has blue sleep eyes with brush lashes, and painted lashes underneath each eye. Her fingernails are polished to a light pink; her toenails are unpolished.

Toni Ballerina has the same sub-teen bustline and jointed ankles, but her hair is pulled into a bun at the back of her head, with wisps of hair framing her face.

Sweet Sue with Flexible Foot doll in American Beauty.

Markings
The 25″ size has “AME. CHARACTER DOLL COR./©” on the back of her neck. The 14″ and 20″ dolls are completely unmarked.

Clothing
Flexible Foot Sweet Sue was available in a variety of outfits. Each doll came with a round plastic case carrying a black leotard, black satin ballet slippers, black vinyl flats and an extra pair of heels. Toni Ballerina carries the same accessory case, but without the “Sweet Sue” name across the front.

Her accessory case includes a black cotton leotard and 3 pairs of shoes. Click here to see the contents of the accessory case.

  • Bride is a white satin wedding gown with nylon tricot puffed sleeve treatment and ruching all around the middle of the skirt. Underneath she wears a full hoop petticoat, medium white heels, white taffeta panties, nylon hose. She wears pearl drop earrings, and 20″ and 25″ sizes also came with a rhinestone engagement ring. Click here to see a rare variation. Note the doll has the Toni face paint and a bridal gown made from the Cocktail dress pattern. Photo courtesy of Nancy McKee.
  • Collegiate is a white nylon blouse with pale blue polka dots and a large bow at the neckline; aqua accordian-pleated cotton skirt; white nylon taffeta slip with tulle ruffle at hemline; white taffeta panties; hose; black medium heels with rhinestone accent; velvet ribbon headband. See photo above. This outfit was also available in a red version.
  • Lindy Hop is a print blouse with felt jumper; petticoat; panties; hose; black medium heels with rhinestone accent.
  • Sunday Best is sheer white nylon dress, shading to blue at the hem, with puffed sleeves, two or three rows of white embroidery in a paisley pattern at hem, wide sash at waist; blue underdress; blue straw hat with flower; white medium heels with rhinestone accent or mary jane shoes with floral decoration; white taffeta panties; nylon hose or ankle socks.

    14″ Sweet Sue with Flexible Foot in Sunday Best outfit.
    Photo courtesy of eBay seller your-favorite-doll.

  • Birthday Party is a sheer white nylon dress with pink and blue embroidery, with the name “Sweet Sue” embroidered into the pattern; attached satin sash; fancy taffeta slip; white medium heels with rhinestones; white taffeta panties and nylon hose.
  • American Beauty is a full skirted ballgown of pale pink nylon, shading to deep pink at the hem. The dress is actually in two pieces with the bodice of the dress attached to the petticoat, and a separate skirt of gathered flounces that ties with a ribbon in the back. Under all she wears a hoop skirt. She has a nylon tricot stole attached at the front of the bodice that goes over her shoulders and is held in place with satin ribbon. White taffeta panties and nylon hose. See photo above.
  • As Toni Ballerina, she wears a pale pink ballet tutu with floral accent, and ballet slippers. See below.

Toni Ballerina doll illustration from an American Character booklet.



Learn More:

cover
American Character Dolls
by Judith Izen
Find it on eBay.
cover
Dolls & Accessories of the 1950s
by Dian Zillner
Find it on eBay.
cover
The Doll & Teddy Bear Department
edited by Thomas W. Holland
Find it on eBay.

Copyright 1997-2015 by Zendelle Bouchard

Sweet Sue Sophisticate (1957-58)

 American Character  Comments Off on Sweet Sue Sophisticate (1957-58)
Nov 302015
 
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20″ Sweet Sue Sophisticate doll by American Character wearing “Romance”
Photo courtesy of eBay seller dreamalong.

American Character‘s Sweet Sue Sophisticate was introduced in 1957. A year later, the company began marketing the Sophisticate doll with different outfits and slightly different face paint under the Toni name. Toni most often has painted lashes at the outer corner of each eye, while Sweet Sue Sophisticate has painted lashes below each eye. It should be noted that while this is the identifying feature, it is not a hard and fast rule. Dolls have been found with Sweet Sue Sophisticate face paint in Toni outfits and boxes.

Another doll with the same face as Sweet Sue Sophisticate, but with jointed ankles and a smaller bustline, was sold as Sweet Sue with Flexible Foot.

The 20″ version of Sweet Sue Sophisticate was also made in an unmarked version and sold to Dee an Cee, a Canadian doll company, who dressed her and marketed her as Sweet Sue Teen Age Doll.

Sweet Sue Sophisticate’s “Romance” outfit features a full length evening coat.
Photo courtesy of eBay seller dreamalong.

Body Construction
Sweet Sue Sophisticate is a walking doll, 14″ or 20″ tall and all vinyl. She is jointed at the neck, shoulders, waist and hips. Her shoulders are flange jointed and only move forward and back, close to her body. The neck and waist joints are articulated to allow them to tilt as well as rotate. Her rooted hair is good quality and was made in blonde, red and brunette shades. It is most often styled in a curly bob with bangs but the Romance doll has a short bubblecut hairstyle (see photo above). She has blue sleep eyes with brush lashes, and pierced ears with pearl drop earrings.

Sweet Sue Sophisticate in “Cocktails” outfit.

Markings
The 14″ version of Sweet Sue Sophisticate is completely unmarked. The 20″ version has “AMERICAN © CHARACTER” in a circle on her back.

14″ Sweet Sue Sophisticate in “Tea Time.”

Clothing
Sweet Sue Sophisticate was sold in a variety of glamorous outfits. Underneath them all, she wears taffeta panties, a strapless stretch lace bra and nylon hose. Her elastic-strap heels are accented with two rhinestones.

  • High Society is a taffeta bubble dress with cap sleeves edged in lace and jeweled decoration at bodice; matching hat; black heels. Available in black, pale blue and deep blue, possibly other colors.
  • Bride is a white satin wedding gown with a knee-length skirt of rounded panels over full-length tiers of nylon tricot ruffles, matching ruffles on the neckline and long sleeves; hooped petticoat; pointed satin bridal cap trimmed in pearls with fingertip veil; bouquet; white shoes.
  • Cocktails is a dress of Chantilly lace over white satin, with attached chiffon stole. Also includes black lace-trimmed petticoat, black shoes. It was available in 14″ and 20″ sizes. See photo of black lace version above. See the red lace version here. The 10″ version of Toni has a similar outfit.
  • Romance is a ball gown with silver lamé bodice and two-tiered nylon tricot skirt; long hooded satin coat with silver lamé lining; petticoat; purse; rhinestone ring; shoes. Available in pink or blue versions. See photos above and below.
  • Tea Time is a short-sleeved dress with satin bodice and cotton two-tiered accordian pleated skirt. See rose version above. See blue version below.
  • Town and Country is a black and white tweed skirt and jacket with teal waistband and collar. This is the hardest outfit to find.

Packaging
Sweet Sue Sophisticate’s box is shown in the photo below. All dolls came with a wrist tag with a pink and black poodle illustration, that touted her as “your grown up doll.”



Learn More:

cover
American Character Dolls
by Judith Izen
Find it on eBay.
cover
Dolls & Accessories of the 1950s
by Dian Zillner
Find it on eBay.
cover
The Doll & Teddy Bear Department
edited by Thomas W. Holland
Find it on eBay.

Copyright Zendelle Bouchard 1999-2015

10″ Margot Doll by Alexander (1961)

 Alexander  Comments Off on 10″ Margot Doll by Alexander (1961)
Nov 222015
 
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10″ Margot by Alexander. Photo courtesy of Nancy McKee.

In the 1950’s Madame Alexander used the name Margot for a 14″ ballerina doll with the Margaret face mold. But 1961, the 10″ version of Margot was introduced. She is an all hard plastic glamour doll, the same doll as Cissette, but has an upswept hairdo with a spit curl over her left eye. 10″ Margot is most commonly found as a brunette but blondes were made as well. She has the same dramatic eye paint as Jacqueline. Margot dolls were later used for some of the Portrette series. See a closeup photo of the above doll here. See a back view here.

Margot had several different outfits available. This may not be a complete list.

#? – Silver stretch top (probably came with pants)
#? – Blue and white top with vertical stripes, Mandarin collar, three buttons; orange pants. Sold separately. See photo above.
#? – Pink nylon nightie; black lace peignoir with pink ribbon tie. Sold separately. #905 – Black pants; white eyelet top.
#910 – Black velvet panty; red or yellow satin brocade halter top with gold straps; black elastic-strap heels; pearl drop earrings. See photo at top. This photo shows a variation of the top.
#920 – Purple or lavender satin princess-cut gown with sequined straps; may have matching stole rhinestone or pearl drop earrings; bracelet.
#925 – White satin gown and matching long cape with high collar.
#0965 – Silver lame gown with rhinestone straps, small blue velvet bow at waist. See photo below.
#0970 – Pink pique coat with elbow-length sleeves, trimmed in green rickrack; matching hat. Sold separately. See photo at bottom.

Vintage Margot doll by Madame Alexander.

Photo courtesy of Withington Auction, Inc.



Learn More:

cover
Cissette: A Collectors Guide
to the Vintage Alexander Dolls
by Marjorie E. Merod, MD
Find it on eBay.
cover
Collector’s Encyclopedia of
Madame Alexander Dolls 1948-1965
by Linda Crowsey
Find it on eBay.
cover
Madame Alexander Dolls:
An American Legend
by Stephanie Finnegan
Find it on eBay.

Copyright Zendelle Bouchard 2007-2015

Hard Plastic Kewpie Doll by Cameo / Effanbee

 Cameo  Comments Off on Hard Plastic Kewpie Doll by Cameo / Effanbee
Nov 102015
 
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Photo courtesy of eBay seller your-favorite-doll.

This hard plastic Kewpie doll was sold by Cameo name but was actually manufactured by Effanbee. He is jointed only at the shoulders. He is a rare doll, and hard to track down, because many sellers will describe a hard vinyl doll as “hard plastic” when it is actually not the same material.

The true hard plastic Kewpie doll has little stubby brown painted wings. Only a few of the earliest vinyl Kewpies had wings, so that may make it easier to identify him from photos. He is marked “KEWPIE © Rose O’Neill” on his back. He dates to the 1950s.

His paper label has shifted a little – it should be in the middle of his chest. He measures 9″ tall.

Photo courtesy of eBay seller your-favorite-doll.



Learn More:

cover
Collecting Rose
O’Neill’s Kewpies
by David O’Neill &
Janet O’Neill Sullivan
Find it on eBay.
cover
Kewpies:
Dolls & Art
by John Axe
Find it on eBay.

Copyright 2015 by Zendelle Bouchard

Becky Thatcher Handmade Cloth Doll

 Cloth  Comments Off on Becky Thatcher Handmade Cloth Doll
Oct 142015
 
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Vintage handmade cloth Becky Thatcher doll.

Becky Thatcher, a character in Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, was inspired by Laura Hawkins, a real life friend of young Samuel Clemens. This doll, representing Becky, was sold in the Becky Thatcher Shop in Hannibal, Missouri. She dates to the mid-twentieth century. Various dolls representing Becky (and Tom Sawyer) have been sold at the shop in its various incarnations over the years, and probably at the Mark Twain Boyhood Home & Museum as well.

Body Construction
Becky is 12 1/2″ tall, made of muslin stuffed with cotton. She has wool yarn hair in braids, and embroidered features, with glued-on fabric circles for eyes. Her arms and legs were sewn separately and then attached to her torso, giving her shoulder and hip joints. Other Becky dolls have been found with variations of the face embroidery, reflecting the fact that they were made by different individuals. Some Beckys have sewn on appliquéd eyes.

Markings
The doll is not marked in any way, but her first name is embroidered on her apron, and on the back of her skirt there is a label from the shop. I have seen a variety of labels on Becky dolls – on some the name is Becky Thatcher Bookshop, and others Mark Twain Gift Shop.

Clothing
Becky is dressed in a two piece dress with separate undersleeves, an apron embroidered with her name, pantalettes trimmed in eyelet lace, a felt bonnet and felt shoes. Becky dolls have been found dressed in variations of fabric and style, but they always have the embroidered name on the apron.

Copyright 2015 by Zendelle Bouchard