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
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cover
Dolls & Accessories of the 1950s
by Dian Zillner
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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)

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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
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cover
Madame Alexander Dolls:
An American Legend
by Stephanie Finnegan
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Copyright Zendelle Bouchard 2007-2015

Hard Plastic Kewpie Doll by Cameo / Effanbee

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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
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cover
Kewpies:
Dolls & Art
by John Axe
Find it on eBay.

Copyright 2015 by Zendelle Bouchard

Cameo Doll Company’s Vinyl Dolls

 Cameo  Comments Off on Cameo Doll Company’s Vinyl Dolls
Oct 072015
 
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Kuddly Kewpie doll made by Strombecker between 1969 and 1973.
Photo courtesy of eBay seller your-favorite-doll.

In the 1950s and ’60s, Cameo began making Kewpie and some of their other characters in vinyl, but also licensed other companies to manufacture them. This makes identification difficult, unless the original packaging is present, as they may be marked with the Cameo name while actually made by other manufacturers. Cameo closed in 1969, but founder Joseph Kallus retained his copyrights and continued to license them to various other firms.

Kewpie Gal and Ragsy Kewpie, two of the many vinyl variations of the standard Kewpie doll. Ragsy Kewpie was also made in light blue and royal blue.
Photo courtesy of eBay seller your-favorite-doll.

Cameo made variations of the standard Kewpie dolls as well: Kewpie Gal has chin length molded hair; Ragsy Kewpie has a body molded in color and is jointed only at the neck. Scootles was reproduced in vinyl beginning in 1964.

Pinkie was made as a vinyl toddler with rooted hair in the 1950s. She was a completely different doll than the composition doll with the same name.

Margie was another name recycled by Cameo, also for a completely different doll than the compo one. The vinyl version was a 17″ girl with rooted hair and multiple joints.

Peanut is a bent-leg baby doll with molded hair that was sold in the Sears catalog as an unnamed doll. She appeared in the 1954 catalog alone; then in 1958 was sold together with a small Kewpie.

Miss Peep has very unusual joints.

Miss Peep is a baby doll sold in the late fifties and through the sixties, and was another hit for Cameo. She is all vinyl with inset plastic eyes. A black version (see below) was made as well as the more common white doll. Most versions have unusual joints at the hip and shoulder that allow the arms and legs to rotate completely as well as move back and forth. A version with regular flange joints was also made. The design for Miss Peep was evidently licensed to another company after Cameo closed, as she was advertised under the name Baby Wendy at least as late as 1973.

Hard to find black version of Cameo’s Miss Peep doll.
Photo courtesy of eBay seller your-favorite-doll.

Other vinyl babies include Dyp-a-Babe, a drink and wet doll; and Baby Mine, who has beautiful large side-glancing painted eyes (a sleep eyed version was also sold).

Comic characters made in vinyl include Felix the Cat and Popeye.

Vinyl dolls are generally marked “CAMEO” on the back of their heads, and sometimes on their bodies as well.

See also:



Copyright 2006-2015 by Zendelle Bouchard

Cameo Doll Company’s Composition Dolls

 Cameo  Comments Off on Cameo Doll Company’s Composition Dolls
Sep 292015
 
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Rare black composition Kewpie doll by Cameo.
Photo courtesy of eBay seller your-favorite-doll.

Joseph Kallus, founder of the Cameo Doll Company, got his start in the business as a teenage art student when he went to work for Geo. Borgfeldt & Co. helping develop the first line of Kewpie dolls in 1912. His association with Rose O’Neill, designer of the Kewpies, continued after he founded his own company, Cameo, in 1922. The company opened a plant in Port Allegheny, PA, in 1933, but it was nearly destroyed in a fire a year later. They rebuilt, and continued producing composition Kewpies and other O’Neill dolls, as well as Mr. Kallus’ own designs, and his interpretations of popular comic, film and advertising characters, many with segmented wood bodies. They designed and produced dolls for other companies as well, including Ideal and Effanbee.

After Rose O’Neill’s death in the 1940s, Mr. Kallus acquired all the patent, copyright and trademark rights to Kewpie. Cameo continued producing Kewpies, but also licensed other companies to manufacture them. This makes identification of Cameo dolls difficult, as they may be marked with the Cameo name while actually made by other manufacturers. Kewpies were briefly made in hard plastic by Effanbee in the 1950s, but bear the Cameo name. In the sixties, Cameo began making Kewpie and some of their other characters in vinyl. The company had another hit with the vinyl Miss Peep baby doll in the late fifties and sixties. Cameo closed in 1969, but Mr. Kallus retained his copyrights and continued to license them to various other firms.

Mr. Kallus died in 1982 from injuries suffered in a hit and run accident. Shortly before the accident, he transferred the rights to Kewpie and his other dolls to Jesco, a California company, who continued to license them. Some of the most beautiful Kewpies ever made were produced in the late 1990s and early 2000s by R. John Wright of Vermont as high end felt collector dolls. The Kewpie trademark is now owned by a Japanese corporation whose primary business is food products like mayonnaise and mustard. It is not clear whether any new Kewpie dolls are being produced as of this writing.

Early composition Cameo dolls are usually marked with a label on their chest; often the label is partially or completely removed. The dolls of the 1940s are often unmarked.

Rose O’Neill Designs

Kewpies were Cameo’s perennial best seller, and were made in many different versions and sizes. Some had composition head and hands on a cloth body. Early all-compo dolls had legs molded together like the German bisque version, and were jointed only at the shoulders; later they acquired a wider stance with legs separated. Still later compo versions were jointed at the neck and hips as well. Black Kewpies were made, but are much less common than the white dolls. See the Composition Kewpies page for more info.
Scootles is another doll designed by Rose O’Neill. This doll, like Kewpie, was first made in Germany in a bisque version; the composition doll by Cameo was produced in the 1930s and ’40s in seven sizes from 7.5″ to 20″. A black version was made as well. Scootles has molded hair in curls, and usually has painted eyes, although sleep eye dolls were also sold. See the Composition Scootles page for more info.

Giggles was the third Rose O’Neill design produced by Cameo. This darling all-compo little girl has molded hair with bangs, with two holes in the back of her head for a hair ribbon. Both Giggles and Scootles have the same jointed body as the later compo Kewpies. All three dolls were sold in similar outfits.

Composition Baby Dolls

Baby dolls in composition include the Bye-Lo baby for Borgfeldt; Baby Bo-Kaye (also available with bisque and celluloid heads from other companies); Baby Blossom in 1927; Baby Adele in 1930. These all had compo heads and hands (and sometimes feet) on cloth bodies.

Joseph Kallus Designs

Margie is a pretty, smiling girl with molded hair and a molded band around her head, and painted teeth. All sizes have composition heads; the smaller ones have segmented bodies and limbs entirely of wood; larger sizes have compo torsos and hands as well.
Photo courtesy of Withington Auction, Inc.

Pinkie and Joy are two other Kallus characters with the wooden segmented bodies. Pinkie has more of a babyish face with serious expression; Joy has more of a cartoonish, Kewpie type face. Larger versions of Joy have a molded loop at the top of her head for a hairbow. Joy has also been found with compo lower legs with molded bare feet, and was advertised in a cloth body version too.

Champ is a tough little boy doll, with a freckled face and his left hand molded into a fist.

Comic Characters

Little Annie Rooney was made by Cameo in two different compo versions. One version, based on the comic strip by Jack Collins, has molded painted hair and an oval face. She has been seen with both black painted hair, and a soft brown color. The other version of Little Annie Rooney is a completely different doll, based on the movie character portrayed by Mary Pickford in 1926. She has a round head, with a yellow cotton yarn wig in long braids. Her legs are painted black to resemble stockings, and she has molded on yellow shoes.

Betty Boop was made in a few different versions by Cameo. Some had her voluptuous figure and high heeled shoes; others had a child body like that of Margie and Pinkie. Her dog Bimbo was made as well.

Other comic strip and cartoon character dolls by Cameo include Felix the Cat; Popeye and his dog Jeep; Pete the Pup; and Bonzo (also a dog). These were all made with the segmented wood bodies, although some were also made in versions with more compo parts. (Mr. Kallus was evidently fond of canines, as Cameo produced other toy dogs in composition as well as these.)

Disney characters the company produced include Mickey Mouse, Dumbo, Pinocchio and Jiminy Cricket. The last two were made for Ideal. All but Dumbo have the wood segmented bodies. Dumbo is all composition except for his felt ears. He is jointed at the neck and trunk.

Advertising Dolls

Rare Happy Hotpoint character doll has a composition head and segmented wood body.
Photo courtesy of eBay seller lchristoo.

Advertising dolls made in composition and wood include Mr. Peanut, Happy Hotpoint and Bandy (for General Electric). These were all made in the 1930s. The RCA Radiotron man, also known as Sellin’ Fool, was made in 1926 as a display item for RCA dealers. He was based on the original advertising illustration by Maxfield Parrish. The other advertising dolls may have been dealer display items as well, rather than for sale to the general public.

See also:



Learn More:

cover
Kewpies:
Dolls & Art
by John Axe
Find it on eBay.
cover
Composition & Wood
Dolls and Toys
by Michele Karl
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cover
Compo Dolls 1928-55
by Polly and Pam Judd
Find it on eBay.

Copyright 2006-2015 by Zendelle Bouchard