Oct 122012
 
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No history of vintage dolls could be written without Horsman. A native of New York City, E. I. Horsman began retailing toys and novelties imported from Germany in the mid-1800s. As the new century dawned, his company began producing its own cloth and composition dolls.
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Babyland Rag Topsy doll by Horsman Babyland Rag Topsy doll by Horsman The Babyland Rag series of dolls ranged from 11″ to 30″ tall. They have hand painted faces and mitten style hands. Most of them, like this black doll called Topsy, are 14″ tall. They first appeared in Horsman’s 1893 catalog and were produced for over 30 years.
Babyland Rag Topsy Turvy doll by Horsman Babyland Rag Topsy Turvy doll by Horsman Babyland Rag Topsy Turvy doll by Horsman The Babyland Rag Topsy-Turvy doll has two heads – a white doll called Betty, and the black doll, Topsy. The long skirt hides the head on the opposite end.
Babyland Rag lithographed girl doll by Horsman Babyland Rag lithographed boy doll by Horsman In 1907, Horsman began offering Babyland Rag dolls with lifelike lithographed faces. Another style with a three-dimensional molded face was outsourced to Albert Bruckner, a New Jersey dollmaker. Photos courtesy of Withington Auction, Inc.

Composition Campbell Kid doll by Horsman Composition Campbell Kid doll by Horsman The composition Campbell Kid dolls, adapted from illustrations by Grace Drayton, were a huge seller for Horsman. The black doll is the earlier version from the 1910′s and ’20s with cloth body and compo hands. The white doll is the 1940s all-compo version. Photos courtesy of Withington Auction, Inc.

Horsman Jackie Coogan composition doll Horsman Jackie Coogan composition doll Jackie Coogan was a child actor of the 1920s who starred in the film “The Kid” with Charlie Chaplin. Horsman made two different versions of him in composition. This version has Jackie’s well known pageboy hair style, the other one has just a standard head that was also used for other dolls.

Composition Baby Dimples by Horsman Baby Dimples was a big seller for Horsman starting in 1927. She is a bent-leg baby with a composition head and limbs, and cloth body. There was also a version with a celluloid head imported from Germany. A straight-leg all composition toddler version called simply Dimples.

Dolly Rosebudy by Horsman Dolly Rosebud by Horsman Dolly Rosebud, introduced in 1928, has a composition shoulder head and limbs, with a cloth torso and a human hair wig. She was made in multiple sizes from 14″ to 24″. This doll’s dress is tagged “HORSMAN DOLL MF’D in U.S.A.”

Flirty-eyed composition baby doll by Horsman Babies have always been a huge part of Horsman’s lineup. This flirty-eyed baby, advertised in the 1942 Montgomery Ward Christmas catalog, has eyes that move from side to side as well as open and close.

Horsman Baby dolls in 1950 Montgomery Ward catalog These babies, advertised in the 1950 Montgomery Ward catalog, have hard plastic heads and softer vinyl bodies.

1950s Horsman Gold Medal Boy doll 1950s Horsman Gold Medal Boy doll Horsman used the name Gold Medal multiple times over the years. This Gold Medal Boy, also called Fairy Skin Boy was sold in the 1950s. He has a one piece body jointed only at the neck. There was a corresponding girl doll as well.
1950s Horsman Cindy glamour doll 1950s Horsman Cindy glamour doll High-heeled Cindy was a major part of Horsman’s lineup in the late fifties. She was available as a 15″ or 18″ doll with a stuffed vinyl body, jointed only at the neck and shoulders, with ball-jointed elbows; and as a 21″ doll with a rigid vinyl body, jointed at the hips as well. She was sold in various costumes, including as a bride and as a ballerina. She was also sold under other names including Bright Star.
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Vintage 10" Cindy glamour doll by Horsman There was a 10″ version of Cindy as well, similar to Ideal’s Little Miss Revlon doll. She was available in a variety of outfits and trunk sets.
Family Trio set of dolls by Horsman Horsman’s Family Trio Set includes a glamorous mother doll with two children. Read more about them on the Family Trio page.
Horsman Jackie doll Horsman’s Jackie was sold in the early ’60s to capitalize on the popularity of first lady Jacqueline Kennedy. Go to the Horsman Jackie page to learn more about her. Photo courtesy of John Medeiros.

Horsman Peggy Ann doll 1963 This doll in the 1963 Sears Toy book is unnamed, but she appears to be Horsman’s Peggy Ann, a vinyl sub-teen girl doll with a sweet smile. She was sold for several years, often in sets like this with extra outfits.
Miss Top Knot doll by Horsman This is Miss Top Knot from 1964. Read more about her here. Photo courtesy of Charlene Blank.

One of Horsman’s most popular vinyl dolls is Poor Pitiful Pearl, a homely doll who wears a floral dress with a bright red patch on the front, and a matching red head scarf. Originally produced by the Brookglad Corp. in the ’50s, Horsman began making Pearl in late 1963 in 18″ and later 11″ size, and brought her back again in the 1970s.

Action Bed by Horsman from the Disney film Bedknobs and Broomsticks Action Bed by Horsman from the Disney film Bedknobs and Broomsticks This Action Bed toy was a tie-in to the Disney film “Bedknobs and Broomsticks” released in 1972. It includes a 6.5″ doll representing the character played by Angela Lansbury in the movie. A hard to find item, it is also sought after by Disney collectors. Photos courtesy of Lisa Hanson. Check out Lisa’s eBay listings.

Horsman began making ventriloquist dolls in the 1970s, and continued with its successful lines of play dolls. In the 1980s, the company struggled, but eventually found renewed success by focusing on niche markets and adding collector dolls to its lineup. Several of Horsman’s early composition dolls were reissued in vinyl versions. The new millennium brough new challenges, and today, the company now known as Horsman Ltd., manufactures fashion dolls for collectors exclusively.

Copyright 2012 by Zendelle Bouchard