May 192013
 
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Once Barbie had a boyfriend (Ken), the next logical step was for her to acquire a best friend to share her secrets with (not to mention her clothes!). Midge debuted in 1963.

Vintage Barbie's best friend, Midge by Mattel

Redheaded Midge dolls wear a chartreuse & orange swimsuit. Blondes get two shades of blue; brunettes wear a hot pink top and red bottom.
Photo courtesy of Withington Auction, Inc.

The first version of Midge had the same straight leg body as Barbie, with a new head mold. She was available as a blonde, brunette or redhead, in a short flip hairdo with bangs, and blue eyes. Most dolls have a closed mouth smile and freckles; but some have no freckles, or a small white area painted between her lips to indicate teeth. Midge was sold in a two piece swimsuit with white open toe shoes. The color of the swimsuit varied according to the doll’s hair color. This first version of Midge was available from 1963 through ’66.

In 1964, Wig Wardrobe Midge was introduced. This set included a Midge head with a short, molded hairstyle, and three wigs for her to wear.

Midge's Wig Wardrobe by Mattel

Photo courtesy of eBay seller your-favorite-doll.

In 1965, Barbie and Midge got a new bendable leg body. Bendable Leg Midge had a new, short pageboy hairstyle with an aqua ribbon headband, a one piece multicolor striped swimsuit, and aqua open toe shoes. She was again available in three different hair colors.



Mattel stopped using the Midge name for many years until re-introducing her with a new head mold in the late ’80s. The original Midge head mold continued to be used throughout the mod era for Barbie’s friend PJ. Mattel made a reproduction of the original Midge in 1997.



Copyright 2013 by Zendelle Bouchard

Jan 162013
 
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Nancy Ann Storybook Dolls, Inc. is best known for their 4.5″ to 7″ bisque (and later, hard plastic) dolls, mostly of storybook characters, dressed in an endless variety of outfits and sold in polka dot boxes from the ’30s through the ’50s. But the company sold lots of other dolls, and this page is about them.

For details on the storybook dolls, see the Nancy Ann Storybook dolls page and the Nancy Ann Storybook series page.


_baby1 (1K) _aobaby (4K) The babies are some of the earliest dolls sold by the company. They were purchased from other companies and dressed by Nancy Ann. Many were made in Japan. These painted bisque babies are 3.5″ and 4.5″ tall.


_pink1 (3K) _pink2 (3K) After having great success with the Storybook Dolls for a number of years, in 1952, Nancy Ann branched out to other types of dolls with the Style Show series. These dolls are 18″ tall, all hard plastic with stunning outfits. These dolls are unmarked and difficult to identify unless wearing a documented outfit. They were only produced for a few years.
Photos courtesy of eBay seller luving_dolls


_red1 (4K) _yellow1 (2K) _face (4K) In 1953, the 8″ hard plastic toddler, Muffie, was introduced. She was similar to Vogue’s very popular Ginny doll. Muffie’s head was made of vinyl beginning in 1957 and she was produced into the 1960s. She had an extensive selection of extra outfits available.
Photos courtesy of eBay seller your-favorite-doll.


_basic1 (4K) _basic2 (5K) Debbie was a slightly larger version of Muffie at 10.5″ tall. She was a hard plastic walking doll. Some Debbies were made with vinyl heads as well.
Photos courtesy of eBay seller your-favorite-doll.

_basic3 (4K) _debbie3902 (6K)
_green1 (2K) _mnafull (2K) _lmna1 (4K) _tagged (3K) 10.5″ Miss Nancy Ann was the company’s answer to Ideal’s popular Little Miss Revlon. An 8″ Little Miss Nancy Ann was also made. These dolls are all vinyl with mature figures and high heeled feet. They had extra boxed outfits available. For more information, go to the Miss Nancy Ann and Little Miss Nancy Ann pages.

In the late fifties, Miss Abbott became ill with cancer and the company struggled to keep up production. She died in 1964, and her partner, Mr. Rowland, who was also ill, was unable to keep the company afloat. Nancy Ann Storybook Dolls closed its doors in 1965. The assets of the company were sold to Albert Bourla, who produced a series of Muffie Around the World dolls in 1967. Aline, a low-quality Barbie-type doll, and her little sister Missie were produced during the ’70s. Mr. Bourla owned the company for nearly forty years before selling it (on eBay!) to the current owners, Claudette Buehler and Delene Budd. The company has undergone a renaissance with a new sculpt by Dianna Effner in the tradition of the original Storybook dolls.





Copyright 2004-2013 by Zendelle Bouchard.

Jan 162013
 
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Six Nancy Ann Storybook Dolls

Clockwise from top left— Goose Girl, Dainty Dolly Pink and Blue, See-Saw Marjorie Daw, Flossie Came From Dublin Town, Over The Hills To Grandma’s House, and There Was a Maiden Bright and Gay.
Photos courtesy of Withington Auction, Inc.

This page is about the small bisque and hard plastic Storybook character dolls produced by Nancy Ann Dressed Dolls and Nancy Ann Storybook Dolls, Inc. from 1936 through the 1950s. For info about the company’s other dolls, go to the Muffie, Style Show and Other Dolls by Nancy Ann page.

Nancy Ann Abbott (real name Rowena Haskin) was born in 1901 in California and worked as an actress and dress designer in Hollywood before opening a book lending shop in San Francisco in 1935. In her shop, she also offered dolls for sale that she dressed herself in the evenings. Prior to this, dolls had been just a hobby, but when they proved popular, she was inspired to leave the bookshop to start her own doll company, Nancy Ann Dressed Dolls. In 1937, Les Rowland joined her firm as a partner, bringing to it his financial and selling skills, and they were off and running.

The first dolls were made in Japan and dressed here. Later on, the company had its own production facility. The first dolls made in the USA were marked “Judy Ann”. By the mid-40s, the company was called Nancy Ann Storybook Dolls.

Nancy Ann Storybook Doll marked

Early Nancy Ann Storybook Doll marked “JUDY ANN” wearing her original dress.

Nancy Ann Storybook character dolls only came in a few variations of size and body construction; instead they are identified by the outfit they are wearing, and many of the outfits look very similar. A doll without her original box or wrist tag can be very difficult to identify. Most of the dolls were produced as Caucasian girls; boys and African-American girls are much less common. The same molds were used for both genders and races.

Body Construction
The Storybook dolls were produced in bisque from 1936 to 1948, when they changed to hard plastic. They are mostly 5.5″ tall, but can range from 4.5″ to 7″ tall. They may or may not be jointed at the hips or neck; all dolls are jointed at the shoulders. Most dolls have glued-on mohair wigs; a very few dolls have painted hair. Many of the hard plastic dolls have sleep eyes, but all the bisque dolls and some hard plastic have painted eyes. For more information see the Nancy Ann Dolls website.

Vintage Nancy Ann Storybook Dolls

Clockwise from top left: Here I am Little Joan, To Market To Market,
I’m Going A-Milking, Little Betty Blue, He Loves Me He Loves Me Not and Mistress Mary.
Photo courtesy of Withington Auction, Inc.

Markings
Most dolls are marked on their back, but the markings may be faint if the mold had been used for a long period of time. A variety of marks were used. Most of the marks include the words “Story Book” but some of the earlier dolls are marked “Made in Japan” or “Judy Ann.” For more information see the Nancy Ann Dolls website.

Series
Most Storybook dolls were produced as part of a series. Go to the Series List for individual doll photos.

Six Nancy Ann Storybook Dolls

From the Dolls of the Month Series – Clockwise from top left: A Shower Girl for April, A Very Independent Lady for July, A November Lass To Cheer, A Breezy Girl and Arch To Worship Me Thru March,
A February Fairy Girl For Ice and Snow, A Rosebud Girl to Love me Thru the June Days .
Photo courtesy of Withington Auction, Inc.

Packaging
Most dolls were packaged in white boxes with large pink, red, silver or blue polka dots. Some of the earlier boxes had different backgrounds or graphics. The hard plastic dolls have “Nancy Ann Storybook Doll” written in between the dots. Beginning in 1941, each doll had a gold foil wrist tag bearing her name. Prior to that, gold stickers were attached to the doll’s outfit.



Copyright 2006-2013 by Zendelle Bouchard

Jan 162013
 
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Most Nancy Ann Storybook Dolls were produced as part of a series. Click on a photo to see a larger version.

See also:

Nancy Ann Storybook Doll Southern Belle Nancy Ann Storybook Dolls Southern Belle Nancy Ann Storybook Dolls Quaker Maid The American Girl series included the Southern Belle pictured at left and center. Like most of the Storybook Dolls, her outfit varied, but she usually has a wide-brimmed straw hat. To her right is the Quaker Maid. Other dolls in the series are Colonial Dame and Western Miss.
Left and right photos courtesy of eBay seller your-favorite-doll.

Nancy Ann Storybook Dolls Chinese Nancy Ann Storybook Dolls Dutch Nancy Ann Storybook Dolls Norwegian The Around the World series includes dolls representing 17 different countries. Pictured L to R are Chinese, Dutch and Norwegian.
Photos courtesy of eBay seller your-favorite-doll.
Nancy Ann Storybook Dolls Swiss Nancy Ann Storybook Dolls Mexican Nancy Ann Storybook Dolls Scotch 3 more from the Around the World Series: Swiss, Mexican and Scotch (sic).
Photos courtesy of eBay seller your-favorite-doll.
Nancy Ann Storybook Dolls Swedish Nancy Ann Storybook Dolls Swedish Nancy Ann Storybook Dolls Swedish Here are three different variations of the Swedish doll from the Around the World series.
Photos courtesy of eBay seller your-favorite-doll.
Nancy Ann Storybook Dolls Belgian Nancy Ann Storybook Dolls French Nancy Ann Storybook Dolls Irish Nancy Ann Storybook Dolls Portuguese L to R: Belgian, French, Irish and Portuguese from the Around the World series. Other dolls in the series include Italian, Spanish, English Flower Girl, Russian, Hungarian and Poland.
Photos courtesy of eBay seller your-favorite-doll.

Nancy Ann Storybook Dolls Mammy and Baby Nancy Ann Storybook Dolls Bride Nancy Ann Stoybook Dolls Margie Ann Mammy and Baby (at left) are part of the Family Series, which also includes the wedding party dolls and Margie Ann (at right).
Photos courtesy of eBay seller your-favorite-doll.

Nancy Ann Storybook Dolls Little Boy Blue Nancy Ann Storybook Dolls Pretty Maid Nancy Ann Storybook Dolls Goldilocks Little Boy Blue, Pretty Maid and Goldilocks are all from the Storybook Series. This is the largest series with about 50 different characters represented.
Photos at center and right courtesy of eBay seller your-favorite-doll.
Nancy Ann Storybook Dolls Topsy Nancy Ann Storybook Dolls Ring Around the Rosy Nancy Ann Storybook Dolls Pretty As A Picture More from the Storybook series: L to R: Topsy, Ring Around the Rosy and Pretty As a Picture.
Nancy Ann Storybook Dolls Queen of Hearts Nancy Ann Storybook Dolls Queen of Hearts Nancy Ann Storybook Dolls Queen of Hearts Three different versions of Queen of Hearts from the Storybook Series.
Photos at left and center courtesy of eBay seller your-favorite-doll.

Nancy Ann Storybook Dolls Wednesday's Child Nancy Ann Storybook Dolls Saturday's Child The Dolls of the Day Series are seven dolls representing the characteristics of children born on each day of the week, according to the old rhyme: “Monday’s child is fair of face, Tuesday’s child is full of grace” etc. Wednesday’s Child (at left) carries a hankie to indicate she is “full of woe.” Saturday’s Child (at right) “must work for a living” so she carries a broom.
Photo at right courtesy of eBay seller your-favorite-doll.

Nancy Ann Storybook Dolls March Nancy Ann Storybook Dolls March Nancy Ann Storybook Dolls March The Dolls of the Month series includes “A Breezy Girl and Arch, To Worship Me Thru March.”

Nancy Ann Storybook Dolls Antoinette Antoinette from the In Powder and Crinoline Series. This series was named after a children’s fairy tale book published in 1912. It had fabulous Art Nouveau illustrations by Danish artist Kay Nielsen. Some of the other dolls in this series are Princess Minon Minette, Prince Souci, Charmaine and Delphine.

Other Series include Nursery Rhyme, Operetta, Seasons, Sports, Flower Girl and Masquerade.



Copyright 2013 by Zendelle Bouchard

Dec 192012
 
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Mattel’s Barbie is the biggest selling doll of all time. But even if Barbie had never existed, Mattel’s other quality dolls like Chatty Cathy, Liddle Kiddles and My Child would have earned the company a place in doll history.

Mattel got its start in 1945, when Elliott and Ruth Handler teamed up with their friend Harold “Matt” Matson. Initially they made picture frames; but Mr. Handler soon began making doll furniture from the scrap wood. Mr. Matson left the company early on, and the Handlers turned to the toy business full time. The company was one of the first toy firms to invest heavily in television advertising, sponsoring “The Mickey Mouse Club.”

Vintage Barbie and Ken dolls by Mattel

Scan from 1963 Sears Toy Book.

While Mattel had been selling doll furniture for several years, they didn’t actually make dolls until they debuted Barbie in 1959. While parents and toy buyers were skeptical at first, she was an immediately hit with little girls, who loved her long, slim grownup figure and fabulous wardrobe. Before long, Barbie had a boyfriend named Ken, a best friend named Midge and a little sister, Skipper.

Go to the Barbie section for more info.


Chatty Cathy doll by Mattel.

Chatty Cathy had extra outfits and accessories that could be purchased.
Scans from 1963 Sears Toy Book.

Tiny Chatty Baby and Charmin’ Chatty by Mattel
Photos courtesy of eBay seller your-favorite-doll.

In the early 1960s, even though Barbie ruled the doll world, Mattel had several other top selling dolls as well. The company had a hit with Chatty Cathy and her extended family, which included Chatty Baby and Tiny Chatty Baby in both white and black versions. These dolls are pull-string talkers that say a finite number of phrases. They also introduced Charmin’ Chatty, who talks by means of miniature records inserted into the doll.
View Chatty family dolls on ebay!
The Chatty dolls were so popular that Mattel went on to make many other talking dolls in the ’60s and ’70s. Most of these were pull-string talkers.


Talking dolls by Mattel.

Three talking dolls by Mattel. L to R: Talking Little Bo Peep, Patootie the Clown and Trish.
Photos courtesy of eBay seller your-favorite-doll.

Swingy, Baby Go Bye-Bye and Baby Walk 'n Play by Mattel.

L to R: Swingy, Baby Go Bye-Bye and Baby Walk ‘n Play.
Photos courtesy of eBay seller your-favorite-doll.

Mattel’s dolls didn’t just talk, they moved! Mechanical dolls such as Baby First Step, Swingy and Dancerina have been a big part of Mattel’s lineup over the years.


Liddle Kiddles dolls by Mattel.

Liddle Kiddles dolls by Mattel.
Photos courtesy of eBay seller your-favorite-doll.

In the mid- to late sixties Liddle Kiddles were the rage. These tiny dolls were sold in different series such as Storybook Kiddles, Skididdle Kiddles, Lucky Locket Kiddles, etc., and ranged from less than an inch tall to four inches tall.
View Liddle Kiddles on ebay!


Rock Flowers dolls by Mattel

Rock Flowers dolls by Mattel.
Photo courtesy of eBay seller den268.

In the early ’70s, Mattel introduced the 6.5″ Rock Flowers dolls. Topper’s Dawn doll had started a trend for the smaller size fashion dolls, but instead of being fashion models, the Rock Flowers girls were pop stars. Each doll came with a thick plastic record that could actually be played on a regular record player. Separate fashions in record-shaped packages were sold too.

The pop star theme is one that Mattel would return to every few years for a new line of Barbie dolls.

Mattel made a number of dolls in the likeness of popular celebrities in the 20th century, from supermodel Twiggy in 1967 to the characters from the film and TV show Clueless in 1997. Many of these were fashion dolls with their own unique wardrobes.


Julia and Marie Osmond dolls by Mattel.

Julia doll in the likeness of actress Diahann Carroll was made in talking and non-talking versions. Donny and Marie Osmond dolls were very popular in the late 70s when they had their own television variety show. Little brother Jimmy is a harder doll to find. Julia, Donny and Marie had extra outfits you could buy.
Photos courtesy of eBay seller dreamalong.

The Sunshine Family and Happy Family dolls in the mid-70s were fashion dolls with a family focus. In the ’80s, Mattel returned to the family theme with the Heart Family dolls. But family values soon took a back seat to fantasy and adventure with Mattel’s two popular action figure series, Masters of the Universe (for boys) and Princess of Power (for girls). The toys tied in with weekly cartoon series. But even action figures were no match for the power of Barbie, who continued as the world’s best-selling doll.


Moon Mystic & Frosta dolls by Mattel

Two of Mattel’s fantasy-themed dolls: 11.5″ Moon Mystic doll from the Guardian Goddess series and 5.5″ Frosta from the Princess of Power series.

Photos courtesy of eBay seller your-favorite-doll.

Baby dolls have been a part of Mattel’s lineup since the sixties. In 1986, they introduced the adorable My Child dolls, which have become a favorite with collectors, particularly in Australia. My Child dolls have an articulated cloth body and cloth-covered head with rooted hair. They were produced with a variety of skin tones, hair and eye colors until 1988.
View My Child dolls on ebay!


My Child dolls by Mattel.

My Child dolls by Mattel.

Photos courtesy of eBay seller your-favorite-doll.

Mattel continues today as a powerhouse in the toy business, with Barbie, Hot Wheels, Matchbox, Monster High and Fisher Price among its brands. They also have a large line of licensed Disney dolls.

See also:





Copyright 2006-2013 by Zendelle Bouchard