Becky Thatcher Handmade Cloth Doll

 Cloth  Comments Off on Becky Thatcher Handmade Cloth Doll
Oct 142015

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.

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.

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

Sandra Sue Dolls by Richwood Toys (1948-58)

 Hard Plastic  Comments Off on Sandra Sue Dolls by Richwood Toys (1948-58)
Jan 052015

Sandra Sue dolls were made by Richwood Toys, which began as a cottage industry run by Ida Wood and her family in Larchmont, New York in the late 1940s. Once the business took off, they relocated to Maryland and were successful for several years. Although Sandra Sue is unmarked, once you become familiar with her look, she is not difficult to tell apart from other similar size hard plastic dolls. The orangeish eyebrows and eyelashes are her most recognizable feature.

Body Construction
The earliest dolls dressed by Mrs. Wood were inexpensive 7.5″ composition dolls with jointed arms and frozen legs. She soon switched to hard plastic dolls, first using dolls with similar body style to the composition ones, then going on to dolls with sleep eyes and jointed necks;. The fully jointed dolls most collectors know as Sandra Sue were produced beginning in 1952. These dolls had slim bodies and flat feet. A walking version was introduced soon after. The 8″ high heeled version of Sandra Sue debuted in 1955 or ’56.

The first Sandra Sue dolls had mohair wigs but these were changed to synthetic Saran fiber early on.

Sandra Sue has many outdoor outfits. Photos courtesy of American Beauty Dolls Shop.

Sandra Sue was sold in many different outfits, or in half slip, camisole, panties, shoes and socks. All outfits were also available to purchase separately. She also had a full line of wooden furniture.

Sandra Sue could be purchased in her underwear or fully dressed.
Photo courtesy of eBay seller your-favorite-doll.

In addition to Sandra Sue, Richwood also produced a 14″ hard plastic girl doll called Cindy Lou, and Tina Sue, an 8″ vinyl baby.

Copyright 2015 by Zendelle Bouchard

Vintage Bisque and China Dolls

 Bisque & China, Reposted  Comments Off on Vintage Bisque and China Dolls
Nov 182014

Bisque and china dolls are both made of porcelain. Bisque is unglazed, while china has a shiny glazed finish. While the vast majority of bisque dolls that interest collectors would be classified as antique rather than vintage, there are quite a few bisque and china dolls that fit well into a vintage collection.

Photos courtesy of Withington Auction, Inc.

At the start of the 20th century, the majority of bisque and china dolls were made in Germany. Most of these were similar to the dolls that had been produced there for decades. But early in the 20th century, bisque dolls began to appear that had a decidedly modern look. These were the Kewpies, and they were designed by American illustrator Rose O’Neill. George Borgfeldt & Co., an American distributor, hired sculptor Joseph Kallus to turn the Kewpies into three dimensional dolls, and outsourced their manufacture to Germany. The Kewpies and their wide-eyed “googly” look were all the rage, and they were copied by many other companies. The Kewpies have been made in every material possible, and are still popular today.

German firms continued to produce bisque dolls until World War II, when the factories were converted for use in the war effort. Some of these were German designs and others were produced, like the Kewpies, for American companies. The two dolls pictured are painted bisque – the color is not fired on and probably date from the 1920s. The doll above left is a doll house size. The one on the right is a “Betty Boop” type, more commonly made in Japan.

Many vintage bisque dolls were made in Japan during the ‘teens, twenties and thirties. If they are marked “Nippon”, like the boy in blue above, they were probably made between 1914 and 1921. Later dolls are marked “Japan.” Dolls marked “Occupied Japan,” like the baby in the center photo above, were made between 1945 and 1952.

Many Japanese all bisque dolls are jointed only at the shoulders, like the “Betty Boop” dolls pictured above. These have nothing to do with the cartoon character Betty Boop – it’s just a name that collectors use.

The Nancy Ann Storybook Dolls are American-made all bisque dolls. These were extremely popular and sold from 1936 into the 1950s, when the company switched to hard plastic. The doll pictured above is September’s Girl is Like a Storm, from the months of the year series. The Nancy Ann page and the NASB Dolls Series page have many more photos of these dolls.

China, or glazed porcelain dolls were also made in the USA. This two dolls pictured above are the Flower Girls set of Godey’s Little Lady dolls made by Ruth Gibbs of Flemington, NJ in the late forties.

There are many antique reproduction china head dolls that were made in the mid 20th century. Some were sold as kits, others were made by crafters in ceramics classes, and some were made by professional doll artists. This ad was scanned from the Spring/Summer 1958 issue of McCall’s Needlework and Crafts magazine.

Bisque was the medium of choice of many of the early doll artists. Pictured above, clockwise from top left: Meg from the Little Women series by Martha Thompson; Abigail Adams by Diana Lence Crosby; Nellie Bly by Lita Wilson and Muriel Kramer; and Miss Kentucky by Fawn Zeller. See more on the Artist Dolls page.

Photo courtesy of Withington Auction, Inc.

Most of the bisque or porcelain dolls produced in the second half of the 20th century were intended for adult collectors rather than children. This trend continues today. Pictured above is Marcella by Wendy Lawton.

Learn More:

Collecting Rose
O’Neill’s Kewpies
by David O’Neill &
Janet O’Neill Sullivan
Find it on eBay.
The American Doll Artist
Volume I
by Helen Bullard
Find it on eBay.
With Kewpish Love
by Florence Theriault
Find it on eBay.

Copyright 2006-2014 by Zendelle Bouchard

Sep 132013

This all celluloid girl is marked with a stork logo. At least three companies are known to have used a stork marking. Photos courtesy of Withington Auction, Inc.

Celluloid is a type of early plastic. It was first used for dolls by the French in the 19th century, then adopted by the Germans and in the 20th century, by Japanese and American doll makers. While it showed great promise as a doll making material due to its low cost, light weight and moldability, celluloid is an extremely flammable substance. There were many tragic accidents both in the factory and with children at home. Once safer types of plastic began to be developed, celluloid was largely abandoned.

Celluloid dolls are somewhat fragile and are often found dented, cracked or shattered completely.

French made dolls

French celluloid Bebe Breton doll French celluloid Bebe Breton doll Bébé Breton has beautiful face paint and an elaborate outfit typical of French celluloid dolls. He was likely made by Petitcollin, the biggest and most well known French doll company, who made many souvenir dolls to be sold in different regions of the country.
Photos courtesy of Withington Auction, Inc.

Vintage Celluloid doll by Raynal Vintage celluloid doll by Raynal Raynal is best known for their beautiful cloth dolls made in the 1920s and ’30s, but their celluloid dolls are equally lovely. This girl is 19″ tall.
Photos courtesy of Withington Auction, Inc.

German made dolls

Vintage German celluloid doll This 25″ boy has a celluloid head and forearms on a cloth body.

Vintage celluloid Kewpie doll made in Germany Karl Standfuss had the rights to manufacture Rose O’Neill’s Kewpie dolls in celluloid. Some dolls were jointed at the hips as well as the shoulders.
Photo courtesy of eBay seller your-favorite-doll.

Vintage celluloid boy doll Vintage celluloid boy doll This boy’s lederhosen suggest that he was probably made in Germany. He is marked with a bell logo.
Photos courtesy of Withington Auction, Inc.

Schildkrot celluloid doll Schildkrot celluloid doll Schildkrot (the German word for turtle) is the trade name for dolls made by the Rheinische Gummi- und Ceulluloid-Fabrik Co. Their logo is a turtle, and collectors who don’t want to attempt the German pronunciation call these dolls “turtle marks.” The majority of celluloid dolls in collections were made by this company.
Photos courtesy of eBay seller dreamalong.
Schildkrot celluloid doll Schildkrot celluloid doll This fat-bellied baby is another Schildkrot doll. He has an open mouth and sleep eyes, and a cryer.

American made dolls

Peter Pan celluloid rattle by Viscoloid Peter Pan celluloid rattle by Viscoloid (back) This Peter Pan doll is also a rattle. He was made by Viscoloid in 1923, and is 5/25″ tall.

Vintage celluloid baby doll by Viscoloid This small jointed baby is also by Viscoloid. He strongly resembles German dolls of the era. Viscoloid is better known for their holiday toys, including many Santas, Easter Bunnies and Halloween figures. They were in business through the 1930s.

Japanese made dolls

Vintage celluloid baby doll made in Japan Like the doll above, this Japanese baby also borrowed heavily from German designs.

Nippon Kewpie celluloid doll This Kewpie type doll is marked Nippon, indicating he was made no later than 1921.

Vintage celluloid doll made in Japan Vintage celluloid doll made in Japan (back) This doll is typical of the so-called “Betty Boop” types made in the 1920s.

Vintage celluloid football player doll Vintage celluloid football player doll This Yale football player has a celluloid head and cloth body.

Celluloid dolls made in Occupied Japan Celluloid dolls made in Occupied Japan This boy and girl pair are meant to represent Inuit children. They have jointed arms and legs and are marked “MADE IN OCCUPIED JAPAN,” which dates them to between 1945 and 1955.

Vintage celluloid pirate doll made in Japan This pirate has a celluloid head, hands and feet, and a cloth body. His right hand is molded to hold a sword. Dolls with similar bodies were also made as football and baseball players.

Unknown Origin

Vintage doll with celluloid head and plush body Vintage doll with celluloid head and plush body This early 12″ doll has a celluloid head and mohair plush teddy bear type body. He may be German or American made.
Photos courtesy of Withington Auction, Inc.

Pair of vintage celluloid dolls This wonderful set includes a little boy and girl doll just 3.5″ tall.
Photo courtesy of eBay seller your-favorite-doll.

Vintage celluloid Mickey Mouse doll Mickey Mouse and other Disney characters were made in celluloid.
Photo courtesy of eBay seller your-favorite-doll.

Learn More:

A Century of
Celluloid Dolls
by Shirley Buchholz
Find it on eBay
Celluloid Dolls,
Toys & Playthings
by Julie Pelletier Robinson
Find it on eBay.
Dolls & Accessories 1910-1930
by Dian Zillner
Find it on eBay.

Copyright 2006-2014 by Zendelle Bouchard

Dolls by Madison, Ltd. (1970s-80s)

 Vinyl  Comments Off on Dolls by Madison, Ltd. (1970s-80s)
Jul 222013

Madison, Ltd., marketed a variety of dolls and toys in the 1970s and 1980s. They were headquartered in Hackensack, NJ, but the dolls were made overseas.

Tracy is 11.5″ tall, all vinyl, dressed in a floral print dress with attached, lace-trimmed apron, and matching bonnet. Her rooted hair is styled with a sausage curl on either side of her face. She has blue sleep eyes with long lashes. She is marked “Hong Kong” on the back of her head, and “Made in Hong Kong” on her back. The illustrations on her box are obviously meant to invoke Holly Hobbie.

Sweet Susan is a bent-leg vinyl drink-and-wet baby. She is 11″ long and has bright blue sleep eyes with long lashes. She has molded hair underneath her rooted hair. Susan wears a lace-trimmed, flocked nightie and comes in a gift set with two other outfits plus accessories. She is marked on her back “Hong Kong // BLUE BOX”. Blue Box was the name of another doll company at this time – so either Madison purchased the dolls from them and dressed them; or else Madison and Blue Box were somehow related.

Rag Mop Kids are a boy and girl with vinyl head and hands, cloth body and yarn hair. They have painted blue eyes and freckles. Their bodies are made of red and white gingham, to look like shirts under her jumper and his overalls. Their red felt shoes are part of their bodies. They had extra outfits which would also fit Cabbage Patch Kids.

Dolls of All Nations is a series of twelve 9″ vinyl girl dolls wearing various international (mostly European) costumes.

Li’l Jenny is a drink-and-wet 8″ girl doll with her hair in braids. She has blue sleep eyes with long lashes.

Happy Clown is a dark skinned clown with rooted green hair. There may have been a white version as well.

“String Puppets” are marionettes including Donny and Marie Osmond; super heroes Wonder Woman, Superman and Batman; and Disney characters including Mickey Mouse and Goofy. These are sought after by collectors.

Action Soldier is a GI Joe knockoff. He had extra outfits available.

Galaxy Fighters are similar to the Masters of the Universe action figures, with big muscles.

Copyright 2013 by Zendelle Bouchard