Nov 182014
 
Share

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:

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

Copyright 2006-2014 by Zendelle Bouchard

Jan 162013
 
Share
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
 
Share

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

Sep 262011
 
Share

Here’s something a little different for you mint in box fans. A lot of vintage doll collectors who are familiar with vinyl and hard plastic dolls think these Ruth Gibbs dolls are antiques. Actually they were made in the 1940s in Flemington, New Jersey. They have china (glazed bisque) heads and limbs with a cloth body. They are commonly found in this 7″ size, but 10″ and 12″ dolls were made as well. Sets like Little Women and these Flower Girls can sometimes be found.

Update

 Bisque & China  Comments Off
Jun 242010
 
Share

I’m in the process of redoing the Nancy Ann section of the website, adding lots more pics and info. It’s not finished yet but you can check it out.
http://www.vintagedollcollector.com/nancyann/nancyann.htm.
Spent a day at Withington’s last week but didn’t end up with much to show for it. I did finally get one of the Franklin Pierce dolls that I have been trying to get for years. He was a project that Granite State Doll Club did in conjunction with the Pierce Homestead in Hillsborough, NH. He needs clothes, though.
Here is one little interesting thing I came home with. She’s a bisque nodder marked Germany, just 2.75″ tall.

Right now I’m starting to get excited/anxious about the upcoming UFDC convention in Chicago. It looks like I got into 6 of the 7 seminars I signed up for, which is great!