Oct 252012

Ralph Freundlich started in the doll business in New York City during the 1920’s and in 1934 relocated his manufacturing operations to Clinton, MA. The company made composition dolls including mama dolls, celebrity dolls, storybook characters and military dolls. Their products were mostly cheaper quality but have personality. Most of their dolls are unmarked. After a fire destroyed the factory, the company filed for bankruptcy in 1945 and their assets were sold.

“Doll Collectors Manual 1967” published by the Doll Collectors of America, Inc., has a wonderful collection of photos of manufacturing operations taken by Richard Merrill at the Clinton plant in 1938. Anyone interested in how composition dolls were made would appreciate seeing them. This book out of print but often available from online sources.

Note: these dolls are all unmarked, with the exception of Baby Sandy. Click on a small photo to see a larger version.

Baby Dolls
Several different models made, with painted hair and eyes, including 12″ Baby Bunting in oval box, 8″ or 12″ Nursing Doll in trunk, 9.5″ baby with basket, bedding and scale.

14" Little Orphan Annie doll by Freundlich Little Orphan Annie was made in at least three different sizes by Freundlich. The 14″ version pictured at left looks a bit different than the smaller dolls. Go to the Little Orphan Annie page to learn more. Photo courtesy of Withington Auction, Inc.

Feather Weight Doll
28″ tall, composition head, forearms and lower legs, stuffed cloth body, sold in assorted dresses with matching bonnets and panties.

Baby Sandy doll by Freundlich Baby Sandy doll by Freundlich Baby Sandy
This doll is the easiest Freundlich doll to identify, marked “BABY SANDY” on the back of the head. Made in 8″, 12″ and 16″ sizes, it is an all-composition portrait doll of the ’30s child star Sandra Henville. Made with either sleep eyes or painted eyes, molded hair. Baby Sandy is usually a toddler doll, but there was also a bent-leg baby version. Right photo courtesy of Withington Auction, Inc.

Composition head with big blue side-glancing eyes, blonde mohair wig in ringlet curls, pink plush body.

11″ Patsy type girl doll, all composition, has bent right arm and straight left arm, third and fourth fingers molded together, molded short bob hairstyle, unmarked. Both white and black versions were sold.

General Douglas MacArthur doll by Freundlich General Douglas MacArthur doll by Freundlich General Douglas MacArthur
18″ portrait doll of the World War II hero has a molded hat, military uniform, right arm bent to salute. Photos courtesy of Withington Auction, Inc.

Military dolls
15″ All composition dolls with molded hair and hats, dressed as Soldier, Sailor, WAAC and WAVE. All came with shield-shaped paper tags pinned to the clothing.

Animal dolls
These include a rabbit, cat (dressed as Puss In Boots), monkey and pig, with a Patsyette type human body (e.g. hands instead of paws). The rabbit is 12″ tall because of the ears, others are 9″ to 9.5″.

16″ doll with compo head and body, wooden limbs, brightly painted with red hair, blue eyes, pointy nose. Wears orange pants, green jacket with orange collar and cuffs.

Red Riding Hood set of dolls by Freundlich Red Riding Hood set
Each 9.5″ tall, simple cotton clothing, no shoes, sold in a lithographed schoolhouse box.

Three Little Pigs set
10″ pigs (each identical except for the colors of their plaid dresses), 9.5″ wolf has a different head mold than the Riding Hood wolf, with shorter snout. Sold in a boxed set.

Goo-Goo Eye Dolls are 14″, 19″ and 27″ dolls with composition heads and stuffed cloth bodies. Flat celluloid eyes with moving pupils. Hair ribbon or hat stapled to head, printed fabric, plush or terry cloth body. Available in white and black versions.
15″ Topsy and Eva Goo-Goo dolls were more elaborate with flesh-colored bodies, separate outfits and wigs.

Ventriloquist dolls and marionettes
A variety of ventriloquist dolls were made, including 14″ Dummy Clown and 20″ Dummy Dan, with composition heads and arms, cloth body and legs, large painted side-glancing eyes, moving jaws. 12″ Charlie McCarthy-type is all compo, jointed only at the jaw. 17″ Marionettes have compo head, hands and feet, wooden dowels for legs and moving jaws.

Dummy Don
All composition, 10″ tall, similar to Dummy Dan but without the jointed jaw.

Learn More:

Collector’s Encyclopedia of
American Composition Dolls
by Ursula R. Mertz
Find it on eBay.
Collector’s Encyclopedia of
American Composition Dolls
1900-1950, Volume II
by Ursula R. Mertz
Find it on eBay.
Compo Dolls 1928-55
by Polly and Pam Judd
Find it on eBay.

Copyright 2005-2014 by Zendelle Bouchard

Composition Kewpie dolls by Cameo Doll Company

 Cameo, Character, Composition  Comments Off on Composition Kewpie dolls by Cameo Doll Company
Sep 122012

The Cameo Doll Company produced Kewpie dolls, first in composition, then in hard plastic and vinyl, over an almost fifty year period.

Kewpies were created in 1909 by American artist Rose O’Neill as cupid-like imps in her illustrations for Women’s Home Companion magazine. Three years later, George Borgfeldt, a major doll distributor, licensed the rights to produce Kewpies as dolls. Joseph Kallus, a teenaged art student, helped develop them into a three-dimensional form. These first Kewpies were produced in bisque by German manufacturers. The first composition Kewpies had only head and hands of compo; the rest of the doll’s body was stuffed cloth. These were advertised in the 1921 Sears catalog and were probably contracted by Borgfeldt as well.

In 1922 Mr. Kallus founded the Cameo Doll Company, and began producing all-composition Kewpies. This scan from the 1922 Sears catalog shows the early compo Kewpie with legs molded together like the German bisque version. The molded pedestal is painted blue to match Kewpie’s wings. This style of doll was also produced without the pedestal, and some of these were talcum powder containers.

Composition Kewpie doll by Cameo

Scan from 1922 Sears catalog.

Cameo’s next version of Kewpie was still jointed only at the shoulders, but had a wider stance with legs separated. Like the first version, this Kewpie was sold nude with a label on his chest, and had eyes glancing to the right.

Composition Kewpie doll by Cameo

Photos courtesy of Lisa Hanson

Photo courtesy of Withington Auction, Inc.

In the 1940’s Kewpie was jointed at the neck, shoulders and hips. He was dressed in a cotton print sunsuit, shoes and socks. He had lost his label and his wings, and his eyes now glanced to the left. Kewpie now looked less like a fantasy character and more like a human toddler.

Composition Kewpie doll by Cameo

Photo courtesy of Lisa Hanson

Composition Kewpie doll by Cameo

Photo courtesy of Lisa Hanson

Kewpie’s box featured a rather scary-looking photo.

Composition Kewpie doll by Cameo

Photo courtesy of Withington Auction, Inc.

Cameo produced other dolls in composition as well, including Scootles and Giggles, who were also designed by Rose O’Neill. They went on to make Kewpie in many different vinyl versions, until the company closed in 1969. Kewpies continued to be produced by other firms under license into the 21st century.

See also:

Copyright 2012-2015 by Zendelle Bouchard.

Sep 052012

I read somewhere that if you have three of something, you have a collection. Well I guess that makes me a collector of Raggedy Ann and Andy! Let me introduce you to my dolls.

Raggedy Ann and Andy illustration by Johnny Gruelle

Raggedy Ann and Andy sprang from the imagination of Johnny Gruelle, an artist and illustrator from Connecticut. His young daughter Marcella found an old faceless rag doll in the attic, and he gave it a face, and made up stories about the doll to entertain her. After Marcella died at age 13, he published the stories as a book. She had loved Raggedy Ann so much, he patented a design and had family members make dolls for sale. The first commercially produced Raggedy Ann and Andy were made by P.F. Volland in 1920. They have been continually in production by various companies ever since.

Sewing patterns to make your own Raggedy Ann and Andy have been available since 1940. Two of my Raggedy pairs are homemade. This pair is 18″ tall, with red yarn hair, black button eyes and appliqued noses. You’ll notice they don’t match exactly – Ann has plaid legs and corduroy shoes, while Andy’s legs are black and white striped, and his shoes are a different ribbed material.

Vintage homemade Raggedy Ann and Andy dolls

My other homemade pair stands 20″ tall, with yellow yarn hair and embroidered features. They don’t quite match either! Ann has a nose and mouth to match her hair, while Andy’s are rose colored. His eyes have pupils and hers don’t. And although they both have striped legs, they are of different fabrics. Originally I had planned to keep just one pair; but I never could decide which pair I liked better.

Vintage homemade Raggedy Ann and Andy dolls

My newest pair of Raggedy Ann and Andy dolls arrived in the mail last week. These are the new dolls being produced by Aurora World, and they were kind enough to send me a sample. I was happy to see these latest versions still have the sweetness and charm that have made Raggedy Ann and Andy the best loved dolls of all time.

Raggedy Ann and Andy dolls by Aurora World.

I have very few memories of my childhood. But I do remember the very first doll I owned, Raggedy Ann. I’m sure she had been loved to death by the time she left me. So it’s fitting that now the circle is complete, and I have become, albeit accidentally, a collector of these iconic dolls.

What was the first doll you can remember having?

Copyright 2012 by Zendelle Bouchard