Aug 012012
 
Share
Vintage hard plastic Nanette doll by Arranbee

Vintage hard plastic Nanette doll by Arranbee.
Photo courtesy of Nancy McKee.

Arranbee Doll Co. was founded in 1919 in New York City. In the early years of the company, they imported bisque head dolls from Armand Marseille and Simon & Halbig in Germany. They also sold all-bisque dolls and composition mama dolls, as well as doll hospital supplies including wigs, parts, and shoes. In 1925, they opened their own factory in New York manufacturing composition dolls. They kept up with changes in the industry, switching to hard plastic in the ’40s and vinyl in the ’50s. The company made many of its own dolls, but also purchased dolls from other manufacturers to dress and market under their own name. While not being ground-breakingly original, Arranbee dolls are noted for their beauty and high quality, both in the dolls and their clothing. Company founder and president William Rothstein died unexpectedly in 1957; his family continued the firm for a short while, then sold it to the Vogue Doll Co. Vogue continued the Arranbee name and some of the lines until 1961. Fortunately for collectors, many Arranbee dolls are marked. Here are some of their more notable dolls:

  • Dream Baby or My Dream Baby was the first of Arranbee’s dolls to have a name. There is a closed-mouth version (A.M. mold number 341) and an open-mouth version (mold number 351). Some dolls have stuffed cloth bodies with compo or rubber hands, while others have full jointed compo bodies. After the company started making their own composition dolls, they continued using the Dream Baby name. There is a wide variety of compo Dream Babies, including dolls with painted eyes or sleep eyes, molded hair or mohair wigs, in a range of sizes. Dream Baby continued into the ’50s in a hard plastic version.
  • Nancy was first made in composition starting in 1931. A few different head molds were used for this molded hair Patsy-type doll (complete with bent right arm) who ranged from 11″ to 14″ in height. Nancy was also made in a line of 16″ to 20″ chubbier toddler dolls with sleep eyes and mohair wigs.
  • Debu’teen was introduced in 1938. She represented a young teenage girl, with a slim body and a wistful expression, and was made in sizes from 13″ to 22″. Larger dolls have a compo socket head on a shoulder plate, with cloth torso and compo limbs, while the smaller dolls are all composition. She was sold in a wide variety of well-made outfits including school clothes, dressy clothes, sporting outfits and military uniforms. The Sporting Women series of dolls by Vogue greatly resemble Debu’teen, and were probably made by Arranbee for Vogue in an unmarked version.
  • Around the World and Storybook dolls from the late ’30s and early ’40s are 9″ all-composition characters with molded hair and painted eyes. The same doll was used for both boy and girl characters, such as Snow White, Pirate, Dutch Boy and Girl, etc.
  • Nannette is a composition and cloth mama doll with swing legs. She was sold from 1937 until 1943, when the spelling of her name was changed to Nanette. She was sold until about 1947, when the company switched production to hard plastic dolls. The hard plastic version of Nanette is a little girl doll, virtually indistinguishable from Nancy Lee. In the fifties, Nanette was made with a vinyl head and hard plastic body. The last version of Nanette was an 18″ all vinyl high-heeled glamour doll.
  • Nancy Lee was a true little girl doll. She did not have the chubbiness of the Nancy and Nannette toddlers, but she was not quite as slim as Debu’teen. The compo version, who made her debut in 1943, generally has smoky eye shadow. The hard plastic version was sold from the late ’40s into the late ’50s.
  • 12″ Little Angel and 10″ Littlest Angel are toddler fashion dolls. Many extra outfits were available for them. Little Angel was not as popular as her smaller sibling, and was discontinued in 1955. Littlest Angel was later made with jointed knees, and starting in 1956 had a vinyl head with rooted hair. Littlest Angel was one of the dolls that Vogue continued to sell under the R&B name after they bought the company.
  • Coty Girl was a 10″ vinyl glamour doll made to compete with Ideal’s Little Miss Revlon. She had many extra outfits and was advertised extensively. This doll is very difficult to identify because she is marked only with a P in a circle, as were many other small glamour dolls of the era. The 18″ Coty Girl is the same doll as the high-heeled Nanette.

Copyright 2006 by Zendelle Bouchard.

Mar 112012
 
Share

At an auction today I picked up a boxlot which included several photos of Shirley Temple. Some of the photos are of her holding a doll, so I thought I would share them with you. This first photo shows her with one of the rare Shirley Temple Baby dolls issued in 1935. The Baby has a composition head and limbs and a cloth body.

In the second photo, Shirley and her doll are both wearing the polka dotted dress from the film “Stand Up and Cheer.” The dolls were sold in several different variations of this dress. The doll is made of composition with a mohair wig.
The pleated dress with glued-on daisies on the yoke was from the film “Curly Top.” There was also a version with smaller embroidered flowers.
This photo shows Shirley holding a cloth sailor doll. Shirley amassed a huge collection of dolls, many of which were gifts from friends, admirers and film industry people. At one time her collection was displayed at the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago. It’s always fun to see what dolls you can spot in her movies.
The striped cotton dress is also from “Curly Top.” As with the other outfits Ideal made for the Shirley dolls, there were color variations. All of the Ideal Shirley Temple dolls were sold wearing a pin featuring a photo of Shirley.
The Ideal composition Shirley Temple dolls were the biggest selling dolls of the 1930s. The dolls were available in nine different sizes and sold in the millions. They remain very popular with collectors and command high prices if in excellent condition, or if wearing a rare outfit. Do you have a Shirley Temple doll in your collection?
Mar 072012
 
Share

In January I bought a box full of vintage paper dolls at an auction, and really enjoyed going through and sorting them out so I could list them on eBay. Most of them were from the late 1930s and early 1940s. There were some movie stars, including two different sets of “Gone with the Wind” paper dolls. One of them, pictured below, featured dolls of every major character from the film with multiple outfits for each one. It was put out by Merrill Publishing Co. in 1940.

There was also a Deanna Durbin set, published by Merrill in 1941.

The ’30s and ’40s paper dolls had the most wonderful artwork. Look at this fabulous set of Polly Pepper Paper Dolls, published by Saalfield in 1936.

Military paper dolls were very popular during World War II. This is Navy Scouts, issued by Merrill in 1942.

Lots of newspapers had paper dolls, usually in the Sunday comics section. Many of them were fashionable ladies. This Halloween themed doll is so cool.

In trying to identify my dolls, I consulted several books by Mary Young. I also found Paper Goodies from Judy’s Place, a great website for the vintage paper doll lover. Most of the paper dolls published now are for collectors, not for children, and there are many reproductions of vintage sets available.

I grew up in the 60s and 70s, and although paper dolls were still being produced then (lots of Barbie sets) the golden age was over. I never played with them as a kid, although I appreciate them now. What about you?

Copyright 2012 by Zendelle Bouchard

Aug 162010
 
Share

I am still recuperating from the UFDC convention in Chicago. That was one exhausting week! Chicago is a beautiful city, much nicer than I expected.
I took over 600 photos while I was there. Most of them are of the Competitive Exhibits. Unfortunately, per UFDC rules, I cannot use them on the website, except in an article devoted to the convention. I am working on putting together an article now.

But here are a few photos from the Theriault’s auction that was held at a nearby hotel. If you have not been to one of their auctions, the antique dolls are just unbelievable. They are displayed in lovely vignettes with flowers and accessories. The highlight of the auction was “The Great Man’s Doll,” a French doll made by Huret about 1860, which author Victor Hugo purchased and gave to his granddaughter. The doll and her trousseau sold for $160,000. In keeping with the literary theme, there were several artist dolls in the auction from writer Anne Rice’s collection. There were some stunning examples of vintage dolls, too, including Barbie and Ken, Ginny, Nancy Ann Storybook dolls, and several wonderful Lencis.

The first picture shows part of the set of Dionne Quintuplets by Madame Alexander. These babies are lucky to have their original furniture, nurse and Doctor Dafoe.

And here are a few of the antiques:
There was an amazing collection of Schoenhut circus figures in the auction. In addition to the set, several figures were sold individually.

Lenci Miniatures

 Cloth, Lenci  Comments Off
Mar 192010
 
Share

We had a great program at the doll club meeting on Saturday by our member Susan Voake. She has a great collection of Lenci miniature dolls, sometimes called mascottes, and the program was very informative. These 9″ dolls were first made in 1928 or ’29, and Susan showed us how the designs of the dolls’ outfits changed during the depression, becoming less detailed. She also described features that enable a collector to tell a real Lenci apart from a knockoff. (One tip – many of the knockoffs have cardboard soled shoes, which Lenci never did.) Here’s a picture of a Lenci miniature from the upcoming Withington auction.