Nov 252012
 
Share
Vintage composition Dopey doll by Knickerbocker

Composition Dopey doll by Knickerbocker.
Photo courtesy of Withington Auction, Inc.

The Knickerbocker Toy Co., founded in 1927, is undoubtedly best known for its Raggedy Ann and Andy dolls, which it produced from the early 1960s through the 1980s. The company made many other cloth dolls during its long history, including Disney characters such as Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, cartoon characters such as Little Lulu, Little Orphan Annie and the Flintstones, and girl dolls with molded faces similar to the ones produced by Georgene and Mollye. The company also produced some wonderful composition dolls including the characters from the comic strip Blondie, Disney’s Pinocchio and Jiminy Cricket, and Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Holly Hobbie was a big seller for Knickerbocker in the 1970s, in both cloth and vinyl versions. Knickerbocker was bought out by Hasbro in 1983, but they continued to produce dolls under the Knickerbocker name, including the wonderful line of Magic Attic vinyl play dolls designed by Robert Tonner in the 1990s. In 2001, Marie Osmond and her husband purchased Knickerbocker and changed its name to Marian LLC. That company later became part of Charisma Brands.

This is a very partial list. Click on a small photo to see a larger version.

Composition Grumpy doll by Knickerbocker Composition Snow White doll by Knickerbocker Knickerbocker’s Snow White doll is all composition, with molded black hair. Her satin dress has a velveteen bodice. The 7 Dwarfs are dressed in velveteen outfits, and have mohair beards. Photos courtesy of Lisa Hanson. Check out her eBay listings.

Composition Pinocchio doll by Knickerbocker Composition Pinocchio doll by Knickerbocker Pinocchio‘s composition arms and legs are molded to look like jointed wood. Photos courtesy of Lisa Hanson. Check out her eBay listings.

Cloth 7 Dwarfs dolls by Knickerbocker The cloth versions of the 7 Dwarfs have velveteen outfits that are part of their bodies, and molded mask faces. The doll on the left may have a replaced beard. Photo courtesy of Withington Auction, Inc.

1964 Raggedy Andy by Knickerbocker 1964 Raggedy Andy by Knickerbocker 1964 Raggedy Ann by Knickerbocker 1964 Raggedy Ann by Knickerbocker Knickerbocker began producing Raggedy Ann and Andy in 1963. This pair dates to 1964. Photos courtesy of Lisa Hanson. Check out her eBay listings.
Bedtime Raggedy Andy by Knickerbocker Bedtime Raggedy Ann by Knickerbocker Bedtime Raggedy Ann and Andy wear flannel pjs and nightie instead of their usual outfits. Their printed eyes are safer for babies. They were made starting in 1979. Photos courtesy of Paul Muhlbach. Check out his eBay listings.

Beloved Belindy doll by Knickerbocker Beloved Belindy is another character from the Raggedy Ann stories. The Knickerbocker version doesn’t resemble Johnny Gruelle’s original illustrations very much though. Photo courtesy of Paul Muhlbach. Check out his eBay listings.

Nancy cloth doll by Knickerbocker Nancy cloth doll by Knickerbocker In 1973, Knickerbocker made a series of miniature rag dolls of cartoon characters, including Nancy and Sluggo. Photos courtesy of Sandy Blaine. Check out her eBay listings.
Miniature Fred Flintstone rag doll by Knickerbocker Miniature Pebbles Flintstone rag doll by Knickerbocker Flintstones characters Fred, Wilma, Barney, Betty, Pebbles and Bamm-Bamm were also part of the Miniature rag dolls series. Photos courtesy of Dennis Mah. Check out his eBay listings.

Floppy Sox doll by Knickerbocker The Floppy Sox dolls from 1974 are made to look like homemade sock dolls. There was a boy and girl doll made.

Holly Hobbie's friend Heather by Knickerbocker Holly Hobbie's friend Heather by Knickerbocker Holly Hobbie rag dolls by Knickerbocker Holly Hobbie and her friends were made in several sizes in the mid-70s. Vinyl versions were made too. Photos courtesy of Sandy Blaine. Check out her eBay listings.
Cowpokes dolls by Knickerbocker The Cowpokes dolls, copyrighted 1981, are a cute Western-themed boy and girl. Read more on the Cowpokes page.

Star Trek Captain Kirk cloth doll by Knickerbocker Star Trek Mr. Spock doll by Knickerbocker Captain Kirk and Mr. Spock from Star Trek were made in 1979, with vinyl heads and cloth bodies. No other characters from the series were made. Photos courtesy of King Auctions. Check out their eBay listings.

Vinyl Snoopy doll by Knickerbocker Vinyl Snoopy doll by Knickerbocker Peanuts character Snoopy and his sister Belle were made as 8″ all vinyl fashion dolls in the early ’80s, with extra outfits available. Snoopy was always accompanied by his little sidekick, Woodstock. Photos courtesy of Dennis Mah. Check out his eBay listings.
Vinyl Snoopy doll by Knickerbocker Vinyl Snoopy doll by Knickerbocker The 5″ vinyl version of Snoopy (with Woodstock) has Astronaut, Chef and Sport playsets. Photos courtesy of Sandy Blaine. Check out her eBay listings.

Moppets Missy doll by Knickerbocker Baby Moppets Sugar Cones dolls by Knickerbocker Missy, Mindy and Mandy are the Moppets – small, all-vinyl dolls produced by Knickerbocker in 1981. All-vinyl Baby Moppets were made as well. The Sugar Cone Baby Moppets have vinyl heads and cloth bodies.
Photos courtesy of Dennis Mah. Check out his eBay listings.

Dolly Pops by Knickerbocker Dolly Pops from the late ’70s – early ’80s are one piece plastic dolls with rooted hair. The dolls “pop” in and out of their playsets, and their one-piece plastic outfits “pop” on and off. Photos courtesy of Dennis Mah. Check out his eBay listings.

Annie Rag Doll by Knickerbocker World of Annie vinyl dolls by Knickerbocker Knickerbocker made Annie dolls as a tie-in to the 1982 movie starring Aileen Quinn as Annie and Albert Finney as Daddy Warbucks. Cloth and vinyl versions of Annie were made in multiple sizes; other characters from the film were made about 6″ tall in vinyl, and as 2.75″ miniatures.



Copyright 2006-2012 by Zendelle Bouchard

Oct 252012
 
Share

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.

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

Trixbe
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″.

Pinocchio
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:

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

Copyright 2005-2014 by Zendelle Bouchard

Aug 312012
 
Share

American Character was one of the leading doll makers in America from 1919 until the mid-sixties. While their composition dolls are sought after by collectors, it is the hard plastic and vinyl dolls of the 50s and 60s, such as Sweet Sue, Toni, Tiny Tears, Tressy and Betsy McCall, that are this company’s enduring legacy.


The company name was changed to American Doll and Toy Corp. in 1960; they also did business under the name American Miniature Doll Corp. during this same era. By 1968, they were no longer in business. For more information, see Judith Izen’s book “American Character Dolls”.

Click on a photo to see a larger version.

Composition Dolls
American Character’s early dolls were either all-composition, or had composition head and limbs with a cloth body. Many were sold under the trade name “Petite” and are marked and tagged with that name. Some of their popular baby dolls were Bottletot and Happytot. Little Love is a compo infant who resembles the famous Bye-Lo Baby doll. They made many little girl dolls as well, including Sally Joy and Carol Ann Beery, a celebrity doll representing the daughter of Hollywood actor Wallace Beery.


Composition baby doll by American Character This 13″ baby has a compo head and arms on a cloth body. Many of the Petite babies look very similar to one another, so exact identification is tricky.


Vintage Puggy doll by American Character Vintage Puggy doll by American Character Puggy is an all compo character boy made in the late 1920s. He is 13″ tall and has plenty of personality.


Vintage composition girl doll by American Character Vintage composition girl doll by American Character Vintage composition girl doll by American Character This girl doll is a companion to Puggy. The same doll with side-glancing eyes was sold as the Campbell Kid.


Composition Sally doll by American Character Composition Sally doll by American Character Sally was very similar to Effanbee’s popular Patsy family dolls. She was sold in the 1930s with molded hair or a mohair wig, and in an all-composition version as well as the one with cloth torso.

Hard Plastic Dolls
American Character’s best loved dolls are the ones made of hard plastic. In addition to the dolls described below, other hard plastic dolls made by the company include the I Love Lucy Baby (later made in vinyl and called Ricky Jr.), Toodles and Baby Sue.


Vintage Tiny Tears doll by American Character Vintage Vintage Tiny Tears doll by American Character Tiny Tears was one of American Character’s biggest successes. Not only could this doll drink and wet, she could cry too! She was made with a hard plastic head and rubber body from 1950 to ’58; and with a hard plastic head and vinyl body from 1959 to ’61, in several sizes. The earlier dolls had molded hair or a caracul (baby lambskin) wig, later on she had synthetic hair rooted into a vinyl skullcap inset into the top of her head. A rare black version was called Baby Tears. Various vinyl versions of Tiny Tears were made in the 1960s.


Vintage Sweet Sue doll by American Character Vintage Sweet Sue doll by American Character Vintage Sweet Sue doll by American Character Hard plastic Sweet Sue is the other doll most closely identified with American Character. She was produced from 1948 to 1956 in sizes ranging from 15″ to 31.” Early dolls had mohair wigs but most dolls have synthetic hair. Later dolls have the hair rooted into a vinyl skullcap which is inset in the top of the head. Some dolls have various American Character markings on the back of the head, but many are unmarked, which is a source of confusion and consternation for collectors. Vinyl head versions of Sweet Sue were made as well (see below).


Vintage Betsy McCall dolls by American Character Vintage Betsy McCall dolls by American Character Betsy McCall started life as a paper doll in McCall’s Magazine. She became three dimensional with Ideal’s vinyl version in 1952. In 1957, American Character began producing Betsy in this 8″ hard plastic version. She was hugely popular and had many extra outfits available. See below for other versions of Betsy. In recent years 8″ and 14″ Betsy have been reproduced by the Tonner Doll Co.
Photos courtesy of Withington Auction, Inc.

Vinyl Dolls
American Character began the vinyl era with stunningly beautiful and well-made dolls. As the years went by, they ventured into more unusual products and the quality generally declined. In addition to the dolls described below, other vinyl dolls they made include Ricky Jr., Baby Sue, Chuckles, Sonny Boy and Little Love. Toward the end of the company’s history, they made a line of vinyl action figures as a tie-in to the Bonanza TV series.


Lifesize Sweet Sue doll by American Character Lifesize Sweet Sue doll by American Character Life-Size Sweet Sue is 31″ tall with a vinyl head and arms on a hard plastic torso and legs. She was offered from 1954-56. Other vinyl versions of Sweet Sue include Walking Sweet Sue with Peekaboo Eyes and the Sweet Sue all vinyl toddler doll. These dolls were all little girls with flat feet, but Sweet Sue grew up and got glamour a few years later.
Photos courtesy of Lisa Hanson
Sweet Sue Sophisticate doll by American Character Sweet Sue with Flexible Foot by American Character Sweet Sue Sophisticate is the grown up version of Sweet Sue. She has a mature figure and feet shaped to wear high heeled shoes. She was made in 14″, 20″ and 25″ sizes. Sweet Sue with Flexible Foot is very similar, but has jointed ankles which enable her to wear ballet slippers, high heels or flats; and a smaller sub-teen bustline.
Visit these pages for lots more information:
Sweet Sue SophisticateSweet Sue with Flexible Foot
Vintage Toni doll by American Character Vintage Toni dolls by American Character American Character’s version of Toni is nearly identical to Sweet Sue Sophisticate. She was made in 10″, 14″, 20″ and 25″ sizes. The 10″ version had many extra outfits which could be purchased separately. Toni was a tie-in to Gillette’s Toni Home Permanent and came with a Playwave kit to style her hair.
Visit these pages for lots more information:
10″ Toni10″ Toni’s Outfits14″, 20″ and 25″ Toni


Vintage Betsy McCall doll by American Character Vintage Betsy McCall doll by American Character The success of the 8″ Betsy McCall led American Character to introduce her in 14″ size with a vinyl head in 1958. This version was only available for two years. There was also a 20″ Betsy with flirty eyes; 22″ and 29″ dolls with a different face sculpt; and a 34″ companion-size Betsy. None of these larger dolls had extra outfits like the original 8″ Betsy.


Toodles by American Character Toodles was a name that American Character used over and over for baby dolls. There was a rubber version in the ’30s and a hard plastic version in the ’40s; but the all vinyl Toodles, made in several different versions in the 1950s and ’60s, is the one most well known today. The doll pictured is the earliest vinyl version, made from 1955 to ’59. She was a drink and wet baby, but lacked the crying feature of Tiny Tears. Later on there were infant, toddler and little girl versions of Toodles.


American Character Whimsies Annie the Astronut doll American Character Whimsies Freddy the Friar doll American Character Whimsies Trixie the Pixie doll American Character Whimsies Wheeler the Dealer doll The Whimsies were all vinyl novelty dolls that were aimed at older kids and teenagers. They were produced in 1960 and ’61. A total of 17 different styles were made. Pictured left to right are: Annie the Astronut, Freddy the Friar, Trixie the Pixie and Wheeler the Dealer. Another doll, Hedda Get Bedda, is similar to the Whimsies, except that her head rotates with three different faces: a sick face, a sleeping face, and happy “all bedda” face. There was also a series of Tiny Whimsies that were 6″ and 7.5″ tall, with less detail and glow in the dark shoes.


_doll (3K) _tresbox1 (1K) Tressy, introduced in 1963, was American Character’s version of Mattel’s Barbie. Tressy had something Barbie didn’t, however: “growing” hair that could be lengthened or shortened by means of a keywind mechanism. (Although the catalog illustration shows Tressy wearing navy blue, she was actually sold in a red dress.) Like Barbie, Tressy had extra oufits and a little sister (Cricket). Tressy’s friend Mary Makeup had very pale coloring that could be enhanced with colored pencils. A version of Tressy with this same feature was called Magic Makeup Tressy. Tressy was very popular and is commonly found today, although her extra outfits and playsets are harder to find. There was also a Pre-Teen Tressy, who had the grow-hair feature in a larger 14″ doll.


_echo (4K) Little Miss Echo is one of the battery-operated talking dolls made by American Character in the early 1960s. She is 30″ tall and has a tape recorder in her chest. Other talking dolls the company made include Sally Says, Babie Says and Babie Babbles. Suzy Two Steps is a battery operated walking doll made in 1966.
Photo courtesy of Nancy McKee.

Dolls of Other Materials
American Character also made dolls of rubber in the first half of the twentieth century. Most of these dolls have not survived because the rubber hardens, cracks and deteriorates over time. Many of their early hard plastic babies have rubber bodies, and they are hard to find in good condition.
The company made a brief foray into the manufacture of cloth dolls in the late fifties with Eloise, based on the children’s book character by Kay Thompson.



Learn More:

cover
American Character Dolls
by Judith Izen
Find it on eBay.
cover
Dolls & Accessories of the 1950s
by Dian Zillner
Find it on eBay.
cover
The Doll & Teddy Bear Department
edited by Thomas W. Holland
Find it on eBay.

Copyright 2006-2012 by Zendelle Bouchard.