Sunday, August 2, 2009
Topsy was a character in Harriet Beecher Stowe's book, Uncle Tom's Cabin, so she is most likely the first character black doll sold to the mass market. Topsy, the character, was a ragamuffin slave girl who is transformed by the love of her young mistress.
Topsy dolls were hugely popular during the Great Depression and you're lucky if you can find one that is made of composition and is in good condition. Like their namesakes, these dolls usually show signs of being greatly loved and played with by little girls. It's rare to come across a Topsy that doesn't have "issues."
Topsy dolls are distinguished by their three topknots - one to each side of her head, and one on top. These are usually made of woven yarn, floss (like the Topsy shown here) or wool batting. Several doll companies made Topsy dolls. The Reliable doll company of Canada made a Topsy without the topknots, however.
My unmarked Topsy is 19 inches tall and is in beautiful unrestored condition. Her clothes, however, disintegrated a long time ago and she's been re-dressed. Topsy is one of my favorite dolls. If you can find a Topsy doll in good condition, you've got a lucky find indeed.