Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Celebrity Doll - Ideal Deanna Durbin

The Ideal Novelty and Toy Company had a hit on their hands with their Shirley Temple doll. Shirley appealed to little girls everywhere - but what about older girls? Every doll manufacturer covered both their younger and older consumers, so in 1938, Ideal came out with another celebrity doll for their teen consumers: the Deanna Durbin doll.

Deanna Durbin, a native of Winnipeg, Manitoba, is a contemporary of Judy Garland, and they appeared together in a short film called Every Sunday. Ms Durbin became Universal Studio's most popular female star of the 1940's, so Deanna Durbin dolls became popular, as well.

The dolls range in size from 15 to 21 inches (a 24 inch doll was produced in 1938) and are made of composition. They are jointed at the shoulders, neck and hips, have beautiful human hair wigs, brown sleep eyes, and an open, smiling mouth with six teeth. She is marked on the back of her head: Deanna Durbin Ideal Doll, USA.

At the height of Deanna Durbin's career, her image was also used for Ideal's Miss Liberty doll (a Deanna Durbin doll dressed in patriotic outfits with blonde hair), The Queen of the Ice (an ice skating doll also with blonde hair), and a short haired Gulliver doll. The Deanna Durbin doll face mold was modified only slightly for Ideal's Judy Garland doll, which came out in 1940.

My Deanna Durbin is marked and has her original face paint and human hair wig. Her eyes were crazed but have been enhanced. Her dress is a replacement but suits her, and she wears a tiara. My dad once told me he had had a crush on Deanna Durbin when he was a boy, so this doll will always be a little bit special to me.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Doll Land update

A kind blogger let me know that the comment function in Doll Land wasn't working - so I've had to change templates. There will be some continuing updates to the functionality of Doll Land, but at least, now you can leave comments or ask questions if you like.

Thanks, Giovanna, for letting me know.

Melanie O.

Madame Alexander Cissy

In the mid 1950's, Madame Alexander added a fashion doll to her range. This doll has arms jointed at the elbows, and legs jointed at the knees. She is made of hard plastic, has sleep eyes and wears an elaborate wig. Her name is Cissy.

Cissy is 21 inches tall. She comes with a large array of costumes, most of which were high fashion of her era: swing coats, pencil skirts, and Chanel-type dresses with petticoats, hats, wraps, and high heels with stockings. Cissy was the first fashion doll made with a "high heel" foot. Cissy is a teen doll meant for older girls with dreams of being all grown up.

The Cissy face mold was previously used for Winnie and Binnie Walker, but Winnie and Binnie have little girls' bodies. Cissy's body is more mature and is jointed so that she can be posed in many ways.

Madame Alexander ended the first Cissy run in 1962, and later dolls were made without the elbow joint. So influential was Cissy to a teen girl's sense of fashion, that the Fashion Academy awarded Madame Alexander with a gold medal award - three times!

In 1996, Cissy was revived and a modernized version of the doll was born. Modern Cissy has a hard plastic body and a vinyl head and arms and stands 20 inches tall. She has a slightly narrower bust and smaller waist than Vintage Cissy, but both dolls are favorites with collectors.

As you can see, I have one of each - a Vintage Cissy and a Modern Cissy. Both dolls are gorgeous, for different reasons - each representing her own era. Vintage Cissy is marked Alexander on the back of her head, and Modern Cissy is unmarked (which is why saving those hang tags and tagged outfits is so important.) Modern Cissy is Holiday Cissy from 1999. She wears her original outfit and comes with her own earrings as well as a pair of matching earrings for her adoptive "mommy."

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Dream World Dolls

Dream World dolls are 11 inch composition dolls that were marketed to the "average" family who could not afford more expensive toys.They were sold throughout the 1940's and were available with a range of costumes: historical, ethnic, occupational, and fantasy.

These unmarked dolls have side-glancing painted eyes and mohair wigs that are glued directly to the head, as opposed to being constructed on a skull cap. Their costumes are stapled to their bodies, so costume changes were not intended for Dream World dolls. As a result of very little handling by little mommies, Dream World dolls tend to remain in very good condition. They don't appear to suffer from the same cracking and crazing as other dolls of their era with "better" composition. The dolls wear oil cloth shoes with laces.

I have two Dream World dolls. Both are ladies of the French court. Their costumes have a few age-related holes, but the dolls themselves are in great condition. When you purchase a Dream World doll, you will most likely also purchase her original costume, which makes her a true representation of her manufacture.

These dolls are delightful and aren't costly at all unless you're fortunate to find one with her original hang tags and in her original box. They are a great representation of their era and sometimes get mistaken for Wendy Ann or Tiny Betty dolls; however, the stapled on clothing, glued on floss, and lack of maker's marks gives them away.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Mary Hoyer dolls


I think, of all my composition dolls, my Mary Hoyer dolls have to be one of my favorites. All right - they're all my "favorites," but my Mary Hoyer dolls are just that little bit more special. I'm not sure why this is, but I am guessing it's because of their faces. They remind me so much of Botticelli's Venus:

Back in the 1930's, Mary Hoyer, designer and owner of a knitting shop, had an idea. Why not create a doll for girls who are learning to knit and sew, and sell her own patterns for clothes that fit the doll?  She approached the Ideal Toy and Novelty company, who created a doll with a Mayfair twist waist. The dolls were not marked Mary Hoyer, but were marked Ideal, and they wore costumes with a Hoyer label.

A few years later, Mrs Hoyer commissioned a well known doll sculptor, Bernart Lipfert, to sculpt her own doll, and the Mary Hoyer doll was born. The dolls were 14 inches tall, made of composition and had sleep eyes (or painted side-glancing eyes), and mohair wigs. Patterns of dresses and other outfits were sold along with the dolls. The dolls themselves were marked The Mary Hoyer Doll in raised print on their backs.

The original Mary Hoyer doll became a huge success, and after 1946, they were made out of hard plastic. Other dolls in the line followed: Gigi, Margie, Vicky (identical to Uneeda's Suzette doll), Cathy, Janie and Beckie, but their sales at the time did not match the success of the original doll. The Mary Hoyer doll company closed in the early 1970's, but Mary's granddaughter has re-introduced her grandmother's doll with a few changes and the company has been revived.

At a point in her career, Mary Hoyer licensed her doll mold to several companies including Richwood, Hosely, the ABC Toy Company, and de Angeli-Hedwig, so the only way to be sure you own a Mary Hoyer doll, is if it's properly marked.

I have four marked Mary Hoyer dolls, and one unmarked Hoyer face doll in an original historical costume, which may mean that she is a de Angeli-Hedwig doll; however, with no hang tag or other identifying information, that is just a guess. Two of my Hoyer dolls are unretouched and wear knitted or crocheted outfits made from original Mary Hoyer patterns. The other two have had touchups and are redressed. The blue and cream outfit is one made by a talented doll dressmaker, from an original Hoyer pattern. The unmarked Hoyer face doll is wearing tagged Hoyer accessories. All of my dolls are composition dolls, which dates them to 1946 or earlier.

Retouched Mary Hoyer dolls:


Unretouched Mary Hoyer dolls:

 Unmarked Mary Hoyer face doll (de-Angeli-Hedwig?):