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?):


  1. I have searched forever for a de Angeli-Hedwig doll. I saw one on ebay one time. They are character dolls from Margarite de Angeli's children's books. Hedwig was the designer of the costumes and was German. I think that they are composition dolls but I am not sure. I do have a several page article with pictures that I downloaded several years ago. If you have one, I would love to see a picture of it. Thanks, Susan

  2. Thanks, anonymous, for that info. The early Hedwig dolls are made of composition, and are unmarked, so I think the only real way to know for sure is if they have their original hang tag with them or are dressed in their original costumes, which can be seen here: The unmarked doll came with her hair twisted and pulled back, which was a Hedwig style, but the costume she is wearing doesn't match anything that I've seen so far.

    The smaller Debu'teen also uses that mold and again, dolls are unmarked. So, the unmarked compo doll in this entry may be a small Debu'teen. Her dress is original to her, and she also has a matching felt hat, which sadly, has seen better days.

  3. greetings. if you want to see a LOVELY Hedwig doll, Elin, there is a sold one on ebay. look at completed item, 130553885056, u.s.a. location of ebay. so pretty. frances e.

  4. Oh - I just had a look at the Elin doll. She's so pretty! Don't you just love the Hoyer face mold? It's wonderful to see how these dolls have survived over the years.

  5. I have one that my mother bought be about 27 years ago. It's missing half the tag and I just found out today what kind of doll it is.

    1. What a nice gift! Glad you could find out what you have.

  6. I have one that my mother bought be about 27 years ago. It's missing half the tag and I just found out today what kind of doll it is.