Saturday, October 31, 2009

Pedigree dolls - older and newer

The Pedigree Doll Company was an English doll manufacturer that was active from the 1930's through the mid 1980's, when it eventually went bankrupt. Dolls are usually marked Pedigree Made in England.

I own three Pedigree dolls which are examples of the Pedigree company through the decades.

The first is a baby boy doll made of composition. He has side-glancing painted eyes and teeth that need a wee bit of work to straighten out. He's in need of a good cleaning, but, as he dates back to the 1930's, he's not in too bad a shape. Baby Pedigree is approximately 16 inches tall.

The next is the much sought-after hard plastic toddler doll made from the late 1940's to the late 1950's. She was a Mama doll, but her cryer is now missing. This adorable dolly was literally rescued from a trash heap. She needed to be re-strung, her torso was split and warped, and her hair was bleached to a strange colour due to being left outside in the sun; however, being the kind of woman who takes pity on old abandoned dolls, I rescued her, and with the help of my husband, we managed to repair her body. She has silicone "collars" where her legs meet her torso so that they don't get pulled in by her new stringing. Her wig is original and full, and I dyed it to help mask the strange green tint that it had, and her eyelashes are replacements. She has flirty sleep eyes that still freely flirt from side to side, even if they don't open and close well any more.

After her body was repaired and some blush restored to her face, she was given a new outfit. Her shoes are original as far as I can tell, and I am eventually going to make a new set of front teeth for her. Truly, restoring this doll has been a labour of love. Toddler Pedigree is about 20 inches tall.

The 1950's was a heyday era for Pedigree. They made toddler dolls, walker dolls, and Brighton Belle, a playpal size doll that stood around 28 inches tall. All are highly collectible and sought after, especially if their plastic hasn't faded and they don't suffer from Pedigree doll disease. Pedigree doll disease is not treatable, unlike other hard plastic doll "diseases."  Once the plastic begins to break down, you may as well throw the poor dolly away, as she will melt over time.

The third Pedigree doll dates from the late 1960's. She's Pedigree's Sindy doll - their teen doll competition to Barbie, Tammy, and other teen dolls of the era.  My Sindy has a twist waist and posable legs. I am fussy about Sindy. When Pedigree went bankrupt in the mid 1980's, Hasbro bought the rights to manufacture the doll, and they changed her look. The Sindy of the 1960's is quintessentially a British Mod doll. Anything else just doesn't feel right. Sindy is 11 inches tall and like Barbie, came with an extensive wardrobe and accessories.

Pedigree dolls are great examples of dolls that were popular in England and other Commonwealth countries in the 1940's through the 1960's. Since living in Australia, I've been introduced to these dolls and love them as much as my American dolls. 

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Madame Alexander Cissette

A couple years after Madame Alexander developed Cissy, she also came up with Cissette, a miniature version of the large fashion doll.

Cissette has all of the attributes of her larger "cousin," including bendable knees and a fabulous wardrobe. She is made from hard plastic and wears a synthetic wig.

The original Cissette was discontinued in the mid 1960's and then came back in the 1990's, with a few modifications. For one thing, she grew two inches! Early Cissettes came dressed in the couture of the day, but modern Cissettes are often sold as historical figures. My modern Cissette is dressed and coiffed to represent Veronica Franco, a celebrated courtesan of 16th century Venice. As you can see, the Alexander doll company is meticulous in their costume and hair style details!

Vintage Cissette has a matching bra and panties with rosebuds. She dates to about 1961 and is marked MME ALEXANDER on her back. Modern Cissette is from 2008 and is marked ALEXANDER on her back. They certainly are very "grown up" for such little dolls.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Kewty and Sue

In the late 1920's, toddler dolls started to take the nation by storm. Two such dolls were Amberg's Sue doll (a doll with molded curls and a swivel twist waist) and Arranbee's Kewty. (There was also another version of Kewty made by Domec which more closely resembles a carnival doll.)

Kewty and Sue rode the wave of success that Effanbee's Patsy had created. Toddler dolls with molded hair, about the right size for little hands to hold, became popular. There were also plenty of other imitators that cropped up along the way during the 1920's and 30's (I'll showcase a couple more in another entry.)

My Kewty and Sue dolls appear to be dressed in their original costumes with their original shoes and socks. Sue is about 14 inches tall, and Kewty is about 15 inches tall. Sue is marked on her back:Amberg/Pat. Pend./L.A.& S. © 1928 and Kewty is marked on her back: KEWTY. They both have painted eyes, and to be honest, I think they are just as adorable as Patsy. Both dolls have a little age-related wear, but considering that that are 80 years old, they've held up well over the years.

In these photos, Kewty is on the left, and Sue is on the right.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Arranbee Debu'teen

The Three Graces and a Muse
The Arranbee doll company is known among collectors for creating dolls with beautiful faces. One of these dolls, aimed towards the pre-teen market, was called Debu'teen. As her name implies, this teen doll was intended to be a debutante - or the age at which a girl entered society and was considered to be grown-up.

Debu'teen was made only for two or three years, from what I can tell, between 1938 and 1940. She came in various sizes, from 11" to 22" tall. The larger dolls had cloth bodies, one that was designed so that the doll could be seated more easily. Debu'teen came with beautiful clothes designed to appeal to older girls.

I have four Debu'teen dolls. All are unmarked (not uncommon for these dolls) but are distinguishable by their facial molds, which strongly resemble a larger version of the Mary Hoyer face mold. There is a second face mold doll that I unfortunately don't own, that has wider set eyes and a wider mouth. Three of my dolls have mohair wigs and one has a synthetic wig which may not be original to the doll, although it is certainly very old. It feels like a very early version of saran.

I nicknamed my dolls the Three Graces and a Muse since they are so beautiful and delicate. They all have composition bodies. The larger dolls are 18 inches tall, and the smaller one (which may be a Vogue doll that used the Debu'teen face mold) is 14 inches tall. They all wear their original clothing, with the exception of the blue dress, which is a replica of an original costume. They are truly stunning, dressed in heavy satins, netting, and lace!

Nancy Lee (also made by Arranbee) often gets confused with Debu'teen, but when seen side by side, it's obvious that their faces are quite different. To see more Debu'teen dolls, you can visit Carol Pope restores these dolls to their original beauty and does a great job!