Sunday, February 21, 2010

Horsman composition dolls

I have two Horsman dolls in my collection: a mama doll that was made in the late 1920's, and a Patsy family competitor, called Nan.

The Horsman Doll Company is one of the oldest doll manufacturers still extant. It was founded in 1865 by Edward Horsman and has changed hands several times over the past century. Today, it is run out of Hong Kong and is called Horsman Ltd.  I really like that despite the change of hands, the Horsman name still carries weight.

My Horsman mama doll is typical of dolls made in the late 1920's. She has a soft cloth stuffed body, a "cryer" (that still works), and four teeth. She is 22 inches long with composition head, arms, and legs. Her mohair wig is a replacement and although her clothes are old, they are not original to her. She has tin sleep eyes and is marked EIH Co. Inc. on the back of her neck.

The little boy in this photo is holding a Horsman Baby Bumps (circa 1911.)

Mama dolls were made for little girls (and boys) to cuddle - hence their soft cloth stuffed bodies. It amazes me that they have survived nearly one hundred years with nothing more than some staining or small seam splits. Even the stuffing hasn't settled to a great degree.

Nan* was manufactured in the 1930's in response to the Patsy craze. My Nan is 19 inches tall and all composition with molded hair, sable eyelashes, and tin sleep eyes.  She is unmarked and sometimes gets mistaken for Patsy Ann, although Nan has a noticeable dimple in her chin. She has a toddler body and a bent right arm. I think Nan is just as sweet as Patsy Ann.

Horsman dolls are rather iconic and are a great addition to any vintage doll collection.

*corrected from Jane


  1. I love your blog site , it's the first I have found that is not advertising to sell dolls rather you want to share your girls with the world . Your elderly Horsman MaMa doll is charming . I love the white dress and sandals on your all composition Patsy Ann type Horsman girl but I'm not sure if she is a "Jane" . Ursula R Mertz in her wonderful books on composition dolls refers to the 17" version as Jane and the 19" version as Nan . The little Babs by Horsman the competitor for F&B's Patsy,Jr is a sweetie too . I would love to send you pictures of Babs .

  2. Hi Dawn - I'd love to see your pics of Babs! Thanks for the info regarding Jane vs Nan. I'll have to update her name. :) I love hearing from other doll lovers and am happy for any information you can share.