Thursday, December 29, 2011

Pigtail Sally

In 1935, right around the time that Ideal was producing their Shirley Temple doll, Pigtail Sally was introduced to the American market. Pigtail Sally is another composition doll produced by Ideal, and like many Shirley Temple dolls, she has flirty eyes and a dimple in her chin. Unlike the Shirley Temple doll, Ideal did not have to pay royalties to Shirley Temple to manufacture her.

Pigtail Sally is also known by other names: Cinderella, Little Princess, Mary Jane, Betty Jane and Miss America. All of them use the same face mold and can range in size from 13 inches to 20 inches tall. She is jointed at the neck, shoulders and hips and is a strung doll.

My Pigtail Sally is 16 inches tall and wears a factory-made starched dress and pinafore that looks original to her. She also wears rayon socks and oilcloth shoes that look original. Her composition and face paint is immaculate, but her eyes were crazed and someone attempted to enhance them. Pigtail Sally (or Pigtails, as she is sometimes known), is a wigged doll. She is marked on her back, U.S.A. 16. I love her flirty eyes which still work. She has a little felt tongue and four teeth.

Ideal's Ginger often gets mistaken for Pigtail Sally.  Ginger uses the Shirley Temple face mold and wears her hair in pigtails. As you can see from these photos, Pigtail Sally's face is slightly different to Shirley Temple's.

Pigtail Sally is a charming addition to my composition dolls collection. For whatever reason, Pigtail Sally seems to be hard to find, so if you come across her, you might want to giver her a home.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Video update

I've gone ahead and put almost all of my dolls into a video log. I thought you'd enjoy seeing all of these dolls in one place. There are a few I have yet to write about, and there are even a few that didn't make this video (next time!)

I hope you enjoy it.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Celebrity dolls: Franklin Mint Gone With the Wind collection

In 1986, the film Gone With the Wind was closing in on its 50th anniversary, and to commemorate this epic milestone of an epic film, Franklin Mint released porcelain dolls that have been sculpted to look like the stars that made these characters famous on screen. All of the main characters were available for collectors: Scarlett, Rhett, Melanie, Ashley, Aunt Pitty, Mrs. O'Hara, Belle Watling, Bonnie Blue, Prissy and Mammy. Of these characters, I own the four protagonists.

There were 10 Scarletts created for the series, but I have the Scarlett in White Ruffles doll. This is Scarlett O'Hara in her White Ruffle Prayer Dress from the opening scene of the movie. Scarlett wears delicate red bows in her hair. When I purchased her, she came with her own stand and a second dress - the green BBQ at Twelve Oaks dress and hat which you see her wearing here.

Next to Scarlett stands Melanie Wilkes as portrayed by Olivia de Havilland. She is dressed in the pale blue silk gown she wore to Scarlett's wedding to Charles.

Rhett Butler wears the attire he wore when he first laid eyes on Scarlett at the Twelve Oaks Plantation BBQ. He wears a tailored navy blue frock coat and grey trousers with a waistcoat. Rhett stands taller than Scarlett and Melanie. He is 22 inches tall.

Ashley Wilkes looks dashing in his Confederate uniform. He wears the yellow sash favour that Scarlett made for him and gave to him at Tara. He also stands 22 inches tall.

All of these Franklin Mint dolls have porcelain heads, arms and hands, and feet. They have soft cloth stuffed bodies with armatures that make them somewhat posable. They all have their own stands made specifically for that doll and come with a numbered Certificate of Authenticity. Their face sculptures are remarkable and resemble closely the actors that portrayed them on screen: Vivian Leigh, Olivia de Havilland, Clark Gable, and Leslie Howard.

If you're a Gone With the Wind fan or just have a fascination for the period of the United States' Civil War, then you might want to collect these beautiful dolls. Dolls can fetch from $100 and up, depending on their number, rarity, condition, and whether or not they have been removed from their box.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Doll Land update: Toni has new stockings

Poor Toni - imagine how she has felt all these years, having to wear her roller skates with her feet bare.  Recently, eBay has come to the rescue and I found a seller who makes stockings that have the right amount of stretch for the older hard plastic dolls.

In the past, I suffered the frustration of stockings that just had a bit of elastic at the top (like a garter.) They are fine for vinyl legs, but not so for hard plastic, which has a much more slick surface. I finally figured out I had to search for stockings made for Cissy or Miss Revlon.

Voila stretchy stockings! Toni finally looks complete.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

American Character Sweet Sue

Sweet Sue is one of the few hard plastic dolls in my collection. She was made by American Character from 1948 to 1961. Sweet Sues range in size from 14 to 25 inches tall (depending on which Sweet Sue model you own.) The Life Size Sweet Sue is 31 inches tall.

Sweet Sue was another teen doll aimed towards older girls who had outgrown the baby doll stage. She came with beautiful dresses, some with special embroidery. Every outfit in Sweet Sue's wardrobe included a slip or petticoat, nylon stockings, and panties.In 1953, McCall issued a series of dress patterns especially for Sweet Sue.

There was a special bridal Sweet Sue (with a matching groom who wore a lamb's wool wig), but Sweet Sue in general, came with lots of beautiful clothing and accessories for little girls to play with. There was no particular novelty to the hard plastic Sweet Sue. She is a sturdy doll with a pretty face sculpture, blue sleep eyes, brush lashes, single stroke eyebrows and a synthetic or mohair wig. She is jointed at the arms, legs and neck and is a strung doll.

Later versions of Sweet Sue were made of vinyl. Vinyl opened up other possibilities for Sweet Sue, and she was given a flexible foot and ankle, neck and waist, which allowed her to wear high heels or flats as her "mommy" decided, and pose as a ballerina or sophisticated glamour queen.

For one year, 1957, a Sweet Sue Sophisticate was manufactured. This version of Sweet Sue was made of vinyl and had flange joints in her arms and legs, which meant that her arms and legs could not be posed away from her body. She was given a more mature figure, and could bend and twist at the neck and waist. Sweet Sue Sophisticates have rooted hair and are more valuable than then standard Sweet Sue, as she was manufactured for only one year. Sweet Sue Sophisticate also had a variety of outfits complete with a bra, panties, and stockings.

My Sweet Sue is an 18 inch hard plastic doll with strung joints and a synthetic wig, which makes her one of the earlier versions of the doll. She is wearing an original factory-made dress and replacement stockings and shoes. Her face paint is all original. She is unmarked (many Sweet Sues of all sizes are unmarked), but some are marked American Character Doll, Am. Char. Doll, Amer Char., A.C.  Sweet Sue is a great addition to your vintage American doll collection. Many are still in great condition and can be purchased for a reasonable price.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Doll Land update

My husband and I attended a local doll show yesterday. Yes, believe it or not, he likes going to them as much as I do because doll shows are more than just about dolls. There were teddy bears, tin toys, and old pedal cars. Attending a doll show is like a step back into your childhood, and we had lots of fun.

While there, I picked up a hand sewn dress for my Rosebud doll, as well as some shoes. She was never dressed in her original costume, so I figured that she may as well be dressed in something pretty. So, here she is, all decked out in a new red gingham dress and red patent shoes. She wears her original rayon socks and underwear, but now looks as if she's ready for a Sunday morning go-to-meeting.

I've also added another Monica Studio doll to my collection. This doll is smaller than the others. She stands 18 inches tall, but like her sisters, she is also made of composition, putty, and has rooted human hair. Sadly for this doll, most of her hair has broken off, so I purchased a human hair doll wig that pretty much is the same style that she had originally. Her dress and hat appear to be original to her and are made of taffeta. She has lovely violet eyes that remind me of the late Elizabeth Taylor. If you look at all of my Monica Studio dolls, you'll see that their faces are all slightly different. Aren't they gorgeous, though?

Click on photos to enlarge.

Helen Kish doll: Spring

In my collection of dolls, my Helen Kish Spring doll is the youngster of the bunch. Helen Kish, her designer, has been creating beautiful dolls for the past thirty years. She started out making porcelain dolls and worked as a freelance designer for such companies as The Franklin Mint and the Danbury Mint until she decided to start her own company in 1991. In addition to dolls, Helen Kish designs jewelry and sculptures.

Helen Kish dolls are remarkable for their charming faces that include large painted eyes and pouty, well-defined lips. Dolls range in size from 5 inches to 28 inches tall and are balanced well enough to stand on their own. My Spring is jointed at the neck, shoulders and hips, but there are Kish dolls, such as Sheherazade, who are also jointed at the elbows, wrists, and knees. Spring's head and body are made of hard vinyl, and she is strung the same as vintage dolls.

Spring, from the 1997 Four Seasons collection, is 16 inches tall and has beautiful soft blonde rooted hair. You see her here, also wearing Autumn's dress, but Spring typically wears a fresh green dress made from ribbon-embroidered felt and fine netting. She wears pink flowers in her hair, and pink lace up ballet shoes. Spring and her sisters, were made in Valencia, Spain by White Balloon, who made exclusive dolls by world-renowned designers.

Helen Kish dolls are highly collectable, due to their finely sculpted features, beautiful costumes, and perfect balance.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Lenci dolls

I have three Lenci dolls in my collection. They all date from the 1980s.

The Lenci doll manufacturing company began as a workshop 1919 and was the brainchild of Madame Lenci (a shortened form of Elena Konig Scavini's nickname of Helenchen.)  Lenci is famous for the use of felt to create soft and almost animated faces. Oil paints were used to create the distinctive side glancing eyes and pouty lips. While the name Lenci is most often associated with Turin, Italy, dolls made in the 1930s were often made in Madame Lenci's German workshop.  Lenci dolls made before 1940 are the most valuable of the Lenci collection as their production was presided over by Madame Lenci herself and have the best craftsmanship.

From the 1950s until the 1970s, Lenci produced porcelain and celluloid dolls and sold old felt stock with new costumes. New felt dolls were produced in the 1970s. For more about the history of Lenci, I recommend the book Lenci: The History and the Dolls by Nancy Lazenby.

In my Lenci collection are the "twins" Aurelia and Bettina. Both dolls are about 13 inches tall and both wear felt dresses with pockets in which they have placed a soft toy "pet."  Aurelia's is a goose, and Bettina's is a rabbit. Bettina wears a blue dress, and Aurelia's is pink. They both have blonde, curly hair made of a soft man-made fibre and can stand independently.

My other Lenci doll is a bride doll named Bibija. She is a large example of a Lenci doll, being 24 inches tall. She is number 433 of 499 dolls made. She, too, is made of felt and has beautiful soft blonde hair made of an amazing manmade fibre. Bibija is a boudoir-style doll, that is, she can't stand on her own. Her legs are quite soft and she's more suited to being placed on a chair or on a bed.

Sadly, after World War 2, quality and production went into decline and the Lenci workshop closed in 2002. Still, a doll made in the 1970s or 1980s will make a fine addition to your doll collection, especially if you have a "soft spot" for cloth dolls.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Snow White and Rosebud

Do you remember the story of Snow White and Rose Red from Grimm's Fairy Tales? Well, I've got Snow White and Rosebud dolls.

Snow White dolls became popular in the late 1930s after the release of Snow White by Walt Disney. Not everyone manufacturing a Snow White doll was licensed like Madame Alexander and Ideal, so to get around this, one company made a Snow White doll with blonde hair.

This composition doll stands 13.5 inches tall and sports a blue bow in her hair.  She has side-glancing painted eyes. She is unmarked, but she is unmistakably designed to look like the Disney Snow White. Sadly, I have never seen this doll offered for sale with her original outfit, and indeed, my Snow White is wearing a satin underdress and robe that, while old, is obviously a replacement.  She is wearing her original oilcloth shoes and rayon socks, however.

Snow White can stand independently. Her joints are held tightly with springs instead of elastic, which was a wonderful improvement over other methods. I'm not sure why this didn't catch on with other manufacturers, although I suppose cost is always a consideration. Her neck is not jointed - it is molded with the body.

Snow White's companion is Rosebud. Rosebud is a composition baby doll made in England. She is marked ROSEBUD on the back of her neck. Rosebud has orange sleep eyes and brush lashes, a painted closed mouth, and has five  joints (neck, arms and legs.) Rosebud was manufactured in the 1940s and her composition is in fantastic shape. She also stands about 13.5 inches tall. Her hair is painted, but later Rosebud dolls made in the 1950s, were made from hard plastic and were wigged.

Rosebud looks very much like a composition Pedigree doll, but was made by a Pedigree competitor. Horsman also made a Rosebud doll, but that doll is a little girl and is marked E. I. H. CO. INC.  Rosebud's rayon dress is old but not original, and her shoes are long gone.

Both dolls make a sweet addition to my collection.