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Dolls

Dolls

These are my 1950s (maybe even 1949) dolls ... two were mine and two were collected.

These are my 1950s (maybe even 1949) dolls ... two were mine and two were collected.

As a girl I loved playing dolls and truth be told I still like playing with dolls.  My first doll was a red rag doll and I also had a red and white teddy bear.  I still have the bear even though he only has one eye now.  Among my earliest Christmas memories are trips to downtown to look at wonderful displays of dolls in department store windows.  My sister and I would press our noses to the glass and decide which ones were our favorites.  A sure sign Christmas was coming was the hum of my mother’s sewing machine behind her closed bedroom door after we went to bed. Every year she made doll wardrobes for our Christmas dolls. 

Here I am with my red rag doll in 1945.

Here I am with my red rag doll in 1945.

My mother and I in 1945 with the rag doll and my teddy bear.

My mother and I in 1945 with the rag doll and my teddy bear.

My well-loved teddy bear today

My well-loved teddy bear today

In the late 1940s my sister and I both had small baby dolls which were probably Betsy Wetsy or Tiny Tears dolls.  These dolls had rubber bodies that didn’t stand the test of time so only one dress and a bunting made by my mother survive.  When I was about five years old my Christmas doll was a beautiful baby doll with a composition head (which became cracked) and cloth body.  The Christmas before our brother was born, my sister and I each received nearly life-size baby dolls and we played Mommy.  I have a flannel kimono and blanket that belonged to this doll.

Pink bunting and dress my mother made for my small Tiny Tears doll

Pink bunting and dress my mother made for my small Tiny Tears doll

These are two Little Golden Books that are vivid in my memory.  While trying to find a copy of The New Baby I began a whole new collection of vintage Golden Books that will soon be a topic on this blog.

These are two Little Golden Books that are vivid in my memory.  While trying to find a copy of The New Baby I began a whole new collection of vintage Golden Books that will soon be a topic on this blog.

An illustration by Eloise Wilkin from Come Play House

An illustration by Eloise Wilkin from Come Play House

In 1949 or 1950 Santa brought me the popular doll of the day.  This doll had dark hair that could be washed, curled … and unfortunately cut.  I must have given her a really bad haircut because she was discarded a few years later.  I still, however, had her complete wardrobe including her original dress.   In this last year I decided I wanted to identify and buy a replacement for my missing doll.  Since I still had two of my last dolls I had an idea about the size of my missing doll. Here were the clues ... she was probably from 1949-1951, the clothes were too large for the 14" doll I still had, I remembered that she had a human hair wig, the original dress had buttons on the front in the shape of bows, and square snaps on the back, and  the dress had attached panties and slip.  I searched several doll reference books to no avail.  I consulted a "doll expert" on eBay and she believed the doll must have been a hard plastic 16" or 18" Effanbee Honey since that was the only company using human hair wigs at that time.  Then I found an ad from a 1949 trade magazine that showed my exact doll.  A perfect Nancy Drew Mystery solved!   I first bought an inexpensive doll and found that the clothes fit her perfectly.   After looking, I was able to buy a dark haired 16” Honey. 

Reference books really help identify the doll you are searching for.  I find my self going back many times to learn more.

Reference books really help identify the doll you are searching for.  I find my self going back many times to learn more.

This 1949 trade magazine ad solved the mystery ...  I was in the first grade Christmas, 1949.

This 1949 trade magazine ad solved the mystery ...  I was in the first grade Christmas, 1949.

These are the two Effanbee Honey dolls that I bought.  The dark haired doll best matches my memories of the missing doll.  She is wearing the original dress that helped me identify her.  The blond doll is wearing a dress and panties made by my mother and a purchased sweater probably from the dime store.  I had to purchase new shoes and socks for both dolls.  Surprisingly you can buy vintage shoes and socks on line.  Equally surprising, the shoes and socks cost more than the doll.

These are the two Effanbee Honey dolls that I bought.  The dark haired doll best matches my memories of the missing doll.  She is wearing the original dress that helped me identify her.  The blond doll is wearing a dress and panties made by my mother and a purchased sweater probably from the dime store.  I had to purchase new shoes and socks for both dolls.  Surprisingly you can buy vintage shoes and socks on line.  Equally surprising, the shoes and socks cost more than the doll.

I collected this copy of the old pattern that I am sure was the one my mother used to make this dress with matching panties and hat and also paisley pajamas.

I collected this copy of the old pattern that I am sure was the one my mother used to make this dress with matching panties and hat and also paisley pajamas.

Honey is wearing the majorette costume that my mother made.  Majorette and ice skating dolls were very popular.  I still also have the boots and baton.  Having the boots helped me find out what size replacement shoes to purchase.

Honey is wearing the majorette costume that my mother made.  Majorette and ice skating dolls were very popular.  I still also have the boots and baton.  Having the boots helped me find out what size replacement shoes to purchase.

The boots and baton ... one boot is missing it's sole and heel.

The boots and baton ... one boot is missing it's sole and heel.

A corduroy jacket and jeans made by my mother. 

A corduroy jacket and jeans made by my mother. 

A silk dress that I made ... you can see the hand stitching at the neckline.

A silk dress that I made ... you can see the hand stitching at the neckline.

I started learning to sew when I started school and learned to make my own doll clothes.  I began with hand stitched outfits which I entered in the Lions’ Club hobby fair winning two silver dollars and a red second place ribbon when I was in the second grade. I still remember the thrill … too bad I spent the silver dollars!  Soon I learned to sew on Mama’s sewing machine. 

I had a best girlfriend that lived two doors down and we played dolls almost every day.  If the weather was nice we built houses in our small apartment back yard.  We had several old broom and mop handles that we laid out like a house plan complete with a tea set equipped kitchen and beds made of doll blankets and pillows. It always seemed like just about the time we got everything ready it was time to go in for dinner.  On rainy or bad weather days we played at my house or hers.  In 1952 one of the first events of importance that we watched on television was the coronation of Queen Elizabeth in England.  We played “Queen” with our dolls using doll blankets for trains and crowns made out of the foil-lined boxes that brown and serve rolls came in. 

Indoors we loved to build doll houses and furniture for our tiny dolls with blocks.  I had a few doll house pieces of furniture that I bought with my allowance at the dime store.  Twenty five cents could buy a nice doll house treasure; I still have a Renwal toy sewing machine, a card table and two chairs, and two tiny dolls.

Renwal doll house furniture is now very collectible and valuable.

Renwal doll house furniture is now very collectible and valuable.

I am lucky to still have my last two dolls … a 1952 14” Effanbee Honey walker doll complete with her original outfit, wardrobe and accessories; my last childhood doll was an 8” Madame Alexander-Kin Wendy doll with original clothing from 1953.  In 1953 I was ten years old and I remember thinking I was too old to play dolls any longer.

My 1952 14" Effanbee Honey walker doll ... typical 1950s circular skirt with rick rack.  My 1953 8" Madame Alexander-kin Wendy doll. 

My 1952 14" Effanbee Honey walker doll ... typical 1950s circular skirt with rick rack.  My 1953 8" Madame Alexander-kin Wendy doll. 

The Alexander-kin was introduced in 1953.

The Alexander-kin was introduced in 1953.

From the reference book The World of Alexander-kins

From the reference book The World of Alexander-kins

I did not make clothes for Wendy but have collected two vintage uncut patterns ... just in case.

I did not make clothes for Wendy but have collected two vintage uncut patterns ... just in case.

Finally, these are the photos of all my remaining doll clothing and accessories. Our family moved to a new house in 1955 and my mother gave me a small antique family steamer trunk to store my dolls, scrapbooks and other keepsakes.  The trunk went up into the attic and I never looked into it again for more than twenty years. When I did open it, all my treasures were just as I had left them so many years before and all those memories rushed back.

1953 Alexander-kin Wendy

1953 Alexander-kin Wendy

1952 Effanbee Honey walker doll ... 14"

1952 Effanbee Honey walker doll ... 14"

Circular skirt with weskit and blue plaid skirt were to be worn with her original white shirt and bow tie.  A red flannel shirt to wear with jeans.

Circular skirt with weskit and blue plaid skirt were to be worn with her original white shirt and bow tie.  A red flannel shirt to wear with jeans.

Pink satin formal gown, pink print night gown, slip, pink skirt to wear with the satin gown, pink and blue cotton print dress, and brow satin majorette costume ... all made by my mother

Pink satin formal gown, pink print night gown, slip, pink skirt to wear with the satin gown, pink and blue cotton print dress, and brow satin majorette costume ... all made by my mother

Purchased blue flannel pajamas and blue print house coat

Purchased blue flannel pajamas and blue print house coat

Two red doll purses

Two red doll purses

Hair brush and rubber curlers ... two small hangers ... tiny blue sunglasses.  My mother made the tiny hair bows to wear with the pink satin gown and the tiny pink slippers were made to wear with the pink print night gown.

Hair brush and rubber curlers ... two small hangers ... tiny blue sunglasses.  My mother made the tiny hair bows to wear with the pink satin gown and the tiny pink slippers were made to wear with the pink print night gown.

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Doll hangers and zip-up case for all the clothes

Doll hangers and zip-up case for all the clothes

Collecting Baking Cook Booklets

Collecting Baking Cook Booklets

Pins and Brooches

Pins and Brooches