Saturday, December 19, 2009

When Christmas brought a new dolly

When I was a child our family did not have a lot of money; usually by the end of the month dinner consisted of a bowl of noodles and powdered milk to drink. We never really felt we were poor even though a store bought dress or new car were always out of the question. Every year as Christmas came along, my three sisters and I would pour over the Sears and Roebucks Christmas catalog dreaming of Santa and his bag full of toys. My parents gave each of us a limit of three gifts we could ask for every year, one of which was unquestionably a new dolly.
                             Below: Tiny Tears (in blue) an American Character 
                             Co. doll produced starting in 
                             1950 with molded or rooted hair, a doll that "cried 
                             real tears" either a rubber body or 
                             later  all vinyl doll, highly collectible with a value 
                             today of $65 - $225.
                           Betsy Wetsy shown with layette, produced 1954-
                             1962  by Ideal came in 13 1/2", 14", 16" and 20", 
                             featured either molded or rooted  curly wool hair. 
                            Starting price was around $8.00 and the value 
                            today runs from $300 - $625. 
For our mother it was her talent and ability with sewing that provided beautiful wardrobes for each new doll under the tree. She remembered growing up during the Depression when there never were any new dolls for her. When she was 12 years old her young uncles went together to buy her the one and only doll of her childhood. So it was important to our mother that no matter what, her four daughters would find new dolls under the Christmas tree every year. She must have stayed up late night after night secretly sewing complete wardrobes for each of her daughters new dolls. Of course the dolls were delivered by Santa Claus so mom never did get her due praise for all her hard work. We simply believed that Mrs. Claus and the   elves sewed all those tiny precious layettes for baby dolls or evening gowns for those we called "high heel dolls".

                                These pretty little dolls were actually "Little Miss 
                                Revlon" dolls created by the      
                                Revlon Company to get little baby boomer girls 
                                acquainted with the Revlon brand  
                                name early. "Miss Revlon" in 15", 18", 20" and 
                                22" sizes, and "Little Miss Revlon" 
                                in the 10 1/2" size was Ideal's first grown up 
                                woman doll, sometimes called a 
                                teenage doll, and created some controversy, 
                                produced from 1956 -1959 (eclipsed by 
                                Barbie the following year) she had a new 'magic 
                                touch' vinyl body, rooted saran  
                                hair and a swivel waist. She was the best selling 
                                doll in 1956.

In the fall we sisters were often asked to donate one of our dolls to the needy children. My grandmother  would take them and with her senior friends rehabilitate the dolls and other toys for needy children at Christmas. So we never really accumulated a lot of dolls since so many of our old dolls went to the poor.
The 1950s-60s saw many new doll lines come into existence. We were the baby boomers and there were millions of us - millions of little girls arms outstretched ready to hug a new dolly.

                           Ginny doll, Shirley Temple doll and Bride doll. 
                 Ginny doll, a favorite of little girls from the late 1940s 
                  through the 1950s is still made today. 
                  She was produced by the Vogue Doll Co. originally, an 
                  8 " doll with a hard plastic body and 
                  head. She originally sold for $1.98 and was unique in 
                  that she had separate outfits available, 
                  selling from $1.00 - $2.98.
                 Shirley Temple dolls had a series that ran from 1958-
                 1963 by Ideal. The doll was available in 12", 15", 17", and 
                 19" sizes, with rooted hair and a molded vinyl body. 
                 Originally she sold for $9- $15
                 but today those dolls are valued between $175 - $550. 

                The Bride Doll - there were many bride dolls produced in 
               the 1950s, most were just called 
               bride doll.  I'm sure many  baby boomer little girls 
               dreamed of finding a bride doll under the Christmas tree.   
   When I was grown and on my own away from home, nothing brought back those Christmas memories as much as the scent of a new doll, vinyl was new back in the 50s - so yes there were times when I would wander into a toy store in the 1970s just to inhale the new doll scent. Unfortunately, dolls today all seem to look alike and lack imagination. But you can still find many examples of our old childhood playmates still available to bring home - if you know where to look! Maybe in Santa's bag!          

Top, Patty Playpal, produced 1959 -1961 
by Ideal  and reissued in the 1980s. She stood 35" tall,         
the size of a 3 year old child and had a vinyl blow molded  body and rooted saran hair. She originally sold for $29 which must have come very dear for my mother to purchase for me.Today the doll is valued from $350-$500.  
Center, this unusual doll was one of the first
dolls I remember receiving for Christmas. 
This is a photo  found on the internet but she is exactly 
 as I remember  her when I was 5 years old. I later discovered she  was called 'Magic Lips" by Ideal and was produced  only from 1955-1956. She was 23" tall,  
 with a vinyl head and limbs and an oil cloth body, and rooted saran hair. She had a mouth that opened and closed when you pushed on her back and she said  "mama."  
 She originally sold for $14.98 and today is valued at $200.           
  BottomLotus Blossom doll (Dollikin) by Uneeda was an unusual doll produced from 1957-1962. An 18" doll with a hard vinyl body, limbs and head, she was fully jointed, had a twist waist,  jointed elbows, wrists, knees and ankles. One doll of my older sister's that I truly coveted at one time!                                               
 Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays! And I hope you find what you are looking for under your tree! Peace, Maureen



  1. I loved reading all of this post about the dolls from our past..I remember receiving a Skating Wanda doll in 1952..if i remember correctly she way like 12-15' and had little roller skates on the bottom of her you remember those??

  2. Oh my gosh, Maureen, we must have lived next door to you. I had two toys growing up---just two. First a Tiny Tears and the later on a Betsy Wetsy. Never did warm up to Betsy though. I wish I still had Miss Tiny. And see how creative I was, her name was Tiny. Thanks for the trip down memory lane. And, the blog looks great to me. Big Hugs, G

  3. Wonderful post,Maureen! A real pleasure to read

    Have you ever visited the blog of Sue Ann Lommler? She is a mixed media artist but she also works wonders with baby dolls:

  4. Maureen, I thoroughly enjoyed reading your post! My sister and I were just talking about the unique "new toy" smells of Christmases past.

  5. I remember Tiny Tears and Betsy Wetsy, the only 2 dolls I ever asked Santa to bring. Enjoyed this so much Maureen, thanks for sharing!!

  6. I mean to tell you, I think that post was wonderful, wow, what memories. So good to read, every single word.
    Merry Christmas Maureen.

  7. Wonderful post, Maureen! I really enjoyed my time on this one. Even though I'm a bit later than you gals, I always had a Christmas doll too. I actually had a Patty Playpal, and too many Barbies to mention. Wonderful memories.

  8. Little girls and dolls for Christmas...Your delightful post was a window into your past, and opened the door to my memories! Thanks for the great doll facts and photos, too, Maureen!

    Santa gave me Chatty Kathy, Betsy Wetsy, and Patty Playpal. Oh, the squeals each year on Christmas morning, between me and my younger sister!

    How our dolls looked after a few months is a memory that always gives me a smile. I cared for my treasured dolls meticulously, lovingly combing their hair, adjusting their dresses, and wiping away smudges of dirt. Lisa's dolls eventually looked like real little kids, complete with wild hair, Bandaids, and missing bows and shoes. :)

    May your days be merry and bright, Maureen!
    Laura ("1953")

  9. I still have my Tiny Tears. She was my favorite doll next to Raggedy Ann.


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