The Austin Doll Collectors Society is an organization of antique, vintage, and modern doll collectors, dealers, and artisans. We meet on the first Monday of each month and our meetings are fun and educational. We begin with refreshments and socializing, and, following our brief business meeting, there is a special doll-related program and "show and tell." The Austin Doll Collectors Society is a nonprofit organization and is a member of the United Federation of Doll Clubs.

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Women Doll Artists; Grace Storey Putnam

This bevy of babies are all-bisque versions of the Bye-Lo baby designed by American artist and sculptor Grace Storey Putnam. Putnam, after her divorce from sculptor Arthur Putnam in 1915, gave art lessons and sculpted to support her family. She wanted to create a doll portraying a new born baby and in 1920, using a three-day old baby girl as her model, sculpted a life-like baby head of wax. She approached George Borgfeldt and Company, a doll importer and distributor in New York City, about creating the doll in bisque and in 1923 the first Bye-Lo babies hit the market. And hit they did--the doll was so popular it was christened the "Million Dollar Baby." In addition to a doll with a bisque head and celluloid hands on a cloth body modeled to resemble a floppy newborn, the popular Bye-Lo also appeared in a variety of all-bisque versions, and, for adult fans, as pincushion dolls and salt and pepper shakers  The Bye-Lo was also made in other materials, such as composition, and was produced in some form through the 1950s.  Although the marks on the dolls vary over the years, except for the smallest all-bisque babies, they all carry Putnam's name.  The largest baby in the picture is six inches long and the little frozen action Bye-lo is 3.25 inches long.  

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Women Doll Artists; Käthe Kruse

Our last post reported on member Jenell Howell's delightful and informative program on dolls designed by American artist Dewees Cochran. However, there were many women who designed and made dolls. This handsome lad taking his canine pal out for a stroll is by German doll artist and maker Käthe Kruse.  Kruse first began making dolls for her own daughters because she disliked the available commercially-made toys.  In 1910, she displayed some of her dolls in a Berlin department store and they were so popular she began producing them commercially.  These early cloth dolls were renowned for their hand-painted faces. The Kruse company is still in business today, producing cloth and vinyl dolls.  This doll belongs to member Sylvia McDonald and was the childhood toy of her great-aunt, who was born in 1902.  Sylvia thinks her aunt received the doll around 1912.  He still has his original box and a wardrobe of clothes.  This doll was a runner up in the Käthe Kruse Contest held by the Contemporary Doll Collector magazine in 2005.

Sunday, May 13, 2018

May 7, 2018, Meeting

Member Jenell Howell gave a program on the creations of American doll artist Dewees Cochran.  

Cochran, born in 1892, was educated at the Philadelphia School of Industrial Art and the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art.   Beginning in 1933, she started selling cloth dolls in Philadelphia and New York City. Her career as a maker of life-like portrait dolls began  when Mrs. Irving Berlin saw an example of Cochran's work and commissioner her to make portrait dolls of her two daughters. Cochran's early portrait dolls have heads carved of balsa wood,  stuffed jointed silk bodies, and are marked with Cochran's name under the arm or behind the ear.  Cochran realized she needed to speed up production if she was going to keep up with demand.  She developed six basic face types and began using a “plastic wood” that could be poured into a mold. Cochran could then create a portrait doll by select the correct face type and matching the model's hair and eye color.   She began using latex in 1940 to 1941.  

In late 1935, Cochran began to design dolls for Effanbee.  Produced in 1936, these dolls were 21 inches tall with a body designed by Cochran to resemble that of an 8 year old child. The dolls were composition and had painted eyes and human hair wigs. The hands were of  molded rubber or latex hands and had spread fingers so they could wear gloves. These dolls are typically marked "Effanbee American Children" on the heads and "Anne Shirley" on their bodies. While the early boxes and advertisements state “designed by Dewees Cochran, ” her name does not appear on the dolls themselves.   Cochran had decided she did not need an agent when dealing with Effanbee and failed to copyright the head or body design.  This is one of the first dolls that Dewees Cochran designed for Effanbee. She 21 inches tall and is marked "Effanbee American Children" on her head and "Anne Shirley" on the body. The doll has been redressed as Alice in Wonderland.

In 1938, Effanbee added a boy head which was sold for only one year. This handsome lad is 17 inches tall and unmarked. 

Effanbee also commissioned Cochran to create a doll with sleep eyes, an open smiling mouth, and body of five or six year old child.  First produced in 1938, these dolls were originally were initially 15 inches tall, but later 17-inch and 21-inch dolls were included. This winsome child with her original box is marked "Effanbee American Children" and "Anne Shirley." 

In 1939 to 1940, Effanbee created a historical doll series. The dolls used the head mold for the company's "Little Lady" doll, had painted the eyes similar to those on the dolls designed by Cochran dolls, and used the Anne Shirley body. Below is an example from Jenell's collection.

In 1947 to 1948, Cochran contracted Molded Latex Company to make a 16 inch doll named "Cindy."  Only around a 1000 dolls were produced, which were marked “Dewees Cochran Dolls” on the left side of the torso along with a production number.  Cochran ended her partnership with company because the dolls did not  meet her high standards, but the company continued to produce unmarked Cindy dolls.  This is an example of an unmarked doll.

Jenell said that this doll is a mystery. The head is marked Effanbee and uses Little Lady head mold, but is on a cloth body and is lavishly dressed in a Middle-Eastern style outfit.

Jenell stated that while this doll is similar to those designed by Cochran, she is unmarked. One doll collector speculated that this doll was made in the likeness of Sybil Jason, a child actress of the 1930s.

Cochran continued to make dolls until she was in her 80s.  She died in 1991.

Other member brought example of Cochran-related dolls.  In 1976, Effanbee invited Cochran to design a doll for their limited edition series. This 1977 limited edition quickly sold out.  

These dolls being to member Elaine Jackson.

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Sweet Pea

As the weather warms, gardeners are beginning to ready the soil and plant seeds and seedlings. Many collectors wish they had a seed to grow this sweet pea doll made by our president Faydra Jones. This four-inch tall baby in her pea pod cradle is stuffed with wool, has cotton skin, and is string jointed. Her wig is red mohair wig and her blanket is whisper-light felt Faydra made and dyed from raw fleece. The pod bed is wool felt.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Scenes from Our 2017 Doll Show

As has been announced earlier on this blog, our 43rd Annual Doll Show and Sale will be on October 13, 2018, at the Williamson Conference Center just behind the Wingate by Wyndham in Round Rock. (watch our doll show page for updates!).  In the meantime, you can watch this short video to enjoy some scenes from our last doll show.

Monday, April 16, 2018

April 2, 2018, Meeting

Member Betty Birdsong did a program on paper dolls. She said that antique and vintage paper dolls are less expensive than their three-dimensional counterparts, are easy to store and transport, and illustrate both the history of fashion and printing. Bette told the club that prior to the 1800, paper were handmade or engraved and hand colored. Such dolls were sold precut, as scissors were costly. In the 1800's, less expensive printing technology allowed paper dolls to be sold in uncut sheets. In 1863  McLoughlin Brothers, followed by Raphael Tuck and Sons in 1866, began to mass produce paper dolls with a wide variety of colorful costumes, including foreign and and fairytale dolls. By the end of the 1800's, paper dolls were showing up in newspapers and as promotional items on products such as cereal boxes and coffee cans. Children also created their own paper dolls by cutting people out of magazines and drawing their own wardrobes.

McLoughlin and Tuck offered dolls on thicker pasteboard with beautifully printed outfits and accessories.

Bette has this terrific trousseau of early doll dresses, but is still looking for the paper doll that wore them.  

This book by famed illustrator Frances Brundage dates from 1920.

Many women's magazines included pages of paper dolls to encourage sales.  Betty Bonnet appeared in Ladies Home Journal in the 1910s.

McCall's first offered Betsy McCall in 1951.

The Dennison Manufacturing Company prompted its crepe and tissue paper products by selling jointed paper dolls with three-dimensional crepe paper clothing.  This little girl comes with pre-printed outfits, but the dolls were also offered sheets of colorful crepe paper and patterns so that children could create their own costumes.

New printing technology made paper dolls even more affordable.  Stores like F. W. Woolworth offered inexpensive paper dolls books. Companies such as Saalfield Publishing Company, the Werner Publishing Company, and Whitman Publishing created a wide variety of paper dolls. 

By the 1920's, paper doll books began to feature movie stars such as Shirley Temple, as well as celebrities like the Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret. In the 1940's paper dolls of Claudette Colbert, July Garland, Ava Gardner, Betty Gable, Rita Hayworth, and Elizabeth Taylor were popular. However, with the introduction of inexpensive hard plastic dolls in the 1950s and Barbie in 1959, little girls began to lose interest in paper dolls.   Paper dolls were still produced in the 1960s, typically based on television shows such as Dr. Kildare and the Beverly Hillbillies.   A nostalgia craze in the 1970s resulted in reproductions of antique paper dolls, but these copies could not reproduce the high quality of the original printing process.

This delightful paper doll with her dresses of real fabric glued to paper was created by Bette's mother, an art major.  Her mother also made a set for Bette's sister,  Lynda.

Member Elaine Jackson supplemented her March program on Schoenhut dolls.  The standing doll is by Schoenhut, but although the seated doll at first glance also appears to be from this company, it was in fact made in 1919 by Giebeler-Falk Doll Corporation in the United States and has an aluminum head.  Like Schoenhut, Giebeler-Falk advertised its dolls as the unbreakable alternative to fragile bisque doll heads.

Friday, April 13, 2018

Today is Friday the 13th. . .

. . . but these black cats are not omens of bad luck. The comical character kitty is by Gebruder Heubach. The head is bisque, the composition body is textured to resemble fur, and she wears her original dress. The head is incised on the neck with the square Heubach mark and "3/0" and "9103." Her smaller cousins are all-bisque dolls by Hertwig and Company of Germany. They are each 2.25 inches tall and wear their original crocheted costumes. Any collector would be very lucky to find such cute kitties!

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Date for Our Doll Show!

Our 43rd Annual Doll Show and Sale will be on October 13, 2018, at the Williamson Conference Center just behind the Wingate by Wyndham in Round Rock. Watch our doll show page for updates!

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Easter Bunny Bonnets

This little all-bisque boy has donned a bunny suit for the Easter egg hunt, and looking at the size of the egg he is guarding, he hit the jackpot!  Jointed at the shoulders and wearing his original felt jacket, he is incised with the square mark of the German maker Gebruder Heubach and “10539."

This modern all-bisque doll also has molded bunny ears.  She looks a little apprehensive, as if wondering if there are any Easter eggs left to find.

Another all-bisque with bunny ears, this tiny child is an antique from the German firm Hertwig and Company.  She is all original and just 3.75 inches tall.

This 8-inch doll also outfitted in pink is by Madame Alexander doll and was created exclusively for the doll shop "A Child at Heart."  She comes with her own miniature Easter basket.

Friday, March 30, 2018

Pretty in Pastels

All dressed up in pretty pastels, these little girls are prepared to celebrate the Passover seder or Easter Sunday. They are "Twin Sisters" made by the Nancy Ann Storybook Company in the 1940s and are in their original box. This painted bisque pair belongs to member Jenell Howell.

Monday, March 26, 2018

Springtime Stroll

Two little girls stroll hand in hand, discussing what goodies they hope the Easter bunny will bring them. The taller girl is 13 inches tall and is by the German company of Theodor Recknagle. She is all original, except for her wig, and a small paper label on her skirt says "Thuringia." Her 11-inch tall companion is Mold 390 by Armand Marseille. These little cuties belong to member Myrna Loesch.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

March 20, 2018

Today is the first day of Spring. This 8-inch tall Muffie by the Nancy Ann Storybook Doll Company is dressed for the occasion. She's all original and dates from the 1950s.  She belongs to member Jenell Howell.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

This cute colleen is from member Pam Wolf. This little doll is a resin Bleuette from Ruby Red Galleria and is wearing a jumpsuit Pam made from a 1920s pattern.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

The Mikado

On March 14, 1885, Gilbert and Sullivan's comic opera "The Mikado" premiered in London at the Savoy Theatre. This 7-inch tall bisque Asian doll by the German company of Simon and Halbig Oriental doll could be part of the Mikado cast with her original mohair wig and silk kimono embroidered with butterflies. She has molded blue slippers with up-turned toes.

Monday, March 12, 2018

A Good Scout

On March 12, 1912, Juliette Gordon Low founded the Girl Scouts in Savannah, Georgia. This sweet little 8-inch tall scout belongs to member Sylvia McDonald. She is "Ginger" by Cosmopolitan Doll Company and was used by the Terri Lee Doll Company for their scout doll. Her dress and panties are tagged "Terri Lee."

Saturday, March 10, 2018

March 5, 2018, Meeting

To commemorate the approaching St. Patrick's Day, the refreshment table was decked out in green.

Member Elaine Jackson did a program on Schoenhut dolls.  The company was started by Albert Schoenhut, a German immigrant from Germany.  The company's first success was a toy piano and by 1903 Schoenhut was producing circus characters and other toys out of wood.  In 1911, the first Schoenut doll was produced.  The dolls were created out of wood and could hold any pose thanks to a  clever system of internal springs.  They had holes in their feet and wore special shoes and socks with matching openings.  The holes could be used to fit the dolls on a special stand which allowed the dolls to stand, pose on tiptoe, and even balance on one leg.  The early dolls had character faces created by an Italian artist, but the faces were criticized as looking too old and serious.  Albert's son, Harry, later redesigned the faces to represent younger children.

In order to compete with the sweet-faced German bisque dolls, Schoenhut later introduced a doll with more doll-like features, like the little brunette girl in this picture. 

Schoenhut also expanded its line to include all-wood toddler and infant dolls.  The baby has a typical bent-limb body, but the toddler is fully jointed.

Schoenhut later struggled to compete with the lighter and less expensive bisque and composition dolls.  In 1921, Harry patented sleeping wooden eyes.  However, by 1935 the company declared bankruptcy.

Other members brought Schoenhut dolls to share.  This little girl belongs to Myrna Loesch, who carefully restored her and repainted her face.  

This little girl belongs to Bette Birdsong.  She is in nearly mint condition.  Although her dress may not be original, it is from the period. 

Jenell Howell brought several examples to share.

This little girl has the very desirable carved hair.

This charming child wears her factory original "union suit."

Sue Smith brought this example of a Pinn Family doll.  Albert's youngest son, Otto, started the Otto Schoenhut Company in 1935 and one of the company's offerings was the wooden Pinn Family, created out of wooden clothespins. This is the daughter of the family, Beauty Pin.  She is missing her yarn hair.