The Austin Doll Collectors Society is an organization of antique, vintage, and modern doll collectors, dealers, and artisans. We meet on the second Sunday 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.

Saturday, November 26, 2022

November 13, 2022, Meeting

Member Sylvia McDonald gave a program on dolls designed by artist Sylvia Natterer. She began with a short history of the artist. Natterer was born in Switzerland in 1949. As a child she made her own dolls and dollhouse and later won awards in drawing and painting. She became a creative design teacher and taught students how to make puppets. Natterer became a member of the Munich puppet theater and made puppets to sell. However, Sylvia said that Natterer decided to cut the strings off her puppets and began selling dolls both as children's playthings and collectibles. In 1972 Natterer began creating dolls from wood composition or resin.

Sylvia discussed the doll artists who inspired Natterer, with examples of their dolls. These included Käthe Kruse (the tallest boy in the back in the green hat and the little girl in front of him in the red and white dress and pinafore), Elizabeth Pongratz (the girl in the navy blue knit dress with blond pigtails), and Sasha Morgenthaler (the remaining dolls pictured). Sylvia stated that Natterer was impressed by the design of the Sasha dolls and how their neutral expressions allowed children to project a wide range of emotions on to their dolls. She noted that in 1979 Natterer met Kruse's daughter Hanne Alder-Kruse and a friendship developed that led to Natterer designing two dolls for the Kruse company. Natterer was also close friends with Pongratz. 

Sylvia told the club that Natterer moved to Munich in 1975 and began creating her own molds and porcelain dolls. In 1982, she collaborated with the German company Zapf. Inspired by her own infant children, Natterer designed a large baby doll. In 1989, Natterer partnered with the German company Götz for the production of the Fanouche and Friends line. Sylvia stated that just prior to this, Natterer created an exclusive line of vinyl dolls, hand painted and dressed by her, for The Toy Shoppe in Richmond, Virginia. She explained that Götz agreed to this arrangement because it was seen as free publicity for the upcoming Götz collection. Natterer moved again in 1991 to a historical old schoolhouse in Tyrol, Austria, where she lives and works. 

Sylvia stated that Fanouche and her twelve friends were an immediate success when they hit the market in 1990. Natterer also produced other dolls for Götz. She said that the dolls are of the highest quality, with rooted hair or wigs, hand-painted features, and finely-made clothing designed by Natterer. The dolls carry the Götz mark and Natterer's "SN" signature, and came with a certificate of authenticity. In addition to her work with Götz, Natterer designed special collectible dolls with Franklin Heirloom Dolls as well as for an Italian and a Japanese company. From 1999 to 2003, Natterer designed a line of dolls for the Spanish company White Balloon as well.

Sylvia explained that Natterer's partnership with Götz ended December 31, 2003, and the artist began working with Zwergnase to continue the Fanouche line. However, because Götz would not release the doll molds to Natterer, she had to recreate the dolls, so that the two lines look very different from each other. From 2006 to 2014, Natterer collaborated with Kruse on the Minouche line of dolls. When the Kruse company was sold in 2014, the French company Petitcollin took over production of this line. 

Sylvia displayed her collection of winsome Natterer dolls.

Member Jenell Howell shared several of her Natterer dolls as well, with examples by Götz, White Balloon, and Petitcollin.

Jenell also shared this beautiful brown-eyed girl designed by Dewees Cochran. She said that this is one of the dolls she has been dreaming of adding to her collection.

Another doll from Jenell, a little Madame Alexander Alexander-kin found at the recent Settlement Home Garage and Estate Sale.

Member Bette Birdsong showed off two of her recent finds from local antique malls, a pretty-in-pink Toni doll by Ideal and a Honey walker doll by Effanbee.

Guest Jeremy Jones shared these two more contemporary porcelain clown dolls.

Member Jan Irsfeld brought this Cissette by Madame Alexander dressed as "Madame X" from the famous 1884 portrait by artist John Singer Sargent.


Sunday, October 30, 2022

October 9, 2022, Meeting

Member Jenell Howell did a program on Arranbee dolls, which she referred to as a mystery company. She explained that very few collectors are familiar with the company and that many of its dolls were not marked and can be difficult to identify. When the dolls are marked, she said that they may be branded "Arranbee,” “R&B,” or with the doll’s name. 

Jenell stated that the company was founded in 1919 by Bill Rothstein and Berman, hence the name Arranbee. By the 1930s, Rothstein was the sole owner. The company’s motto was “The dolls that sell on sight.”  The company started by importing dolls from Germany. Its most popular import was “Dream Baby’ by Armand Marseille, such as this tiny example, as well as Simon and Halbig dolls. Jenell said that sometimes the Arranbee name appears on these dolls. Arranbee also sold doll hospital supplies and doll parts. 

Around 1925 the company began manufacturing composition dolls, both under its own name and for other companies. It sold a “mama doll” named Nannette. Jenell noted that Arranbee often reused names like “Dream Baby” and “Nannette” for other dolls in its line. The company was known for quality dolls at reasonable prices. Ruby Hopf, the sister of George Averill, designed clothing for the the company’s doll line. In 1927, Arranbee formed a partnership with Vogue. This little doll in blue is an example of this partnership. 

This cute 9-inch tall cowgirl belongs to member Elaine Jackson and is an example of the company’s storybook series. 

Jenell told the club that Arranbee created the Nancy doll to compete with the ever-popular Patsy doll. The doll was made in a wide variety of sizes with painted eyes, sleep eyes, molded hair, or wigged. This example belongs to member Elaine McNally and is marked “Nancy. 

Another example of Nancy with molded hair, belonging to member Nancy Countryman. The doll is marked “Arranbee. 

Debuteen was another popular doll offered by Arranbee. This example belongs to member Myrna Loesch. Jenell stated that the doll may have been made by Vogue for Arranbee. 

Jenell shared several variations of hard plastic Nancy Lee or Nannette. She said that these dolls have pointed chins and lips painted with the right side very slightly higher than the left. Several of the dolls have floss wigs.

The ice skater has a walker mechanism. Her striped dress is
not original.

This adorable redhead is Littlest Angel, which Jenell noted is similar to “Wee Imp” by Vogue. She said that Arranbee introduced the small bent-knee toddler doll. 

Jenell stated that Rothstein died in 1957 and the following year the company was bought out by Vogue. Vogue kept Arranbee as a separate company for three years, then merged the two companies. Jenell noted that Arranbee clothing uses lots of bias tape and square snaps, and that a fichu is often part of the outfit. 

Member Sylvia McDonald brought one of her childhood dolls, this charming child in her original outfit. The doll has been purchased for her in 1946 or 1947 from White’s Auto Store and put away for her as a Christmas present. However, Sylvia came across the doll before the holiday and that is how she learned that Santa was in fact her father! 

New member Pam Hardy shared this beautiful Toni doll in its original box. She said that it was given to her by a neighbor who learned that she collected dolls. The doll belonged to the neighbor’s daughter, who had never played with it. 

Jan Irsfeld displayed this Dollikin, which she said replaced one she had in childhood. Jan also created her striking outfit.

Wednesday, September 28, 2022

September 11, 2022, Meeting


In memory of Queen Elizabeth II, this month's theme was queens. 

Member Sharon Weintraub displayed two doll heads, one of fine bisque and the other of carved wood. Both heads had the hair tucked into a snood, with a scarf draped over on side of the head and a plume on the other.  She explained that this style of head is known to collectors as Empress Eugenie. Empress Eugenie was the consort of Napoleon III, who reigned as the emperor of France from 1852 until 1870. Sharon stated that there is no evidence the head is actually a portrait of the empress, but that this is just a name given this type of head by early doll collectors. The wooden head was found in an antiques market in Barcelona, Spain, and is expertly carved. 

She also shared this French fashion doll by Francois Gaultier on a jointed wooden body. The doll is dressed in an old beautifully tailored and hand sewn outfit, including layers of undergarments. Pinned to the back of her slip is a yellowed note declaring in French "Margueritte of France, Sister of Francis the 1st." This would indicate that the doll represents Margaret of Valois, who became Queen of Navarre upon her marriage to Henry III of Navarre in 1572 and then rose to Queen of France at her husband's 1589 accession to the latter throne as Henry IV. Sharon pointed out that the doll should be more properly dressed in Elizabethan garb rather than a romanticized outfit of the Middle Ages.

Sharon displayed this 9.5-inch tall bisque-headed doll representing Queen Victoria. The doll is part  of the "Femmes Célèbres" ("Great Ladies") series produced by Société Française de Bébé and Jouets (S.F.B.J.) in the 1940s. Her round paper tag reads "Fabrication Jumeau Paris Made in France" on one side and written in ink on back of label is "Victoria I Reine d Angleterre Cirque 1860." 

Member Sylvia McDonald brought this 1992 Madame Alexander doll dressed in a coronation outfit, complete with crown and velvet robe

On one side of the doll are dolls in elaborate uniforms by English doll artist Peggy Nesbitt.  The older man represents a yeoman warder, who guards the Tower of London and the crown jewels displayed therein. The other man represents a palace guard wearing his signature "bearskin" helmet. The actual helmets are made of Canadian bear skins and were originally intended to make soldiers look taller and more intimidating in battle. 

A doll peddler, also by Nesbitt, admires the pomp and circumstance.

Member Myrna Loesch brought this collection of Madame Alexander Cissy and Cissette dolls in coronation gowns. The lovely lady in the purple robe dates from 1955. Myrna pointed out the doll's "ruby" and "diamond" bracelets, explaining that the jeweled cuffs worn by Queen Elizabeth during her coronation were a symbol of her sovereignty. The other Cissy dates from 1957 and wears a replacement crown made by Myrna. The purple robe, large golden crown, and specter belong to Member Jan Irsfeld and were made by Alexander to commemorate the 20th anniversary of Elizabeth's coronation.

The Cissette in the golden floral dress is from 1958. The doll with the red sash dates from 1972-73.

Member Elaine Jackson shared this book, first published in 1950, written by Marion Crawford, who was the governess to Princess Elizabeth and her sister, Margaret.

Member Elaine McNally displayed some of her latest wood and cloth creations.

Guest Pam Hardy brought this artist doll to share. She purchased it on a tour of Germany. The doll has a handwritten paper tag that says "matrosen mädchen," or "sailor girl."


Thursday, September 1, 2022

August 14, 2022, Meeting

This month's theme was the souvenir dolls produced for the United Federation of Doll Clubs (UFDC)  conventions.  For every convention a limited edition doll is produced as a souvenir for the convention itself, but special dolls are also designed for luncheons and other events. Member Elaine Jackson brought two examples of UFDC souvenir dolls. This doll is Rosita, the souvenir doll for the 1984 UFDC convention in San Antonio. 

This charming child is Baby Stuart and was the souvenir doll for the 1996 UFDC convention in Dallas.

These are the UFDC souvenir books from these conventions.

Member Sylvia McDonald brought two examples of dolls produced for other events at a UFDC convention. The taller doll is Fritzel, a Child of Fortune, designed by the German doll company of Käthe Kruse. He is 13.5 inches tall and has a soft body and vinyl head with a hand-painted face. Originally he also came with pajamas, bathrobe, slippers, and a blanket. As is typical of these luncheon dolls, there were other accessories, such as a little wooden dog, that were given as table favors. Sylvia received a note from Marion Hohmann at the Käthe Kruse company stating that Fritzel was made in 2000 as a limited edition of 260 dolls.

The smaller girl is Gretel, made exclusively for a Käthe Kruse luncheon at the 2007 UFDC convention. The luncheon theme was "The Sound of Music" and the doll is dressed like the youngest daughter of the Van Trapp family in a traditional Austrian outfit. She is 11 inches tall and stuffed with reindeer hair.

This Cissy by Madame Alexander belongs to member Jan Irsfeld. Jan explained that the doll was a limited edition made for the UFDC in 2001 in a special blue version of an outfit known to collectors as "On the Avenue," inspired by a vintage advertisement for Yardley of London fragrance featuring a Cissy doll.  Jan created this lovely lilac and white outfit for her doll. 

In edition to the various souvenir dolls, a wonderful selection of antique, vintage, and modern dolls is offered for sale at the UFDC sales room, a major attraction at every convention. Member Sharon Weintraub bought this unusual googly-eyed Gebruder Heubach character cat at the 2022 UFDC convention in St. Louis.  

Members also brought dolls to share for show and tell. This doll has head and hands carved from walnut wood by doll artist Floyd Bell and represents Miss Jane Pittman, the heroine of the 1971 novel The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman. The doll is beautifully dressed by Charlotte Semple.

Nancy Countryman brought these unique dolls from an unknown artist, dubbing them the ugliest dolls in her collection.

Member Sue Smith shared this handmade doll representing a man from the Native American Sioux tribe in traditional dress. She said that the doll is around 200 years old.

She also brought this doll representing an Apache woman, which Sue said dated from the late 1800s.

Guest Pam Hardy brought this sweet Cissette doll by Madame Alexander. Pam told the members that this is a childhood doll that she received for her birthday in 1956.