Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Ginger's Storybook Life

The Vinyl-Faced Ginger doll

A few months ago I wrote a post comparing the earlier Muffie and Ginger doll faces of the 1950s. It seems obvious to me that Ginger, who is often listed as a "Ginny copy," is really modeled after Muffie. I don't really blame Cosmopolitan for that, because in my opinion the Muffie face, especially the early type one and two face, is the cutest among the toddler dolls. So, before I ever saw a Muffie doll in person, or at least one I realized was Muffie, I thought Ginger was the cutest one. I didn't realize Ginger and Muffie were nearly identical. You can find my post on the early doll faces here:

The reason I say I didn't realize I'd seen a Muffie doll is, I'd seen my mother's "Ginny" doll throughout my childhood. I never played with her because her arms and one leg were missing and her hair was all messed up. I used her in an art project when I was in college, adding her to a Joseph Cornell-type box collage. Later, when I learned about these dolls through selling them I discovered "Ginny" is really an early 1950s Muffie, worth probably $30 at least even in her disheveled state! Oh well... she made a cultural contribution!

The Vinyl-Faced Muffie Doll

In 1956, the Nancy Ann Storybook company began advertising a new vinyl-headed Debbie doll. Debbie is Muffie's big sister. She's a larger toddler-type doll, still with a chubby face and body, and Nancy Ann produced matching outfits for Debbie and Muffie, and also occasionally for Miss Nancy Ann and Little Miss Nancy Ann as well.

Although Muffie isn't specifically mentioned in the advertisements, she is shown, also with a new vinyl head and bent knees. The older, all hard plastic Muffie dolls are shown in the same poster, so it seems like Nancy Ann was producing both styles simultaneously. The new vinyl faced Muffie has much larger eyes than previously, and hair styled in a ponytail rather than a flip.

The new Ginger uses the original body.

I don't have any advertisement showing the date of Ginger's transformation, but there's no doubt she ends up looking nearly identical the new Muffie dolls. Ginger still has straight legs, rather than jointed knees, but that's about the only difference. Ginger's eyes seem a little more almond shaped, with pointed corners.

The Ginger doll has eyes with pointed corners.

Throughout Ginger's progression there's only a short time where she is easily distinguishable from Muffie, and that is the phase in which she's all hard plastic with very wide, round, large sleep eyes. This Ginger style was popular enough to have her own copies. The Admiration Company's Carol Sue doll is almost identical. Carol Sue's feet are molded with toes but painted white, and her clothing is stapled onto her body. I believe Cosmopolitan sold their molds to Admiration, a common practice at the time. Many doll companies, including Madame Alexander, sold finished unmarked dolls or molds to other companies for them to dress and market. In fact, Beatrice "Madame" Alexander, Nancy Ann, and Virginia Graves (Ginny's designer) all started dressing other companies' dolls. Nancy Ann's tags read "Styled by Nancy Ann" and Virginia Graves' read "A Vogue-Dressed Doll".

I'm not sure of the timing of the Carol Sue doll, but I wonder if Cosmopolitan sold their molds after they stopped making the unique Ginger and started copying Muffie. At any rate, it's very hard to tell the dolls apart unless you can pick them up and examine them.

The October doll, shown in my Nancy Ann book

Recently I bought a big lot of 1950s international souvenir dolls specifically because the very poor photos showed a Nancy Ann Storybook doll and a doll who looked like a vinyl-faced Muffie mixed in the lot. When the box arrived I found the Storybook doll is the doll of the month for October, "A Fair October Maid". She's marked and shown in my book. I was really excited. October is one of my favorite months, after all, and I felt sure the Muffie would be marked as well.

Ginger's outfit is tagged but stained.

Alas, the doll wasn't Muffie, but Ginger. This Ginger is marked, and just by herself is worth many times what I paid for the entire lot. She has her entire costume, right down to her very rare lavender socks, and was clearly never played with. The whole lot was pretty much mint, in fact, except that all the dolls had become extraordinarily dirty. I assume someone threw them into a basement or barn or attic or something. I dug through the lot and carefully cleaned all the dolls who hadn't succumbed to the dirt.

Ginger and October turned out well. They show their age but certainly aren't ruined. They both needed a good cleaning and Ginger's eyes had to be repaired. She has one that drifts to the side, making her look cross-eyed. I cleaned it thoroughly and set it back in place by moving it with a toothpick. I cleaned both doll's clothing with carpet spot foam. This is a great method for delicate fabrics that can't be immersed in water or that show water marks, like October's taffeta gown.

Then I found several Spanish dolls by Layna and Marin and some unidentified Klumpe/Roldan types, who turned out to be rather valuable themselves. So, the box should turn a good profit for me. It's a good thing, since the doll I purchased the lot to get tricked me! Ginger's worth a good amount, especially in her original clothes, but still only half what a Muffie would command in the same state. Pretty sad for poor Ginger, since she's so similar to Muffie!

Ginger and all the other dolls I've mentioned are for sale in my store, so please check for those:

Picking blackberries

Outside of the doll shop we are having an exciting week. My very dear friend and sorority sister who now resides in Budapest, was home visiting and came over to see us. It was wonderful to see her again! Then today we went to harvest more blackberries.

This was the most perfect day you could ever hope for in terms of berry picking. It's so cool it feels like we are in Michigan or Ohio! I have to say, I'm kind of loving this "polar vortex". Unfortunately, our berry picking was cut short when my youngest stepped on a hornet's nest or something and was stung four times. The insect was evidently in his pants and kept stinging him until I managed to pull them off. I never saw the bug, but I recognized what was happening. The same thing happened to my cousin long ago when I was probably only about three years old. We were sitting in the back of my grandmother's car waiting for her to shop at a farm stand. The windows were open, and suddenly by cousin started screaming bloody murder. The adults all came running from the farm stand and they tore her dress off. A bee was inside her dress and had stung her all over.

My own little one is covered in special cat-themed bandages and hydrocortisone cream and all doped up and we got him some ice cream for dessert, so he's going to be fine. I would be okay with it if tomorrow were a little less exciting, though!


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