Monday, September 15, 2014

Ideal Beauty

Last week I got a big box of 1950s dolls, all needing repair. Many of these were fairly rare dolls, and this is one of them. This is Ideal's "Doll of Beauty", the Harriet Hubbard Ayer makeup doll. Harriet Hubbard Ayer was a cosmetic company. They partnered with Ideal to create a doll whose face could withstand the repeated application and removal of makeup. The result is a soft stuffed vinyl head, luckily not as reactive as the vinyl used for the P-90 Betsy McCall. Ideal used the P-90 Toni body with the special vinyl head and unique vinyl arms with long painted fingernails on the hands. The Harriet face resembles the Revlon doll closely.

The Doll of Beauty came with Harriet Hubbard Ayer doll-sized makeup, a vanity table, little doll hair curlers, and face cream samples and a letter for Mother. The mission of the doll was to teach young girls the "importance of beauty care". I really wanted a similar Barbie hairstyling and makeup head in the 1970s but my mother wouldn't let me have one because she said it would make me grow up to be a hair dresser. I'd probably make more as a hair dresser than I do now! I would have just loved this doll back then!

The doll as part of the original lot.

The doll with replaced eyelashes

Harriet certainly saw some styling time at the hands of her young owner. She came missing most of her eyelashes and face paint. I've seen this doll on rare occasions before and used to wonder about it. People often called it a "Revlon" doll, but it wasn't the high-heeled Revlon doll, and it seemed like they always had very pale faces. After I learned it was the Harriet Hubbard Ayer doll I recognized it when I saw it, but still noticed the pale face. Just one time I've seen this doll with bright paint, long painted lashes, and blue eyeshadow. My theory is that the makeup application and removal process removed the original paint from the face. I replaced Harriet's brush lashes. I could just barely see the original lashes on this doll, so I traced over them. Then I refreshed the pastel lip and cheek paint and blue eyeshadow and sealed the face with matte varnish.

The doll with refreshed face paint

Harriet's hair was styled in pigtails fastened with very vintage rubber hair bands when she arrived. The many years spent with her hair pulled up had loosened her wig at the sides so I glued it back down. I washed her hair, gave her a conditioning leave-in treatment, and a new set. It turned out beautifully. Her hair is thick and soft and golden brown.

The Ideal mark

She has some dye transfer on one arm.

Harriet's body has light play wear but nothing major. Her stringing was loose so I re-strung her tightly with elastic cord. Her knees are brightly blushed with their original paint. One arm has faint pink dye transfer from her dress. She can sit and stand alone and poses well, although her vinyl arms are very tight and rather hard to move.

The original Ideal panties, socks, and shoes.

The hands have long painted nails, unique to this doll.

This is probably the original dress.

I gave Harriet a pretty satin hair ribbon.

Harriet's outfit fits perfectly and seems all original. She may have once had a pinafore apron to wear over her dress, like cosmetologists would have worn back in the day. Her shoes are embossed with flowers and are marked "Ideal" on the soles. Otherwise nothing is tagged. I recognize the long, lace-trimmed Ideal panties, so I know those are original. I thought a black hair ribbon was a nice touch for Harriet, so I tied one on.

Harriet is a beautiful doll, and not one who is very easy to find. You can find her, along with a P-90 Betsy McCall and many other dolls, in my store so please check:

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