Monday, May 25, 2015

Crazy for Caroline

Caroline Kennedy of 1961

Today's Memorial Day Marathon of doll repair continues with sweet little Caroline Kennedy. I've only ever restored one other of these dolls. They are extremely rare because, in 1962, after Madame Alexander made portrait dolls of Jackie, Caroline, and John John (who was Caroline with a boy's hair cut) and sold them in 1961, the Kennedys objected and production of the dolls was halted. The sculpts were repurposed: John John was briefly used in a Tyrolean outfit, possibly as one of the boys for the large Sound of Music series sold exclusively by certain department stores; Jackie became the face of the Portrait series that used the straight arm Cissy body, replacing the Cissy doll entirely; and Caroline was sold as "Perky Joan" with a trousseau stored in a hat box exclusively by FAO Schwartz.

The doll had her original string from tags and accessories still attached.

The doll after cleaning

The Alexander marks on head and back
Caroline came to me in exceptional condition. She was dirty, but otherwise appeared pretty much unused. Her hair is perfect, in its original set with the hair ribbon pinned in place. Her hands still were tied with the string that once attached the wrist tag and accessory pack. The only flaw on the doll herself is some yellowish marking all over her groin and bottom, evidently transfer from apparel, and a couple brown marks on her lower legs. None of this is visible when she's clothed. Caroline had a rub on the paint of one cheek and I painted over it. Now you can't even tell it was there.

The doll has some marks I couldn't remove.

Since Caroline is just so darn cute I had to give her a few extras. I found a lot of awesome vintage rubber duckies from Bulgaria, manufactured when it was part of the U.S.S.R., so that seemed perfect for Caroline. She most likely wouldn't have owned the exact one during the cold war, but it has the authentic look for the period. It was decided: Caroline just had to have a rubber ducky for her bath!

I gave Caroline a vintage rubber ducky.

The duck was made in the former U.S.S.R.

After her bath Caroline is scrubbed clean and bundled in her cozy flannel pajamas. These are factory made from the same period but not tagged. The pants are a bit snug but do fit.

Caroline's pajamas

In the morning Caroline gets dressed up in her original outfit. This was made in 1962, just before the doll stopped production and thus is not tagged "Caroline" but just "Madame Alexander". I replaced the elastic on the panties and slip. The heels of the original flocked side-snap shoes are intact.

The dress clearly had sun exposure, because it faded from pink to beige, but otherwise it's in wonderful shape, with no holes or dark stains. There is a beautiful embroidered panel across the front and iridescent buttons down the back.

The dress is tagged.

The dress has an embroidered bodice.

Besides having such a cute face and cuddly, realistic toddler body sculpt, Caroline has incredibly beautiful eyes. I've never seen these eyes on any other Madame Alexander doll. They are blue with a metallic starburst around the pupil. In different lights the eyes change colors, appearing gray one minute and blue the next. The starburst changes in the light from gold to silver. They're just really cool! Her hair is really lovely, too; almost a metallic golden blond and made of thicker fibers than usual. This particular doll's hair is on wonderful shape as well, shiny and smooth. You can brush the ends around your fingers to curl them.

The doll has really neat eyes.
All in all, this is one of the rarest Madame Alexander dolls and, for Americans, one of the most culturally relevant. Madame Alexander was almost obsessed with English royalty and loved sculpting portrait dolls of Princess and then Queen Elizabeth and her family and associates, so it's no wonder she would want to sculpt Caroline. In the Kennedys' Camelot days she's about the closest we've ever had to a real princess here on this side of the pond. I've had Caroline for a while because I've had trouble letting go of her. I half want to keep her for my daughter's doll collection because I know by the time she's grown up this doll will have appreciated to an even higher value. My daughter has no idea who the Kennedys were, however, so the significance is lost on her at this point and we are pretty much out of room for dolls anyway. So, you can find Caroline and many other dolls in my Atelier Mandaline store.

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