Sunday, September 27, 2015

Beautiful Nancy Ann

Beauty #156 by Nancy Ann
Nancy Ann Storybook dolls, perinially popular from the 1930s on, very often appear in the big box lots of dolls and toys I buy to restore for my stores. Usually they are a mess, typically missing articles of clothing and sometimes even their hair or face paint. Occasionally I get lucky, however, as I did with today's doll.

The doll is fully jointed.

The Story Book mark
This doll was in terrific shape and wore a beautiful original dress with even the floral embellishments intact. She just needed a little cleaning up. Even when these dolls are perfect, however, it's hard to identify them if they don't have their original tag or box. Their clothes are remarkably similar and the dresses for each version vary widely from year to year. I initially thought she could be a bride minus her veil. None of the brides in my book have flowers at their waists, though. The bridesmaids do, but they don't wear white. She looked like a good candidate for Orange Blossom or maybe the Sabbath doll, but in the end I decided she is most likely Beauty of Beauty and the Beast, #156 in the Fairyland series. This plastic version would have been made in the mid-1950s.

A photo of Beauty from my Nancy Ann book.
My doll has a gorgeous crepe de chine gown with attached buckram crinoline and the doll in the photo has a tulle overskirt, but earlier variations of this doll have yellow taffeta dresses. The ribbon at the waist and floral cascade are nearly identical and the trim along the skirt is quite similar. The doll herself is identical, a brunette rather than a redhead or blond, which is a bit unusual in my experience. If Beauty had a hair ribbon at one time it's lost now, so I made her a new one and pinned it into her wig with a tiny white straight pin.

Beauty is all original except for her hair ribbon.

There is a faint spot along the hem.

There is an attached crinoline.

I made and pinned on the hair ribbon.

The dress is designed to fill a window box display.
Beauty really is a beautiful example of a Nancy Ann doll! She's jointed at her neck, arms, and hips and all her joints move. Her black sleep eyes work perfectly. I tagged her with my own tag so she looks wonderful for gifting. Right now I have lots of Nancy Ann and other dolls in my eBay and Etsy stores and the eBay Atelier Mandaline branch has an Auction Event sale going on so I hope you'll check!

Bon Giorno, Ginny

Italian Ginny
Yesterday I took a rare day off. I didn't do a single thing in any of my stores. I spent the morning at the annual consignment sale, which is one of the biggest events of the year here. I outfitted two kids almost completely for fall and winter, including coats, pajamas, and shoes, for $150, so getting up early and digging through the racks was totally worth it. After the sale I picked up my daughter from a sleepover and we headed to Lincolnton to the animal shelter and then to drop our daughter at Cotillion.

A funny thing happened last week. My daughter informed me the only thing she wanted for her birthday was a black kitten. Then a few days later a neighbor posted a photo of a black kitten needing a home to our Facebook neighborhood site. I talked to my husband about it and he wasn't convinced. Finally, since the owner was willing to pay for the cat's initial vet bills and neutering he decided we could get the kitten. I said we would take the cat and was told the owner would call, but she never did. Meanwhile, it turns out the person who really wanted a kitten was my formerly reluctant husband! Every day he would text me to ask if I'd heard anything about the kitten. He came home from work and spent an entire evening looking at pictures of cats available from the animal shelter. Finally, we decided to just take our daughter over there and let her pick one out. If the lady ever calls about the other cat I guess we will just have two cats!

The 1970s Ginny is all vinyl.

The Lesney mark

Anyway, with all the kitten shopping and training and excitement, I never got around to writing my blog posts for the dolls I finished on Friday night. It's a good thing I paused to really look at my photos today because I discovered a mistake in my eBay listing for this doll. When I saw this Ginny doll I felt sure she was a Lesney production. Lesney bought the Vogue company from Tonka in the late 1970s. I've written before about my own childhood Lesney Ginny doll and how I preferred her to the hard plastic Ginny dolls Vogue produced in the 1950s and 60s. It's sacrilege to Ginny fans, I know, but even as a child I didn't like the early Ginny's grumpy, fat face. I prefer the original composition Ginny or the later 70s and 80s Lesney Ginny. My Ginny had long straight blond hair and bending knees with interior joints and a beautiful face. Her clothes were wonderful: she wore Sasson jeans and tennis shoe roller skates and the short shorts with tall knee socks I always coveted. I wasn't allowed to wear those because my mom said they would give me a weird tan. I was only allowed to wear my one pair of knee socks when I was horseback riding! So, when I saw this Italian Ginny I was sure she was a Lesney doll because the soft vinyl felt exactly the same, and there was just something familiar about her face, even though it's not the same face sculpt as my Ginny. But when I looked the marks up in my book I didn't see the tiny "3" on Ginny's back, so I thought she was the last Vogue Ginny produced in 1972 before Tonka bought Vogue. Today, with a little more time to concentrate, I noticed the "3", which indicates this is in fact a Lesney doll as I thought. This is the 1977 Friends From Far-Away Lands Ginny of 1977.

This doll came to be amidst a turbulent time for Ginny. Mrs. Graves, who initially designed Ginny to look like her own namesake daughter, retired in 1960 and left the company to be run by that daughter and her husband, the Carlsons. Mrs. Graves had been working since the 1920s on her doll company, so I'm sure she felt ready to retire! In 1965, with sales slumping and stiff competition from Barbie and similar high-heel fashion dolls, Vogue re-designed Ginny with a "blushing glow" colored vinyl face and eventually body, and new lines, such as Fairytale, one of Ginny's first themes, and Friends From Far-Away Lands, a direct copy of Madame Alexander's Friends From Foreign Lands. The changes were well-received, but not enough to drive significant sales increases and Virginia Carlson was old enough to retire in 1966. Virginia's brother in law ran Vogue for a short time, but in 1972 the Graves family got out of the doll business and sold Vogue to Tonka. Tonka kept production of Ginny exactly as it had been for some dolls and completely re-designed others. They added the tiny "3" to Ginny's back. Vogue had moved production to Hong Kong in its last year and Tonka and Lesney kept it there. Although the dolls are nicely made, there is a significant difference in the quality of the clothing from the earlier USA-Made Vogue clothes and Madame Alexander's dolls of the same period. Lesney purchased the rights to Ginny in 1977 and kept her exactly as Tonka and Vogue had produced her for that year, but in 1978 they completely redesigned her. The Far Away Lands dolls got a new sculpt with painted eyes and Ginny herself became the Ginny of my childhood. Ginny was destined to be sold several more times, first to Meritus in 1984 and then to R. Dakin in 1986. Finally, in 1995 Vogue bought Ginny back again and still produces her today! The present version greatly resembles the 1950s hard plastic Ginny. She's cuter than the really fat-faced sculpts of the late 80s and 90s but not, in my opinion, as pretty as Lesney's Ginny.

Ginny has a Dorothy Hamill bob.

Ginny can sit and stand alone.

It's lucky I never saw the Far Away Lands Ginny dolls or the International Brides by Lesney that came out in 1981, because I would really have wanted them and you wouldn't have been able to buy them in our town. I can't remember my parents ever ordering anything by mail. I believe all these Lesney versions of Ginny are destined to become the next really collectible dolls. The people who owned Ginny in the 1940s and 50s will continue to dwindle. Meanwhile, the mothers and young grandmothers of today remember the Lesney Ginny fondly, as I do, and will want to have a new or restored version to pass down. You can get Lesney Ginny dolls and clothes for very affordable prices right now, so you can be sure my daughter owns several! She doesn't play with them much anymore, but I will clean them up and pack them carefully away (NOT in an attic or basement!) so they're ready whenever she might have a little girl of her own. You can find this Ginny and many other dolls in my eBay and Etsy branches of Atelier Mandaline. Right now I am holding a sale I'm calling my Atelier Auction Event in the eBay branch; many items are being auctioned with starting bids at least 50% off! I hope you'll stop by to check.

Italy, shown in Lesney's 1977 catalogue.

I tagged Ginny and gave her a hair net.

As for our new family member, Oreo the kitten, she's doing well. I'm keeping some distance, as I am allergic to cats. I tried to steer the kids toward a long-haired cat, since they produce less dander and don't bother me as much, but I had no luck. My husband really wanted a gray or "blue" kitten he'd seen online, but it was too young to adopt. There was an older one with long hair who seemed perfect, but when I tried to pick her up she clawed the crap out of me, so we left her at the shelter. It is my daughter's cat, anyway, and so far she's doing a good job taking care of her. The kids have, all by themselves, set up a cat "bedroom" in part of their bathroom and made her a second bed  from a pillow placed under a table in my daughter's bedroom. Our poor Spitz really wants to cuddle and play with the kitten but so far she's been so mean to him, spitting and clawing him, he has to hide behind us when the kitten is in the room!

Oreo, our new kitten

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Funkalicious Sindy

Sindy rocks her funky styles.
Today's doll provided an awesome (or, should I say "groovy"?) trip through the fashions of the 1970s. This  Sindy doll came in a lot of dolls and toys from the 1980s. According to my research, however, this Sindy is either the Pedigree 1976 version or the Marx USA version of 1978. Instead of the Sindy logo, this Sindy is marked 2 GEN 1077 033055X on the back of her head and Made in Hong Kong on her back. Sindy came with the mod, funky turquoise overalls and flowered shirt with the turquoise felt hat, but I can't find any record of it in any web sites showing her outfits. The overalls were actually sewn onto her body.

I'm not well-versed in Sindy dolls, but I read Sindy was developed as a UK alternative to Barbie. Her pretty face and more realistic, girlish figure appealed to British girls. Sindy also gained ground from Barbie because Pedigree produced many accessories and furniture for her right from the start, when Barbie still only had outfits. Sindy was acquired from Pedigree by the US company, Marx, around 1978 or so but they produced the doll, which was marked like this doll, for only one year before they went out of business.

Sindy's suitcase and clothing lot.

I had a lot of fun searching through my doll clothing stash for 1970s fashions. I don't often restore dolls from this era, so those clothes haven't been appropriate for the 50s and 60s dolls I usually do. I also had a cool retro suitcase which turned out to be the perfect size and style for Sindy and her stuff.

Sindy came wearing blue panties so tight I can't get them off, so she just has to wear them. I cleaned Sindy and brushed her lovely hair, but her bands are nice and tight so she didn't need any re-stringing. Sindy does have the melt marks you see all the time around the joints of dolls from this era. Sunshine Family dolls are prone to this as well. In Sindy's case it makes her hips tight but doesn't stop them moving and her arms move fine. This Sindy has what's called the "active" body. She's jointed at the neck, shoulders, waist, wrists, and hips, and then has bendable knees, ankles, and elbows, so you can really pose her. All her joints work except for one knee. That same leg has what looks like a straight pin pushed into one foot. I don't know if that's related to the knee or not. She has some discolored areas to her body and clothing form age. All in all, Sindy is really nice for her age and is still plenty sturdy to be used as a play doll for your favorite girl.

Sindy's ultra-poseable.

Sindy's marks

One foot has a metal pin.

Sindy's new puppy, Spot, is still learning to obey commands, so Sindy takes him to the park to practice. She wears her mod flower-inset polyester pants under a red cotton tunic. It's brisk outside, so she tops off her outfit with her leopard "fur" beret. Go-Go boots and her red and black velvet purse complete the look.

Ever-popular Sindy meets her friends at the soda shop after school. She's adorable in her cowl-neck acrylic sweater and blue twill A-line skirt, original to her logo outfit. Her go-go boots are the perfect choice again. Sindy's pink gold-edged plate and milkshake are included in her set.

Sindy's best friend is having a garden party, so Sindy wears her best orange maxi-dress. Her fuzzy pink headband, gold clutch, and "keen" amber shades ensure she's the most fashionable girl there. Sindy wears the only shoes in my entire enormous collection that fit her, hard plastic white pumps from the same era. Sindy's feet are large compared to other fashion dolls and even Sindy's own branded footwear came with instructions to rub talcum powder on her feet to assist getting them into the shoes and boots! These stay on her feet, although the heels don't stay in unless she's standing in the shoes.

I had a headband much like this in the 1970s!
Sindy's hair is thick and soft with no missing plugs. Her up-to-the-minute style of long layers can be finger curled into Farrah Fawcett wings and flipped up in the back. Her pink brush is marked "Hong Kong."

Sindy's hair brush
Sindy wears her original logo shirt and skirt with her go-go boots to a night at the bowling alley with friends. This outfit came on a different but nearly identical Sindy who is unfortunately missing her hands. That Sindy became my model doll and passed her outfit on to this one! The shirt has a couple faint spots and some missing stitches at the neck but is still cute.

Sindy's original logo outfit

On laundry day Sindy uses her squishy vintage laundry basket. I saw an ad for a Sindy laundry set by Pedigree and it showed a basket identical to this as far as I could see from the photo, so I believe this is a Sindy piece. It and the hangers are marked "Hong Kong." Sindy wears a red and white pin striped robe I think could be a Littlechap piece. There was no tie so I added one from grosgrain ribbon.

Sindy's laundry set
I love, love, love Sindy's case, which is a vintage Holiday Fair suitcase from 1968. This Japan-made cloth train case or toiletries case has its original lock but is missing its key. The strap and side pocket are a great size for Sindy and her things. There is wear to the edges and the frame has some bending, but the zippers all work and the pattern is just the right colorful, splashy style for Sindy.

Sindy's paint and hair are perfect.

Sindy can be strapped into the case.

The edges have wear.

The suitcase tag

Well,  I had a fantastic time playing with Sindy! I never had one of these, but when I see some of the original furniture sets and dolls with clothes I can vaguely remember seeing ads for them and thinking they were neat. This version of Sindy was available for such a short time in America and we lived in such a remote rural area I'm sure none of this stuff ever reached our stores. Eventually Hasbro bought the rights to Sindy in the 1980s and turned her into such a Barbie clone they were sued by Mattel if I'm not mistaken. This Sindy with the active body is by far my favorite. I've always had a thing for multi-jointed dolls! I tell you, if I had another little girl still young enough for dolls I'd keep this lady, but alas, I do not, so she's for sale, along with many other wonderful dolls in my Atelier Mandaline stores on eBay and Etsy,  so please check. Speaking of Etsy, I really need more followers or "favorites" of my store and listings, so please stop by and click on the little hearts to increase my visibility! I am very grateful for the help!

Friday, September 18, 2015

Baby Dreams

Ideal Baby Dreams Velvet Skin

I've written before about my first baby doll, the Ideal Baby Dreams Velvet Skin doll, and how I left her lying on the floor of the foyer one day, looking in my memory just as she looks in the photo above, and returned to find her gone. Her flocking was turning brown and flaking off and my mother threw her away when I wasn't looking. For years and years I had a dream I was trying to find her again, so in real life I started looking. It took years to find one of these dolls, though, because for one thing, I didn't remember the name of the doll and neither did my mother. When I found her identity through research I realized she's an incredibly rare doll. I wanted to buy one for my daughter and that took years, because I couldn't ever get one for an affordable price. I finally managed to snag one but her bunting was missing. So it was surprising when I recently found one mint in the box and for a reasonable price. I snapped it right up and decided to sell the one I have.

My new mint in the box doll

When my new mint doll arrived I decided I could make a pattern from her original bunting so I could make a replica for my first doll. I went out and bought some pink flannel, the closest I could find to the original. It's a good thing I did, because my new doll had barely arrived when I got a message from another buyer asking if I would sell her! I traced the mint bunting and made a pattern to sew a new bunting.

The original bunting on the left, my copy on the right.

Of course, my replica isn't exactly like the original. I don't have exactly the same fabrics and trim and no instructions as to exactly how to sew it. The resulting garment does still have the same look, with the little peaked hood I remember so clearly, and the cuddly fabric.

The peaked hood.
I was a bit disappointed to see my new doll isn't fully flocked. There's no flocking on her legs, like the other doll has. My original doll's hair seems thicker, too. I've seen these dolls with no flocking on the legs before and wondered if it was scrubbed off. In fact, I thought that is what happened; that the flocking had wear so the mother or father scrubbed it off the legs. That's the only remedy when the flocking starts to peel. Now I see Ideal must have cut corners a bit on the later dolls, skimping on the flocking and hair where it doesn't show, under the hood and bunting. I was happy to see, however, the mint doll's body is as dark as my original doll. When I got that doll I thought the body had gotten dirty, but now I see they are both the same color. In fact, the mint doll has some dark places on her arms my original doll doesn't have.

The doll on the left is fully flocked.

The doll on the right has no flocking on her legs.

You can see why it was attractive to leave the flocking off the legs; my fully-flocked doll clearly had almost no play and yet she has some rubbed off flocking on the toes and the tip of one finger.

Some rubbed flocking on the toes

A rubbed finger

My original doll has a couple small stains on her face. I have been able to clean these mostly off, but not all the way. I don't want to do anything to cause the flocking to peel, so I was very cautious. I used lemon oil diluted in water and sunlight to lighten the spots.

Faint spots on the face

The doll's tag has some fraying but it's still legible. Her neck is marked "Ideal," although it's hard to see with the flocking covering it.

The tag has some fraying.
The Ideal mark
Besides the new bunting, I gave Baby Dreams a bottle to hold and tagged her with my own signed tag. She has her box and original cleaning brochure, and I included a color copy of the ad for Baby Dreams Velvet Skin from the 1975 Ideal catalogue.

I tagged her with my tag.

I gave the doll a bottle.
A copy of the ad and the original care brochure.

The box has some wear to the edges and discoloration. This is minor, given the age of the doll, and there are no holes or anything so the box makes good storage for the doll.

The box has some wear.

I read somewhere years ago that Ideal made the Dream Baby dolls for many years, but I can't find any evidence of that. Armand Marseilles made porcelain Dream Baby dolls for a long time. I've seen one that looked like it could be Ideal, of early hard plastic I think, but it was just marked "Dream Baby", so it's impossible to tell who made it unless I find out more. When I look at photos of myself around the same time as this doll was made I can see why my mom bought her for me. We were practically twins! This doll might already be spoken for, but if not I will list her and I have many dolls already for sale in my eBay and Etsy branches of my Atelier Mandaline store.

The doll set