Sunday, September 27, 2015

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

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