Sunday, October 4, 2015

Baby Makes Three


Madame Alexander Victoria

Effanbee Sweetie Pie

Allied Grand Baby

I got a lot done this weekend since we've been trapped at home by the "Deep South" Nor'easter and Hurricane Joaquin. Lucky for us, the power has so far stayed on (fingers crossed). We are really feeling for our S.C. neighbors and worrying about Hilton Head Island, which we've already paid to visit later this month. Of course we haven't seen my husband for days since he's in charge of keeping the electricity on. I decided to take advantage of the enforced time at home to really try to knock out some inventory for my stores. The holidays are fast approaching and I want to do everything I can to make sure I have a good season. It's my biggest sales period of the year and the past several months have brought a slew of unexpected expenses, so I could really use an influx of cash.



Victoria's original dress

The Victoria tag

I recently bought a couple large lots of baby doll and clothes from the 1950s to the 1970s. It looked like two were Madame Alexander's, a Victoria and a Kathy, but closer inspection revealed the "Kathy" was a copy made with Alexander molds. There was an Effanbee Sweetie Pie as well. Both Victoria and Sweetie Pie had non-working crier boxes. I replaced both these with new, working criers. Victoria is #3746 of 1975 and she looks pretty much complete according to the photo from my Alexander book above. Her original gown definitely saw some washing: the tag is barely legible. The dress itself is pretty good, with only a couple faint spots here and there. Victoria came wearing Mommy-made long bloomers and a diaper with Velcro closures. The bloomers are tight but I kept them with her. I gave her booties made from vintage sheer socks tied with ribbon and a sheer dotted Swiss bonnet. The bonnet is exquisite. I think it might be hand sewn, and it has amazing detail. The ribbon ties are really fragile but they match perfectly and I don't have a better match so I left them on. I thought Victoria could use a monogram bracelet, so I made one for her and then I gave her a squishy vinyl giraffe baby toy from the same period as she. The giraffe is a real baby toy but it's super cute for Victoria.




The Alexander tag

The Alexander mark

The retouched hair



Handmade bloomers and bracelet





The gown has some stains.

Victoria's body had some wear from play, but nothing major. Her cloth body had some stains, especially where the vinyl limbs meet the cloth, so I cleaned it with carpet spot cleaner. I couldn't get it brand new looking but it's much cleaner. Victoria's hair and eyelid paint was chipped, so I touched them up and sealed them. She looks really great now, and would be a terrific gift for your special young (or not-so-young) lady.


Victoria's giraffe is a real baby toy.

Sweetie Pie has a long history in the Effanbee company. Some variation of a baby named Sweetie Pie was produced from at least the 1930s. She originally had composition limbs and sometimes had flirty eyes. The early dolls often had karakul wool wigs. This version was made with this face mold in various sizes in 1969 and is numbered 9469.



When I first looked at Sweetie Pie I thought she was pretty much mint with her original clothes. Almost all the Effanbee babies from this late 1960s time period wear layered floral calico dresses. Sugar Plum, Sweetie Pie, Suzi Sunshine... all were dressed in calico and very specifically in this style outfit. When I looked closely, however, I saw the dress under the calico pinafore is quite tight on Sweetie Pie and someone had cut the sleeves open at the seams to allow them to fit over the hands. It makes me think this was probably an Effanbee outfit, but for a smaller version of one of these dolls. I decided the dress could still work with a little finesse. I finished the seams where they were cut open and added grosgrain ribbon ties to the sleeves to kind of make it look like they were meant to be that way for fashion's sake. Effanbee's dolls famously wear bracelets and this one is no exception. She would have originally worn a bead bracelet with her name. It was missing, so I made her a new one.



The Effanbee mark
As far as Sweetie herself went, she was in good shape. Her crier was broken, but that's an easy fix. I saw a thin spot in the fabric around the edge of the crier box so I reinforced that with stitching to make sure it doesn't turn into a tear. I cleaned her body with carpet spot cleaner and it turned out well. Her toes are scuffed and one finger has a black spot. These are minor issues. Sweetie's curly hair was kind of smashed in back where you can see she lay on her back in storage for a long time and the ends of her curls were kind of dry. I gave her a leave in conditioner treatment and a new set and then, inspired by the karakul wigs on the older dolls, I pinned her curls into little tight sausage rolls with doll-sized bobby pins. If you wanted more modern loose curls you could just take the hair pins out. I finished Sweetie's ensemble off with lace-trimmed vintage Mommy-made panties, cloth shoes and socks, and a phone-shaped rattle for a real baby. Then I tagged her and gave her a new hair net.


The toes are scuffed.

The Effanbee tag

I repaired a thin spot next to the crier.

I gave Sweetie a phone rattle.

One finger has a black spot.

Sweetie's sleep eyes work.

The third baby doll in the lot, or at least the third one I finished, because I have more waiting for restoration, looked at first glance like a Madame Alexander Kathy baby doll. I recently sold a Kathy baby who wasn't in as good shape as this one, so I was excited to see her beautiful bright paint and pretty face. Even her little feet are familiar Kathy feet. When I looked at her marks I saw an AE, meaning this is an Allied Grand, or Allied Eastern doll, not Alexander baby. Allied Grand, of New York, made dolls and then sold them to other companies to name, dress, and package as their own dolls. Many were department store "exclusives" or grocery store dolls. Allied bought and used a lot of Alexander molds to create their dolls. Madame Alexander sold doll parts and molds pretty much as soon as she started sculpting her own molds. It was a common practice at the time among most doll companies and allowed the doll companies to make extra money selling to people who might not be able to afford their tagged offerings. Often these dolls are made using lower quality materials. This baby doll is every bit as nice as the Alexander Kathy I last restored, though. Her vinyl is thick and soft and her paint is bright. Her big blue eyes are sparkling and clear and work perfectly. My guess is she was manufactured for a department store. They would have named her and given her a little layette set, but I haven't found a record of a doll with these exact marks in any of my books, so it was probably a regional store with limited production.


Baby using Kathy molds marked AE

The Allied Grand mark

The doll is all vinyl, drink and wet.


Her feet have some marks.

Her bottom has a red mark.

A chemise

The doll's eyes work.

She has a replacement gown and shoes.

I made her a "Baby" bracelet.

The gown has spots.

Kathy, as I'm calling her, came wearing a gown that fits perfectly. It's a factory made piece but has Velcro closures, so I think it's later than the doll. I could be wrong; if the doll is from the 1960s or 70s then the gown could be hers. I added a chemise with attached panties that came in the lot, which is absolutely correct in terms of what an Alexander Kathy would wear. This one is rather large foe the doll, so I don't know if it's original or even if it's factory made. It could be a handmade piece. I also gave Kathy some vintage "squishy" shoes and made her a bead bracelet that says "Baby". These were very popular in the 1950s and 60s and most baby dolls had them. I was making one for Sweetie Pie already, so I went ahead and made some for the other dolls too. Kathy was missing her bottle, but I recently bought a new old stock dime store mini doll with a bottle and other accessories, so I decided to include it with Kathy. This way, Kathy has her own drink and wet baby doll and they can share the same bottle!


A dime store drink and wet doll.


Kathy does have some scuffs from play. The most prominent is on the end of her nose. I painted over this and sealed it to help fill it in and keep it from getting worse. I also touched up some minor dings in her hair paint. Overall, though, she is a beautiful doll with plenty of use left in her. Drink and wet dolls don't exist anymore, but they're just as fun for kids as they used to be, so this would make a wonderful gift for your favorite girl! You can find these and many other sweet dolls in my Atelier Mandaline Etsy and eBay stores, so please check.





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