Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Lovely Lori Ann

Lori Ann by Nancy Ann

In 1959 the Nancy Ann company announced a new doll in their product line. She was named "Lori Ann" and made entirely of a new material: "vynal" which they said made her "just like a real live little girl". Lori Ann dolls use the Muffie face mold of the late 1950s, a pug-nosed face with very large round eyes. This face seems (to me) to be an exact copy of Cosmopolitan's Ginger faces of later years. Cosmopolitan sold that Ginger mold and dolls were produced in all price ranges all over the place using that "big eyes" face. Nancy Ann, perhaps feeling she was losing out on Ginger's widespread appeal, started producing Muffie dolls with their regular hard plastic bodies but with the vinyl head seen on the doll above. Maybe regretting changing Muffie's whole look to such an extent, she then began producing the all-vinyl jointed Lori Ann.

Lori Ann debuted right at the end of Nancy Ann's life. Nancy Ann found she had inoperable cancer and passed away in 1964. Although she preferred to ignore the diagnosis and worked right up to the end, Nancy Ann did allow her company to become somewhat inconsistent during that time. Already Lori Ann doll clothing was mostly not up to the high standards of earlier years. Competition with the new Barbie dolls had all the older doll companies searching for ways to cut costs and modernize their offerings. Lori Ann dresses typically close with one doughnut snap and have skirts that are open all the way to the hem. Lori Ann dolls are found with all sorts of markings and even some earlier hard plastic Muffie dolls have been found in boxes marked "Lori Ann" and with Lori Ann tags. After Nancy Ann's death her company was subject to an ownership dispute between her mother and lover and ended up being sold off piecemeal after bankruptcy, so small doll companies bought doll parts and combined them into new dolls which they sold as "Lori Ann" or under their own names.

Therefore, Lori Ann dolls are extremely hard to find today. Nancy Ann produced them only until 1961, it is believed, although even that isn't verified conclusively. I can tell you they're rare because in all my years of doll restoration I've only ever had one other Lori Ann come through the shop. Lori Ann dolls with verified markings and original clothes and boxes sell for hundreds of dollars, and even mint outfits command $100 or more without the doll.

Lori Ann before re-wigging

The doll with a new wig

I verified the doll came with a long flip variation.

Sadly, my Lori Ann doll came to me neither with clothing or condition anywhere near mint. Her lip paint was rubbed and had seeped into her skin around her mouth, staining it red, and her hair was a fried mess. Someone tried to cut the damaged ends off, making her hair look even worse. I treated the mouth staining with Removezit and sunshine, repainted her lips, and gave Lori Ann a new wig. I didn't have any size 4/5 wigs, so Lori got a slightly large 7/8. This was originally styled in long corkscrew curls. I looked in my Nancy Ann book at the long flip hairstyles some Lori Anns originally had and cut and styled the new wig to match. All in all, I think Lori Ann turned out very well. Unless you study her to verify she has a wig you might think she retained her original condition, which is what I strive to restore.

The doll after restoration

The doll is marked on her back.

The doll's head is also marked.

This Lori Ann doll must have been one of the very first issued because she's extremely well-marked. Most Lori Anns have minimal markings. Some have unreadable marks on their heads and a scratched-off logo on their backs. Those dolls are typically just marked 8-5 above their bottoms. I've never seen another doll for sale with Nancy Ann markings clearly readable on the head and back, so I'm confident this Lori Ann was part of the first issue, before Nancy Ann fell ill and let her company decline into disorganization.

A handmade full slip

The slip can be used as a dress.

Lori Ann came in the lot of dolls and clothes that included the sister dolls and clothing which were made so amazingly well. I feature some of these in my Margie's Baby Sister post. I chose a larger dress and slip out of that lot for Lori Ann. Obviously many of the dresses were made for her since she was packed up with them. I just can't get over the incredible skill of the seamstress who produced these clothes! I honestly know I couldn't do it myself. The full slip Lori wears is embellished with drawn thread embroidery and rows of pin tucks. It's pretty enough to wear alone as a dress, so you're really getting two outfits in one with this doll!

Lori Ann's dress is handmade.

Her shoes are new.

I treated the pinhole in the panties so it won't expand.

The dress I chose for Lori Ann is a lovely summer number. The fabric is high-quality even for the time, real dotted Swiss with actual embroidered dots, not flocked dots! The full skirt is festooned with tiers of lace and a lace trimmed ruffle creates the neck and sleeves. A separate sash accents the waist. Every bit of the sewing was done expertly by hand. For me this is an unheard of level of skill! I tagged Lori Ann with my own signed tag and gave her a new hair net, so she's ready to go. What a perfect gift for your favorite Nancy Ann collector, or for yourself! You can find Lori Ann and many other dolls in my Etsy and eBay stores, so please check. Incidentally, if you subscribe to my eBay store newsletter, I apologize for the delay in delivery. I've actually been trying to send this week's message for four days and it's not working for some reason. My daughter jumped up to size 14 clothes in  two week period, so the eBay store is full of her outgrown clothes and shoes!

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