Thursday, August 10, 2017

Beautiful Baby McGuffey

In the 1800s a traveling teacher named William McGuffey created a series of books to help children learn to read. Prior to that time students supplied their own books for school and most typically only had a Bible, so textbooks didn't really exist. The McGuffey Readers went on sale in 1836. These were a series of books designed much as reading textbooks today, with the first books in the series geared toward pre-readers and then transitioning through levels of literacy. The Readers were a collection of pieces from various popular authors of the time as well as religious texts, but they also featured stories about the McGuffey family. I guess they were rather like the Dick and Jane of the 19th Century. There were Ana McGuffey, a young girl who always wears her hair in braids, Butch McGuffey (one of the first Alexander boy dolls and so rare I've never seen him), and Baby McGuffey. In the 1930s Madame Alexander began immortalizing the beloved characters as dolls. The McGuffey Readers were produced until the 1960s and are still used in some school settings today.

Baby McGuffey has a handmade outfit.

This particular doll is "Baby McGuffey" and she is quite rare. The Vintage Doll Collector.Com website says she was made only in 1937, but the Patricia Smith books list her as having been produced in 1940. In any case, she dates to 1940 or earlier because in 1941 the Alexander company began producing this doll with a composition head and cloth body with latex arms and legs.

The restored doll

Her cloth body has some age spots.

The replaced finger

The repaired feet

When I got Baby McGuffey she was in fair condition. She was missing one finger, one eye was shattered, and she had all-over crazing to her composition. Her composition was chipped off the soles of her feet and the tip of her nose, her hair was matted, and her crier box was not working. I repaired all these and replaced the crier box with a brand new one. Despite the repairs she still has all her original paint, including her eyeshadow, and her original wig, body, and brush lashes. The cloth body has some age spots but when she is dressed she now looks quite new. I don't think you would ever guess her to be over 70 years old!

She wears a chemise and bloomers under her dress.

Her shoes have some wear.
Unfortunately Baby McGuffey lost her original clothes. Someone made her a new outfit and did a very nice job. Her new clothes are quite similar to the factory issue. She wears a lovely taffeta dress and bonnet with period-perfect net lace trim, a pink cotton chemise, white bloomers, nylon socks, and faux kid leather shoes. The shoes show some wear and the socks are yellowing from age, but otherwise the outfit is perfect.

The face after repair.
I had a lovely time restoring sweet Baby McGuffey. She is a wonderful size and weight for a baby doll and cries lustily. Her face, with her deep dark eyes, is just beautiful. I have another McGuffey, Ana this time, nearly finished and on her way to my shop. You can find Baby McGuffey and many other dolls in my shops and you can link to them all from the website.

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