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Showing posts from March, 2008

My new Elise display

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Recently I got a new Elise to go with the outfit I had custom-made to look like my vintage 1920s wedding dress. I wanted to put her on display, so I had to move around my dolls around a little. I have more dolls than I can display in my cases, so periodically I move some out of the cases and into storage, and bring up others who haven't been displayed in a while. Anyway, this is my new display: The Elise in the champagne-colored dress is my wedding Elise. She was quite an ordeal — I'll blog about that in a future post. The Elise in the yellow formal gown also has quite a story to her. In the back row, you can see my white Elise Ballerina peeking through. If you'll remember from my post on how to date an Elise Ballerina, her white tutu means she is from 1958, Elise's second year in production. In the other corner is another of my favorite Elise dolls: an all-original Elise wearing a blue-checked taffeta dress. I'll also blog about her in a future post. The doll in t

How to date your early Elise Ballerina

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In an earlier post, I introduced you to my first Elise, a white Elise Ballerina . This post will discuss how I determined what year she was made in (1958). You can date an early (i.e. hard plastic) Elise Ballerina by the color of her tutu. According to Linda Crowsey's 2008 price guide , * Yellow tutu = 1957 * White tutu = 1958 * Gold tutu = 1959 * Pink tutu = 1960 * Pink tutu with an upswept hairdo = 1961 * Blue = 1962 The years 1963 and 1964 are a little trickier — no color is specified, only that 1963 ballerinas wore small flowers and 1964 ballerinas wore large flowers. However, I think these Elise Ballerinas have either the newer vinyl Elise head or the vinyl Mary-Bel head, and so are easily distinguished from the earlier Elise dolls. These Elise dolls also appear to have matching Cissette ballerinas. For instance, a gold Cissette ballerina was made in 1959 to match Elise. I also have a white Cissette ballerina whose wig dates her to 1957 or 1958. I'm assuming it is the latt

The Elise I'd love to have

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This mint-in-box 1963 Elise Scarlett O'Hara appeared on eBay about a month ago. Scarlett is one of the Elise dolls I would love to be able to add to my collection, and this doll was a particularly beautiful example. Still in her original box with the original tissue and hangtag, she was about as perfect as a vintage doll can get. Dream with me, will you?

I restyled Snow White's hair correctly!

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I was just looking at an auction on eBay for an almost-all-original 1952 Snow White, and it turns out I restyled Snow White's hair correctly! Here is the picture of the eBay doll's original hairdo (used with permission from rebeccade): If you look closely, you can see that the hair is pulled back in a piggy tail on each side, then combined into a single tail in the back. You can also see a little bit of the metal barrette (actually a heavy metal wire that hooks into the piggy tail on each side to hold them up) peeking out from under the pink ribbon. By the way, the seller notes that the pink ribbon is replaced, but she included the original one in the auction, and they look nearly identical. I have a picture of my Snow White's hair after I restyled it, from almost the same angle: As you can see, I got the style right — all I'm missing is the barrette and a pink ribbon!

My Elise Ballerina

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Fortunately, not every good deal has to be a project doll . I do love my project dolls, but sometimes I feel equally as strong an attachment to an almost-perfect doll. In a prior post, I mentioned that Madame Alexander is one of my favorite 1950s doll manufacturers to collect. This is especially true for Elise, the 16-inch pre-Barbie fashion doll that Madame Alexander started making in 1957. She made this type of Elise until the early 1960s, when she changed over to the skinny, flat-chested Elise body. When I was a kid, my mom sometimes would let my sister and I play with her childhood dolls, all but one of which were Madame Alexander. My favorite of these dolls was a redhead Elise Ballerina wearing a pink costume. As a result of this childhood attachment, when I started collecting vintage dolls one of my first missions was to find an Elise Ballerina. My Elise Ballerina was a great find, to be sure. I only paid about $125 for her, despite the fact that she is complete and unplayed with

Wendy Bride project doll

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I mentioned in a prior post that I love having "project dolls" to fix up and complete. This Madame Alexander doll is probably my biggest project doll of all time, and is not yet complete. She is tagged 14-inch "Wendy Bride," and is somewhat of a mystery. The outfit and hairdo are identical to those worn by the Lucy Bride produced in 1949 and 1950, which is pictured on pages 77 and 79 of Patricia Smith's Madame Alexander Collector's Dolls . A lovely color picture can also be found on page 196 of Linda Crowsey's Collector's Encyclopedia of Madame Alexander Dolls 1948 - 1965 , though Crowsey doesn't reference her as Lucy. According to Crowsey's 2008 price guide , a 14-inch Lucy Bride books for $1,000 and up in mint condition. I got the doll for an extraordinarily low price — less than $30, if I remember correctly. This was because she was an amputee — she was missing one lovely suntanned leg. She had her dress and was otherwise in good condition

One of my favorite Gingers

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I typically have a handful or more of what I call "project dolls." These are dolls that need something — or a lot of somethings — in order to make them complete. This Ginger is an example, although I actually started with the outfit and not the doll. From the time I acquired the first piece of the outfit, to the time I finally found a doll to wear it, this project doll took about three years to complete. Why do it that way? Well, for one thing it's often less expensive, as mint, complete dolls typically command a pretty penny. But my biggest reason is that I enjoy working with my project dolls. It gives me a mission, a list of things to watch for as I browse eBay, and often gives me my doll/shopping "fix" at a lesser price. The pink dress and bloomers were the first pieces of this outfit that I acquired. That was back when I didn't realize the outfit was supposed to include a pinafore; after I learned that, I found the pinafore (untagged) by recognizing it

My first Cosmopolitan Ginger

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In a previous post, I mentioned that Cosmopolitan Ginger is one of my favorites of the 8-inch toddler dolls from the 1950s. Madame Alexander dolls are another of my favorites, but I'll discuss that in another post. Ginger is one of my favorites for quite a few reasons: I like her face the best, she has cute outfits, and she's relatively affordable when compared to Ginny, Muffie, and Wendy/Alexander-kins. However, Ginger was also the very first doll I had from the 1950s, and the beginning of my doll collection. When my mom was working at Goodwill some year ago, she found a little 8-inch doll in one of the bins there. She pulled it out and brought it home. It was a little forlorn thing, with loose arms and Medusa hair, so she had it fixed at a local doll hospital and gave it to me for Christmas. (As an aside here, I later realized that this doll hospital wasn't really worth its salt. It overcharged for restringing, something I discovered is actually amazingly easy to do your

Some people's trash...

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I found this darling little doll — a Cosmopolitan Ginger — just recently on eBay. She and another Ginger were offered nude as "fixer-uppers" for $22. Her problem? Her eyes don't open quite all the way. I bought them without a second thought, and boy am I glad I did. The brunette's eyes don't appear to open all the way because of a factory flaw, where one eye is set a hair below the other. (In other words, one eye does open all the way.) Not a huge deal, especially when you consider her minty braids, original hair bows, and high-color cheeks. The outfit is an original Ginger outfit that I have had sitting in a box, literally waiting for the perfect doll to wear it. I got the outfit over a year ago from Daisy, a well-known doll collector and dealer here in Colorado. The outfit is listed in the Ginger catalogue as Holiday Series #444. I also have a box for the outfit, which probably adds somewhat to the value. (Too bad it's not a box for the doll!) I still need

Restyling Snow White's hair

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Although most of what I do to fix dolls is cleaning and restringing, sometimes I will restyle their hair. I did this on my 1952 Madame Alexander Snow White. The first thing I did was to strip Snow White and wash her gown. While her gown was soaking, I washed her hair as well. Then I slicked it down with conditioner to tame it and make it easier to brush. After getting the knots out, I left the conditioner in for a little while before rinsing it out. I decided not to use those pink rubber rollers from the 1950s, as I don't like the stiff, crimped curls that they create in saran hair. Instead, I opted to allow the hair to retain its soft wave, which didn't really wash out very much during her "bath." I didn't know how Snow White's hair would have been styled from the factory, but after looking at some pictures I decided it would be most authentic to do it like Madame Alexander's Alice in Wonderland from the same era. Alice's hair along the browline is he

Fixing my favorite Maggie

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This 18-inch Madame Alexander Maggie is from my mom's collection. She's wearing one of my favorite Madame Alexander outfits: a dress with an open back to the skirt, and a ruffled half slip/underwear combo underneath that peeks through the back. The collar matches the plaid slip/undies combo. The other day, I was at my parents' house when I noticed something didn't look right in one of my mom's doll cases. At first I thought Maggie had fallen over, since I could just see the top of her red-wigged head, propped between two other dolls' shoulders. However, it turned out that her stringing had broken and her head had popped off. We restrung Maggie the same day. It turned out someone had restrung her in the past, but improperly. The rubber band wasn't old at all, but was just a basic rubber band — which is probably why it broke so quickly. Also, the long hook inside her head was missing, so the person restringing her had jerry-rigged one using a shorter hook and

The Table Mountain Doll Show

Today my mom and I went to the doll show and sale that the Table Mountain Treasures Doll Club puts on every spring. This year they did their "doll tea," which cost $6 (but you get to keep the teacup and saucer). This is one of the best doll shows in Colorado. There are several other good ones, but this is the one that usually has the most vintage and antique dolls. (The other shows often have a lot of other dolls and toys, with only a few booths with a good selection of vintage dolls.) I didn't buy anything today, but I may end up buying something as a result of the show. A seller from whom I bought one of my favorite Elise dolls a few years ago may have a dress for a Little Miss Nancy Ann doll I have (currently dressed in a Little Miss Ginger outfit). Also, a hat she has may be a perfect addition to a 14-inch "Made in U.S.A." doll that I have. I love going to good show. Some sellers charge exorbitant prices, but there is still something to be said for experienc

New blog, new doll: Minty Margot

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Since I'm just starting this blog, it seemed appropriate to write my first post about one of my most recent acquisitions: the doll my sister gave me for Christmas in 2007. She is a Madame Alexander Margot from 1961, complete with her original purple satin gown, tagged slip, undies, stockings, high heels, earrings, and hair bow. Her fingernails are painted, and her left hand even has a "ring" — a stone pasted onto her ring finger. Madame Alexander made Margot using the Cissette mold. (Cissette is a 10-inch pre-Barbie fashion doll that Madame Alexander launched in 1957 as a more affordable alternative to the 21-inch, ultra-luxurious Cissy.) She is identifiable by her hairdo, which is more sophisticated than Cissette's usual 'do, and her blue eye shadow. Margot wore a number of different outfits, but as is common with Madame Alexander's vintage fashion dolls, the ones wearing formal outfits are now worth more than those in street dresses or other more casual outf