This doll, a 14-inch strung Nina Ballerina, is now in my collection, but she belonged first to my mom. After my mom got her, we had to do a lot of work on her, including restringing and a very intensive cleaning. My mom gave her to me later on because she said that since I put so much work into the doll, I really should have her.
Nina Ballerina was made from 1949 to 1951, and is quite a popular doll. The 14-inch size books for $575 and up, according to Linda Crowsey's 2008 price guide. She is also pictured on page 193 of Collector's Encyclopedia of Madame Alexander Dolls 1948 - 1965, priced at $700 and up. The only differences I see between my doll and the one pictured is that mine is missing the sprig of flowers for her hair, and has slightly paler cheeks.
Nina didn't come to us in perfect condition, though. When my mom got her she needed restringing, which was easily fixed. However, she was also covered in a thick coat of dingy flesh-toned paint. I think it was old paint, perhaps even old oil-based paint, because of its consistency and cracking. It was awful, whatever it was!
It took many hours, but I finally succeeded in stripping away the dingy paint. Underneath, Nina had a perfect, porcelain-like complexion. Hard plastic dolls were painted at the factory, but luckily I was able to clean off the "aftermarket" paint without damaging the original finish.
To clean Nina Ballerina, I used a doll cleaner that we purchased on eBay, and a scrubbing pad made for cleaning glass and ceramic stove tops. These pads are great because they are made not to scratch, so they won't damage your doll. They are also reasonably priced, and you can cut them into smaller pieces. Unless a doll is exceptionally dirty, you should be able to rinse and reuse them several times.
Another thing that helped me clean Nina was being able to take her apart and put her back together again later. Since I had to restring her anyway, I just cleaned her torso and each limb separately. It made it easier to hold the piece I was working on, and I didn't have to worry about messing up her hair while I was working.
Speaking of her hair, one of the most unique things about Nina Ballerina is her strawberry-blond, upswept wig. My Nina is a great example: Except for the fact that she is missing her flowers, her hair is in perfect shape.
Labels: hard plastic strung dolls