Wednesday, May 14, 2008

How to date vintage Madame Alexander Cissette dolls

I've blogged recently about a couple of my Madame Alexander Cissette dolls: my white ballerina, and a redhead with a fancy hairdo that I partially restored. I also mentioned the triple-stitched wig part a couple of times, which dates a Cissette doll to 1957 or 1958.

In this post, I want to explain the rest of the ways to date a vintage Cissette doll. When I say "vintage," I mean dolls that were made between 1957 (when the doll was first introduced) and 1963. Cissette's mold was also used for the Portrette dolls, which were made between 1968 and 1973.

Madame Alexander still uses the mold in her modern dolls, but the plastic is pretty different than what was used in the 1950s and 1960s. A doll collector who is familiar with both vintage and modern Cissettes should be able to tell the difference pretty easily: The plastic is lighter and cheaper, and the face paint tends to be more gaudy.

Cissette dolls all have high-heeled feet and jointed knees, except for the Sleeping Beauty doll of 1959 — she has flat feet and no knee joints.

The most sought-after Cissette dolls are the 1957 and 1958 dolls. If a Cissette has the standard hairdo (like my ballerina), you can date her by the stitching down the part in her wig: In 1957 and 1958, they used triple-stitched parts, and in 1959 they switched to a simple zigzag stitch. Cissette dolls with fancier hairdos and a triple-stitched part were made between 1961 and 1962.

Vintage Cissette's wig stitching

Fingernail paint can also date a Cissette doll, as it was only used between 1962 and 1963.

Finally, a Cissette doll's eyelids can also date a doll. Between 1957 and 1963, Cissette had either beige or pale pink eyelids; only Jacqueline and Margot had blue eyeshadow, and both of those dolls have very distinctive hairdos. (For an example, see the pictures of my Margot.) Portrettes, which aren't as desireable, also had blue eyeshadow.

All of the above information on dating Cissette dolls comes from Linda Crowsey's 2008 Madame Alexander price guide.



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