Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Madame Alexander Princess Elizabeth outfit - SOLD!

The first item I am offering for sale is an outfit for a 13-inch composition Princess Elizabeth doll, made by Madame Alexander in the late 1930s and early 1940s. The outfit consists of dress, cape, shoes, and handbag, and can be found on page 26 of Marjorie Uhl's Dolls on Review.

As a doll collector I know that being able to see detail is important when buying long-distance. Therefore I've set it up so that you can click on each picture for a full-size version.

The dress is white taffeta with a white net overlay, and may have been laundered at some point. The netting is fragile and has some small holes, but they shouldn't be very noticeable on display.

You can see in this picture that the dress retains its original tag, which reads "Princess Elizabeth".

There are also a few little rust-colored stains. The worst one is in the back and would be covered by the cape. It is shown in this picture:

The cape is red velvet with a red cotton lining, and is in great condition. The grograin ribbon that ties around the neck is a little faded, and the ermine tails have been removed.

The silver oilcloth shoes both have their buckles, soles, and heels. The strap has been cut off of each one to make them slip-on shoes (instead of side-snap or center-snap, as they originally would have been).

The outfit also includes the original white taffeta drawstring handbag. It's slightly yellowed with age, and I don't think it has been laundered.

Missing are the jeweled tiara, socks, and undies.

I am asking $50 for the outfit, same price I paid for it; buyer will pay shipping and handling. Original clothing is difficult to find for these dolls, especially since they are now about 70 years old!

If you are interested in the outfit please email me!

'For Sale' page is live!

You can now browse dolls for sale on Doll Stringing Extravaganza by clicking the link in the nav bar, above.

On this page you will find dolls and outfits in my own collection that I am selling. I will also be happy to post other sellers' listings at no charge — just email me for details.

Coming soon: For Sale page

Like most collectors, I am always refining my collection. As I focus my doll collection more and more, I am always selling off dolls and outfits that I have decided not to collect anymore.

Although eBay has been a great source for my collection, I am dissatisfied with some of their policies and changes over the years. As a result, I have decided to offer items for sale to my readers here before listing them on eBay.

Stay tuned — I'll have the "For Sale" page up soon!

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Why I don't publish catalog or doll book pictures

I belong to several Yahoo! doll groups. In one of these groups, members are scanning and uploading pages from doll books they own, as research materials for other members.

The objective is commendable, but I was concerned about copyright infringement, so I spoke up. As a writer, I am all too aware of how many people on the Internet are ignorant about the fact that most intellectual works are protected by copyright. That means that you can't use someone else's words or pictures on your website, without first getting permission or verifying that the works are part of the public domain.

In the case of this group, I offered to research the copyright on the book (because there is a chance it is not protected by copyright), but I also suggested that they make sure the scans are available only to the group members.

Oddly, the responses I received betrayed a lot of ignorance and even a little hostility. I guess some people will do anything they can — even if it means flaming a well-meaning person — in order to avoid acknowledging what they don't want to.

At any rate, as a writer I refuse to infringe on other people's copyrights, because I know from experience how miserable it is when someone does it to me. That is why most of the pictures on my site are ones I have taken of my own dolls. (In the two exceptions, the pictures of Snow White's hair and the Scarlett Elise, I got permission from the photographers.)

Any time a scan or a picture not taken by me appears on this site, you may be sure that either 1) I received permission from the copyright holder, or 2) the image is part of the public domain.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Elise #1610 - 1957

This is another of my favorite Elise dolls, although I've never had to do any restringing or any other work on her — she was in lightly played-with, but perfectly display-worthy, condition when I bought her from a fellow collector/dealer here in Colorado. She is #1610, from 1957, and you can see her in the back row of my new Elise display.

I love the hat on this outfit: a white cloche adorned with a black velvet ribbon and flowers.

My doll also wears (all original) a lovely crispy-mint half-slip, white taffeta undies, hose, and low-heeled black shoes.

But by far the most interesting thing about her is the little braid pinned across her hairline like a headband. Some doll in the 1950s came with an extra braid of hair, in a little plastic canister that was attached to the doll's wrist; in addition to being able to wash and curl their dolls' saran hair, a little girl could also use this braid to create fancier styles.

I didn't know Elise was ever sold with an extra braid like this, but it appears she was, as the braid's color is a perfect match to her wig:

This same Elise is pictured in pink on page 81 Marjorie Uhl's Madame Alexander's Ladies of Fashion.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

My Elise Southern belle: Part 3

The last two posts have discussed the history of my undocumented Elise formal and the doll who wears it now. The story of the doll that originally came with it is also interesting, particularly from a doll stringer's point of view.

I mentioned in the post about my Elise wedding doll that I had to put the doll's elbow back together, and that it wasn't the first time I had worked on an Elise doll. In fact, I could take an Elise doll apart from head to toe and put her back together again.

Well, almost. I've never seen the inside of an Elise doll's ankles, but I'm sure if I did I could figure that out, too.

When I bought the Southern belle outfit, it was worn by an Elise who had a broken leg: Her leg had come apart at the knee. This was my very first experience with repairing dolls, but I took the gamble: I assumed I could fix the leg, and purchased doll and outfit for an absolute steal.

Eventually I would find out that I was right, and that I could fix the leg, but it took some time. I ended up dismantling that doll almost completely: I took her hips and her good leg apart, then repaired the "broken" leg and put everything back together again. I also removed her head and arms, as they got in the way when I was working on her hips, and restrung them when I was done. At one point I had that doll in eight pieces on my living room floor!

Ultimately, I decided to sell the doll but keep her outfit. The doll herself was clearly played with, and although I was able to soak the dress to clean and brighten it, there's not much (besides repainting, which ruins the originality of the doll) that you can do for an Elise with a yellow-spotted face (a common problem with Elise dolls).

Although that Elise was technically my first experience with restringing, and definitely the most difficult restringing job I've ever tackled, I don't regret selling her. I am certainly glad I kept the outfit, though — especially seeing as how pretty it looks on its new owner!

Monday, April 7, 2008

My Elise Southern belle: Part 2

In my last post, I talked about my undocumented Elise yellow formal. I went into a lot of detail, partly because I've never seen the outfit documented, and I'm sure there are others out there who could use some information on it.

Now I want to tell the story of the doll who is wearing the outfit in my new Elise display.

I bought this doll about four years ago. Her blond hair is still tightly contained in the original set; her face paint is perfect, with beautiful soft pink lip color and blush. She came with her original silver low-heeled shoes that had (unfortunately) been painted with gold airplane paint, a pearl necklace, a pair of net and lace gloves, and a dingy veil and blue lace garter that were clearly not original.

I originally bought her to wear an Elise bride dress that I have, but I never completed the outfit. When I went through my dolls recently, I decided she ought to wear the yellow Southern belle outfit, which had been another doll — a redhead with mussed hair — for several years. I switched the outfit, and the transformation was amazing: Whereas the outfit looked played with and imperfect on the mussed doll, on the perfect doll it practically glows!

My Elise Southern belle: Part 1

I've gotten kind of sidetracked lately, so I want to get back to my Elise dolls. There is a long story behind the Elise in the yellow formal, so I'll talk about her next.

I call the outfit a Southern belle outfit, but I don't really know much about it. Although I haven't found anything about it in my doll books, I've seen this gown exactly four times on eBay. The first time, it was on a doll I bought; that same dress is now on the blond Elise in my display case.

The second time I saw this dress on eBay, it was part of a near-complete outfit, a relic from someone's childhood. She called it a Southern belle outfit, so that's how I've thought of it ever since.

The third time I saw this outfit, it was on a tissue mint/mint-in-box Elise. And the fourth time I saw it, it was played with and incomplete — in worse condition than mine, if I remember correctly.

My outfit isn't complete, but it's tagged (inside seam of the separate half slip). Unfortunately, it's had a rough life. It is stained light blue in a few places in the back, and although I tried both washing and soaking the gown (carefully!), I never could get it out.

Also, the elastic on the slip had been replaced, and whoever stitched on the new elastic did a very poor job of it. I'm not an expert sewer, by any means, but I was still able to cut the stitching and (carefully!) repair the damage as best I could.

Thanks to the MIB Elise that I saw on eBay, I was able to restore the outfit in a few respects. I knew that it was supposed to have a wide yellow ribbon sash, with a couple of large red or hot pink flowers at the left side of her waist. I bought a length of yellow ribbon to replace the original sash.

I also know that the hat is supposed to have a black ribbon around the crown.

Finally, the outfit should have gold spike heels and some jewelry: a cameo pendant on a black ribbon choker, and a simple metal or goldtone link bracelet around her wrist.

Fortunately, the Elise I chose to wear this outfit had her own jewelry and a pair of gloves that complement the outfit nicely. However, this story is getting too long for one blog post, so I'll continue it in the next post.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Restringing and cleaning Nina Ballerina

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.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Two exceptional Madame Alexander Snow White dolls

I've blogged twice about my Snow White doll: once about restyling the doll's hair, and another time to confirm that I did, in fact, restyle her hair correctly.

This time I want to show you two truly exceptional examples of Snow White: this one and this one. Both of them have perfect hair, high-color cheeks, beautiful gowns, minty vests, and their original Disney hangtags. (One of the common problems with Snow White is that her golden vest frays.)

They really are beautiful, but I wouldn't ever trade my Snow White for a nicer one. I like knowing that I restyled her hair and cleaned her gown myself. I feel like putting my own labor of love into her made her more fully mine.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

A stunning example of a Margot

My first-ever post on this blog was about my minty Margot, my sister's extraordinary Christmas present for me in 2007.

As I've been going through Lia Sargent's amazing catalogs, I ran across this listing of a Margot remarkably like mine. Ms. Sargent calls her "French Lilacs," and it appears her gown is a slightly different color than mine. She is also blond (whereas mine is brunette) and has slightly different earrings.

Still, with exception of mine's missing hangtag, the condition isn't any different — so seeing the price tag of $875 is very encouraging indeed.

More information on my Wendy Bride

I blogged a little while ago about one of my ongoing project dolls, a doll tagged "Wendy Bride" who looks identical to my mom's Lucy Bride.

Since then, I've run across this Wendy Bride listing from Lia Sargent, who appears to be quite the expert in Madame Alexander dolls. All of her dolls are tissue mint, pretty much the finest quality I've ever seen anywhere.

Anyway, the listing claims that although the doll is sometimes called "Lucy Bride," her official name was Wendy Bride. She is listed as being made in 1949, which corresponds with the years listed for Lucy Bride in Linda Crowsey's price guide.

I highly recommend checking out the pictures of Lia Sargent's Wendy Bride — she is an exquisite example of what mine would have looked like when she was new!

My Elise wedding doll

When my husband and I were planning my wedding, I decided I wanted to put together wedding dolls to match us — not for the wedding or anything, but as mementos — a very special addition to my collection.

I had an Elise-sized replica of my wedding dress — an authentic 1920s wedding gown — made before the wedding, but then didn't go any farther with the project for a long time. I wanted to find an Elise with a hair color and style to match mine, but as I didn't have the time or the funds for the search, my wedding doll was put on the back burner.

Recently and quite by accident, I found the perfect Elise on eBay. She had not only the perfect hair, but also the lingerie: original stockings and a tagged Elise chemise. She also had her original shoes, but since I had 1920s-style T-strap shoes made for the outfit, I just planned to set the shoes aside if I got her.

Get her I did. However, when she arrived in the mail I discovered that someone had painted (!) her soft vinyl forearms with a flesh-toned paint. Luckily, the paint wasn't the permanent kind, so I was able to remove it with some good doll cleaner.

When I took off Elise's stockings, I found another area that had been painted, on the outside of her left leg right above her knee. I immediately suspected a repaired leg split — and sure enough, soon as I got the thick layer of paint and putty off, there it was! The repair wasn't affected by the doll cleaner, though, so I just left it.

Unfortunately, Elise's forearm came off when I was cleaning it, and I spent a very frustrating 20 minutes or so figuring out how to return it to its rightful place. The bright side is that I now know how Elise's jointed elbows are held together, and how to put the forearm back on when it comes loose (which I've seen happen before). This isn't the first time that I've worked on an Elise, but I'll get to that in a future post.

Finally I got Elise cleaned and put back together. I redressed her in her chemise and stockings, and then put the wedding dress on top of that. She now abides in her place of honor among her sisters, where you saw her in my last post.


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