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.


  1. I had a Nina Ballerina doll when I was young, but apparently a different version than this one. Mine had dark hair and looked younger than this one. I've never seen her again since my childhood. This is as close as I've ever come. Nice job. Have you ever seen the dark haired dolls?

    Thanks, Jeanette Schutz

  2. Jeanette, I don't believe Madame Alexander produced a brunette Nina Ballerina, but there were other companies that did, such as this one.

    I'd love to try to help you figure out what doll you had. Do you know about what year you got her, and whether she was hard plastic or vinyl, had flat feet or high high feet, or whether her ankles were jointed? Was her hair rooted or a glued on wig, and do you remember what her costume looked like?

  3. I have the Nina Ballerina doll, but need to replace the wig and find a new outfit + shoes. Can you help me?

  4. Sally,

    I'm technically a collector, not a dealer, so I'm afraid I don't have what you need, nor am I in the business of shopping for things for people. However, I would highly recommend browsing eBay. Prices are very good right now and you should be able to find what you are looking for.

    Please don't hesitate to email me using the contact form if you would like to chat about tips for finding what you want on eBay!

  5. I'm a little late in returning to this site! But the link you posted for my Nina Ballerina is spot on. She's the one. Obviously, not a Madame Alexander, but that's my doll, or was I should say. This is the first time I've ever seen her again. A cheaper model, no doubt, but at the time I'm sure that's all my parents could afford.

    Jeanette Schutz

  6. Hello.
    I have had a terrible time finding a Nina Ballerina for my mother. My mom wants the Niresk Industries Nina Ballerina that was made in 1955, stood 20" tall and could do several ballet movements. Although I've seen photos (B/W) on the 'net of her, I have seen no one who has her for sale. Thanks you in advance.




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