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.

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.


  1. What about pierced ears? I believe I found a Cissette 1957 she has a tagged beautiful lace one piece chemise-however there is no indication of pierced ears. Did Madame Alexander produce these dolls without the pierced ears? She is jointed at the knee,her back reads MME ALEXANDER. She is blonde with the stitching on her part in the middle. Approx 9 inches.

    The other I found is smaller approx 8 inches, she has flat feet with the walking motion-her back reads Alex-she is not a red head & not as blonde as the doll mentioned above-with single stitching on her part. Could this be Sleeping Beauty?

    Thank you in advance,


  2. Hi Jean! Cissettes did not always have pierced ears. I think it's the early ones that tended not to. Does your Cissette have the triple stitched wig or the zig zag stitch?

    Your other doll is a Wendy/Alexander-kin. Does she have jointed knees? Straight legged walkers were made in 1954 and 1955, and bent knee walkers were made from 1956 until the mid 1960s. A zig zag stitch on your doll's wig would indicate she is a little later, I believe 1959 or later.

  3. Hello Katherine,

    Thank you for responding so quickly. I just got back into town & am able to take a look at these Cissette treasures.

    The first one with NO pierced ears has a triple stitch wig.
    The smaller walker DOES NOT have bent knees, they are straight stiff legs. Her head moves when her legs walk. She also has a triple stitch wig.

    They are so cute-I wish I could send you a photo. From what you have said so far they seem to be from 1954-55.

    Also, in the trunk was a larger doll with a very similar face-very dainty. However, she has no markings at all. She is approx 12 inches tall, high heel foot, red zig zag stitch wig, sleep eyes, bent knee, & bent elbow. Red lips-she looks like a larger Cissette but has NO markings.
    Interesting enough a fourth doll was a Effanbee Fluffy doll however she is not that all as delicate in features as the Cissettes but she was in the same trunk.

    Thank you for your time as I appreciate your information.



  4. Hi Jean! The Alexander-kin/Wendy is definitely 1954 or 1955 if she has a triple-stitched wig and is a straight legged walker. Cissette wasn't made until 1957, so her triple-stitched wig dates her to 1957 or 1958.

    I'm curious about the 12" doll. Feel free to email me via the contact page on my website and let's talk more! You won't be able to send a picture from the contact page, but once I email you back you could. I would love to see if I recognize her!



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