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Rose Mary
By Rosemary McKittrick
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DOLLS BRING BACK MEMORIES, ATTRACT MONEY

DOLLS BRING BACK MEMORIES, ATTRACT MONEY
Madame Alexander "Pamela" circa 1960s, 11 inches high. Sold for $400. Photo courtesy of Lamb Rene
Most grown-up little girls can remember that special doll from childhood. Mine had almond-shaped blue eyes, soft brows, delicate ears, a creamy complexion, rosy cheeks and auburn curls. There was aliveness to her as though time stood still long enough to capture flesh and blood in a doll. Even today, some 40-years later, I can close my eyes and still see her.

Up until the 20th century, most dolls were made to look like miniature adults with fancy wigs, glass eyes and stiff expressions. Their purpose was to groom little girls in the ways of 19th century etiquette. Even “baby” dolls were small versions of adults.

That all changed by the 1930s with mass-production. Dolls began to look and sound more like real babies. By the 1960s, they ate, cried, and wet their diapers. Adult dolls were as popular as ever but even they were redesigned to appeal to the contemporary child.

The highly collectible Madame Alexander line featuring Scarlett O’Hara, Sleeping Beauty, and Princess Elizabeth is still in production today. The Alexander Doll Company of New York started in 1923, and the Madame Alexander dolls range in price from $60-$2,300 based on the doll and condition.

The Ideal Novelty and Toy Company of Brooklyn, N.Y., came out with their composition dolls in the 1930s. Their popular Shirley Temple doll appeared when the film star was the number one box office attraction in the United States.

The 1960s hard vinyl version was modeled after Shirley Temple’s character in the 1938 film “Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm.” A Shirley Temple doll in the original box, and in mint condition can fetch $1,600 at auction. The same doll in played-with condition is worth 50 percent or less. That’s how important condition is with dolls.

Jennie Graves was an established designer and producer when she founded Vogue Dolls, Inc. in 1948 and introduced Ginny. Other family members like Ginnette, Jill and Jeff came later. Each had their contemporary outfits and accessories. An original mint-condition composition Ginny is worth about $200-$400. A played-with Ginny brings around $90.

And then there’s Barbie. This teen-age fashion archetype appeared in 1959 and was produced by Mattel Toys. The most sought-after Barbies are from the first four production runs of 1959-60. The original Barbie had a white iris but no eye color, and the doll is rare. In mint condition, with the original box she’s worth about $10,000.

On Sept. 12, Lambe Rene Auctions in Pittsfield, Mass., featured dolls from the estate of Eeanor Thelen. Thelen operated the Dawn Marie Doll Hospital in Schenectady, N.Y., for 40-years prior to her death in March 1999 at the age of 88.

An 11-inch Madame Alexander “Pamela,” circa 1960s, excellent condition, sold for $400. A 19-1/2 inch Vogue Jennie “Southern Belle” circa 1940s, brought $400. An 11-1/2 inch Little Miss Revlon doll, without shoes, realized $165. A 12-inch Shirley Temple doll, in box, circa 1958, reached $260. Two 8-inch, Betsy McCall Character dolls, circa 1961, in box, and in excellent condition, brought $120.


Q. I bought this nude female bronze statue in Italy over 50-years ago during W.W.II. The statue including the alabaster base is 11½ inches. Engraved on the base is V. Seifert, Gladenbeck. Any information you could provide from the photo would be most helpful. John Baer, Pittsburgh.

A. Your statue is entitled “Thirsty” and was done by Victor Heinrich Seifert around 1900. Gladenbeck is the foundry that produced the bronze. This is considered one of Seifert’s gentler pieces. He was better known for his military subjects. The bronze is worth around $1,500-$2,000.

For more information on his work check "Berman’s Bronzes." You’ll find this four-volume set in many libraries around the country.

Older signed bronzes like his can often be documented. The Berman book covers the 1800-1930 bronze era. This is when the giant foundries boomed and eventually declined. Out of these factories came millions of bronzes for the general public.

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