Although the composition toddler dolls are far outnumbered by the little girl models made of composition, many fine designs for dolls with toddler bodies were made during the approximately 40 years of composition doll production.
BY DIAN ZILLNER. Photographs by Suzanne Silverthorn
Source: November 1990 • Doll Reader , Pages 70-74
Some of the earliest of these toddler dolls were made by the Effanbee Doll Co. during the 1920s. After Effanbee's successful marketing of the composition Bubbles baby doll in 1924 and 1925, a new design of this doll was produced in 1926, perhaps to take advantage of the company's new slogan advertising dolls that "Walk -Talk -Sleep." The "new" Bubbles had toddler legs instead of the traditional curved baby legs so that she could also fit the "Walk" of the company's logo. Bubbles had a composition shoulder head, full arms and legs and a cloth body. The hair was molded and she had sleep eyes. The company also used the same body construction on its Grumpy doll which had originally been placed on the market in 1912. The Grumpy doll was made in both black and white models. Grumpy had a frowning face, painted features and molded hair.
Effanbee continued its interest in the toddler doll into the 1930s when the doll called Sugar Baby was developed. This doll was all composition with sleep eyes and came either wearing a wig or with molded hair. It was 16in (41cm) tall to 18in (46cm) tall.
The last great composition toddler made by the Effanbee Doll Co. was marketed in 1946 when the manufacture of composition dolls was nearing an end. The new doll was called the Candy Kid. The all composition dolls were dressed as either boys or girls and one popular model wore boxing gloves and shorts. The 1946 Montgomery Ward Christmas catalog featured a 13in (33cm) tall doll with wardrobe in a traveling case that sold for $16.50. The doll had molded hair and sleep eyes.
Although the Alexander Doll Co. did not make as many great toddler dolls as other companies, it did have one line of toddlers that outsold any other dolls of this type.
The dolls were modeled after the famous Dionne Quintuplets who had been born in Canada in 1934. From 1935 until 1939, these toddler dolls were manufactured in various sizes from 8in (20cm) to 16in (41cm) wearing many different outfits. The dolls were made of all composition and most of them wore wigs although some did have molded hair. The smaller dolls had painted eyes while the bigger dolls had sleep eyes. The dolls remained on the market until the Quints began to grow up and lost some of their public appeal.
Another famous toddler was also used as a prototype for a doll maker. The Freundlich Novelty Corp. designed a Baby Sandy doll named after the tiny movie star Sandra Henville who had become popular so quickly from her short-lived movie career.
These toddler dolls were marketed from 1939 until Sandy's movie career was over in 1942. There were several different model made of the dolls in sizes from 8in (20cm) to 16in (41cm) tall. The smaller doll's eye were painted while the larger editions had sleep eyes. The dolls were all composition with molded hair and originally came with a pin showing a picture of Baby Sandy.
One of the most famous doll designs made in composition also happens to be in the shape of a toddler doll. Although the variety of Rose O'Neill Kewpie dolls can provide a collection all by themselves, the composition Kewpie is designed with a short stocky body which places this doll in the toddler category.
She was made by the Cameo Doll Company for many years in both a black and a white model. Both the 1945 and the 1947 Sears, Roebuck and Co. Christmas catalogs list the dolls in the 13in (33cm) size priced from $1.65 to $2.57. The dolls are jointed at the shoulders and hips, have molded hair and painted features. The same company also made another f toddler when Rose O'Neill's Scooamoust/es was produced from composition in sizes from 8in (20cm) to 16in (41cm) tall. The last great Rose O'Neill Cameo composition toddler was made in 1946 when the Giggles doll was produced. The doll is all composition with painted eyes and molded hair with a bun in the back. Both the Scootles and the Giggles composition dolls fetch top dollar in today's doll market when they are in original condition.
The E. I. Horsman Co. probably produced more different designs of toddler dolls than any other company. Many of these dolls were unmarked but a few still survive in their original boxes. The Montgomery Ward Christmas catalog for 1945 listed a 16in (41cm) tall Horsman toddler doll with sleep eyes and painted hair priced at $5.50. The doll is similar to all of the unmarked toddler dolls that were advertised in the toy catalogs throughout the 1940s.
A Horsman toddler with a better design was marketed in 1937. The doll was called Jo Jo and was 13in (33cm) tall and came with a wig or with molded hair. The dolls were dressed either as boys or girls and some had tin sleep eyes.
Several other doll companies made toddler dolls over the years including the Arranbee Doll Co. Although the trade name, Dream Baby, is usually associated with baby dolls, the company did manufacture a toddler doll with the Dream Baby mark on its back. The doll is all composition with molded hair and painted eyes. As a doll design it is not of great merit as is the design which produced the toddler doll made by the American Character Doll Co. called Puggy. This 12in (31cm) tall doll was first manufactured in 1928 and is made of all composition. He has molded hair, painted eyes and is marked "A Petite Doll." He has an unusual quizzical pouty expression and is one of the most expensive of the toddler dolls when found in excellent condition.
Although there are lots of composition toddler dolls still available to today's collectors, many of them are of the non-descript unmarked variety that were shown in the toy sections of the Christmas catalogs all through the 1940s.
Illustration on the right shows a large 16in (41cm) tall all original composition boy with painted eyes and molded hair. He may be the same doll shown in the Montgomery Ward Christmas Catalog for 1945 priced at $2.10.
The toddler doll shown in Illustration on the left is a much nicer example but she is also unmarked. The doll has a wig, sleep eyes and wears her original clothing. Collectors should not pass up these dolls when they are all original because these inexpensive dolls made it possible for many little girls to own dolls who would never have had that opportunity if the doll market had only consisted of the more expensive Alexander and Effanbee models.
The more desirable composition toddler dolls continue to rise in price with the toddlers from the major doll companies bringing $200 and up when dressed in original clothing. Because fewer toddler dolls were made, it seems likely that this trend will continue. It is not hard for a modern doll collector to become interested in toddler dolls after seeing a Candy Kid, Scootles or Dionne Quint doll in original condition. Maybe that is what has happened at doll shows and auctions and that explains why the prices continue to soar.