The only doll left to me when my sisters left home was a 4 in. HEbee-SHEbee, all bisque, made in Germany, 1925-1927. It has a label on its foot with the name of the famous artist/illustrator, Charles Twelvetree. The chubby-cheeked doll is reminiscent of his work. I added the bow.
As a child I received early Madame Alexander composition dolls as gifts at Christmas or birthdays. Sometimes I had a special doll request. There was a summer shop at Rocky Neck, Gloucester, MA. It smelled of rose potpourri inside and there was a special room with dolls for sale. Mrs. Parker, the owner, handmade all the Dream Baby christening outfits. These dolls had German bisque heads with sleep eyes, celluloid hands, and stuffed cloth bodies. The heads are marked AM (i.e. Armand Marseille) Germany. These heads were made from 1926 to 1930+. I chose one of the Dream Babies for my birthday when visiting the shop in July. When I came back in September for my birthday doll, I was disappointed to find that my first choice had been sold. But I soon found another that I loved just as much. Mrs. Parker’s embroidery is an inspiration.
This is my dollhouse, an 1880’s style house handmade by a finish carpenter in Gloucester, Massachusetts in 1906. The carpenter was Jim Tobin, who married my grandmother after my grandfather died. The dollhouse was made for my mother and her sisters and given to me by my aunt Sue. We brought it to Pittsburgh in 1965, shortly after my daughter Elaine was born, and began to restore it and add furnishings. The dollhouse is typical of houses of this period. Notice the similarity to the house painted by Edward Hopper in the 1920’s titled, Anderson’s House, Gloucester. This stately yellow Italianate house can be found in Gloucester today, just up Western Avenue from Stacy Boulevard.
A quick glimpse of my doll house.
In the 1940s, my sisters gave me two 13 in. composition dolls McGuffey Ana and Flora McFlimsey, with wardrobe. These dolls were so beautifully dressed that I kept them that way. Both had human hair wigs. Flora was a redhead with freckles.
Madame Beatrice Alexander 1895-1990 was primarily a fashion designer and her doll clothes were perfection. To this day the Madame Alexander label means excellence.
Sometime in the 1940s I received three Madame Alexander dolls. My brother, soon to be drafted into the Army, gave me a 7 in. composition Carmen Miranda doll. The real Carmen was a popular singer, dancer, and comedienne in the movies.
Returning now to that 1939 Christmas, the doll my other sister gave me was a 17 in. Debu Teen doll with composition head, arms, and legs and a stuffed cloth body. It was made by the Arranbee Toy Co. I don’t remember what she was wearing at the time but I read recently that she came in a pink evening gown like a debutante might wear. My sister made her a rayon lounging suit with blue glass buttons. Her mohair wig became thin and mousy so I gave her a modern wig to cover it.