Bubble Buddy, 10 in., was made in Italy and marked “EFFE Italia S.P.A.” He is made of vinyl with open mouth, rooted hair, and jointed head and arms. When his tummy is squeezed he will blow bubbles. A wand and bubble solution was packaged with him.
This unmarked 16 in. rigid vinyl doll is in a class by itself. Known as Sasha dolls, they were designed by Swiss artist Sasha Morgenthaler from the 1940s until her death in 1975. After first making dolls in her studio in limited numbers, mass production was started in the 1960s by Gotz in Germany and Frido (later Trendon) in England. Morgenthaler wanted the dolls to represent an image of universal childhood, so from the beginning of mass production, the vinyl was coffee-colored so the dolls would not appear to belong to any particular ethnic group. In the early 1970s, black dolls were introduced, first in an extremely dark complexion, then later in a lighter complexion. Caucasian boy dolls were known as Gregor, black girl dolls as Cora, and black boy dolls as Caleb. The one shown was found at a flea market with the hair cut off. With a blonde wig and Tyrolean outfit added, it’s now just called Sasha.
The face and hands of the traditional 10 in. German angel are made of wax. Her gown is arranged over a paper cone so that she can stand atop the Christmas tree. The manger scene was made of straw in Poland with Mary and Joseph fashioned from corn husks. You can just see the back of baby Jesus’ head.
Various sized wooden beads can be wired together to create bendable bodies. The beads are left natural with only the facial features painted and hair is formed from flax. The 9.5 in. doll on the left was made in Germany. On the right is a 5.5 in. basic bead doll that has been waiting many years for attention. Both can stand by themselves on sturdy feet. They date to 1986.
This is a 15 in. Vietnam souvenir doll, plastic and vinyl, many of which were sent home by US soldiers in the 1960’s. She is wearing an áo dài, a traditional Vietnamese national costume. It is a tight-fitting silk tunic slit to the waist on both sides and worn over pantaloons. She is wearing a simple gold necklace. Her hat is a replacement., much like the original.
This was a mystery doll until earlier this year when I found photos of an identical one published by the Rockefeller Folk Art Center in Williamsburg, VA. Their book Dollhouses Miniature Kitchens, and Shops (1996) contains three photos of the 15 in. cotton stuffed doll with an embroidered face. It was described as being made in Brazil, possibly as late as 1930. A very odd feature was the applied celluloid fingernails on each hand. Not knowing her identity, I made the mistake of removing the nails because they were so “creepy.”