Researching maker’s marks on artifacts is my thing!
With a little perseverance I recently identified a doll that had no brand stamp. It is a German-made Kammer and Reindhardt bisque doll. There is sometimes a curve ball in the research, as the head molds were often used by other companies and look-a-like copies were produced.
I looked into the background my two dolls. Luckily they both have brand marks, patent numbers, plus country of origin. These marks are found on the dolls back, and back of the head.
This “Rosebud” doll was bought in the mid-1950s. It is a hard-plastic doll (head and body) made by Nene Plastics Ltd, England, a company that started in 1947 and run by Eric Smith. It was Smith who registered the name “Rosebud”, by 1955 they had started experimenting with vinyl (softer plastic). In the 1960s the company was sold to Matte, dolls made in America are marked with “Rosebud Mattel”.
My second doll was given to my around 1960. This was a Palitoy Patsy Chubby Baby doll, made in England. It has a patent number registered in Britain, Australia and Canada. The head has a different number to the body. The doll is 15 inches tall, hard plastic head, soft vinyl body, rotating legs and arms. She drinks, cries real tears, and wets her nappy. The head has molded hair, hand-painted lower lashes and eyebrows, rolling eyes with lashes. There are no join seams visible on arms and legs.
Palitoy has an interesting history. Originally Palitoy Cascelloid Company started by Alfred Edward Pallet of Coalville Leicestershire in 1919, made their first doll in 1925.
Palitoy was bought by Chad Valley toys, then General Mills who also scooped up Airfix toys, Meccano and Tri-ang – all familiar toy brands throughout my childhood. The final owners were Tonka, then Hasbo. A fun fact – The British boy doll Palitoy Action Man celebrated it’s 50th birthday in 2016!
My aunt also has a childhood doll. Among our family photographs I found a picture of her with a doll. Although the doll’s face was similar, she confirmed the doll in the picture was donated to her by a neighbour.
In the post-WWII years there were few luxury goods or toys available. In the past, we have compared notes and discovered that my first teddy, was also her first teddy! (a rather sad, hard pink thing stuffed with straw).
On a brighter in the mid 1950s her Mum (my Nanna) bought her a brand new state-of-the-art “Patsy” doll that could be fed, cried real tears and we its nappy. The doll has a the same patent numbers as my doll, it is slightly earlier. It has the same hard plastic head, made in two parts, but vinyl limbs are also made in two parts, join seams are clearly visible.
She recalls thinking she was a little old for such a gift, but we figure her Mum felt she deserved a nice ‘new’ toy.
Is there a vintage doll in your family? What is its story?
When you have noted down who owned it, where they lived and when, take a moment to research the brand name and the maker!