Thursday, August 25, 2016

Hitty and the Surprise

Good things were tucked inside this cute little carrying case.

Gloria Rhone of Massa's Servants Collectibles presented another doll for sale in a Facebook post that I simply could not refuse.  The initial photo was of the undressed doll.  Without even knowing how she would be dressed, I claimed her as mine.

Gloria's initial photo of my new Hitty doll (photo courtesy of Gloria Y. Rone)

Shown in Gloria's first photo above, Hitty* is a 6-1/2 inch doll made from polymer clay using a twist of colors to look like wood/marble.  A white version was offered at the same time.

Before taking this photo, Gloria dressed Hitty in a peach/white/brown plaid dress with matching bonnet, white eyelet apron and white underpants.  Her back is incised:  

Hitty arrived in perfect condition in the perfect little carrying case, which is shown above and in the first photo. She was neatly wrapped in white tissue paper with a white tissue paper-wrapped gift for me underneath!

I took the following photos:

On left, Hitty wears her bonnet. In this photo, it has been removed.

Hitty's black molded hair has a double row of curls.

In a profile photo, Hitty's curls are seen better, including the spit curl on this side of her face.  On the other side of her face, is another spit curl.

Hitty shows off her shapely legs and painted-on black boots.
As usual, I am thoroughly impressed with Gloria's work and I am in love with my newest Hitty. I own others, but by far, this Hitty is the best one yet!

Mini painting of woman/girl with child/doll
As a surprise, Gloria sent a mini painting with separate black easel stand.  The painting and easel were enclosed in a mesh drawstring gift bag, as shown above.

The wooden easel is painted black.

The mini 4 x 4-inch, brightly colored painting of a woman/girl with a girl/doll is signed GYR.
I love the painting and easel and truly appreciate Gloria's generosity and her artistic talent.


*Hitty dolls, which are usually handmade and carved of wood, are based on the ash wood character in the 1929 children’s novel, Hitty, Her First Hundred Years, written by Rachel Field.  The doll in the book was carved by an old peddler for a little girl named Phoebe Preble.  The book “won the Newbery Medal for excellence in American children's literature in 1930…  It details Hitty's adventures, [in her own voice], as she becomes separated from the Prebles and travels… over the course of a century [by way of several different owners]. She ends up living in locations as far-flung as New Orleans, India, and the South Pacific.  At various times, she is lost deep under the sea and also under cushions, abandoned in a hayloft, serves as part of a snake-charmer's act, and meets the famous writer Charles Dickens, before finally ending up in an antique shop in New York City among other, fancier dolls of porcelain and wax. There Hitty is purchased and taken to her new owner's summer home in Maine, which turns out to be the original Preble residence where she first lived.” [,_Her_First_Hundred_Years]

While writing this post, I located a 132-page PDF of Hitty, Her First Hundred Years.  Read it if you'd like and enjoy the original Hitty's travels.

Check out my eBay listings here.


Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Black Crissy Grow-Hair Family

Black Ideal Crissy Family, L-R:  Beautiful Crissy, Tressy, Velvet, Tara, Cinnamon

In 2009, I wrote an article, entitled "Ideal's Black Crissy Family," which was published in the December 2009, Issue 22 of Doll Showcase Magazine.  Recently, after rephotographing some of my Crissy and family dolls, I realized I had not blogged much about them.  This post serves to rectify this and will include excerpts from the aforementioned article (actually almost all of it) with a few minor additions.

The Crissy grow-hair family is one of my favorite mod-era doll collections.  They include Beautiful Crissy, Tressy, Velvet, Tara and Cinnamon (shown above in the first photo).  Crissy and Tressy are 18in/46cm while Velvet and Tara are 15-1/2in/39cm.  Cinnamon, the cutest (in my opinion) and smallest family member, is 12in/30.5cm.  Each doll has a center grow-hair mechanism, which is activated by twisting a knob or pulling a string in its back to shorten its center ponytail and depressing a button on its stomach to lengthen it.  A few years after my adult doll search commenced, I was fortunate to find mint or near mint Crissy family dolls dressed in their original or authentic extra fashions.  

Ideal made several versions of the Crissy doll.  These include:

  • 1969 Beautiful Crissy with hair that grows to the floor, also referred to as “Hair-to-Floor” Crissy, wears an apple green lace dress with matching panties and apple green shoes.
  • 1970 Beautiful Crissy wears the 1969 outfit but her hair only grows to just below her bottom.
  • 1971 Movin' Groovin' Crissy has a swivel waist and wears an orange midi-length dress with brown and orange rope belt, orange panties made of the same fabric as the dress, orange boots with mock laces.
  • 1972 Look Around Crissy wears a long green plaid taffeta dress, matching panties, and green shoes.  Appropriately named, when her pull string is extended, she turns from side to side and “looks around.”
  • 1973 Swirla Curla Crissy is dressed in an orange and white plaid dress, white panties, and orange Mary Jane shoes.
  • 1974 Twirly Beads Crissy wears a pink gingham, full-length dress, white panties, and white Mary Jane shoes.
  • 1977 Magic Hair Crissy has Velcro hair attachments instead of a grow-hair mechanism.  Her original outfit is a white camisole, pink sateen skirt, and white mules.
  • 1982 Country Fashion Crissy, at 15 inches tall, shrank 3 inches and her face changed!  Perhaps in an attempt to exhaust remaining quantities, Ideal used the Velvet face mold and body for this Crissy. The doll wears a pink gingham dress, white socks and shoes, and straw hat.  Instead of a tummy button and knob, the grow hair operates with a pull string.
  • 1982-1983 Beautiful Crissy returned with the Velvet face and body dressed in a white, lace-trimmed dress and white shoes.  Unlike Velvet, this Crissy has brown eyes with pupils.
  • 1983 Country Fashion Crissy reappeared wearing a lavender gingham dress, straw hat, white socks and shoes.  The Velvet face and body molds were used once again, but the brown vinyl complexion noticeably darkened.
1969 Beautiful Crissy with hair that extends to her bottom (this one is not the hair-to-floor version.)
1971 Movin' Groovin' Crissy is shown with another Crissy doll that wears the White doll's orange lace dress and orange shoes.
These are two preloved Crissy dolls purchased prior to finding the NRFB Beautiful Crissy.  The one on the left wears a Look-Around Crissy dress with blue Crissy shoes.  The doll on the right wears a handmade off-white dress with attached lace apron.

Magic Hair Crissy is not a true grow-hair doll; as indicated previously, she has hair pieces that attach with Velcro.

Magic Hair Crissy in original box is for sale on Etsy, in case anyone is interested.

Tressy, on left, wears Swirla Curla Crissy's dress with white shoes.  Tressy, on right, wears her original dress, a replica of her original headband, and black shoes.
Black Tressy was added to the Crissy family in 1971 having been preceded by her White counterpart a year earlier.  Black Tressy was a 1971 Sears Wish Book exclusive, sold only as a Black doll.  A White doll was featured in the Sears Wish Book as Posin' Tressy.  Black Tressy wears an orange and white geometric-print dress and headband and black shoes.  Because she was a catalogue-exclusive, Black Tressy is much harder to find today than Black Crissy and usually commands a higher price.

While Crissy has black pupil-less eyes, Tressy's eyes are brown with visible black pupils as illustrated in the next head shot photo of Crissy and Tressy.

Crissy and Tressy eye comparison

Black Velvet, Crissy's cousin, debuted in 1970 wearing a lavender dress and lavender shoes.  The doll is often found wearing the White version’s purple corduroy dress.  

Velvet wears a replica of her original lavender corduroy dress with original white lace-up mules.  Velvet on the right wears the Ideal tagged fashion, Ruffled Up.

There were several versions of Black Velvet.  The first two dolls mentioned below, have the same functionality as the Crissy dolls of the same name.

  • 1971 Movin' Groovin’ Velvet wears a pink party dress, matching panties and purple shoes.
  • 1972 Look Around Velvet is dressed in a plaid taffeta dress similar to Look Around Crissy’s dress, matching panties, and white shoes.
  • 1973 Beauty Braider Velvet wears a pale lavender dress with matching velvet sash, matching panties, and lavender shoes.
  • 1974 Swirly Daisies Velvet’s attire consists of a purple/lavender/pink/white plaid dress with white bodice, matching panties, and lavender shoes. 
  • 1981 Velvet, the final issue, wears a white lace-trimmed dress with pink ribbon at waist and white shoes.  This doll has a pull string instead of a belly button and knob.
I featured the 1981 reissue of Velvet in my first book along with the Magic Hair Crissy I am selling. A scan of that entry is shown next.
Scan of page 148, Definitive Guide to Collecting Black Dolls

In 1976 Tara, promoted as “The Authentic Black Doll with Hair That Grows!” made her debut.  Tara is the only doll in the Ideal grow-hair family that did not share a face mold with any other member, Black or White.  Her facial features were described as “authentic” or ethnically correct.
1976 Tara with original box
Tara wears a yellow gingham pants set and yellow shoes.  One side of her colorful box features a beautiful African-American girl holding a Tara doll.   It is reported that some collectors do not consider Tara an “authentic” Ideal Crissy family member, while others feel her grow-hair mechanism and size give her Crissy family rights.  Family member or not, Tara ranks as one of the most difficult Black grow-hair dolls to find.  Because of her rarity, a mint condition doll usually commands top dollar, even in a fledgling economy.

1973 Cinnamon, Velvet's little sister

Cinnamon, Velvet's little sister, debuted in 1973, a year after the White doll’s debut.   Her original outfit is an orange polka-dot short set with a white lace-trimmed collar and orange shoes.  In 1974, Curly Ribbons Cinnamon joined the family.  This doll wears the same outfit from the prior year and has an extra denim short coverall with yellow gingham blouse.  Black Cinnamon is also an elusive Crissy family member, which inflates her value.

My all-original Cinnamon is redressed in this photo in peach overalls, peach headband with orange knit top and orange knit shoulder bag with chain shoulder strap.  She wears her original shoes.  The doll on the right wears a cute homemade overall fashion with yellow shoes.  Cinnamon has painted eyes whereas all other Black Crissy family members have stationary, acrylic eyes.

Baby Crissy, the original 1973 doll and the reissued 1981 version

Baby Crissy, while not as popular as the other girls, is also a member of the Crissy grow-hair family.  She made her debut in 1973 and resurfaced in 1981.  Except for the clothing and slight difference in vinyl color and texture, it is difficult to tell the two versions apart.  They are both 24in/61cm.   The original doll wears a mauve, two-piece, baby-doll outfit; the latter version wears a white romper trimmed in either green or yellow gingham.   The 1973 version has reddish brown vinyl which has a rubber-type consistency.   The 1981 doll’s firmer vinyl does not have the red tinge. 

While I own both versions of Baby Crissy, my favorites remain the core family members:  Black Crissy, Tressy, Velvet, Tara, and Cinnamon.  These mod dolls and their psychedelic colored fashions mimic fashions from my youth (dresses and skirts with lengths from one extreme to the other, bell-bottom pants, lace-up clogs, mules, floral and bold patterned fabrics, and other hippie-style attire).  They are reminiscent of a period in my life when dolls and doll play were a long forgotten pastime… when happiness, independence, and entering adulthood were my main objectives.  Now that I am a rather happy, independent, adult, dolls are my favorite diversion from adult responsibilities.

Check out my eBay listings here.


Saturday, August 20, 2016

Melody Ellison at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History

Nine-year-old Melody is growing up in Detroit in the mid-1960s, a time of great energy, optimism, and change for the African American community. She is a singer and loves to perform in church, with her family, and in her community. Her stories are set against the backdrop of the Civil Rights movement... and the music scene, including the success and popularity of Motown Records and its artists.

Melody Ellison is American Girl’s new BeForever character, whose story reflects the changing face and history of the nation during the Civil Rights Era... [From the American Girl website, Introducing Melody]

While others eagerly wait to purchase the third, 18-inch African American doll in American Girl's BeForever collection (formerly known as the Historical collection), American Girl Rewards members, who chose to preorder the special Melody Ellison package, have been first to receive their dolls.  Public sales for Melody launch online at the American Girl website and in American Girl stores on August 25, 2016.

Mini Melody Ellison is 6-1/2 inches tall

Others have taken advantage of ordering the mini version of Melody Ellison, which includes the mini doll and her mini abridged book, No Ordinary Sound.  My mini Melody was purchased from for $10.09 (a savings of $14.90 off retail).

Beginning today, Saturday, August 20, 2016, at 8 p.m., Melody will go on sale in the museum store of the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History in Detroit, Michigan.   The sale will extend through September 4, 2016, while quantities last.

As announced in a Charles H. Wright Museum Facebook post, Melody was given a personal tour of her hometown museum by Mama Jatu in the museum's rotunda on the Ring of Genealogy.  The tour was captured on video, which may take a few seconds to load, depending on your device.    Yesterday at the Wright, Melody visited the museum's exhibit, In the Paint:  Art, Athletics & the Spirit of the Games.  What a lucky girl!

Encouraging people to visit Detroit, Terry Crawford, President of Motor City Doll Club (MCDC) made the following comments regarding Melody's availability at the museum and other upcoming events in the "Motor City":

The museum shop will be offering Melody until the supply runs out so she may be available later. I don't know how many they have in supply! Perhaps a trip to the museum for the new exhibit, "I See ME: Reflections in Black Dolls" (September 20, 2016-April 30, 2017)? Come the weekend of November 12th and you could also attend the Detroit Doll Show put on by MCDC member Sandy Epps, ALSO at the museum!!
Oh.....and since Melody is an aspiring singer, why not visit The Motown Museum. It's the actual location where Motown had its first offices and recorded its early stars like The Temptations, Supremes, Smokey Robinson, etc!

The following adorable photo is from American Girl on Instagram:
Additional details about Melody's availability at the Wright are outlined here.

Check out my eBay listings here.