Monday, July 19, 2010

Tiny Brown Treasures

Googly-Type Dolls

Various shades of brown have been used throughout the history of doll making to manufacture dark-skinned dolls representing a variety of ethnicities.

This morning before returning dolls to a built-in shelf, I decided to photograph one group and share their images here. These five dolls share similar face molds. All have side-glancing, googly-type eyes. Some have stationary eyes while some have sleep (open-close) eyes. They all stand approximately 6 in (15.24 cm). The three center dolls are dressed as Native Americans with real leather costumes glued to their bodies.  Their costumes cover any manufacturer’s marks. The one in light blue has a Mohawk hairstyle. The two nude dolls’ differences are their marks, eyes, skin tone, and the color of their molded-on socks and shoes. The one on the far left is marked:

KNICKERBOCKER
PLASTIC CO.
GLENDALE, CALIF.
DES. PAT.
PEND.

The far left one’s socks are painted blue. The googly-type eyes are stationary.

The one on the far right is unmarked, has sleep eyes, unpainted socks and shoes, and a reddish undertone to the brown used for its complexion.

Many companies made these dolls. In addition to Knickerbocker, Plastic Molded Arts Co. made a version.

I began and probaby concluded the purchase of these dolls in the late 1990s.  I do not recall where I purchased the nude ones. The dressed ones were purchased separately.  Each one was included in a plastic bag of miscellaneous toys, purchased because they were in the bags.  I might have paid $3.95 or less for each bag of toys at a local thrift shop.

Based on their hard plastic medium, these separately marketed and purchased quintuplets are probably from the late-1950s to early-1960s. Because of their age, they often have issues with their arms caused by a break or stretch in the rubber band used to string them. The one in the burgundy top arrived without arms. For that one, I used the arms of a similar-sized vinyl doll as replacements.

They are back on their display shelf with similar-sized, brown dolls that represent a variety of dark-skinned ethnicities—African, African American, Hawaiian, and a few additional Native American dolls. When grouped together, these are the cutest of the bunch. Their cuteness inspired this blog.

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