Tuesday, September 25, 2012

This Dy Dee Baby Had a Purpose

During the fall of 2011, I was contacted by a woman attempting to sell her mother's several-year doll collection that included an extensive amount of black dolls.  The woman informed me that she had purchased a copy of my second book for her mother in 2008.  I recalled the purchase, because as a long-time doll collector, I knew of her mother and had actually purchased some of my first Crissy dolls from this woman during the 1990s.  The doll collecting world is very small.

The daughter shared a spreadsheet list of her mother's dolls.  Several caught my attention.  I purchase one that I had desired for several years, Kenner's Gabbigale.   Included on the list was a doll described as a 1950s Effanbee Dy-Dee Baby.  I was very interested in that one and asked the seller to provide a picture.  Unfortunately, that doll had been boxed up in preparation for an upcoming live auction that was planned for her mother's dolls.  In the meantime, I scoured my doll reference books to try to locate information on a 1950s black Dy-Dee baby by Effanbee, to no avail.  No one had yet documented one. 

The auction took place almost a year ago, and according to the auctioneer and the daughter, it was not very successful.  The daughter then resorted to selling the remaining dolls on eBay and sent me an email to let me know this.  I watched for her black-doll listings and low and behold the "1950s Dy-Dee Baby" was listed.    Knowing full well that the doll was not from the 1950s after I saw the image, I still wanted it.  I recognized it as being possibly from the 1960s or 1970s.  I emailed the seller about my desire for the doll and she was kind enough to change the listing to a buy it now for me to purchase.

My Dy Dee upon arrival

After the baby arrived, redressed by her former owner in a red and white infant's dress and disposable diaper, I gave her a thorough examination before giving her a good wash.  Upon removing her diaper, I noticed what I thought at first to be A-B-C gum on her left buttock (already-been-chewed).  Closer examination disclosed this to be a rubber stopper that covered a hole.  "Now why does this doll have a hole in her butt?" I wondered.

Online research and additional reference book research, specifically Effanbee a Collector's Encyclopedia 1949-Present by John Axe (Hobby House Press, 1983) confirmed that the doll is from the 1970s and was distributed by Effanbee to teaching institutions as Dy Dee Educational Doll from 1971-1976.

With an image of the black and white versions on page 151 of his book, Axe describes the doll as follows:
Dy Dee Educational Doll from the 1973 Effanbee Doll Corporation catalog.  All-vinyl and fully-jointed with air-tight joints and valves.  Molded hair; sleep eyes with lashes.  This doll was offered from 1971 to 1976 as "the perfect doll for pre-natal education and is being used by child-care centers and the Red Cross all over the world."  The doll could drink from her bottle or be spoon-fed "just like a real baby."
Axe included Effabee catalog listings for several years in his book.  The 1971 catalog includes the following for Dy Dee Educational  Doll:
5700     Dressed in cotton shirt and diaper.  Has bottle, spoon, pacifier and Q-tips.
5700B  Same as the above as a black doll. 

Axe listed the doll's height as 20in (50.8cm).  My doll's actual head-to-toe measurement is 21in (53.3cm).

This doll is discussed online on page 2 of Drink and Wet Babies Part 1 as follows:
The Dy-Dee doll had another use besides that of a child's play doll. The large life-size Dy-Dee was promoted as"the perfect doll for pre-natal education, used by nursing classes, by Red Cross, Boards of Education, and Child Care Organizations the World Over." The1970s all vinyl large doll measures 21in(53.3cm) and is a heavy, sturdily built doll. The well-molded ears have openings into the head. The legs and arms are jointed so as to facilitate realistic movements.
Valve and stopper on buttock

Thus, the hole in the doll's bottom was used in training healthcare personnel in the administration of immunizations or other injections to infants.  The ear canal openings facilitated otoscopic or ear exam practice.


While the black version is just a dark version of the white counterpart, as continues to be the norm in many doll cases where both versions are made, fewer black versions of this doll were made and I am certain that few have survived.  I would love to know how the former owner acquired her doll, but that will probably remain a mystery since she is no longer with us.

Effanbee's Dy Dee Educational Doll redressed now by me

I am happy that I know the doll's given name and her purpose.  I am even happier to have her with me. 

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20 comments:

  1. Two great vintage doll mysteries solved in one week! You are on a roll!

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    1. Thanks, Zendelle.

      Don't you just love it when this happens?

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  2. Great that you were able to get the facts about your doll. Debbie, you are a true doll enthusiast. : ). You get to (as my Mom would have put it) "the nitty gritty" of it. Your post was very informative. Thanks! I love her cute little outfit in the last pic.

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    1. Thanks, G.G. Glad you enjoyed this.

      All dolls have at least one story to tell and that's the one documenting their origin. Multiple stories are created thereafter by each dolls' owner (told or untold) but that original story, to me, is the most important.

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  3. Wow another interesting discovery in your dolly world!!Congratzzz!!:D
    Your posts are always full of info abt a rare doll,which is amazing!!

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    1. Hi Pam,

      Thanks for reading and comment. I am glad you're learning about dolls that were otherwise unknown to you.

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  4. Very interesting history. I wonder if the black Dy Dee Babies were used in countries/ communities where the majority population were people of color?

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    1. During the 1970s, I would think the dolls were used wherever teaching infant care was needed. However, it may have been at the institutions' discretion which ones were used/ordered.

      This is definitely something to ponder.

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  5. Hello from Spain: congratulations on your new baby doll. She is very cute. I had not seen before. Keep in touch

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    1. Thank you, Marta for the congratulations. She is a cute life-size baby.

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  6. Very interesting doll...she is sweet too...blessings

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  7. This makes me recall my sister's dolls of our youth that used to drink and pee. They had one that at the time I thought was weird, but I guess was par for the course. Its mouth would suckle when you put the bottle in it and it came with packets to put in the water so that when it peed it would be yellow. I don't think they had any that you could actually feed stuff to.

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    1. Muff was your sister's doll the first editions of Baby Alive? I had one in the '70s. She could eat, drink, and poop. I can still see the poop. I loved that doll! They have Baby Alives out now, but they are so ugly compared to the ones from the 70s.

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    2. Other than my Cher doll and my sister's Mrs. Beasley and a Raggedy Ann, I don't remember the names of the other dolls. I am postive though that their doll did not eat. It had a tiny hole in the mouth where you would put the bottle. And believe me, if it pooped I dang sho would have remembered that!

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    3. My sister had the 1st Baby Alive. It made a chewing motion when a spoon was placed in or at its mouth. There was a divided plate of fake food that included fake green peas. It was a blonde blue eyed doll with a square shaped head that wasn't cute to me. I dont recall its eliminating function but it probably had the drink and wet feature.

      The current Baby Alives are scary ugly.

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    4. I just watched a Youtube commerical for the original Baby Alive. I think I have confused another one of my sister's dolls (the one with the square head) with Baby Alive. My sister did have the original Baby Alive, too. The orignal Baby Alive is cute; the other doll I mentioned was not. Now I'm wondering what that doll's name is.

      Until now, I didn't know there was a black version of the original 1973 Baby Alive.

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    5. Okay... as I am working this morning, I still have the square-headed doll on my mind and I'm wondering if my sister really owned the original Baby Alive from 1973. I remember the doll's food clearly as well as her divided plate. But in 1973 my sister was 12 and never really was interested in dolls and certainly by then she was no longer playing with them. So I think my daughter had the 1980s version of Baby Alive (and of course her doll was black). This is probably why I remember that divided plate.

      I turned to Google and searched for "1960s Mattel dolls." The square headed doll that was my sisters was this doll (Cheerful Tearful).

      Now I can exhale, get dolls off my mind, and complete my work day.

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  8. When I initially read the title, I thought this is a post that might make me cry, so I skipped it with the intent to come back later. Nice story and great discovery!

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    1. Thanks Vanessa. You should be able to read the next post without crying ...

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