Saturday, December 1, 2012

Kerr & Hinz 1947 Model B

The title of this post probably sounds like the name of a car, but of course written by me, it's not about a car.   

4-inch Model B Kerr & Hinz bisque baby, circa 1940s

I purchased my first black-painted bisque Kerr & Hinz doll, shown above, from an eBay seller in 2008, which is when I learned the history of the Kerr & Hinz Peg o' My Heart Dolls.  The person from whom I purchased the baby had it painted a dark brown, almost black in color. She dressed it in a white organdy Christening gown with bonnet, cloth diaper pinned in the front, and white knit booties. 

According to their history, Kerr & Hinz dolls varied in size from 4-inch babies (like my Model B) to 7-inch, Nancy Ann Storybook type dolls.  The Santa Clara, California-based company is said to have manufactured dolls for the Nancy Ann Storybook Doll (NASBD) company prior to branching out and creating their own very similar, ready-to-be-painted Peg o' My Heart dolls.  They were later sued by NASBD during the 1950s for copyright infringement before discontinuing their doll business.

According to one Kerr & Hinz' 1940's brochure,
Women's organizations all over the country have used "Peg o' My Heart" dolls successfully in money-raising campaigns for their church, lodge or auxiliary.  A few minutes work transforms one of these little figures into a beautifully dressed doll that any little mother would love... a doll that will bring many times its cost at your bazaar or festival.  All women enjoy the thrill of creating diminutive costumes... here is a chance to turn that pleasure into real profit merely by utilizing spare time and odd pieces of material.  One church purchased 1000 dolls and made a net profit of $2000 for their building fund!...


In the late 1940s, the dolls retailed for $3.50 per dozen for Model B.  Model H (same doll as Model B) was sold with a wooden high chair originally for $7.20 per dozen.  The Miss Peg o' My Heart 7-inch dolls sold nude for $5.40 per dozen, and dressed, they sold from $7.20 per dozen (that's only 60 cents per doll!).

My original Kerr & Hinz doll  (shown in the first image) was found among other unpainted K&H dolls in an abandoned building in Santa Clara, California during the 1970s.  Had she and the others been there for over 20 years waiting to be rediscovered? 

A copy of an original Kerr & Hinz brochure accompanied my original Model B baby. 

K&H Miss Peg 'o My Heart painted brown and dressed by eBay seller

I purchased two of the 7-inch Peg o' My Heart dolls from the seller of my original K&H baby.  The 7-inch dolls were painted dark brown and have black mohair wigs.  The seller dressed them to my specifications.  I kept the one shown above and gave the other to a friend.  The 7-inch K&H dolls do resemble Nancy Ann Storybook dolls.  It is understandable why NASBD sued K&H.

An original 1940s K&H brochure accompanied my newest K&H "brown" Model B baby.
Close-up of tan K&H Model B baby

Last month, I added another K&H Model B baby to my collection.  It was described by the seller as a black/brown bisque baby but in fact is actually tan.  The seller indicated she purchased it 20 years ago from an estate sale in San Jose, California.  The new baby arrived to me in its original white box with blue hearts print design, tucked inside its original pink fleece bunting.  The seller also sent an original Kerr & Hinz brochure.  It is obvious that someone hand painted this little one tan as some of the unpainted bisque can be seen in the jointed areas.  Could it have been painted by a member of a women's organization and sold during a fund raising event during the 1940s, or was it hand painted by the owner of the estate from which it was purchased?   I will probably never know.

More information about Kerr & Hinz dolls can be read at the following links:
http://www.hersmine.com/Kerr_&_Hinz_Bisque_dolls.htm
http://www.jdcjr.us/index3.html (Scroll down to the "Juster" paragraph -- there are six paragraphs in total about the owners of the Kerr & Hinz Company.)

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3 comments:

  1. Very interesting history. I can imagine what fun it would have been to work with a committee of women painting and dressing these dolls for fundraisers!

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  2. My grandmother purchased a bunch of these dolls and dressed them in crochet outfits. I have since inherited the remaining dolls and babies. I plan to restore any dried bands and give these dolls some hair for the "mommy" dolls as I refer to them and dress the babies up as well. I hope I make my grandmother proud. I think my mother has a high chair. My grandmother had purchased a huge lot, dressed them and sold them as a hobby.

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    1. Thanks for sharing your plan to restore the dolls you inherited from your grandmother. Best wishes in bringing those babies back to life.

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