Friday, May 17, 2019

In Search of Nancy by Bella

Internet-found picture of side-glancing Nancy by Bella, 1966

Nancy by Bella, copyright 1966 uses the American Character Tressy body.  After American Character filed bankruptcy in 1968, the company was acquired by Ideal Toy Company and many companies purchased their doll molds.  The French doll company, Bella, is one such company.  Bella also continued to manufacture American Character’s Tressy (the original grow-hair fashion doll) using molds acquired from American Character.  See the Tressy Dolls by Bella link below.

I saw a headshot of Nancy in a Facebook doll Group.  The only information provided was the doll’s name.  I asked for additional information, but nothing was added.  I copied and saved the photo to my computer (like most doll enthusiasts are known to do when they see a doll they covet).  I also pinned the doll to my Barbie Clones Pinterest board thinking that Nancy was a clone of Barbie, which now I know she is not.


Michelle Obama gives some serious side-eye during the 2012 presidential handoff.

After a few weeks of viewing the saved photo, I mustered the nerve to post it to my doll Facebook group along with a photo of former First Lady Michelle Obama with the caption, “I would love to own this doll! A Barbie competitor that was probably made for the 1960s European doll market, her name supposedly is Nancy. I have never seen a doll [from this era] with lips this full and shaped as though she is slightly perturbed. (Reminds me of some of Michelle Obama's expressions at the [person] in the WH's inauguration when she later admitted she stopped trying to smile.) I initially thought the photo of ‘Nancy’ might have been photoshopped. I asked the poster [in the other group] to share the manufacturer's name, but there was no reply.”


White and Black versions of Nancy by Bella are described and valued in an unknown French doll reference book.

After a few days, one of my group’s members, who goes by Tammy Teej (of Curiositeej Dolls & Collectibles), shared the above image from a French publication which provides Nancy’s date of manufacture, the manufacturer’s name, and the country of origin (1966, Bella, France).  Woohoo!  I had been given a jumpstart to commence further research on Nancy.  Translated from French to English the text from the above scan reads:

Nancy (mid-length black hair version 1966) Very rare doll of 30 cm in black vinyl; head, arms and legs movable; non-folding legs; painted features; big mouth; black hair implants mid-length, without bangs and without wicks of hair that grows; straight legs.
Marks: Bella in a rectangle vertically on the neck.
Clothing of origin; a dress with multicolored triangles; pink, orange, yellow, blue and gray.
Value: 700 Euros and more in a box
500 Euros and more without box

Google searches for “Nancy doll by Bella of France 1966” resulted in several images of Tressy.  This is how I discovered that Nancy is not a Barbie competitor.  I briefly considered her next as a Tressy competitor, but other than using American Character Tressy’s original body, Nancy has her own head sculpt.  Like Tressy and Barbie, Nancy is 11-1/2-inches tall.  There are short-hair and long-hair versions of Nancy, first and second editions.   At the previous link, the short-hair version wears her original dress, which fits the description written in the French publication. 

Because of her beautiful head sculpt and fact that she reminds me of Former First Lady Michelle Obama, because I owned the original American Character  (AC) Tressy as a child (the white version) and now own a colorized version of AC’s Tressy, I would love to add Bella’s Nancy to my collection.  If you have one for sale or know someone who does, please let me know.  I am seriously on the lookout for Nancy by Bella.

Related Links:
Tressy Dolls by American Character:  http://www.tressydoll.com/page2.htm
Tressy Dolls by Bella: http://www.tressydoll.com/page3.htm
Curiositeej Dolls & Collectibles

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There are countless items to collect and write about. Black dolls chose me.
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Sunday, May 12, 2019

Happy Mother's Day!

Angelica by Philip Heath holds a reproduction Bonnie Lou by Terri Lee as Terri Lee's reproduction Patty-Jo stands below. All are redressed in Dollie and Me fashions.

🌸Wishing you a joy-filled...

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There are countless items to collect and write about. Black dolls chose me.
__________

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Friday, May 10, 2019

Acorn Wishes


Turkey and chicken bones

Out of necessity, due to lack of funds for purchasing dolls from merchants, or because of the combined skill and expertise of making things by hand, homemade dolls have been made since time immemorial.   Household items, found objects, and repurposed items were often used to create homemade dolls in the past. Said to date back to the Victorian era, turkey and chicken wishbones were often used to make wishbone dolls.  Nuts have often been used to make nut head dolls.  Household rags were used for clothing these dolls.


Acorns were used for the heads of my wishbone dolls

I began saving wishbones and acorns some time ago with the intent of making a few dolls from each, separately.  With extra time on my hands, I decided to combine the two materials (wishbones and acorns) to make what I call Acorn Wish Dolls, a father, a mother, and a baby.

What Was Done




  • Bodies were fashioned with air-dry clay.
  • With the clay bodies still moist, the acorns and wishbones were pressed into the top and bottom of the clay bodies.  Between the legs, from the front to the back of the bodies, a thin strip of clay was attached to keep the wishbones secure.
  • The clay was allowed to dry overnight.  


  • Feet/shoes were made using polymer clay.  The feet/shoes were allowed to dry for 24 hours.




  • Because the top of the chicken wishbone used for the baby projected forward, I knew that standing would be impossible.  Extra clay was added to the bottom of the body for this one to create buttocks for sitting.



  • After the clay dried, the bodies and legs were painted and allowed to dry.



  • Arms were fashioned using a brown pipe cleaner, which was cut the appropriate length for each doll.  Enough length for each was allowed so the ends could be bent inward to create the appearance of hands and to prevent pricking from the cut wire ends.  
  • The pipe-cleaner-arms were hot glued to the back of the bodies.



  • Simple faces were painted on next. 
  • After their shoes were painted, felt was used to hand stitch their clothing.
  • Finally, the top of the acorn (the hair) was painted.  Brown yarn was glued to the back of the mother's head to add length to her hair.  



Dad has black hair.  Black felt was used to make a black shirt and white felt was used for his pants. His shoes are black.

Mom has brown hair with strips of yarn added to the back and sides.  She wears a simple caftan-style black-and-white-patterned felt dress with a felt heart cutout glued to the neckline.

So that her red bottoms could be seen, Mom took this photo lying down.  Show off!

Baby's hair is black like Dad's.  Glue-on clothing is made of white felt and consists of a white bib and a white diaper.  A huge red felt heart decorates the bib.  The feet are painted white with tan soles.

The Acorn Wishes pose for a final picture.
Now that making wishbone and acorn dolls has been marked off my to-do list, I can move on to a couple of other long-overdue doll projects hopefully before my free time diminishes.

For additional information about wishbone dolls, google "wishbone dolls" and "wishbone pen wipers."  The latter type was used to wipe off extra ink from dip or nib pens during the 1800s.  An interesting article about wishbone dolls can be read here.  If you have a copy of the Fall 2015 issue of UFDC's Doll News, the article, "The Peculiar World of Wishbone Dolls" by Gae Ward will be an informative read.

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There are countless items to collect and write about. Black dolls chose me.
__________

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