Monday, May 16, 2011

Doll Collector Seeks Info on Amos 'n Andy Dolls

After receiving the following email (next paragraph) without images, I asked the owner of these dolls (Amos, on left; Andy, on right) to forward images of the dolls in question.  I was not able to provide additional information beyond what the collector already knows about these circa 1930s-1940s, 14-inch composition advertising dolls, but offered to share the images and the information  that she has obtained about them thus far.  (Click on images to enlarge in a new window.)

I own a pair of Amos and Andy composition head dolls with cloth bodies. They have clothes and small paper tags stamped with "Hello Folks I'se Andy". The other says "Howdy Folks I'se Amos". Makers Gerlins Toy Co. New York. I have researched some and cannot find any information on these dolls. Please let me know if you can help me as to value and where and if I could sell them. Thank you. V. Meier

On the dolls' paper tags, the maker's name is spelled "Gerling" with a "g" on the end. The Andy doll has a cigar in its mouth, which was often the case for the character, Andy Brown, played by actor, Spencer Williams, on the Amos 'n Andy TV show. 

Both dolls have suffered a considerable amount of crazing to their composition exteriors (crisscross cracks and lifting of the surface), which is clearly visible in the close-up image of Andy. 

Additionally, Ms. Meier shared a 1990s reply she received from a doll publication after requesting information about the dolls.  The publication suggested the dolls were made by the Gerling Toy Co. in New York (instead of Gerlins as Meier spelled it in her correspondence to them).  According to the publication, Gerling was "listed from 1912 to 1930 and later. The firm is known to have made character dolls, black dolls, and composition dolls." They added, "Amos 'n Andy were leading characters in a radio comedy show that premiered in 1928 and ran through the 1940s. It became a television series on CBS from 1951 to 1953. The show lived on in reruns until 1966, when opposition to black stereotypes forced it off the air. The characters inspired a number of toys. Your dolls probably date from the 1930s to the 1940s." The reference sources cited by the publication were Collector's Encyclopedia of Dolls, Vol.2 by Dorothy, Elizabeth, and Evelyn Coleman (Crown, NY, c1986); The Collector's Encyclopedia of Black Dolls by Patikii and Tyson Gibbs (Collector Books, Paducah, KY, c1987); and Prime-Time Television by Fred and Stan Goldstein (Crown, NY, c1983).

Amos' tag reads: 
Howdy Folks!
Gerling Toy Co
New York

Ms. Meier did not share an image of Andy's tag, but indicated it reads the same as Amos' with the exception that Andy's tag contains Andy's name.  As the dolls' paper tags read, they were indeed manufactured by Gerling Toy Company of New York.  I have scoured my doll references: Black Dolls an Identification and Value Guide books 1 and 2 by Myla Perkins (Collector Books, Paducah, KY 1993 and 1995), and several other general-doll and composition doll reference books without finding these dolls documented.

Ms. Meier is attempting to assess a value and obtain additional information about these advertising/character dolls.  If you have seen dolls like these or have additional information about them, please share your knowledge as a comment.

Thanks in advance.



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