Monday, August 15, 2011

Horsman's Controversial New Arrival Dolls

Li'l Ruthie and Li'l David by Horsman, 1975
My blog post of August 7, 2011, included four doll controversies with image and/or information links to three of the controversial dolls mentioned.  I promised to share additional information about Horsman's 1975 dolls, New Arrival Li'l David and Li'l Ruthie in a subsequent post.  This is that post. 

I purchased this pair of dolls during the 1990s, shortly after I began collecting, in response to a dolls-for-sale ad placed in Collectors United.  I telephoned the elderly (based on the feebleness of her voice), former owner to inquire about their availability.  She was surprised that I had no prior knowledge of  Li'l David and Li'l Ruthie.  She explained to me that they were the first anatomically correct dolls manufactured by Horsman for the play market.  I agreed to purchase the dolls, sight unseen, based on her description of the dolls and the history she provided.

Because of the correctness of their anatomy (and it is very correct), Horsman knew that some parents might be opposed to their children being so informed through doll play.   

The top flap of Li'l Ruthie's box reads:

New Arrival Li'l Ruthie

(Li'l David's box flap reads the same with the exception that "GIRL" is replaced by "BOY."

The asterisk leads the reader to the warning Horsman included on the lower front of the box to no doubt  eliminate any parental backlash the dolls may have created.  The warning reads:

*This doll has true-to-life features which differentiates little girls from little boys.  For those who feel they do not want their children to be aware of this difference we do not recommend this doll.
This was a clever move by Horsman, one of America's oldest doll companies, having begun operation in the US in 1865.  Horsman is one of the earliest American manufacturers of black dolls (Black Baby Bumps, 1911, being one of their early black-doll products).

More About Li'l David and Li'l Ruthie

Li'l David and Li'l Ruthie  are 13-1/2in (34.29cm) dolls with a one-piece, stuffed-vinyl body.  They have panted hair and painted brown eyes.  With the exception of their different anatomy and outfits, the dolls are identical. 

Li'l David wears a blue and white gingham shirt and diaper that has a front button closure. 

Li'l Ruthie's dress is pink and white gingham.  She has a matching bonnet.  Her diaper also has a front button closure.   Each doll has a pacifier, rattle, and bathing sponge.

An added extra for the little owner is a punch-out birth certificate on the back of each doll's box.

Li'l David and Li'l Ruthie were designed by Irene Szor, who designed dolls for Horsman from 1957 through 1986. 




  1. I went back to the post from 8/7 to see the other controversies. I remember my first anatomically correct doll. He is still downstairs. I am drawing a blank on the company right now.

    Never heard of the Snacktime Cabbage Patch, but I must admit I cracked up when I read about it. I am still cracking up. The thought of plastic food dumping into a backpack was funny. Then add the out of control chewing mechanism and you have the makings of a great horror show.

    As for the pregnant Midge, they were only taken off the major retail shelves. They were still readily available at regular doll stores, but I am sure you knew that.

  2. Yesterday I had to move some dolls to allow cable to hook up a connection in the doll room. I discovered another anatomically correct doll that I had forgotten I owned and another pregnant doll. There were several others that I had long forgotten.

    Now you have me laughing about the CPK dolls' feature. It's sad that the designers did not think to include an off switch or a reverse mechanism for the little munchkins. I hope there were not many children traumatized by the little critters. I have two (purchased after the controversy arose).

    Yes, I know some stores allowed Midge to remain on the shelves. She and Allan were another purchase for me after the initial controversy.


  3. When I moved from North Carolina to Sweden in 1994, my boyfriend and I stayed with his parents for a while. Harri's mom was a daycare provider (now retired) so there were lots of playtoys in their home. Anyway, I was a bit surprised (but not upset) to see that all the Swedish dolls are anatomically correct. Here that is considered to be normal and no big deal.

    1. Itsbugart - Thanks for sharing this bit of doll information with me and the readers of this blog.



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