Friday, May 30, 2014

Sasha From Canada

16-inch Sasha doll with dark skin, brown eyes, and red hair by Sasha Morgenthaler

No this doll was not made in Canada.  She was most likely made by Trendon Ltd., Stockport England.  Doll artist and Facebook friend, Frantz Brent-Harris, creator of Sonadolls, found the above preloved Sasha at a flea market in Canada.  He offered her to the first taker for his cost plus shipping.  My new doll arrived the Saturday before Mother's Day as shown above.

I washed and rolled her hair, then treated a stain that I discovered on the side of her right leg.  See the following pictures for these details:
Sasha's auburn hair has been washed.
She sat still while her hair was sectioned and rolled.  I left the rods in until dressing took place some two weeks later.
Leg stain prior to Oxy-10 treatment.  The stain was faint, but I wanted to treat it.
Oxy-10 was applied and left on the stain for 7 days.
After 7 days, the leg stain faded some.  I applied additional Oxy-10 for another week.  More fading took place.  The stain is still visible but not enough to cause worry.

During Sasha's leg stain treatment, she remained nude.  At the end of treatment, I dressed her in the perfect dress, tights (that cover the leg imperfection), and shoes that were all on hand.

 Sasha shows off her lovely locks that were finger-combed.

Wearing the bolero jacket that matches the dress, Sasha has joined Sasha #108 who has been here since the summer of 2011.  The older doll arrived with her original white dress, which I cannot locate at present.  The two are now BFFs and display quite well together.

Shown below are Gotz babies Andrea (1996), a redhead; and brown-haired dolls Celina (1996), Christina (1997), and Toni (1999).  Like the 16- and 17-inch Sashas, the babies have dark caramel complexions. 

Ebony complexioned Sasha dolls and two brunettes with caramel complexions can be seen in a previous post. As a result of my new Sasha and this post, I purchased the book, Sasha Dolls:  The History by Anne Votaw, Ann Louise Chandler, and Susanna E. Lewis. 

What Are Sasha Dolls (from
Sasha dolls are a type and series of doll created by Swiss artist and dollmaker Sasha Morgenthaler (1893–1975), produced in Germany and the United Kingdom beginning in the late 1960s. Popular with collectors, Sasha dolls are characterized by their individualism, their realistic expressions, their unique color, and the extreme attention to detail in the manufacture of the dolls as well as their clothes. It is said by Juliette Peers that: "Sasha dolls are renowned for possessing a solid intellectuality, despite their bizarre origins as representations of holocaust victims."[1] Morganthaler created face sculpts for her dolls with subtle expressions to not dictate artificially exaggerated smiles, her concern that children surviving the horrors of WWII would not relate to dolls so happy in times of terror. Morganthaler, herself, "When she was sad, she did not like her dolls uncompromising smiles. Once she grabbed a nail file and scraped off her doll's false grin..." In her own words, "No grotesque caricature can awaken a child's true feelings. A piece of wood, barely carved, is far superior to a conventional doll with an exaggerated smile."[2]  Read more.
1. Mitchell & Reid-Walsh (2008). Girl Culture: An encyclopedia. p. 29.
2. Votaw & Chandler & Lewis (2011). Sasha Dolls, The History. p. 10.


Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Playscale Fashion Dolls and American Girl Minis

Left-to-right, back-to-front are 11-1/2-inch fashion dolls and 6-inch Mini American Girls:  Janay and Kaya; Desiree and 25th Anniversary Special Edition Cecilé Ray; Grace and Christmas Addy, Kayla and Original Addy.  Note:   Original Mini Addy has inset eyes.  All others have painted eyes. 

After reading a post over at Fashion Dolls at Van's Doll Treasures where she uses mini American Girl (AG) Cecilé as the daughter in her Morgan family, I paired the mini AGs in my collection with 11-1/2-inch fashion dolls. While I do not create doll families, I wanted to further illustrate for those of you who do that the mini dolls can work quite well as playscale children.

Because most mini AG dolls wear period costumes and have period hairstyles that date back to the 1700s (Kaya), redressing and restyling the hair will be in order for many.  Original Addy's hair is wigged.  All others have rooted hair.  Kaya's two side braids remain a current hairstyle for young girls.  A photo of the other dolls' hair from the back is shown next.

Cecilé's hairstyle is relatively current.  Christmas Addy has a pulled back and tucked under braid that is timeless.  Original Addy's French braid looks a little old fashioned. 

The heads, arms, and legs are vinyl. As Cecilé illustrates above, they have cloth bodies.  The dolls retail for $24, which includes a mini abridged version of one of their books. 

At the time of this writing, the following minis are on sale at the American Girl website:

Caroline Mini Doll $10
Marie-Grace Mini Doll $10
Cecilé Mini Doll $10

The sale price is subject to change at AG's discretion.

If there is an American Girl store in your area, check the price there to possibly save on shipping and have fun creating your doll families or fun just enjoying the dolls.


Monday, May 26, 2014

About This Blog's Facelift

This is a formal thank you to those of you who commented on this blog's new banner.  I truly appreciate your positive remarks.  While I enjoyed and still do love the previous image of the little girl clutching dolls she loves, it was time for a change. 

When the opportunity presented itself for me to benefit from the artistic genius of Son of Ellis, initially I had no idea how I would utilize this particular image.  My author page on Facebook was my first thought, but then it seemed more appropriate for the image to be placed here since I am a real-live female who still clutches her dolls from time to time.

Image from the article, "Faces of Change," Dallas Morning News, September 25, 2004 - photograph by Mei-Chun Jau/DMN Staff Photographer

The Back Story
In 2004, I met Dallas Morning News reporter, Aline McKenzie, who covered a doll exhibit I participated in at the African American Museum.  Other participants included Georgette Taylor of Big Beautiful Dolls, Inc., and "Our Man Downtown," Commissioner John Wiley Price, who is also a doll collector.  At the museum, Ms. McKenzie visited my table and expressed her interest in interviewing me.  Our chance meeting culminated in the full-page article, "Faces of Change," in The Dallas Morning News, September 25, 2004.  Along with another photograph taken by DMN staff photographer, Mei-Chun Jau, the original of the photo that now serves as the banner of this blog was used in the article.

Snapshot of the article, "Faces of Change"

Thank you again for the positive comments on the blog's facelift and a huge thank you again to Bobby Ellis Jones (Son of Ellis) for transforming what I have always viewed as an unfavorable photograph of me (the dolls photographed beautifully) into a vibrant work of art! 


Friday, May 23, 2014

A Just Because Gift

Beautiful white dress and photo of dolls in background wearing dresses using the same material

Last year's birthday gift from me to me will be a year old in June.  Smiling Debbie (Smilling Debbie) arrived a couple of weeks after last year's birthday.  She made her first appearance on the blog here.

Smiling Debbie has been redressed a few times but has not enjoyed a redress since the Christmas season of 2013.  I recently shared photos with fellow collectors and made a note during the share that she was long overdue for a redress.

This past Wednesday, which was my birthday, I visited the post office to retrieve mail and was pleasantly surprised by a package.  The contents consisted of a letter, a photograph, a gorgeous white dress sewn from the most beautiful ribbon-accented fabric, a length of yellow ribbon as an extra sash, and a pair of white lace anklet.

Dress with blue sash, white lace anklets, and photo of two of Betty Ativie's dolls

The package was from doll friend, Betty Ativie, who made the dress without the use of a store-bought pattern.  Her letter indicated she made dresses from the same material for her favorite doll, Leleti (by Annette Himstedt) and Janelle (a Lorna Miller Sands creation) and had enough fabric left to make one more.   The dress I received was the additional dress.  Betty ended her letter by writing, "I hope you will enjoy this 'Just Because' gift."

I read the letter while seated in my car on the post office parking lot.  After admiring the dress,  I immediately knew who would be the lucky recipient.  So I rushed home to "play dolls."  What a perfect way to spend the afternoon of the anniversary of my birth.

After Smiling Debbie's redress, I telephoned Betty to thank her for her kindness.  She had no idea that day was my birthday.  We were both fascinated by the coincidence of her making the dress and it arriving when it did.  We both agreed the act was inspired by God.  She said, "He wanted you to have that dress!" 

Since Smiling Debbie did not have shoes to complement her new dress, I traced her barefoot on a piece of card stock to create a pattern before going shoe shopping later that day. 

Tracing of Smiling Debbie's foot, which was used to measure shoes for her extra wide feet.

At the store, the tracing served as the doll's foot.  I was able to insert the tracing inside shoes to ensure a proper fit.  I already knew she would require a toddler size 6, but due to the width of her foot, unless the shoe is a wide cut, not any size 6 will fit.  I found white ballerina style shoes at Marshall's.  A day later, I purchased an extra pair of infant's lace ankle socks.

After the redress, Smiling Debbie took the following photos to share.
A grosgrain ribbon rose accents the toe of Smiling Debbie's new shoes. She holds the anklets Betty sent, which are too small for her.
She models her new dress, shoes, and anklets while holding Anisha by Heidi Plusczok.
The yellow ribbon sash prompted an exchange in doll companions from Anisha to Jamilla by Wendy Lawton.
The final photograph was taken outside with a brown bear companion who has lost one of his yellow slippers somewhere in the doll room.
Isn't this dress lovely? 

Thank you again, Betty for your thoughtful generosity and for brightening my day.  Smiling Debbie thanks you, too!


Thursday, May 22, 2014

eBay Hacked! Change Your Password!

eBay was hacked over two months ago.  If you have an account, please change your eBay password immediately.

The following is copied from the eBay Inc. blog dated May 21, 2014:
eBay Inc. (Nasdaq: EBAY) said beginning later today it will be asking eBay users to change their passwords because of a cyberattack that compromised a database containing encrypted passwords and other non-financial data. After conducting extensive tests on its networks, the company said it has no evidence of the compromise resulting in unauthorized activity for eBay users, and no evidence of any unauthorized access to financial or credit card information, which is stored separately in encrypted formats. However, changing passwords is a best practice and will help enhance security for eBay users.
Information security and customer data protection are of paramount importance to eBay Inc., and eBay regrets any inconvenience or concern that this password reset may cause our customers. We know our customers trust us with their information, and we take seriously our commitment to maintaining a safe, secure and trusted global marketplace.
Cyberattackers compromised a small number of employee log-in credentials, allowing unauthorized access to eBay’s corporate network, the company said. Working with law enforcement and leading security experts, the company is aggressively investigating the matter and applying the best forensics tools and practices to protect customers.
The database, which was compromised between late February and early March, included eBay customers’ name, encrypted password, email address, physical address, phone number and date of birth. However, the database did not contain financial information or other confidential personal information. The company said that the compromised employee log-in credentials were first detected about two weeks ago. Extensive forensics subsequently identified the compromised eBay database, resulting in the company’s announcement today.
The company said it has seen no indication of increased fraudulent account activity on eBay. The company also said it has no evidence of unauthorized access or compromises to personal or financial information for PayPal users. PayPal data is stored separately on a secure network, and all PayPal financial information is encrypted.
Beginning later today, eBay users will be notified via email, site communications and other marketing channels to change their password. In addition to asking users to change their eBay password, the company said it also is encouraging any eBay user who utilized the same password on other sites to change those passwords, too. The same password should never be used across multiple sites or accounts.

eBay Blog
Google search on this topic

I learned about this on Facebook in a status update from Bobby Jones (Son of Ellis).  Thanks again Bobby for the heads up! On eBay's home page there is an "important password update" message link.


Monday, May 19, 2014

Things Fall Apart

16-inch composition Topsy circa 1930s

She's a 16-inch composition Topsy doll circa 1930s.  These dolls and others were named after the character, Topsy, in Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe.  I have written about Topsy dolls and the character that inspired them before.

This one's size of 16 inches is uncommon as most composition Topsy dolls vary from 6 to 13 inches.  There are other sizes, of course, but this size range is the most common.  I had desired a 16-inch version for years before finding this one.  Later, a darker skinned 16-inch companion surfaced.

Last week I noticed my little girl's head had shifted; it was in a chin-to-chest position.  She looked sad. To investigate the problem, I lifted her.  This caused all limbs to immediately fall to the floor.  The rubber band holding her head and limbs together was broken.  Since I have not mastered the technique of doll restringing, a visit to the resident doll doctor was in order.

Topsy awaits repair
In the doctor's absence, I placed the patient where she would be seen.  After seeing her, Doc Garrett asked for the stringing elastic he used to repair the previous doll that fell apart, a reproduction Terri Lee.  Within a few minutes, Topsy was returned as good as new.

Topsy is as good as new with restrung head and limbs.  Her companion is happy to see her whole again.

After Topsy's repair, I had Doc Garrett take a look at the next patient on the schedule, Bob Scout.

Bob Scout by Kenner from 1974 is a 9-1/2-inch, multiarticulated "action figure."

Bob had originally been standing on the edge of a shelf with a World Peacekeeper action figure and a few playscale females.  Poor Bob suffered one too many falls to a carpeted floor from my shifting things around on that shelf to position a new playscale doll or to gain access to doll reference books that were behind him.  During the last fall, he lost his head.  I peeked inside the body cavity and noticed a broken notch designed to hold the neck knob in place, as illustrated next.

Bob's prognosis is not as positive as Topsy's.  According to Doc Garrett, "He can be fixed, but I'll have to take his body apart."  I asked if he could rig something that would hold the head in place.  "It's better to take him apart and do it right," he answered.  "Well, just sit him there and you can do it later when you have more time."

I know I'll have to give him a subtle reminder, such as placing Bob and Gorilla Glue on his desk.  But for now, Bob sits on the edge of another shelf holding his head and patiently awaiting his turn to see the doctor.  

The good patient, Bob, waits quietly for his turn to see the doctor.


Thursday, May 15, 2014

Cynthia! Cynthia! Cynthia!

Madame Alexander Cynthia 1952

Made for one year only, in 1952, the Madame Alexander doll company introduced their Cynthia doll in three sizes:  15-inches (stock #1530), 18 inches (#1830) and the elusive 23-inch doll (#2330 ).  The dolls wore pastel organdy dresses with ruffles and lace trim and coordinating ribbon sashes.  Cynthia uses the Margaret sculpt.  In the 1952 company catalog, the doll is described:

New and timely.  Beautifully dressed colored doll.  Unbreakable plastic body.  Moving eyes.  Hair that you can wash and rearrange.  Three sizes.  
My search for Cynthia in any size, with hopes of finding all three, began during the late 1990s.  After a several-year attempt to complete the collection of three, my dolls arrived, one by one in size order. 

15-inch Madame Alexander Cynthia #1530 wears replica of the original dress.
The 15-inch doll was purchased in September 2001 from a woman who lived in Charlotte, North Carolina.  The doll had been advertised in Collectors United (CU), which was a monthly publication of doll-for-sale- and doll-wanted ads.  As a faithful CU subscriber for many years, I waited eagerly for each monthly issue to arrive.  Thereafter, I would stop, drop, and  comb the pages for Black dolls of interest.  Cynthia's condition in the CU ad was described as "mint, wearing her original panties, socks and shoes, with hair in original style with original hair clip still in place." I had to have her!

The original hair clip is illustrated in this image.

After telephoning the seller, and inquiring about the doll's availability, I was informed, "yes," followed by the seller's assessment that Madame Alexander made "dress me" versions of the doll.  The seller included a nice letter with Cynthia which is shared next:

Sept. 7, 2001

Dear Debbie,

Enclosed is the Alexander Cynthia doll which you ordered from me thru the Collectors United publication.

I hope you are happy with her; but should you not be pleased, just give me a call & send her back for a refund.  Having purchased 3 other Cynthias from the same lady over a period of 10-12 years, all of which had only original panties, shoes & socks, I've come to the conclusion that these dolls were probably sold with or without clothing as were so many Alexanders at that time.  I well remember buying several 8-in Alex's and a Cissette for my daughter in the early 50's.  These dolls were sold with panties, shoes & socks & the Cissette with stockings, shoes & a little Teddy undergarment.  Since this lady had several dressed the same, I expect she bought them at discounted prices if they were not selling well in the area where she lived.  Alexander sold boxed outfits in that time period.

So, anyway, enjoy if you like her, but don't hesitate to return if you don't.

Thanks for your order

I purchased a doll trunk for Cynthia #1530.  The above shared letter remains stored in the lower drawer of the trunk.

15-inch Cynthia stands alone in her doll trunk with her wardrobe of fashions made especially for her.

Shortly after Cynthia arrived, I commissioned a seamstress to replicate Cynthia's original ruffled dress, one in yellow organza and another in light blue.  At my request, additional dresses were made in different styles as well as a winter coat and hat for the 15-inch Cynthia.  Several years would pass before I was able to locate the next size.

18-inch, style #1830 Madame Alexander Cynthia

The 18-inch doll arrived in June 2008 having also been purchased through Collectors United.  The doll was in near mint condition wearing her original pale pink, Madame Alexander-tagged dress with clear vinyl shoes with pink ribbon ankle ties.  The seller believed the shoes were made by Madame Alexander.  (I am not sure this is true).  The fibers of her restyled hair remain silky.

23-inch Madame Alexander Cynthia, #2330 scraped her left leg!

Four years passed before the most elusive Cynthia was located in September 2012.  One of the doll's legs had paint rubs that someone had begun to poorly repair.   Because of this flaw, she was priced to sell.  My plan to repair the leg remained on my agenda until I finally completed this task recently.  Before and after photos are shared of the steps taken to repaint Cynthia's leg.

The damage to be repaired is shown above.

Burnt Sienna acrylic paint was a close match to Cynthia's complexion.
A makeup sponge was used to apply thin layers of paint with each layer allowed to dry before applying the next.  The paint was sealed with matte varnish.

Final result

Sixty-two years after being introduced to the doll market, the girls are happy to be together.  They posed for one final photo. 

I am able to store the 15- and 18-inch dolls in the doll truck I purchased for the smallest doll.  I would love to find a doll trunk that can accommodate all three.


Monday, May 12, 2014

Who Am I? Black Brevetatto Doll from Late 1950s

I received the above photo attached to an email from someone seeking to know the identity of the above doll.  Portions of the email are shared below:


My mother has a beautiful, storied doll and maybe your books contain reference so we can know more about it. It's the black Brevettato doll, which blinks its big blue eyes. In the pic, the doll is sitting on my mother's sofa.

It was probably made in the late 1950s. In the early 1960s, it belonged to a German girl [who lived] in the south of Brazil. [The girl's mother] decided to give it to my mother as a gift.

Do any of your books include reference about that kind of doll? If so, which one should I buy?



Upon request, M. supplied the following additional photos:

This close-up shows the missing paint from the doll's face.

The "voice box" is in the lower portion of the abdomen.  For a white, still unnamed version found on the Internet, the voice box was marked "Made in Italy."

When in a lying position, the doll's blue sleep eyes close.
M. added:

During years, decades, my grandmother kept the doll hidden away from potentially destructive hands of the boys my mother had. Now she returned the doll to her, just recently. My mother wants to restore the paint on its face, but she wants to do it the right way. 

None of my books (those written by me or others) reference dolls made by Brevettato.  Based on the information provided and cursory Internet searches, what I know is that white versions have been made of this approximately 65-cm (25-inch) circa 1950s hard plastic doll with a voice box and blue sleep eyes.

This white doll, marked "Cares," whose shoes were marked "Mod. Brev. 9 Milano," appears to use a similar, if not the same, head sculpt as M's mother's Black version. 

Brevetatto is an Italian word that means patent.  I believe the doll was made in Italy, but other than that and the information M. provided, I know nothing else about this lovely doll that bears a striking resemblance (except for the blue eyes) to the doll "Numa" used in Alfred Hitchcock's "Where the Woodbind Twineth."

Do you know this doll's ID?