Friday, June 6, 2014

Cynthia's Original 1952 Price

23-, 15-, and 18-inch Cynthia dolls by Madame Alexander from 1952

In a comment to my Cynthia! Cynthia! Cynthia! post, RLC of Paper Thin Personas stated and asked:

...I have always had an affection for Madame Alexander dolls. I am curious about the market for these dolls when they were first produced in 1952. How expensive were they and for how long were they made?
I answered the first part of the question and promised to try to obtain the answer to the second.  Again, Madame Alexander Cynthia dolls in all three sizes were produced for one year only, from 1952 through 1953.

Regarding the original price, I had to do some investigating.  As mentioned in my previous post, Madame Alexander Cynthia uses the Margaret head sculpt.  It was first used for their Margaret O'Brien doll, named for the 1940s child actress.  The first Margaret dolls were made of composition in 1946.  Margaret dolls continued to be made after the popular doll medium transitioned from composition to hard plastic.  During the 1950s, the Margaret sculpt was used on other hard plastic Madame Alexander dolls as illustrated by those offered in the 1950 Sears Christmas Wishbook below.

Page 201 of the 1950 Sears Christmas Wishbook features dolls with the Margaret face (top left, standing).  Click or tap to enlarge this scan from the book, The Doll & Teddy Bear Department... Sears Christmas Wishbooks of the 1950's and 1960's.*

The three dolls that use the Margaret face in the above 1950 Sears Christmas Wishbook scan are:
  • Wendy Ann with Human Hair Wig, available in two sizes:  14-1/2 inches and 17-1/2 inches, priced at $8.95 and $10.95, respectively  
  • Famous Amy of "Little Women,"  available as a 14-inch doll for $7.98 
  • Poor Cinderella in Kitchen Dress, a 14-inch tall doll with Margaret head sculpt priced $6.98
These dolls were offered two years before Madame Alexander produced the three versions of Cynthia.   Similar Madame Alexander dolls offered in the 1948 Sears Wishbook were priced about the same as these 1950s dolls.  Since the Sears Christmas Wishbook for 1952, the year Cynthia debuted, did not offer Madame Alexander dolls, we can use the 1948 and 1950 prices to safely assume the three Cynthias were probably priced between $7 to $11.

In the above scan, the Madame Alexander dolls and Ideal's 16-inch Toni (the dolls at bottom of scan) were comparably priced.  Dolls by Effanbee (top right, standing and seated above the caption, Big Value Girl Dolls) were priced much less at $2.98 and $3.29.  Wouldn't it be wonderful if dolls of this quality were as low today?

In my search for Cynthia's original price, I read here and here (where the second author probably quoted the first) that Cynthia and another Black doll named Hilda use the Margaret head sculpt.  Madame Alexander's Hilda was said to have been produced in 1946.  Since I was not able to locate pictures or further documentation, for clarification, I wrote the author of the first linked article (Judith Izen).  Izen has also written several doll-reference books.  With Judy's permission, her reply is shared below my email inquiry:

Hi Judith,
I read in your article, Madame Alexander Fashion Dolls, that in 1946 Madame Alexander made a black doll using the Margaret head sculpt whose name was Hilda.  I have not been able to document this elsewhere.   Can you tell me your source of information?  Have you seen or do you have a photograph of this doll.  Thank you in advance!

Debbie Garrett

Hi Debbie,
That article was from 1999. 
I believe it may have been an editing error since
I probably meant the hard plastic Cynthia.

They never asked my permission to post the article
so I never had a chance to review it.
Hope this answers your question.

Short answer:  Cynthia is the only Black doll made by Madame Alexander that uses the Margaret head sculpt.

Read more about Margaret dolls here.

*The pages of vintage Sears Wishbooks are fun to view, particularly the doll offerings.  View the 1945 Sears Wishbook here. Search or to browse the pages of additional Wishbooks by entering the desired year followed by:  Sears Wishbook.  Example:  1955 Sears Wishbook.




  1. Thank you so much, Debbie, for the time and energy that you put into finding out an answer to my question. You went far beyond the call of duty and I am very grateful. :)

    1. You are welcome, RLC! I love conducting research, particularly when the subject matter is one that greatly interests me; and as you are well aware, dolls do! I learned a few things in the process myself. I enjoy questions like yours.



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