Friday, September 26, 2014

Buttercup Trixie Post Inspires Two New F&B Purchases

Black Grumpy is shown on the far left in the red floral-print dress with Effanbee (F&B) Patsy family dolls (Photo courtesy of CLF Doll Collection).

The photo shared by CLF Doll Collection, shown above of Patsy family members, which was originally included in my ButtercupTrixie post, led to my discovery of other black Grumpy dolls beyond the one I purchased over a decade ago.

Snowball by Effanbee circa 1913
I purchased Snowball (a.k.a. black Grumpy) in the early 2000s. This 12-inch doll dates back to 1913 and has a composition head and lower arms.  The pink cloth body feels straw stuffed.  Red, white, and blue striped fabric covers the legs, which I have elected to keep covered with the romper the previous owner had the doll dressed in.  Snowball wears white socks and baby style shoes.  Typical of Grumpy dolls, Snowball has black molded curls and a facial expression that clearly indicates her displeasure.  Here is a link to another Snowball that was offered at auction in 2009.

My initial search for a version like the CLF Grumpy led to an auction for an identical doll that was in need of restoration to her partially missing forefoot.
Black Grumpy by Effanbee, circa 1922 with damaged foot as shown better in the next image (taken with iPad since digital camera was not accessible).
Black Baby Grumpy's damaged foot allowed me to snatch her in an eBay auction for $50 plus shipping (another iPad photo).

From the seller's cell phone-looking photos, the doll appeared to also need even more attention.  This is probably the reason no one except me was interested.  While other Black Baby Grumpy dolls in better  condition have sold on auction for three digits, I paid no where near that amount for my doll. 

Grumpy's damaged foot has been sealed.
Other than the foot, the doll's condition was much better than expected.  My initial plan had been to rebuild the forefoot with Elmer's Wood Filler, as I have done in the past for composition dolls, but I decided to use an easier method of getting her ready for display.  To prevent additional chipping away of the composition, I sealed the damaged area including all edges with Mod Podge and allowed it to dry.

The Mod Podge dries clear.

I hand washed Grumpy's dress, added a bow to the collar, found shoes and socks that fit, and tied white ribbons to each of her three tufts of Topsy-style hair to make her as presentable as any other inanimate 92-year-old.  

Grumpy is so fresh and so clean now.
This Grumpy has a composition head and shoulder plate, composition arms and legs, and brown cloth body.   The back of the shoulder plate is marked:  Effanbee Dolls Walk*Talk*Sleep (the doll does none of these; this was the mark used on Grumpy and other Effanbee dolls beginning in 1922).

Another recent eBay steal, Baby Grumpy by Effanbee circa 1922, as she appeared upon arrival.

Before Grumpy's auction ended, I was excited to find an eBay listing for 12-inch Baby Grumpy (shown above).   The baby has chunkier legs and molded hair without braids.   She bears the same shoulder plate marks as the previous doll and again cannot walk, talk, or sleep.  I was the only bidder of this auction that had a low beginning bid.  Don't you love it when things happen like this in your favor?

Just as I expected before the doll arrived, what appears to be her original outfit would need a good hand washing.   I also knew from the auction pictures that her face would need some cosmetic touching up.   Her shoes were in  grave disrepair.  With the shoes on, the poor baby's toes were touching the surface on which she stood. I had more work cut out for me with this one.
Baby Grumpy's shoes as they were upon arrival (top photo) and after the holes were filled with tissue paper.  A few final steps were required to make them wearable. 

Baby's soaking clothes, socks, and shoe ribbons

Determined to make her presentable, I did just that after soaking Baby Grumpy's clothes in a mixture of laundry detergent, baking powder, hydrogen peroxide and hot water.  They were left to soak in this solution overnight. 

Flori Roberts cream makeup was applied to the paint-chipped areas of the face.  I did not cover the chips on other areas of her body, maybe later.  This is just a temporary fix because the makeup will rub off, which is the reason I chose not to use makeup on the body.  I used black acrylic paint to cover a few paint chipped areas on Baby Grumpy's head.  This was sealed with matte varnish.  (I did the same to the head of Grumpy with braids, after I took her so-fresh and so-clean photo.)

Back to the baby, I made new soles for her shoes and glued small pieces of tissue paper to the inside of the shoes to cover the holes (as shown in the second photo immediately above).  Finally, I painted the shoes with acrylic paint mixed to match the original color of the shoes and sealed the paint with varnish.

Baby Grumpy's shoes look much better now.

Baby Grumpy, looks much better now, too.  If she had feelings, she'd feel better and turn that pout into a smile.  I know I am smiling because I paid far less than one like her seen recently for an asking price of $425.

In 1988, Effanbee reproduced a vinyl and cloth Baby Grumpy as a store exclusive for Shirley's Dollhouse of Wheeling, Illinois.  I purchased the repro doll from the shop shortly after I began collecting in the early 1990s.  The reproduced doll wears a yellow and white romper with matching bonnet, and off-white high-top shoes.  In the next image, she joins the extended Black Grumpy family for a portrait.

Left to right, front:  Original Black Grumpy (Snowball) from 1913 poses alongside Shirley's Dollhouse-exclusive Black Grumpy from 1988.  Back Row:  Grumpy and Baby Grumpy circa 1922 frown and pout together.

I am not sure how many black versions of Grumpy were made by Effanbee, but I am happy with the examples I currently own. 



  1. I love the care you put into restoring these dolls. I think that's one of the things I enjoy about thrift dolls - cleaning them and making them all spiffy again.

    1. It gives me pleasure to bring a doll back to life. I prefer working with more modern ones than ones like these two that usually require more work, but the end result is usually the same: joy.


  2. Okay, I am really impressed with how Baby Grumpy turned out. That first photo of her made my stomach feel a little queasy, but she cleaned up quite well thanks to you! I love that last group photo. Despite their grumpy expressions, it's clear that they are all well-loved. :)

    1. I read your comment earlier today before I had a chance to comment, Roxanne. It made me chuckle then and I am doing the same thing now. Baby Grumpy's filth was enough to make you queasy. You really never know where these old dolls have been or where they were found. Were they exposed to rodents or other disease/germ causing substances? It is best to use gloves when handling dolls found in her condition. I didn't. I had to question whether my recent illness was a result of handling the doll, but it wasn't. I was already feeling fatigued for what was then an unknown reason before both arrived.

      You are right, they are both well loved.


  3. I'm swear you run the best doll hospital! The dolls look so much better and they seem a little less grumpy. I was worried about the wardrobe and if you would be able to bring it back to life and you did. Thank goodness!

    1. Thanks, Brini!

      I was a little worried about the baby's clothes too. Glad my concoction worked -- it usually does. I use hydrogen peroxide and baking powder in my regular washes, especially for dark clothing and/or when bleach cannot be used.


  4. The grumpy babies are so adorable! I, too, am impressed with your restoration. Especially the last one. Looks like a totally different doll.

    1. Thanks, Vanessa. The baby literally cleaned up nicely.



Your comments are appreciated. To eliminate spam, all comments are being moderated and will be published upon approval. Thank you!