Monday, November 23, 2015

Ginger's Eyes

Bisque circa 1940s Japan-made black baby and a variety of Aunt Jemima, Uncle Ben-type figures

In April of this year, by text message, my sister sent the above photo of dolls and ceramic figures found at an antiques shop in her southeastern state.  I was not interested in any of these Black Americana pieces.  Because of the person who made it, one baby doll, photographed separately, did interest me.

Baby doll photographed by my sister at an antiques mall in her area.
My then 9-year-old niece was with my sister at the time.  She adequately described the baby's eyes as creepy.  I did not immediately know the doll's identity and asked my sister to look for neck markings to determine the artist's name. "Robert Tonner Doll Co. 1997," were its marks.  I couldn't believe it! Until that moment, I was not aware that the Tonner Doll Company made baby dolls during the 1990s.  "Are you sure it says, Tonner? I asked."  My sister photographed the price tag which included Tonner's name:

Tonner doll's price tag.
"Yes," was my answer to her question, "Do you want it?"  My thought was that I could replace the eyes without a problem.  That day the shop offered 25% off all purchases, which was an added plus.  The final cost with tax was $31.

Before the doll arrived (months later -- a long story that I will shorten), I conducted online research to determine the doll's identity and found the white version at the Tonner website in his company's archived 1997 catalog. The doll's name is Ginger.   Her original retail price was $99.95.

By June of this year, I still had not received Ginger (recall that it was April when the text photo was sent to me and the doll purchased).  Prior to that time, I sent my sister a check for the cost of the doll plus estimated shipping (thinking, maybe she needs me to pay her for it).  The next time we talked, she said she was trying to find a box for the doll and added, "You know I haven't cashed that check, right? And I'm not."  I instructed her to do so (thinking that would get my doll to me sooner).  She said, "I'm tearing it up."  Oh Lord, "Will I ever get my doll?" I thought.

Another Ginger whose eyes remain the original color is shown in an Internet-captured photograph.

Ginger is a 22-inch baby with vinyl head, arms and legs and cloth body.  She wears a gingerbread man themed dress and pinafore, white thigh-length socks, white underpants and cranberry faux suede shoes.  Her dark brown wig has loose curls with curly bangs and two top ponytails accented with cranberry ribbons.

My Ginger finally arrived in July of this year at which time I measured her eyes and ordered new hazel eyes to closely match her original eye color.

Close-up of Ginger's creepy eyes, her left eye color is more faded than the right.

The faded original color was either due to sun exposure or the type of material used to make some doll eyes during the 1990s.  I have seen strange things happen to artist dolls' eyes that were made during that era.

Ginger with pupils that now look "fixed and dilated."

Before the new eyes arrived, I darkened the hazel area of Ginger's "creepy eyes" with a brown Sharpie.  I didn't do a very good job keeping the pupils centered.  As a result, I looked forward to the arrival of the replacement eyes.  After the replacement eyes arrived, I was in for a big surprise.

Ginger and I were all prepared for her eye transplant.  Here she holds two cable ties and her new hazel eyes, which are shown in the next photo.

Preparing to remove her original neck tie, which was threaded through the top edge of her cloth body, the end of the neck tie was pulled out of the cloth edge before the tie was snipped with scissors and removed.  A close-up of original neck tie, still intact, is shown next.

I was expecting the bottom of Ginger's head to be open.  Unfortunately, it is solid vinyl with no way (other than to cut it open) to remove the old eyes and replace the new ones!

What a bummer.

So Plan B is to inquire with the Tonner folks about the possibility of replacing the eyes in their doll hospital or admitting her to the resident doll doctor's hospital.  I know Doc Garrett can perform the necessary procedure to open up the head cavity.   He has never replaced eyes and I'm not certain that I want him to test those waters with Ginger.

I might just leave well enough alone and stick with Plan A -- the Sharpie effect that I have tweaked a bit:

Ginger is okay with the way she is and I'm relatively okay with her as is, too.

I'm just glad that after a three-month wait, she's finally here.




  1. Have you checked under her wig? She may have a hole in the top of her head under a wig cap.

    1. I have not checked under her wig, but I just pressed around on her head. I can feel a softer section that seems to move when I press a certain area at the back of her head. I wonder if that is a removable opening. Hmmm... thanks for the suggestion, Vanessa.


  2. See, I would have left the eyes as they were. I like a bit of creepiness. Did you put something over the sharpie so it wont run?

    1. I used an ultra fine-tipped Sharpie to avoid getting it on the vinyl eye opening. I did not put anything over the Sharpie, which did not run or bleed outside the areas touched.



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