Thursday, September 2, 2021

National Negro Doll Company

This post is shared from The History Makers' Facebook post about Reverend Richard Henry Boyd's early 1900s National Negro Doll Company. The post was published on August 20, 2021.

Erroneously remembered as the first to market black dolls to black consumers, Marcus Garvey was a decade behind Reverend Richard Henry Boyd who, in 1911, launched the National Negro Doll Company. Boyd founded the company after trying and failing to purchase dolls for his children that were not gross caricatures of African Americans.

In his HistoryMakers interview athlete and former toy company owner, Robert Pickens, told that owning a black doll “has the same relevancy of an African American child going to a black university. Because all the kids around him are typically African American, the power, the structure… creates a self-satisfaction, it provides a basis for saying, ‘I'm okay, and I'm pretty, you know, I'm good, I'm competent’ as opposed to living in a sterile society and not seeing those types of reference points.”
Founded in the midst of Jim Crow, the National Negro Doll Company was a political endeavor intended to counter prevalent racist images of black people and instill pride in black children. Boyd, who owned several Nashville businesses, convinced a German doll company to design prototypes using a technique of unglazed porcelain, or bisque, to create an array of darker hued dolls. Boyd sent photos of African Americans to the manufacturer to ensure that they conveyed rather than caricatured their subjects. Once complete, orders for the dolls were immediate and sizable, so much so that Boyd decided to form a firm that could accommodate the orders in time for the Christmas season. Boyd phased out the National Negro Doll Company in 1915, possibly due to the onset of World War I, investment in the more successful National Baptist Church Supply Company, low profits, and the fact that other doll companies had adopted the National Negro Doll Company’s mission to produce black dolls for black children.

Read the original post here.
Read a previous Black Doll Collecting post about Boyds' company here


There are countless items to collect and write about. Black dolls chose me.

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  1. I love articles that give historical background on images and Black toys. I'm saving this article for reference. Thanks Debbie.

    1. It was wonderful to see the photo of the girl holding the largest (presumably) Boyd doll. I had to share it here for others to appreciate.



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