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Kewpies--or Not?

Updated on September 21, 2015

When you collect Kewpies..........

.............you will find that all your friends and family will proudly present their garage sale finds to you on a regular basis. Take them (graciously), but know that most of the time they're not actually the real deal.

For example, the one pictured here is NOT a kewpie! Sure, he's a cute little guy, but he's a wannabe kewpie. If you really want to collect kewpies and kewpie memorabilia, take the time to educate yourself--there are plenty of books and websites that will help you.

Photos by heytoto.

from the author's collection
from the author's collection

How I got interested in Kewpies

It's hard to NOT to have an awareness of kewpies and their creator Rose O'Neill if you went to college in Branson, Missouri in the 1970s.

The campus of the School of the Ozarks had the Rose O'Neill Tea Room and Gift Shop for tourists. Rose had volunteered her time and art to the college before her death. There was a wonderful little kewpie shop and doll museum in nearby Branson. The International Rose O'Neill Club staged its "Kewpiesta" on campus each year and I must admit we students found the Rose fanatics in their flowing robes quite entertaining.

The ruins of Rose O'Neill's home--Bonniebrook--were in nearby Walnut Shade. A local friend said she'd hike with me out to the ruins someday, but we never got around to it. The house was destroyed by fire in 1947, several years after Rose's death. Today, Bonniebrook has been reconstructed and is open to the public for tours. I still regret not taking that hike into the Ozark wilderness to see the Bonniebrook ruins as they lay undisturbed for 30 years.

My early collecting efforts included a vinyl Cameo kewpie, a slender softcover book called "Cordially Yours Rose O'Neill" published in 1968 and now out of print, and a print from the Rose O'Neill Tea Room. Later on I got interested in Rose's advertising art, mostly for Jello, and have several framed prints of her advertisements.

Photos by heytoto.

Kewpie Postcard from the 1970s - Reproduced from the original watercolor owned by The Ashers of Aurora, Missouri.

Photos by heytoto.

Do good deeds in a funny way. The world needs to laugh

or at least smile more than it does.~~ Rose

"Kewpies" from Patty Sue's Doll House

Here's a good example of what I'm talking about. Most of the "kewpies" in the video are NOT true kewpies. The doll in the pink dress at the beginning and the one in overalls in the middle ARE kewpies, but the others don't appear to be.

"It's NOT a Kewpie!" Photo Gallery

Click thumbnail to view full-size
My collection of "I'm not a kewpie" kewpies!A cute little guy--but he's NOT a kewpie.Cute--but NOT a Kewpie!Yes, it has the Kewpie wings--but that doesn't mean it's a kewpie.  (It's not!)Not authentic kewpies, but sweet little wedding cake toppers that were part of the kewpie craze.
My collection of "I'm not a kewpie" kewpies!
My collection of "I'm not a kewpie" kewpies!
A cute little guy--but he's NOT a kewpie.
A cute little guy--but he's NOT a kewpie.
Cute--but NOT a Kewpie!
Cute--but NOT a Kewpie!
Yes, it has the Kewpie wings--but that doesn't mean it's a kewpie.  (It's not!)
Yes, it has the Kewpie wings--but that doesn't mean it's a kewpie. (It's not!)
Not authentic kewpies, but sweet little wedding cake toppers that were part of the kewpie craze.
Not authentic kewpies, but sweet little wedding cake toppers that were part of the kewpie craze.

From My Collection of Rose O'Neill Memorabilia

Click thumbnail to view full-size
An example of Rose O'Neill's advertising art for Jello.Another piece of Rose O'Neill's Jello advertising art.A few books from my Rose O'Neill collection.Kewpie Postcard from the 1970's.Rose O'Neill created the Scootles dolls, too.More from the Scootles paper doll book.
An example of Rose O'Neill's advertising art for Jello.
An example of Rose O'Neill's advertising art for Jello.
Another piece of Rose O'Neill's Jello advertising art.
Another piece of Rose O'Neill's Jello advertising art.
A few books from my Rose O'Neill collection.
A few books from my Rose O'Neill collection.
Kewpie Postcard from the 1970's.
Kewpie Postcard from the 1970's.
Rose O'Neill created the Scootles dolls, too.
Rose O'Neill created the Scootles dolls, too.
More from the Scootles paper doll book.
More from the Scootles paper doll book.

If you want to get serious about collecting Kewpies...

Introduction to Rose O'Neill's Kewpies - by Linda Brewster, author of "Rose O'Neill: The Girl Who Loved to Draw."

Now that you've read a bit about my experiences collecting Kewpie memorabilia, here's a poll for you....

My collection of knockoffs
My collection of knockoffs

(You'll probably know by now that these are NOT authentic kewpies!)

Photo by heytoto.

Is Your Kewpie:

See results

Creator of the Kewpies--Rose O'Neill - (June 25, 1874 - April 6, 1944)

Billy Murray - Rose of Washington Square (1920) - Song inspired by Rose O'Neill

Rose O'Neill's homes included an apartment in Greenwich Village on Washington Square in New York City. Her beauty and talent made her the toast of Greenwich Village society during her time there.

New Guestbook Comments on "Kewpies--or Not?"

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    • heytoto profile imageAUTHOR

      Karen Kolavalli 

      5 years ago from Lexington, Kentucky

      @sierradawn lm: Thanks for visiting, sierradawn. I enjoyed writing about my collection!

    • sierradawn lm profile image

      sierradawn lm 

      5 years ago

      I do not actually have any collector Kewpies of my own. But I do so remember them well and love them. This was a delightful lens. Thank you for the nostalgic trip down memory lane.

    • heytoto profile imageAUTHOR

      Karen Kolavalli 

      5 years ago from Lexington, Kentucky

      @sierradawn lm: Sent from my iPhone

    • sierradawn lm profile image

      sierradawn lm 

      5 years ago

      I adored your Kewpie Lens! I have to come back tomorrow to give a squidlike as I have used up my allowance of them it seems. So see you again tomorrow.

    • heytoto profile imageAUTHOR

      Karen Kolavalli 

      5 years ago from Lexington, Kentucky

      @renagirl: You made me realize that neither of my grandmothers had ANY dolls that I remember (maybe they hid everything when they knew our family of 6 kids was going to be visiting!) Thanks for stopping by!

    • heytoto profile imageAUTHOR

      Karen Kolavalli 

      5 years ago from Lexington, Kentucky

      @DebW07: I'm glad you enjoyed it Deb--thanks for stopping by!

    • renagirl profile image

      renagirl 

      5 years ago

      My granny had some

    • profile image

      DebW07 

      5 years ago

      I enjoyed this very much and I remember these Kewpies from when I was a child.

    • heytoto profile imageAUTHOR

      Karen Kolavalli 

      5 years ago from Lexington, Kentucky

      @Johnni Mac: I wish I still had the early kewpie collectibles I had from the 1970s, but they didn't always move with me, so I started collecting again. I'd love to find an (affordable!) vintage kewpie!

    • Johnni Mac profile image

      Johnni 

      5 years ago from Western United States

      I have a couple vintage Kewpies, one porcelin one with clothes, but minus one shoe. I like the simplicity of these dolls.

    • heytoto profile imageAUTHOR

      Karen Kolavalli 

      5 years ago from Lexington, Kentucky

      Ginger, I believe you gave me my first piece of Jello advertising art!

    • Virginia Allain profile image

      Virginia Allain 

      5 years ago from Central Florida

      I never started collecting Kewpies, but was intrigued by them from reading old 1930s Good Housekeeping magazines in the college library. I was supposed to be studying but the vintage magazines with the great advertisements were much more interesting.

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