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7 Famous Vintage Dolls

Updated on February 15, 2018
viryabo profile image

I love crafts works. I made my first ragdoll when I was 10 as a class project for a jumble sale and made my first rag rug when I was 16.

Every woman had a special doll when she was young, a toy she cared for and nurtured, almost as you would a little human.

They played imaginary and make-believe games with their dolls, hugging and cuddling them, crying and laughing with them, singing and talking to their dolls, and dressing them up in nice clothes. .

The warm love some of them shared with their quiet companions had led to their grown-up delight of collecting dolls.

Today's most ardent doll collectors began collecting righr from their favourite first toy.

There are dolls of every kind and hobbyists avidly collect both modern, vintage, and antique dolls. They are made from materials ranging from wood (ancient dolls were carved from wood), clay, fired ceramics, porcelain, wax, plastic, and fabric. There are also themed dolls (like Marie Osmond and Alice in Wonderland dolls), battery operated play dolls, fashions dolls, boudoir dolls, and ball-jointed dolls.

Some of these can be considered true antiques while others are more modern creations.

Some of the popular and most desired vintage doll collectables are those made from porcelain and bisque (unglazed porcelain) but most die-hard collectors mainly go for dolls that fall within vintage and contemporary era.

Popular Vintage Dolls

Vintage dolls collectors typically choose dolls produced between the early and late 20th-century (1925 and 1979). This was a time when dolls were more of a brand and as such, a household name. It was a time when the toy market saw the release of many dolls, most of which remain collectable today.

1. Kewpie Dolls

Kewpie dolls and figurines were extremely popular in the early twentieth century with the first authentic one created by Rose O'Neil in 1911.

The earliest dolls were made of bisque and subsequently produced in composition and celluloid with many modern Kewpies made in vinyl. They have also been made of other materials including soap and Wedgwood.

Kewpie vintage dolls come in a vast range of sizes - from one-inch sized miniatures to well over three feet tall.

Cute Kewpie dolls, a doll collector's delight
Cute Kewpie dolls, a doll collector's delight | Source

The designs of Kewpie dolls are based on comical illustrations made by its creator Rose O'Neill and first appeared in 'Ladies' Home Journal' in the very early 1900s.

She personally sketched her doll illustrations but didn't know how to turn her sketches into reality. O'Neill got the help of a sculptor and found a young art student from the Pratt Art Institute named Joseph Kallus who sculpted the first Kewpie Doll in bisque (a pinkish brown colour). This was soon to be followed by celluloid produced dolls which were mass manufactured in Germany by a doll manufacturer and sold at affordable prices to the general public.

In 1949, the first sets of hard plastic versions were introduced.

2. Vintage Barbie Dolls

Barbie dolls are fashion dolls, being the most popular of its genre ever created. The brand has been a best-seller continuously and consistently for over half a century.

Avid vintage doll collectors collect both vintage and modern Barbies. Vintage Barbie dolls were produced between 1959 to 1972) while modern Barbies describe those popularly sold from 1972 till date.

Popular collector choices include baseball themed, holiday-themed, and the eras collection Barbie dolls,

Vintage Barbie dolls are fashion dolls that are avidly collected by doll collectors.
Vintage Barbie dolls are fashion dolls that are avidly collected by doll collectors.

3. Mrs Beasley Dolls

These dolls are back as adorable collectables, and with speech capabilities consisting of eleven phrases, just like the cherished original.

When you pull the cord in her back, you can hear her say: "I do think you're the nicest little friend I ever had," "Speak a little louder, dear, so Mrs. Beasley™ can hear you," etc.

Today's reproduction of this quality vinyl collectable doll's voice is recorded in character by the popular 20th-century actress, Cheryl Ladd.

A Mrs Beasley doll has a soft body, a vinyl head, and blonde hair, and she wears the familiar blue dress with polka dots and yellow trim and wearing the distinctive black frame glasses.

This vintage doll produced in limited quantities will make an ideal Christmas gift to an avid collector, and if you are one, it may be yours too.

Mrs Beasley Doll - A highly valued vintage doll
Mrs Beasley Doll - A highly valued vintage doll

4. Marie Osmond Dolls

Marie Osmond is a doll collector and has been collecting them from a young age while sharing the passion for dolls with her mother, Olive Osmond. As the family travelled on their many world tours, both Marie and her mother collected dolls from all over the world.

Her vintage dolls are one of the most popular collectables for doll enthusiasts, including the Matilda and Queen Elizabeth collections. Being a doll collector herself prompted her to start a doll-making company because of her passion for these toys.

Her first design was "Olive May", which she created and named after her mother. The doll became a very popular collectable item on QVC (Quality Value Convenience), owned by Liberty Interactive after its launch.

Popular Marie Osmond dolls include:

  • Tiny Tot (Birthday Blossoms Brunette, Hershey Hugs, and Cookies and Milk)
  • Be Mine Keepsake
  • The Gift of Love
  • Bride and Groom Keepsake
  • Summer Romance

The famous Tiny Tot dolls are in limited quantities and each is individually numbered and have an imprint of Marie Osmond's duplicate signature.

Vintage  - Marie Osmond doll
Vintage - Marie Osmond doll

5. Matryoshka Dolls

This is the famous Russian nesting dolls that are a miniature form of the traditional Russian woman. The first set of matryoshka dolls were produced over a century ago. It as a set of cylindrical shaped wooden dolls that fit into each other and can be separated (top from bottom) to reveal inner contents, usually another doll. When you open the largest doll up (outer layer), you find another figure nestled within it, and yet another one set within the next in a decreasing manner until you reach the smallest piece.

The outer shell is mostly of a woman, dressed in a long and shapeless traditional peasant dress, a Russian sarafan. The subsequent figures found within may be of either gender with the innermost doll being that of a baby.

Matryoshka dolls set usually comprise of anything from three to twelve dolls and are made from wood like lime, aspen, birch, or alder woods, and hand painted with gouache (mix of dry pigment, water, and gum), a thick mixture that appears like a heavy watercolour.

Matryoshka dolls are often designed to follow a particular theme as seen in this image that consists of a set of ten dolls.
Matryoshka dolls are often designed to follow a particular theme as seen in this image that consists of a set of ten dolls.

6. Raggedy Ann Dolls

At some point in time of their lives, every little girl must have received a raggedy Ann doll. Also referred to as rag dolls, they have the most mystifying and extraordinary doll stories ever told.

And with the imaginary and celebrated tales, Raggedy Ann has achieved a height of popularity which no other rag doll can attain.

Compared to the classic dolls, no doll compares to this beloved rag doll, and collectors have been known to fill their homes with their astounding collections of Raggedy Ann dolls and their vintage memorabilia.

Today, vintage doll collections are incomplete without Raggedy Ann rag dolls, and this long-time favorite of children and doll collectors globally has been reproduced with a new look.

These timeless treasures are beautifully crafted with the same painted face and red head of hair, as well as the renowned pinafore dress, striped leg socks, and bloomers.

These collectible dolls make the perfect gift for new or old doll collectors and are bound to win hearts all over again.

Raggedy Ann Dolls
Raggedy Ann Dolls

7. Topsy Doll

Topsy dolls are black dolls that were made between the early and mid-1900s. They were produced for "slave children and perhaps as 'maid dolls' for white children".

These now vintage dolls are double-ended and typically feature two different races - black and white, a fusion of a white and a black girl child.

Designed in a way that children could play with one doll at a time, its form and features accurately reflects the division of caregiving that African American slave women gave in having to care for white children during the day and their own children at night.

Topsy doll redressed in a vintage cotton dress with tiny pink rosebuds and trimmed in narrow pink rick - rack braid.
Topsy doll redressed in a vintage cotton dress with tiny pink rosebuds and trimmed in narrow pink rick - rack braid. | Source

Splendid Gifts to Give Doll Collectors

If you are looking for a meaningful gift that will be enjoyed for many years, doll collectibles simply make great gifts for collectors.

And even though many vintage doll reproductions are produced in limited quantities, giving out one of these classic dolls will make vintage doll enthusiasts happy to have a gift that is still so popular, even after over a hundred years.

© 2011 viryabo


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    • viryabo profile imageAUTHOR


      3 years ago

      That's a wonderful collectible you have there @PeggyW. I wonder which one of the 5 adorable dolls you have.

      Thank you so much for visiting, the up vote, and share.

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 

      3 years ago from Houston, Texas

      I never played much with dolls when I was young as I was more of a tomboy and preferred climbing trees, riding bikes, etc. My mother loved them however. I still have one of her Dionne Quintuplet dolls now that she is gone. Up votes and sharing!

    • ShalahChayilJOY profile image

      Shalah Chayil 

      6 years ago from Billings, Montana

      Wonderful writing! And the dolls are so lovely. Makes me want [almost] to return to childhood, or at the least begin to add to my doll collection. Great hub, vi, thanks to you for a nostalgic read.

    • viryabo profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago


      Now you got me scared Thranax. I remember Chuckie. That was one h.....l of a scary movie.

      Thanks for visiting.


    • viryabo profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago

      Im glad it brings back those beautiful childhood memories cre8ivone, thanks for visiting.

    • thranax profile image


      7 years ago from Rep Boston MA

      Personally I find dolls kind of creepy, mainly because I watched Chuckie.

      Great hub though!


    • cre8ivOne profile image


      7 years ago from Midwest, USA

      Oh my goodness! Mrs. Beasley and Raggedy Ann! Brings back some great childhood memories : )


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