Beatrice Alexander ( 1885-1990) starts her Doll Company in 1923 in NYC. The major types of dolls produced each decade are reviewed. 2023 celebrates the 100th anniversary of continuous doll production.
Oh good afternoon, it's Kim from Oak and fish and Dolls so we're having a snow day.
So I thought I'd go into um more about Madame Alexander who she was uh.
2023 marks the 100th anniversary of the Alexander doll company.
It's been in continuous operation since 1923 and which is just remarkable um, so um Madame Alexander's name was Beatrice Alexander.
She was born in 1895 in New York, two immigrant parents, but her father who was trained and he was Russian.
He was trained in Germany.
Um I had a doll, hospital and uh at that time.
He what was he fixing? He had to be fixing the French babies, the um, this porcelain, dolls, coming from France and Germany, which you know only the well to do, could really afford I mean even today they go for thousands of dollars at auction um, but she grew up in this environment being exposed to the latest.
You know: well the French fashion dolls of the mid 18th century, um, mid 19th century sorry, you know 1850s and upward so um it during World War One.
Apparently they could not import the supplies they needed to continue.
Fixing these dolls so uh she and her sisters turned to sewing dolls, making cloth dolls and she just had a natural Talent at expertly dressing.
These dolls, creating you, know her own unique outfits using um, beautiful colors and arrangements, and- and it was pointed out to her that she should start her own business, even though um she was already married and had her first and only child by 1919.
She was fairly well known and was encouraged to open up her her own shop and her own brand and that's what she did in 1923.
She um the support of her husband.
She did open up a shop, but now in she only in the beginning, she was making only cloth dolls and what we call stuffed animals with human faces, but they were smartly dressed um and her, even though at the time now this is the 1920s composition.
Dolls were already on the market by the major doll companies like ideal F and B people could order.
These Mama dolls were very popular.
They could order them through the Sears catalog.
She just you know, did things her own way and um.
She just stuck with the cloth dolls and she soon found out that people, especially grandmothers, would buy things that they were characters that they were familiar with, namely storybook characters.
So she made like Alice in Wonderland dolls.
She made Hansel and Gretel.
You know a lot from the Grimm's Fairy Tales um Kate green away, who was an English Victorian woman, artist, um and um graphic artists see put the paintings in her own nursery rhyme box from popular children's nursery rhymes.
So she did characters like this and this continued in until the 1930s.
So she didn't get into the composition dolls until the mid-1930s, when she put out the seven inch, tiny Betty and the nine inch little Betty dolls and they were dressed as International dolls, as well as storybook characters uh by then she was very astute after 10 years of business.
She knew she had missed out on the licensing for Shirley Temple, so she uh, you know, kept her ears open for the next big thing.
One of them was the Dion quintuplets out of Canada.
She produced those dolls in composition and apparently she read Gone With, the Wind, the book which was published I think in 1936.
She read that over one weekend and she knew she had to put out a squirrel at doll.
So she was very smart that she- and this is before the movie came out.
She got the publishing rights from um, not the publishing right.
She got the right to license and use the name Scarlett O'hara from the publisher.
Okay, so in her mind she pictured what Scarlett should look like and in fact the first Scarlet doll was dressed in yellow and um I guess, based on what she read in the book, she developed the striped outfits and okay, but then, when the movie finally came out and the you know, it turned out to be like a huge success and still one of the best movies of the 20th century.
Her Scarlet dolls were her Mainstay in composition.
She put out um a lot of um.
You know she's told a lot of scarlet dolls um, but she um.
Then, as the 1940s came her composition, dolls became better quality.
Let's say the the little dolls that um were made in composition.
They haven't held up that well, unless you can find them in the box um, but I'm, trying to think of the 1940s um.
Oh she put out the the so the 40s, her composition, that's when she started making the big doll.
So when Wendy and dolls that would come in, like 14 inch size, 15, 14, 18, 20.
uh, one inch size, um.
Oh, she also had um a license to put out princess Elizabeth and uh Princess Margaret Rose in the late 1930s in composition and later on.
She did the coronation set in the early 50s and I could believe it was plastic.
So she followed the trend of what was going on you gotta remember.
This is pre-plastic so um.
First, there were cloth dolls in the 1920s and composition, dolls, 30s and 40s, and then plastic really didn't come out in the doll World until she was on the first I think in 1949 most of the major companies it was the early 50s The, Fabulous 50s and the fashion dolls made of the hard plastic so a little women.
She was one of four girls, so she identified with the um book by Louisa, May, Alcott, Little, Women, and even starting in around 1930s, she put out uh four cloth, Little Women dolls.
That was another main stain.
She did make them again in the 1940s in composition and then, when plastic came out, she put out the Little Women dolls in all different sizes as the years progressed.
Okay, so in the 1950s it was, you know, hard plastic was all the rage and um the development of joints and different faces and um, and that's when she won her fashion Awards.
You know she always was you know her dolls first of all were not sold in run-of-the-mill places they were sold in the finest department stores.
And if you had a doll shop, you had to be a well-established doll shop uh to carry her dolls and um.
You had to abide by her rules, um she um, but I'm, talking by the 1950s.
She did not when she said the retail price.
That was the retail price um because she wanted to keep the playing field even like it wasn't fair.
If Macy's in her mind she didn't want to see Macy's doing it like 20 off when the doll shop you know a couple blocks over could not afford to do something like that.
So she was good in that way, with keeping very strict standards and then I know that lasted up until the 80s, because I did have um some friendships with doll own doll shop owners, because I was a creepy customer um, so uh, but 1955 um saw her um, okay, well, the the mystery they weren't really mysterious.
The ladies of Fashions um, the portrait dolls she made in the 1940s um are the most solid After dolls and then the doll which she didn't make until 1955.
is a fashion doll.
It's a 20-inch fashion ball and it was advertised you know, Yardley commercials.
She didn't believe in television advertisement um at that point.
In time, sweet Sue was her biggest competitor, American character.
Just plastered children's television shows with their sweet Sue commercials, and she did not believe in that, because you know she just she was old-fashioned.
She really was, but she did Issue with extra clothing, so you could buy one doll and then come back and buy the clothing just like she did.
That was her business model in the 1920s she issued either these stuffed animals or a cloth, stuff cloth doll and she wanted the patrons to come back and purchase.
Okay, an Easter outfit a summer, outfit, a Christmas outfit um, maybe a birthday outfit, and that's when she learned that that I guess it wasn't working out too well and she stuck with her storybook characters, which has been the mainstay and also I.
Don't know if I mentioned that she did put out a line of international dolls in the 1930s in the seven inch and nine inch um little Betty dolls, but they have really not held up well over the years.
You know if you can find one mint in the Box.
That's great um! You know I never collected them, because I never really found one in good condition.
So when I present, my International series I'm going to stick just with the modern dolls 1961 to 2022., so um the 50s or um.
Oh then, towards the end of the 50s.
We see the introduction of vinyl, her um is it Elise doll was was made in vinyl and then that's what you see then um the hard plot.
Let me back up actually her eight inch Wendy doll which she introduced in the 50s um, was very popular.
A lot of other doll companies like um Vogue had the Ginny Dolls.
They were very popular amongst um as play dolls and they came as walkers.
You know head turning Walkers and they were made of hard plastic so and she did call her eight inch doll Wendy.
So the Wendy doll is what she did use in hard plastic when she introduced her 1961 Internationals.
So she kept that hard plastic doll going and it's still used today in a hard plastic which is great because vinyl does discolor and it's um.
You know something you have to keep out of the Sun and get some discolored.
You know when exposed to sunlight um.
Yet um the early hard plastic does have problems with the plastic um decomposing somehow and giving off this horrible cheesy smell, and it's only in a few models.
But there are a lot of doll.
Other doll companies, the same thing um, but as long as I've owned the eight inch Wendy dolls I have not known you know: I have not smelled that at all so um.
So anyway, then you know, then she was always she's always put out baby dolls in vinyl uh, the huggums.
That's been a you know, another mainstay um and then, as I presented the you know, the 80s saw of The Rebirth of the international line.
They were still made, this hard plastic dolls no longer walkers, and that has each year since, like 1985, new international dolls have been introduced now in 1988 she did sell the company and she was well until her 90s um.
That's why a lot of um, true old collectors, feel that well, it's not being made by Madame Alexander anymore, so it can't be the same doll.
But you know, a lot of these dolls are planned ahead and I read in one of the books that she already had five to six years of dolls planned when she sold the doll in 1988.
uh the doll company in 1988.
She then died in 1990 at age, 95.
I believe a grandson is still was still very active in the company, even though there were other owners and it did go through several ownerships um.
The K and L kll dolls, Khan Lucas Lancaster bought it in 2011., I.
What's nice? Is they put the catalogs online? So you all you have to do is go to madamealexander.com and you can.
You know, browse the dolls right now for there's no dolls for sale, because the Toy Fair has not come out yet in the doll world.
The dolls have to be exhibited at a toy fair and then that's when the major department stores or sellers take their orders.
And then the dolls will be issued sometime in the spring, based on the orders, so I'm very anxious to see what they do for the 100th anniversary.
You know what they bring back, who they reissue I'm hoping um I lost my train of thought where I was going and I'm sorry I, don't know how to edit a video so I have to um um.
So let me go into the books.
Um I I collect more than just Madame Alexander dolls, um and I find I, have a lot of old books, so um cloth dolls by Polly, Judd, The, Judds, mother and daughter team.
They put out really good books on her plastic dolls, European costume dolls, because I do I collect um.
You know a lot of different types of dolls and here's another European costume dolls, because I thought I like travel dolls.
Well, if they're, the right size and the right look but I like to identify them.
So this helps me a lot identify because you can pick up like a box lot of these old.
You know people think they're old, junky dolls, but they were made in other countries.
So these help me identify the dolls in the countries.
Uh combo dolls I use just to review what you know: Madam Alexander uh put out in the 30s, and this again is by Polly and Pam God okay, but as far as the Alexander doll books, this Madam Alexander, collector's doll is like that was the Bible uh for us, older collectors and there's even a forward um by Madam Alexander in this.
So she approved of this book and she writes a very nice forward um about this book.
So this you know you can pick this up real cheap, but it is the Bible.
It goes into the composition and if you go on eBay, you will see these Cobble dolls are really going for really high prices.
People really want them, um that and the dolls are the most valuable dolls.
The second series is just editions of um.
Maybe things that were omitted in the main book, not necessarily okay, rare and hard to find dolls is very good and I had forgotten that I actually there's a whole section here on the seven inch and nine inch little Betty dolls um.
Maybe you can see and they're actually standing on the original doll box, as you can see, so those dolls which were issued in the late 30s and early 40s came in those floral doll boxes.
Okay and there are quite a few countries issued and I as I learned about them.
I actually added things to this book and I had forgotten.
I had done that because I've been meaning to write something for a long time.
Publishing a book now for me is out of the question the world of alexanderkins Again by Patricia, Smith and I.
Think this is really old um.
It's really good for uh the Alexander kins or the eight inch plastic dolls.
So she goes into all the Wendy's and different costumes and then in the back there's the uh.
The original International sets um.
You know so I've used this a lot for my dolls and then this is a very good book too.
I have the Patricia Smith version, I think there's another author, sadly Patricia Smith died, um fairly Young, um I want to say in the early 2000s, so this collector's book I believe they had someone else.
Then, author of this, to keep it in publication, so this is Madame Alexander, dolls, 1965-1990 and if what's good about it, is it's all color pictures, um of dolls of the modern era era and um.
Yes, that's another good book to pick up.
If you like those kind of dolls, so I just wanted to share um my library with you and um.
You know remind everybody that yeah.
This is the 100th anniversary of Madame, Alexander dolls and um I hope they continue making dolls.
It looks like now they may have gone through ownership changes again, because something on the website said around 2018, uh pardon us we are going through.
We have new owners or something and based- and they put out um well the princess dolls that they issued as Internationals.
That was actually started, one 2017, but based on the last few years they may be bringing back countries that they omitted the fact that they issued Monica um the country Monaco, which they never did.
I thought that was very interesting, so they might go back to then.
You know because there's a lot of countries in this world that aren't covered and oh I finished my um chronicling of the Dolls okay, so between 1961 and 2022, over 320 different International costumes were issued and I'm, not including the mold changes.
You know if I included the mold changes because, like I said, the same costume was issued, say the 1960s to 1986 you're talking three, possibly four doll.
Mold changes, I'm, not even counting that, so just in costumes alone, there I counted approximately 320., so um yeah.
The next thing I hope to do is review at least the Bentley Walkers and the boxes they came in and the bent knee dolls and then I'll try to do it chronologically.
So thank you for tuning in I hope you enjoyed this and I'm sorry I'm old school I, don't know how to edit my video.
So when I stumble across my words, I apologize and thank you for watching I'll see you soon.
In 1923, Madame Bertha "Beatrice" Alexander, then 28, founded the Alexander Doll Company. The dolls were originally made of cloth, then a composite material. After WWII, hard plastic revolutionized doll making. Alexander was also interested in the role toys could play in childhood development.What's so special about Madame Alexander dolls? ›
Today, the Madame Alexander Doll Company holds true to Madame Alexander's original vision—to create quality dolls that form meaningful, enduring and inspiring relationships. Our dolls have realistic details to encourage kindness in little ones and inspire passion in collectors.What is the most sought after Madame Alexander doll? ›
The Cissy doll, introduced in 1955, is one of the most popular and enduring Madame Alexander dolls. Cissy was the original fashion doll with an extensive wardrobe, and her popularity lasted through the 1950s and 1960s. Today, Cissy dolls are highly sought-after by collectors.What are the names of the Madame Alexander dolls? ›
- Darling Devil. $144.95. ...
- Cinderella. $144.95. ...
- Down the Rabbit Hole. $144.95. ...
- Norsk Prinsesse. $144.95. ...
- First Communion Day Light Skin Brown Eyes Brunette. $144.95. ...
- First Communion Day Light Skin Blue Eyes Blonde Hair. $144.95. ...
- First Communion Day Medium Skin Brown Eyes Brunette. $144.95. ...
- Red Riding Hood. $144.95.
The earliest documented dolls go back to the ancient civilizations of Egypt, Greece, and Rome. They have been made as crude, rudimentary playthings as well as elaborate art. Modern doll manufacturing has its roots in Germany, from the 15th century.What is the oldest dolls in the world? ›
Wooden paddle dolls seem to be the oldest complete doll found as they were found buried in Ancient Egyptian burial grounds and tombs which date back all the way to 2000BC.What type of dolls are Madame Alexander? ›
Composition Madame Alexander dolls: After introducing cloth dolls, Madame Alexander began making composition dolls. These are made up of a mixture of several compounds (such as sawdust, paper, glue, and plaster of paris).What is the number one doll in the world? ›
Perhaps no other doll is more famous than Barbie. While many know the statuesque modern version, many don't know the origins of Barbie.When were Madame Alexander dolls popular? ›
The 1950s have often been called the golden age of American dolls, and Madame Alexander was certainly at the forefront in the production of beautiful dolls. Many dolls familiar to collectors today, such as Cissy, Cissette, Elise, Lissy and Wendy were first introduced in the 1950s.Are Madame Alexander dolls still made today? ›
A Hundred Years of Kindness
Today, her legacy lives on as the Madame Alexander brand continues to make inspiring dolls that reflect a diverse, evolving world and creates kind kids for generations to come.
Today, collectors pay quite a bit of money for Madame Alexander dolls, shelling out anywhere from $100-$500. But if you are lucky enough to be holding onto a rarer model (or limited edition), those can go for as much as $20,000!How do you identify a Madame Alexander doll? ›
Most of these dolls will be clearly marked on their back or head with an Alexander marking and clothing tags usually give the doll characters name on a tag sewn into a seam.Where are Madame Alexander dolls made today? ›
Our dolls are designed in New York but are made at factories overseas that have been hand-picked for their ability to meet our high standards. Our production team works closely with our overseas manufacturers to ensure great quality and craftsmanship.Are Madame Alexander worth anything? ›
Today, collectors pay quite a bit of money for Madame Alexander dolls, shelling out anywhere from $100-$500. But if you are lucky enough to be holding onto a rarer model (or limited edition), those can go for as much as $20,000!Are vintage Madame Alexander dolls marked? ›
1923-1940 Alexander Cloth Dolls, 7-30" tall, all cloth dolls with mask face, side glancing painted eyes, yarn hair. Dolls are unmarked but clothing usually had a Madame Alexander tag. Shown is Bobby Q doll.