My friend MaryAnne at Magpies Mumblings really started something with her photos of childhood dolls. I immediately pulled my own childhood friends from their safe box in the top of the wardrobe to compare.
Luckily I still have my friends Margaret, a Pedigree hard plastic walking doll from the late 1950's and Sue a vinyl Roddy doll from the early 60's and an even older Panda bear from the very early 1950's. Panda was given to me for my christening I believe and used to have a music box in his back. He has glass button eyes (a real no-no these days) and is a little worse for wear, but I'd never part with him. Margaret has not walked for many years, you would hold her hands and pull her towards you and she'd "walk" along with a rocking motion. I think my pesky younger brothers may have thrown her down a few too many times and broken pieces off the hips, and her seams are starting to open a little. This, according to my online rsearch, is not unusual with this type of hard plastic, and led to the invention of soft vinyl dolls.
Sue is marked "Roddy" on the back of her head, but it doesn't specify her country of manufacture. According to one online source, when the English factory closed in the early 1950's the molds were sold on, so perhaps her head was molded from one of those molds and assembled in Australia? I don't imagine my family could have afforded an imported doll when I was a girl, we were pretty poor back then. She still has her original lemon nylon dress and hat, but her little socks, panties and shoes are gone. Mum used to make her some great clothes, I still have some of them too. They included
- A complete school uniform with tunic, blouse, knitted beret and cardigan,
- A ski outfit with skis Dad made from pieces of shaped wood and ski poles from knitting needles and toy car tyres,
- A Red Riding Hood costume with a plastic basket, cape and dress
and lots of other knitted bits and pieces.
We used to enter Sue in the doll competitions at the school fetes, these were REALLY popular back in the 50's and 60's here, and you would raise money for the school by collecting votes (in coins) from your family and friends. We won quite a few prizes for best dressed doll.
I think the dolly dressing probably started my love affair with clothing and dressing up, so you see it's never to early to encourage the kids in something they like, you never know where it may lead them !!
PS I was very pleased today that my vinyl dolly Sue had not deteriorated badly. While re-arranging my wardrobes about 6 months ago I noticed she had a few spots and marks. I sponged her with warm soapy water, dried her well and laid her down in a cardboard box with air holes before returning her to the cupboard. So far, so good. Apparently these dolls can often suffer from Pedigree Disease where the vinyl can get greasy and spotty from poor storage, especially in plastic bags and boxes. It's very hard to treat, so I caught Sue just in time I think.