My Mysterious Vintage Girl
A few weeks ago, I mentioned having come across an Ideal Miss Revlon doll at an antique mall for a great price. Well, after having done some research, it turns out that she is definitely not a Revlon doll, nor any doll made by the Ideal company. However, I’m quite sure she’s genuinely from the era of Ideal’s Revlon dolls — late 1950s to early 1960s — so it’s not like I feel ripped off.
This is her. I’ve decided to name her Patty. If you’ve ever seen any photos of Ideal’s Miss Revlon dolls, I’m sure you see the similarities. But if you really know your Ideal dolls, you may already see the differences as well.
Here’s a close-up of her face. There’s some dirt and smudges, which I’ll do my best to clean off at some point, but right now I want to be careful, lest I cause damage instead of getting rid of the dirt. (I have no idea what the best procedure for cleaning a vintage doll is. I’m going to have to research it after the semester ends.)
Particularly noteworthy about her face is her mouth: it’s unlike any of the dolls I could find in my searches. I think maybe there’s a little Madame Alexander influence there, as well as the Ideal influence.
As is common in pre-Barbie fashion dolls, she has sleep eyes. Unfortunately, one of the eyelids has white stuff on it. I have no idea what that white stuff is, or what the best method to clean it would be. (That, too, will be researched later, needless to say.) It seems to prevent the eye from opening as fully as the other one, as I’m sure you noticed in the previous picture.
Obviously these maker’s marks were my first clue that she was not, in fact, by Ideal, as they tended to mark their dolls very clearly. I couldn’t find anything in a few hours’ searching to identify her by these marks, though. (I know I should have spent longer than that, but between school work and researching for the April A-to-Z feature on my main blog, I couldn’t spare any more time!)
While I’m showing the back of her head, here’s the rest of it. That isn’t so much a bald spot, btw, as the hair having been matted away from her head in that one place. Again, once I have time to look into the best methods, I’m hoping a nice washing will fix up her hair a little.
As you can see, she obviously spent a long time lying on her back on someone’s shelf. (Or in their toybox. Or their attic. Where it was isn’t really the point.)
So let’s move away from her face and look at the rest of her construction.
Her hands are very nicely sculpted, and remind me of a baby doll I’ve had since I was a little girl, which I always thought was Ideal, though she turns out to be Horseman. (I wonder where I got the notion she was Ideal from? It was very firmly in my mind, but…) Said doll’s copyright date is in the early 1960s. (Which presumably means they kept reusing the mold for more than 10 years, not that someone gave a tiny child a doll that was already more than 1o years old. Because that would be a really lousy thing to do.) So this style of hand design is clearly at least as old as the 1960s.
In fact, to back up my statement further, I went and checked a couple of my mother’s childhood dolls from the mid-1950s. (For some reason she had a whole box of them, and she said I could have any I wanted…and she was planning on throwing away the rest. Thankfully, I convinced her to donate them to the toy museum where I work instead of throwing them away.) Both had fairly similar hands, and one of them was entirely similar to Patty here, only on a very different scale:
The little doll is standing very precariously, because the rubber band stringing her together snapped at some point, and I completely failed at re-stringing her, but I keep forgetting to contact the doll hospital to see how much it would cost to re-string her. However, I’m getting on that right away, because I checked the back of her head, and you know what the maker’s mark said? “Ideal Doll”! That, my friends, is an Ideal Little Miss Revlon doll. And because she got her fairly late in childhood, my mother didn’t play with her enough to cause her much damage. (Uh, beyond the snapped rubber band, I mean.) So once she’s been re-strung, I’ll totally take lots of pictures of her to show her off. 😀 (At one point, I took a picture of Pyrrha wearing that Little Miss Revlon dress, btw.)
Anyway, seeing the two of them right next to each other like that, it’s easy to come to the conclusion that Patty is one of the many imitators of Ideal’s Revlon dolls. The fact that there were many imitators came up on many of the sites I visited looking for information. Something else that I realized, though I never saw it outright stated anywhere, is that for many — maybe even most — of those imitators, we have literally no information. For example, look at this page here. It shows a part of a catalog from 1961, then shows a doll that may or may not be the one in the catalog. For the dolls on that catalog page, then, all we have to go on is that catalog page. And for dolls not listed in any catalogs? We got nothing. (Unless someone happens to have one somewhere still in/with its package/tags.) And the doll they’re highlighting there looks a fair bit like Patty, apart from having fewer joints, being a different height, and being African-American. (Okay, yeah, maybe that’s the opposite of looking like her…) Does that mean they’re from the same manufacturer? Who knows!
But, you see, that’s why I’m not bothered that Patty has turned out not to be the Ideal Miss Revlon doll the seller at the antique mall said she was. Because she’s actually more rare this way. I don’t know the numbers, but there are enough Ideal Miss Revlon dolls out there that the line is still famous (at least in the right circles). But Patty? For all I know, she could be the only surviving doll of her line. (Yes, it’s unlikely, but it is theoretically possible.) So while it’s a little sad that I’ll never know exactly where she came from, it’s also cool to have a doll that’s a little bit more unique.
[EDIT (3/30/17): Okay, Patty’s definitely not unique. I just didn’t search hard enough — or smart enough — to find out her proper origins. But I ran across her exact twin (in slightly better condition) being sold on Etsy, which gave me information on her manufacturer and identity. She’s a Deluxe Reading Candy Fashion Doll, and originally would have come with three additional outfits. She was on the market from 1958 to 1965…and was primarily sold in grocery stores. Seriously. Grocery stores. Aaaaaanyway, so there is it, mystery solved. I’m not changing her name from Patty to Candy, though, since I’ve already got a doll named Candy. (My pink-haired Angel Dal.)]
Um, okay, getting back to talking about Patty’s construction…let’s move on to the photos showing her whole construction.
Despite her somewhat child-like hands, she’s clearly supposed to be a teenager. (I didn’t take her shoes off, btw, because they didn’t seem to want to slip right off, and I didn’t want to risk damaging her.) You notice the difference in skin tone between the head and arms on the one side, and the torso and legs on the other? Well, there’s a good reason for that: they’re made of a very different material. The head and arms have a very sturdy construction, heavy plastic or vinyl. The torso and legs have a more flimsy construction, being made of hollow and fairly thin plastic. (That was another good indicator that she wasn’t made by Ideal!)
The elbow joints, strangely enough, don’t work in the normal fashion: they allow her arms to rotate, but not to bend. I cannot imagine why anyone would want to design a doll elbow to do that. (And yes, I should have taken that modern ring off her wrist. But it looked kind of neat as a bracelet, and…)
Now, by contrast, check out the back of her knees. Those are good joints!
They can actually bend further than that, but they wouldn’t hold the pose. I blame gravity: those shoes are heavier than her whole leg, so they drag the foot back down again. They held a bent position much better when she was sitting. But she didn’t really sit very well in terms of leg position. (A bit straddly, y’know?)
Anyway, Patty is quite tall — as the earlier shot with my mother’s doll made pretty clear — standing at about 22 inches.
I think Juliet’s not quite sure how she feels about having someone else so close to her own height around. 😛 Or maybe she feels sorry for Patty because she has so few joints.
Obviously, I had to try one of those 28 inch Barbie dresses on Patty to see how it would look! And the answer is “actually, really great!” (You know, I’ve never actually posted the pictures of Juliet in this dress, or the outfit above, have I? Hmm…maybe I’ll add them to some other post at some point, but it hardly seems worth giving it its own post at the moment. (Especially since I’ve gotten her yet another 28 inch Barbie dress to wear, which I haven’t even photographed yet.) The pictures are in Juliet’s gallery, if anyone’s interested.) I think this dress may look better on Patty than on Juliet, in fact. (It helps that it’s basically a pink version of “Solo in the Spotlight,” of course. Vintage style will always look best on a vintage doll.) For the moment, I’ve put Patty back in her own dress, but I may have her spend some time in this one later on. (I should totally get a picture of Juliet in Patty’s dress, now that I’m thinking about it…)
Anyway, I guess I’ve run out of things to say about Patty for the moment. But I want to close with one last photo. That early shot of her face, with the super-strong shadow in the background, made me think of the visual style of the psychological thrillers of Patty’s era…so I just had to render it in black and white to complete the effect. 😛
Think she’s waiting for Mr. Hitchcock to call her?
The gallery for this post is here, btw.
Appropriately enough, when I got off work early yesterday due to the ball game that was going to start down the street, I went to an antique mall on the way home, and I found lots of cool stuff, which I can’t wait to tell you about, and yet I’ll have to wait until next Sunday unless I want to double-post. (The down side of April A-to-Z!) The really appropriate part, though, is that one of the things I found was a doll who really is Ideal. 😛 (She’s not a Revlon doll of any size, though.)