1. Shirley Temple: Ideal’s 1930s composition Shirleys caused a furor. Step aside, CPKs and Furby; the curly golden girl topped everyone. There were all kinds of variations on the original doll, and paper dolls, clothing, figures, and glassware, too.
A series of 1950s dolls were created, as well as a 1972 model of Shirley wearing the famous red polka dot dress. Since the 1950s, many other companies and individual artists have created Shirley dolls and figures. Besides the drink named after her, there is even bottled Shirley Temple soda today. Nothing says celebrity doll more clearly than a Shirley. If you have only one composition or celebrity doll in your collection, make it a Shirley Temple. It doesn’t hurt that her famous doll composition was recently auctioned by Theriault’s, either. Doll collectors all over the world became Shirley conscious, and a collector’s legend rose like a phoenix. Below is a video produced by Ruby Lane on the history of Shirley Temple dolls.
2. Barbie: She comes from a big family, has dozens of friends, wears the coolest clothes, and will be forever a teenager, even if she has run for president, been an astronaut, doctor, dentist, nurse, diplomat, actress, and more. Love her or hate her, Barbie has morphed into more than a doll. She is a personality, and a strong one to be reckoned with. The vintage dolls have the most adorable outfits; even the guys aren’t left out. Early Kens and Allans have suits, theater outfits, Halloween costumes, cool loafers, and bathing suits. Barbie in all her manifestations for the last almost 59 years is a history lesson of American culture and fashion. Creating fashions for her, as well as accessories, is a pastime in itself.
3. A China Head: Allegedly, more than one billion china heads were made in the kilns of Germany, alone, over the last 100 or so years. They are the quintessential antique doll, dazzling with their stark, pale complexions and rosy cheeks. China heads reproduced by artist Emma Clear and others during the late 40s led to a cottage industry. These dolls are among the most reproduced of antiques, yet they can be challenging to create. Still, they are bright, shiny, elegant, fun to costume, and beautiful. They add a touch of class to any doll collection and are living pieces of doll history.
4. An Antique Bisque Head: French or German, Parian, “dolly-faced” or character head, bisque headed dolls are appealing even to those who don’t like dolls. They are childlike and sweet, and come in many sizes and price ranges. Everyone should have at least one old doll in his or her collection, and bisque heads are excellent selections.
5. A Folk Doll: Perhaps more than any other dolls, folk dolls are portraits and expressions of their makers. Cornhusk dolls are an American and English tradition, while dolls of unusual materials are a testament to human imagination and ingenuity. The materials that go into a folk doll, cloth, an old shoe a cocoanut head or a bottle, tell the story of the doll’s origins, but also of her artist-creator. If dolls tell the story of humanity, folk dolls are humanities portraits.
Honorable mentions: Kewpie, Raggedy Ann, a Japanese Doll [Japan has entire temples and holidays devoted to dolls], a Chatty Cathy, a set of paper dolls, wooden dolls and wax dolls. These types of honorable mention collectibles come from the minds of famous artists, engineering, and engaging entrepreneurs, and can date to ancient times. What is your MUST-HAVE doll?
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