The 22 Inch Edison's Talking Phonograph Doll was made with imported German Simon Halbig 719 bisque heads on a distinctive ball jointed composition and wood body with a pressed metal torso, originally fitted with a mechanism for playing a wax record. The head is marked S & H 719 DEP.
This darling doll has blue glass sleep eyes, feathered brows, fine painted upper and lower lashes, open mouth with molded upper teeth and pierced ears. The wig is antique brown mohair, matching her brows. Dressed in an antique cotton and lace dress, a full set of matched underclothes, cotton socks and antique shoes, she is the perfect child of her time. A lace frilled cotton bonnet compliments her outfit. The mechanism is missing from this doll. Reading the history below, it is probable that she never had one.
Despite several years of experimentation and development, the Edison Talking Doll was a dismal failure that was only marketed for a few short weeks in early 1890. No damage and no repair, doll is in perfect condition. The doll was an almost instant failure for several reasons. The crank mechanism had to be turned at a steady speed in order to hear the one individually recorded nursery rhyme. The steel needle caused the wax record to wear out extremely rapidly. Plus the high price was equal to about two weeks salary for the average family. Although 2,500 dolls had been shipped to Edison's Toy Manufacturing Company in March 1890, less than 500 dolls were actually sold and most of those were returned by unhappy customers. Production ceased at the beginning of May, 1890 and the dolls were withdrawn from the market. Returned dolls, along with the large remaining stocks of unsold dolls at the Edison factory, were sold off with the phonographs removed.
All Edison dolls are very scarce today but those with their original phonograph intact are extremely rare, with only a few survivors known to exist. The majority of Edison dolls today either have no phonograph mechanism. A small number have been fitted with a replica mechanism.