Wednesday, February 3, 2016


I have moved many things from the house to the new storage shed. On Monday (Feb. 1), Mike installed shelving on the remaining wall. We still have lots of floor space. Let’s see. How can we fill that? Never mind. We’ll think of something. However, it won’t be dolls, vintage paper, or books.

Speaking of dolls, several months ago a friend gave me a vintage Toni doll, c. 1950, which I restrung and re-wigged. The doll rewarded me by becoming a beauty before my eyes, which gave me the confidence to re-work my own well-loved (because well-used) dolls.   

My first diminutive doll was a Vogue “Ginny.” Her hair was blond, and she came in a cute little cotton dress and straw bonnet. Not long after the first “Ginny,” Mother brought the second to me upon her return from a trip. This “Ginny” had dark braids and wore the standard long-sleeved “Ginny” t-shirt and knit skirt.

It was a problem for me that I now had two dolls named “Ginny,” so Mother suggested that I name one “Mary.” Hence, the blond was “Ginny” and the doll with braids was “Mary.”

I don’t think I was particularly rough with my dolls, but I was a child and I played with them. As a result, Ginny and Mary both suffered hair trauma, so Mother ordered wigs for them from the Mark Farmer catalog, a doll parts supply company. (I can’t believe I finally remembered the name of that company.) Mother did the work, removing the old wigs and applying the new.

I had misgivings about this project, which I didn’t dare voice at that point. For one thing, though the wigs fitted the dolls, they seemed too big, overwhelming their little bodies. The hair was course and the color odd, and it seemed to me they compromised the quality of the dolls. “Ginny” and “Mary” became different “people,” if you will, and now I didn’t know which doll was which. You’re probably wondering what difference it made, and I think Mother said something to that effect, but to this day, I don’t remember which was which. And yes, I did care. As ridiculous as it may seem from the vantage point of 60 years, I still care. I hate to un-do anything my mother did, but I decided if she were here, she just might help me.

So, I tackled the little dolls as a project. I ordered fluffy short wigs and new bands from an online seller, and when those arrived, I set to work. First, I pulled the old wigs off. Mother had glued them down good, so it was no small feat. Next, I restrung their arms. Then, after cleaning each doll, I attached the new wigs -- this time with just a dab of glue. One doll volunteered to be Ginny, and I gave her the lighter wig. “Mary” got the dark one.
And here they are. I think they’re kinda cute with their frizzy hair. My mother made their matching dresses. Sadly, they don’t open their eyes. I tried sewing machine oil and then took a big chance and sprayed WD40 into their heads. They didn’t open their eyes but took off running . . . KW

[The picture with many dolls --
Bottom: Vogue Ginny (2) with their friend, a Virga doll. Second row: vintage Betsy McCall and a Madame Alexander. Top: Sassoon Ginny and daughter Hallie's Ginny dolls from the '80s.]


Chris said...

I can't believe how different they look with their short curly hair! I have (somewhere) two "Muffy" dolls. One with blond braids and one with red long curls (at least that's how I remember them). I need to do some digging under the stairs...

My vintage Betsy McCall is on display with my newer dolls, and she, like yours, had a leg broken at the knee. I glued it and while she can't bend at the knee (not that they ever did that well), she stands proudly.

Kathy said...

Hi Chris! Your vintage Betsy McCall is beautiful. I never would have guessed about her leg. In fact, in online research, I read that the knee joints on the first dolls were a bad design and many of them are peg-legged. The next year they changed the design.