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Do you know what an “It” Doll is?
by Mary Senko, promoter, World Doll Day Events

If we were to ask a Doll Collector at any doll show what their “It” doll is, the answer would be as different as the person.  Doll Collecting is a unique hobby that merges beauty, history, buyer emotion, and pure appeal all in one!   There are tons of differences, but one thing remains the same… there is that one “It” doll that everyone searches for, but it’s not the same for any collector, which makes the hunt a thrill!

The French produced some of the clear front-runners of “It” Dolls, during the later part of the 19th and the early part of the 20th Centuries.   Limited quantities made shipping thousands of dolls to the US challenging, and the Germans out-produced the French with more German “Dolly Faced” dolls heading to the US than the French “Dollies.”  Besides German dolls, German immigrants were headed to our shores, starting companies and producing dolls and toys for the growing American Economy.  It is interesting the amazing German business innovation and imagination that emerged, and the American Economy that grew by leaps and bounds during the early part of the Twentieth Century.   

Continued Reading from Newsletter . . .

Albert Schoenhut, a German immigrant that landed in the Germantown area of Philadelphia, started his company in 1872, and by the turn of the Century was on his way to capturing a big piece of the German import doll market, and turning it on its head… just like his Wooden “Art Perfection” Doll could be turned and posed on her head!  Yes, it’s true!   Albert Schoenhut, embodied imagination and innovation, the hallmark of the growing American Economy, and today many of his early dolls are the absolute “It” doll that collectors search for.   

By WWI, the German doll machine, crippled by the War, was taking a significant hit from American ingenuity and manufacturers.  In 1911, when Albert Schoenhut, ever confident in the superiority of his product, took a German Doll and his wooden doll to the top of his 5 story building and dropped them both for the News Media to see on the Philadelphia City Street in front of his business, he knew he struck a shock wave to the German imports.  What lay on the ground was a shattered German doll in pieces, and his doll had a small nick on its nose.  Albert Schoenhut not only struck a chord with the American buyer for durability, he struck a huge blow to the Germans that American men would be fighting a world away in Europe starting in 1914. How could his doll not become the “It” doll for the century?   That marketing stunt, and many more that Albert Schoenhut created, made his doll a top seller, quickly displacing the German porcelain doll market.   It is not surprising that the picture we feature here is a gorgeous French Bru, an “It” doll in her own right manufactured in France, circa later 1870’s,   with her friends gathered around her pony.   Schoenhut, ever the innovative company is the manufacturer of the horse that is “worn” over the shoulders for the child to pay “horsey.”  Our Bru loves to play “horsey” with her friends, and would definitely be at the center of many a collection as the “It” doll.  

German creativity, not to be shot down for long following WWI, kept moving forward, with the Bye-lo baby regaining some of the lost sales ground following WW1. The Bye-lo, coined the “Million Dollar Baby,” created by Grace Story Putnam an American artist, but made by Alt  Beck and Gottschalck, in German,  was a “barn-stormer,” and became an immediate “It” doll that every little girl had to have.   The Baby was a hit with its softly painted porcelain head, and frog like baby body, that could be diapered and played with by little girls everywhere.  The American manufacturers, striving to grab a piece of that market, and other German manufacturers wanting a piece of the pie were all jumping in, flooding the market with baby dolls, and many are seen today.   Nothing compared to the Bye-lo, produced in Germany, even with the attempts at copies from everywhere. 

Whatever your “It” doll is today, be it modern, artist, antique, vintage, the fun is in the search, and adding another treasure to your collection.  If you are searching for your “It” doll, or just want to have a peak at some of the great trends going on in the Doll Market today, visit a doll event in your area. There will be displays, quality dealers selling everything from Modern, Artist, Vintage, and Antique and many “It” dolls (depending on what you are searching for) along with bears and accessories.There is plenty of opportunity to look for your “It” doll, talk with dealers, shop to your heart’s content, and share the event with friends and family. 

Mary Senko, owner/promoter of World Doll Day Shows. A lifetime Doll enthusiast and collector, who admits to having a lot of “It”  dolls in her collection. 
Please visit www.WorldDollDayShows.com for a listing of her events though out the western United States or www.DollShowUSA.com for an event near you!