What’s it Worth – Free Antiques & Collectables Price Guide
Free Antiques & Collectables Price Guide
Free Antiques & Collectables Price Guide
Confessions of a Disney Fast F ood Toy Collector I thought I’d fill you in on why I collect Disney Happy Toy meals, and such. How I Started Collecting Disney Fast Food Toys ? I started my collection of Disney toys from McDonalds and Burger King gradually. Several years ago I purchased a Happy Meal and decided that the ‘free’ Thumper rabbit toy was well made and absolutely ‘darling’. I began to buy snacks until I had all of that set except Bambi. That really bugged me. I hung the Bambi toys on my Christmas tree. Years later I ran across the Aladdin toys at Burger King, and with a meal, I got, the wind up Genie. I was thrilled with the thing, and kept it on my desk at work. Next thing you know, I would just…happen…to buy one meal a week and got all of the set except Jafar. Then they had the Snow White Happy Meals at McDs. That did it. I then began to ‘collect’ with a passion. I have purchased every Disney toy, even those only loosely connected to Disney, such as Muppet sets, since then. Then I discovered that you can routinely find the toys at flea markets. I found my precious missing “Bambi” and “Jafar Toys”. I started prowling the markets picking up toys usually for .25 to 1.00 (at more knowlegable sellers). I ran into one ‘pirate’ lady who managed to sell to me several toys at $ 3 to $ 5 each! Those were for toys that predated myself purchased collection. Now here’s the kicker. As I broke down and admitted to people where I work – a State job – other collectors of Happy Meal Toys “Came out of the Closet”. Most are casual collectors, dabblers. Some are as hard core about it as I am. Why do I collect Disney Fast Food Toys ? Because they make me feel good. My childhood predates Happy Meals, I am 44. But they are cute, they are Disney, and how many people can indulge a harmless hobby for which they can even go ‘antique’ hunting when nearly broke?! I have gotten terrific days of toy hunting for which I spent less than one dollar! Lets see an ordinary, mundane antique hunter, do that. In conclusion, I once was disappointed to arrive at a Burger King to be told that they’d sold out of the wind-up Meeko toys (Pocahontas) days earlier. Another adult on line behind me, had an absolute hissy fit. Later on, outside of the restaurant, the man, looked to be in his 30’s, told me that he collected two toys from each fast food store, for EVERY promotion! I thought I was a ‘fanatic’ because I collect 2 toys from every Disney Promotion, just at BK and McD’s. I therefore believe that there are more adults out there, – closet collectors – than anyone suspects. Ask BK about their BK Lion King promotion here in Sacramento Believe me, wasn’t just kids buying THAT many toys! from Richard Eyman
Robert Harrop created this wonderful set of official Roald Dahl figurines based on the illustrations by Quentin Blake in 2003. There are 27 figurines in the collection featuring all of Dahl’s most famous characters with RD01 being Willy Wonka. As with all Harrop figurines they are very accurate and a true portrayal of Blakes illustrations. The Roald Dahl Robert Harrop collection is very collectable and is one of the few collections increasing in value. Robert Harrop Roald Dahl figurines RD01 Willy Wonka RD02 Charlie Bucket RD03 The BFG RD04 Mr Twit RD05 Mrs Twit RD06 Matilda RD07 Georges Marvelous Medicine RD08 Fantastic Mr Fox RD09 The Grand High Witch RD10 The Enormous Crocodile RD11 The Giraffe, the pelly and me RD12 Alfie RD13 James and the Grasshopper RD14 The magic finger RD15 Miss Trunchbull RD16 Violet Beauregarde RD17 Grandpa Joe RD18 Danny the champion of the world RD19 Badger RD20 Augustus Gloop RD21 Boggis RD22 Bunce RD23 Bean RD24 Veruca Salt RD25 Mike Teavee RDCP Collection plaque RDLE1 Dream Catcher/BFG For more information about Robert Harrop visit https://www.robertharrop.com/
Every good, middle or upper class Victorian gentleman worth his salt would have owned one. A small silver propelling pencil, perhaps attached to an Albert chain with a fob watch on the other end and stored in a waistcoat pocket, or kept with a notebook for a day’s important jottings. These retractable, sliding pencils were not inexpensive, and as such were bought or received as prestigious gifts and kept for a lifetime. They were made in enormous variety, with the size, shape, materials and level of decoration being a display of both your wealth and tastes. A little like today’s mobile phones or handbags, I suppose. Pictured: A Victorian gold and hardstone mounted propelling pencil, by Sampson Mordan & Co. Estimate £250-£350. Image Copyright Bonhams. Although there were many makers and retailers, there’s one name that jumps out as being bound inextricably with these pencils, right back to their inception and development in the early 19th century. That name is Sampson Mordan, famed and (once) famous silver and goldsmith. However, having said this, all is not so clear. The precise details of the development of this indispensable writing tool lie with someone else. Pictured: A Victorian Sampson Mordan & Co, London 1895 propelling pencil – A good quality Victorian fully hallmarked silver sliding Propelling Pencil, the cylindrical body with deep foliate scroll engraved decoration, an engraved cartouche with the owners name, the screw-off seal terminal set with a bloodstone. The image is Copyright of Steppes Hill Farm Antiques who have a speciality in pens and writing equipment. Visit https://www.steppeshillfarmantiques.com to view their site. As with many important inventions, the name of the real brain behind it is not the one that is most widely known. In this case, the real inventor was an engineer called John Isaac Hawkins. An interesting and innovative man who shared his life between the US and UK, Hawkins was also responsible for developing a polygraph and an upright piano, as well as conjuring up the name ‘bi-focals’. Hawkins had seen that most pencils were made from a long lead bound in wax and rope or fabric, or cased in wood or metal. As they were used, they needed to be sharpened, requiring extra tools. Surely the lead could be placed in a mechanism allowing it to be telescoped out on a spiral as it wore down through use? This would also then allow all manner of elaborate cases to be developed, widening the market for his invention. So, in 1822, the twist-screw mechanism behind most propelling pencils was developed. Precisely what Mordan had to do with this is, I believe, as yet unknown, although he is credited as co-inventor despite apparently having had little experience of inventing or engineering himself. However, Mordan had studied under another inventor, Joseph Bramah, who also had a hand in developing writing instruments, so perhaps he met Hawkins and grew his knowledge this way. Pictured: A Victorian Sampson Mordan & Co novelty propelling pencil c 1880 – A rare Victorian novelty silver Propelling Pencil formed as a 19th century Golf Club, the pencil emerging from the handle with a twist mechanism. The image is Copyright of Steppes Hill Farm Antiques who have a speciality in pens and writing equipment. Visit https://www.steppeshillfarmantiques.com to view their site. Whatever, Mordan was able to acquire the total rights to the design in the same year. Quite why Hawkins sold them outright so quickly to Mordan is a mystery. Some say that Hawkins was primarily an inventor and engineer and was not interested in business, and there is evidence to back this up. To use two clichés, Mordan took the bull by its horns and really went to town. He built a highly successful business that, by the mid 19th century, was arguably unrivalled in terms of its expertise, skill and inventiveness. Many thousands of examples were produced with their cases ranging in form from simply decorated cylinders to novelty shapes such as owls and even people. However, by the early 20th century, people began to turn their back on Mordan’s costly confections. The development of brightly coloured plastics, and the rise of famous names such as Parker, Waterman and MontBlanc, sounded the death knell. People wanted more, for less, and they could have it. When the Mordan factory was bombed during WWII, the final end came. Even so, the company he founded lives on today, having been bought by traditional maker Yard-O-Led, part of the Filofax group. Despite what I have said above, and the precious materials used, the majority of examples found will have values of somewhere between £40 and £400. This really isn’t expensive for what they are, when you think about it. After all, these are made from solid silver or solid gold, and were made entirely by hand with skilled use of machines for certain tasks, including making the finely engineered internal parts. Just think how much similar work would cost today if you walked into, say, Asprey? There are four primary concerns when thinking about value. Firstly, there is the material. Solid gold is obviously more valuable than solid silver. It would have cost considerably more at the time, so is rarer today as fewer would have been sold. High (18) carat gold is even scarcer, particularly in fine condition as gold is a comparatively soft and easily worn material in high carats. Look closely too, as there are three colours of gold; yellow, green and rose/pink. The addition of precious stones is also a sign of rarity. Whilst small turquoise cabochons were often used during the 1860s & 70s, and seed pearls can also be found, precious stones such as rubies and sapphires are much scarcer. A pencil like the tiny one shown here combines all of these– three colours of solid gold, pearls and precious stones – rare indeed. In fact, only four have ever been seen by collectors. Other materials found on Mordan pencils include ivory, tortoiseshell and carved wood. Despite its humble origins, carved wood can be quite rare, particularly if […]
Do you know where Sailor’s Valentines originated from? If you guessed that they were made by sailors for their loved ones, you would be wrong! In fact, the majority of high specification Sailor’s Valentines originated from the Caribbean, principally Barbados. These Sailor’s Valentines are now a highly sought-after collectors item, with some pieces selling for thousands at auction! There are also many shellcraft items actually made by sailors but many of these are quite primitive and might for example be a sewing needle case decorated with shells. In this feature we look at the boxed form examples made by the artisans in the Caribbean in the 19th century. What are Sailors Valentines? Sailor’s Valentines are a type of folk art that were typically composed of seashells arranged in a frame, and they often include colorful designs and romantic and sentimental messages. A classic sailor Valentine is an octagonal, glass-fronted, hinged wooden box that is 8 to 20 inches (20 to 51 cm) wide and features beautiful symmetrical decorations made completely of tiny sea shells of different colours that have been attached to a background. The name comes from the fact that the designs frequently include a focal point, like a compass rose, heart, or flower basket and that occasionally the tiny shells are utilised to form the letters of a motto or a special message. Messages noted include ‘ Think of Me ‘, and ‘ Remember Me When This You See ‘, ‘Love The Giver ‘, ‘ Love Be True ‘, and ‘ Home Sweet Home ‘. Origins of Sailors Valentines While the exact origin of Sailors Valentines is unclear, it is believed that they originated in the 19th century and were at their most popular between 1830 and 1890. They were designed to be brought home from a sailor’s voyage at sea and given to the sailor’s loved one or loved ones. The romantic notion was that they were made by the sailors whilst on their travels but it now thought that they were actually made by artisans in the Caribbean and sold as gifts. One shop in Barbados, the New Curiosity Shop, has become recently noted as being one of the principal places selling these Sailor’s Valentines. Some cases have been found still bearing the shops label – B.H. Belgrave Barbados. B.H. (Benjamin Hinds) Belgrave opened the New Curiosity Shop – featuring “Marine Specimens and Native Manufactures in Fancy Work” – in Bridgetown Barbados in 1878. Now known as the primary source of Sailors Valentines, the shop was later taken over and operated by his brother, George Belgrave, from 1895 until his death in 1925. The market for Sailor’s Valentines There is a strong market for high specification examples in excellent condition. The market is stronger in North America with many more examples appearing at auction there. Fine examples sell for upwards of £2,000 / $2,500.
If you combine Disney, ENESCO and talented artist Miss Mindy you get a wonderful and unique re-imagining of Disney with The World of Miss Mindy. The collection has definitely struck a chord here at WCN and everybody loves Miss Mindy’s take on Belle, Cogsworth and Lumiere. The launch collection of The World of Miss Mindy comprises of twelve figurines in differing sizes, the larger figurines have diorama scenes within the characters dresses that light up to add to their whimsical charm. Three classic Disney films are represented in the offering, Sleeping Beauty, Snow White and Beauty and the Beast along with the Cheshire Cat, Mickey & Minnie and Tinker Bell. Miss Mindy works in many mediums and her ‘Cartoon Folk Art’ ranges from fluid ink drawings and paintings, to her fabulously handcrafted sculptures in our launch collection. She plays with the characters’ lines — exaggerating their head shapes and enlarging the expressive eyes, whilst making other features more petite. Miss Mindy has been a prolific professional artist for many years. She paints commissions for her private collectors, and showcase her paintings and sculpture, whilst Character designing for animation studios like Disney, WildBrain, and Warner Brothers. She’s directed her own cartoon with Nickelodeon Animation, and has some treats in store for the future! Aside from Animation, Miss Mindy also creates illustration and ideas for Mattel, Hard Rock café, Zippo, and many others. She has also written and illustrated two books with Baby Tattoo Books Publishing and recently designed her own line of vinyl toys with Disney Vinylmation. For more information visit ENESCO or https://missmindy.com
When considering the talented designers of the Doulton Lambeth factory, there is one woman whose impressive works cannot go unmentioned. Hannah Barlow was not only one of the most innovative and skilled designers of this famed factory but also a pioneer in her own right due to the fact that she was the ever first female artist to be employed by the South London based Doulton Lambeth Studio. Pictured right: A pair of Hannah Barlow stoneware deer and stag vases impressed marks — 38cm. high. Sold for £2,820 at Christies, London, August 2000. Born into a family of nine children in 1851, Hannah lived in Bishop’s Stortford with her Bank Manager father, Benjamin and his wife. At an early age Hannah already had a talent for drawing and would take walks in the surrounding countryside to sketch the plant and animal life that resided there. This interest in nature was something which would stay with Hannah throughout her life and became the subject matter that was so prolific in all of her future works. Realising her talent for art, in 1868 Hannah enrolled in the Lambeth School of Art to progress this skill. It was a few years later in 1871, that, along with other fellow students, Hannah began to work for the local Doulton Lambeth pottery which had recently diversified from producing industrial ceramics to more elaborate art pottery and decorative wares. Great artists such as George Tinworth, Frank Butler and Hannah Barlow would skilfully decorate the salt-glazed brown stoneware vessels that Doulton were now creating and were allowed to choose the type of decoration themselves and what shape of vessel to apply this design to. Although Hannah was to be the first female designer employed by Doulton she was not the only talented artist in her family to join the British factory. Both her brother Arthur and sister Florence also possessed an artistic flare and attended the Lambeth School of Art, before joining their sister, and furthering their careers by working alongside her for the Doulton pottery. The two sisters, Hannah and Florence, both shared a love of nature, so it was agreed early on in their working careers, that Hannah would concentrate on designs inspired by animals whilst her sister indulged her passion for flowers and produce floral designs. Pictured left: Hannah Barlow for Doulton Lambeth – A Pair of Salt-glazed Vases, circa 1895 each vase incised with three bulls and two horses grazing within a rugged country landscape 28.5cm high, with impressed Doulton Lambeth mark and incised artist’s monogram. Sold for £1,062 at Bonhams, London, April 2014. Both were extremely talented artists and their work was very realistic. Each would initially sketch a design then using the technique of Sgraffito (incising) they would apply the design into the wet clay of a vessel before it was fired. Every piece that was produced by the artists at the Doulton studio was hand-decorated, thus ensuring that each item was unique in design, technique and decoration. Hannah excelled at creating illustrations of animals with some of her favourite subjects being British farm animals such as sheep, horses and pigs. Many examples of her work have sold for respectable prices at salerooms all over the world; her works of art are highly sought after by collectors. Recently a shallow bowl dating to 1883 sold at Bonhams Saleroom for £2,300. Artistically incised with pigs and hens this piece is synonymous with Hannah Barlow and as such, commands a price that is expected for this female designer’s work. Another example, also sold at Bonhams. were an outstanding pair of early vases dating to 1873. These twin handled vessels were incised with six Trojan Style horses which showed them cantering and galloping across fields. An unusual example, this vase sold for a staggering hammer price of £4,800. Pictured right: Hannah Barlow for Doulton Lambeth – An Early Salt-Glaze Jug with Horse, 1874 incised with a horse portrait and stylised leaf decoration 25.5cm high, with impressed Doulton Lambeth mark and incised artist monogram Sold for £325 at Bonhams, London, April 2014. Aside from the more common domestic farm animals, Hannah was inspired by many different living creatures. Her work was often embellished with countryside inhabitants such as rabbits and foxes, but she also liked to draw and incise more exotic animal motifs such as lions and kangaroos. This Australian inhabitant first appeared in 1878 on a tea service and proved popular so Hannah continued to apply this motif to all sorts of other various shaped vessels. It is said that Hannah was possibly inspired to sketch and decorate pieces with kangaroos because of the preparations for the Sydney International Exhibition which took place in 1879. Wherever Hannah gained her inspiration, her skill became evident when she would expertly sketch a scene that almost came alive when applied to the various vases, dishes and jardinières that she worked on. Hannah’s talent for drawing, combined with her skilled eye for design ensured that each piece created was not only a stunning ceramic work of art but also a living window into the animal kingdom. Her work was worthy of a place on the wall in an art gallery. Pictured left: Hannah Barlow (Fl.1871-1913) & Florence Barlow (Fl.1873-1909) Pair Of Vases, Circa 1890 stoneware, hand decorated, incised with rabbits, and pâte-sur-pâte painted birds, impressed Doulton Lambeth, incised artist’s monograms, numbers 443 & 742, assistants marks 7¾ in. (19.7 cm.) high. Sold for £4,375 at Christies, London, September 2009. Hannah was prolific in her work during the forty years that she was employed by the British Doulton Studio, and was responsible for creating some of the most innovative and finest designs in stoneware. An accomplished artist, not only is she remembered as one of the most celebrated designers of the 19th Century but also as a pioneering female ceramicist whose work will hopefully continue to command the prices that are so deserving. Fact File Doulton & Co was founded in 1815. In 1871 Henry Doulton set up the Lambeth Studio in South London Hannah Barlow indulged her passion for animals by […]
There’s something special about tinplate fire engines. They’re intricate, they’re beautiful, and they hark back to a bygone era of firefighting. For collectors the area is easily definable and a good collection can be acquired. We include a number of examples along with their estimates or prices achieved at auction. Tinplate fire engines were first produced in the late 19th century, and they quickly became popular among children and toy collectors alike. Some of the most collectable and highly prized tinplate fire engines were made by the German and French toy companies including Marklin, Bing, Arnold, Distler and Unis. They were often colourful with excellent and transfer printing including names, firemen and fire engine details. Some models included extending ladders and detachable tin firemen. Clockwork tinplate fire engines are particularly desirable, especially in good working order. British toy makers such as Mettoy made tinplate fire engines.
Most people recognise pieces of Szeiler – even if they don’t know what they are. A contradiction in terms? Maybe, but any visit to an antiques centre or collectables fair will result in the sighting of several of these charming pieces nestling quietly amongst brighter ceramic figures, waiting for their subtle appeal to be noticed. And once you’ve noticed, you’re hooked! Many people must have fallen for one of these attractive sculptures without even reading the backstamp, and only later seen the oval Szeiler logo. A typical Szeiler piece will be a small animal, such as a cat, dog or donkey, modelled in a slightly stylised pose with smooth contours which entice you to touch, and probably it will be decorated in light beige, white, or the palest of blue. Joseph Szeiler was born in Hungary in 1924. Though his original ambition was to become a veterinary surgeon, he was forced to give up his studies at Budapest University because the country was in such turmoil. After fleeing to Austria, he arrived in Britain in 1948, and worked at various potteries in the Midlands, including Wade Heath, where he was employed as a caster. Joseph obviously enjoyed the work because he decided to study ceramics and learn all he could about modelling, until finally he was skilled enough to have his own business. He went to work for an esteemed freelance modeller, C S Lancaster of Burslem, who taught him the various processes involved, including mould making and casting. Joseph also attended evening classes at Burslem School of Art. By 1951 he was in business, working from a small rented room in Hanley, but as he had no kiln he had to carry the heavy boxes of greenware for a mile to the local tile factory which fired the pieces for him. He modelled small creatures, decorating and glazing them himself, and his love of animals is evident in his work. Four years later he had earned enough money to open his own factory at Burslem where he produced not only animals, but also tableware, vases and other small pieces, and employed six people, including two of his fellow countrymen. One of Joseph’s most popular lines was the sad-eyed dog. These melancholy sitting spaniels with ultra-large heads came in a variety of sizes, and are still favourites with today’s collectors, who attempt to get the full range – more difficult than it sounds, as new sizes are still being discovered. It seems that much of the ware hasn’t been fully researched or listed, and though collectors are doing their best by noting everything they find, unknown pieces are still coming to light. Many of the creatures have a ‘cartoon-type’ sweet appearance, such as the spaniels mentioned earlier, and a range of cats (actually referred to as Bighead cats in an early Szeiler catalogue), which came in various colours such as tabby, grey, black or Siamese, and stood two-and-a-half inches tall. A ‘Nightie’ cat was a Bighead standing, wearing a long nightdress, and a Puffy cat was plump and round, and decorated with coloured spots! Another charming model featured a kitten with a drum, demonstrating to perfection Szeiler’s classic beige/ white/blue colouring. Bears included a range of adorable chunky cubs, about four inches tall, sitting upright with their forepaws casually resting on their hindpaws. Another played peek-a-boo by peeping cheekily through his legs. Donkeys must have been in demand, too, judging by the variety produced by the company. Many of them had ultra-long ears, vulnerable to breakage so always check before you buy to make sure they haven’t been repaired. As with the dogs, donkeys can be found in many sizes in both sitting and standing poses. Donkeys pulling carts were also made, once again showing off that attractive colour scheme. The enormous variety of creatures produced by the factory included foxes, zebras, pigs, deer, goats, chimpanzees, kingfishers, penguins and lambs. Giraffes were particularly attractive with caricature type faces and the distinctive beige and blue colouring. Horses, too, were popular and were featured in several poses including grazing, standing, lying and rearing on their hind legs. As well as the sad-eyed character spaniels, numerous realistic models of dogs were made such as corgis, poodles and collies. The catalogue also lists ‘Tubby dog’ and ‘Podgy dog’! A popular piece in the 1960s was a scared mouse inside a brandy glass, with an inquisitive cat attempting to climb inside, and one wonders how many homes still contain those Szeiler-made cat and mice. Some of the animal ranges were fancifully decorated with a floral design, and these could form a super collection on their own. Floral elephants, cows, pigs and, perhaps nicest of all, yawning hippos, would bring a smile to any ceramics display. The Nationality Series was an intriguing range featuring a collection of dogs dressed to resemble various countries. Each little dog was mounted on a base bearing its name written in script, and was modelled with great humour. George was an English bulldog wielding a cricket bat, Ping a Chinese pekinese with a conical straw hat, Gwen a Welsh corgi in traditional tall black hat, Jock a kilted Highland terrier and Pierre, a beretwearing French poodle clutching a baguette. Studio Szeiler also produced an enormous range of tiny white oval vases, edged in gold, each bearing a transfer print. These vases must have been sold in every souvenir shop across the country, judging from the huge amount around today – and they were still being produced in the late 1970s, as they could be obtained commemorating the Queen’s Silver Jubilee. Though lacking the charm of the skilfully moulded animals, they would form an inexpensive collection, and, as with the figures, look best when they are grouped. They measure three inches in height (though some are slightly taller), and would only have held a very tiny posy. The tremendous range of subjects included dogs, cats, owls, butterflies, flowers and birds – it seems that any transfer available was used for these […]
Collecting Annie Dolls – When the Annie musical first hit London, in 1978, following on from the Broadway production a year before, it was a smash-hit. It gave numerous young girls a chance to shine, amongst them a very youthful Catherine Zeta Jones, who played the lead role in a Swansea production, aged just ten. Little Orphan Annie made her debut in a cartoon strip in the Chicago Tribune in 1924, brainchild of artist Harold Gray. The story of the twelve-year-old girl surviving by her wits as she made her way in the world proved enormously popular. In 1927, according to the cartoon, Annie was living with a kind lady called Mrs. Pewter, who decided the little girl needed a new frock. She made her a red dress, with a white collar and cuffs – and the Annie image was born! Today, the carroty curls and red, white-trimmed dress, are instantly recognisable to people on both sides of the Atlantic, thanks to the musical, and, even more so, the movie. The London show, at the Victoria Palace theatre, starred Sheila Hancock and Stratford Johns, with Andrea McArdle playing Annie, and ran for 1,485 performances. It was a resounding success, and was soon followed by a movie version, which today graces not only our television screens but is often still shown at cinemas, too. Most of us know the story of the orphan girl who was adopted by the benevolent millionaire Daddy Warbucks, but cruelly tricked by scheming Miss Hannigan into believing that her parents were still alive. Songs such as ‘I think I`m gonna like it here`, ‘You`re never fully dressed without a smile’, ‘It`s a hard knock life’ and, of course, ‘Tomorrow’ led to a happily ever after finale – and spawned loads of memorabilia, including dolls. Annie was very much an all-American icon; she lifted spirits during the dark days of the depression, and has always had a special place in the hearts of the American people. Unsurprisingly, the majority of the dolls are American, some dating from the musical and movie days, others more recent, and a few which were made in the 1930s and 40s. When the musical first came out, manufacturers were quick to realise the marketing potential, but it was the release of the movie in 1982 which really triggered the mass interest. At the time toyshops featured colourful displays of the scarlet-dressed Annie, though, certainly in Britain, most of the dolls were of the cloth doll type. It might be just as well to clear up a popular misconception here – Annie is not the same character as Raggedy Ann. Raggedy Ann was a doll dreamt up by American writer Johnny Gruelle in 1915 to amuse his sick daughter. The doll was a pinafore-wearing rag doll with a triangular nose and red hair. By contrast, Annie (or Little Orphan Annie) was a fictional child whose character became world-famous through the medium of cartoons, musical theatre and cinema. Many of the Annie dolls are easy to find, though often you will need to purchase from America as the more unusual types were not sold in Britain. Those that are easy to find over here include a selection of cloth dolls. One of the most appealing was made by Knickerbocker in the early 1980s. She stood 16 inches tall, and her gingery hair was sewn in tight wool curls. A tiny furry Sandy, the dog which she adopted in the film, was tucked inside a pocket in her red dress. The company also made a smaller, 6 inch, Annie doll, but she was not so well detailed, as well as several larger sizes. Applause was another company who made Annie cloth dolls, including some with reinforced, stiff faces. The interesting thing about the Applause dolls was the way that the company tried to capture the blank-eyed expression of the original cartoon character by giving the dolls printed eyes which appeared to be gazing upwards. These dolls were similarly dressed to the Knickerbocker girls, but their curls were looser and softer. Applause Annies were made in various sizes, including some small clip-on types. Expect to pay around £15 for a cloth Annie doll depending on condition. Also available in Britain was a delightful small vinyl Annie doll, made by Knickerbocker. This doll stood just six inches high and was sold in the ubiquitous red Annie dress. A ‘gold’ locket was included in the box with the doll, large enough for a child to wear. In the show, the locket was a vital piece of evidence in the search for Annie’s parents. The outfits issued at the time for this little doll included a pale yellow floral dress, a cream two piece, a blue coat, a pink floral nightdress and a blue play-suit, with accompanying hats and shoes. Other characters were issued in the same series, but were much harder to find in the UK, and today you would probably need to try ebay if you want to add them to your collection. Punjab, an Indian doll, looked handsome in his white cotton suit and turban with a bright red and black striped sash tied around his waist. Daddy Warbucks wore a black satin evening suit with a white shirt, black bow tie and red cummerbund. Knickerbocker managed to achieve some great characterisation in these small playdolls, capturing Daddy Warbuck`s expression – and his bald head – very well. Scary, intoxicated Miss Hannigan was also included in the set, dressed in a mauve two-piece patterned with small multi-coloured shapes, while little Molly, Annie’s friend at the orphanage, wore a green pinafore over a floral long-sleeved blouse. Molly had a delightful smile and her brown hair was cut into a short bob with a fringe. Knickerbocker produced several accessories to go with these dolls, amongst them a super blue 1929 Model Duesenberg Limousine, complete with chauffeur. It measured 15 inches long, and there was room in the back seats for two Annie dolls. The company also made […]
Optical toys such as kaleidoscopes have been popular for decades: children still play with stereoscopes which have been popular since the time of Queen Victoria, while projectors, toy cameras and many other optical novelties are all manufactured today.