My Vintage Doll Collection From the 1960s and 1970s
My Childhood Dolls
A few years ago, while packing to move, I stumbled across my childhood dolls. Memories of "baby doll contests" flooded my mind. I had actually won a few ribbons. However, to look at them now, one would never believe it. Battered by years of a little girl's love, they have missing hair, broken limb joints, stained clothing, or no clothing at all. This is not because I was rough with them or didn't care about them. It was just the opposite. I loved my dolls, and I played with them every day.
I feel "old" just knowing that they are now considered "vintage." I don't think any of them are rare, and even if they are, I don't think they would reel in much money. However, I feel as if I owe them some recognition for filling my growing-up years with such happy adventures and memories. So, let me introduce you to my dolls of yesterday.
1963 Horsman Dolls #BC116
"Nancy" was one of my very first dolls, and she's my all-time favorite. I had no luck finding much information about her on the internet. So, she was probably just an ordinary doll, not very popular and without a name. I did find the "rare" black version of her on eBay with a starting bid of US $9.99. She no longer has her original dress—I'm not even sure what it looked like.
This doll was not ordinary to me—and I loved her. She was under the Christmas tree in 1965 when I was just 1 1/2 years old. I named her "Nancy," but, to this day, it is not known where I came up with that name. She was well played-with, but she held up pretty well. She's just lucky she had painted-on hair (you'll understand why as you read further into my article).
I did crochet a dress for her when I was 8 years old. The dress she is wearing in the photo is actually a dress that my daughter wore as an infant. I just couldn't photograph her in that pink and purple crocheted dress.
When packing to move, I also remember thinking about getting rid of the doll cradle. I'm sure glad I didn't. When I think of my childhood dolls, Nancy pops into my mind first. OK—she's a keeper!
Do You Remember Your First Doll?
1960s Horsman Doll #87201-2480-NEW 17 EYE
I don't remember exactly when I got "Annie," but she was also one of my very first dolls. I have had no luck finding this doll on my internet searches. Very few searches come up with her markings, but none of the dolls look like my "Annie." According to the few articles I found, I believe she is a "Snuggle Softee Baby Doll" from the 1960s. She has a soft cloth body. I think she would say "mommy" when you squeezed her belly.
She does not have her original clothes, except for her undershorts. The dress she is wearing in this photo is also a dress that my daughter wore as an infant.
When I was searching for Annie online, I have to admit that I might not have recognized her if the photos showed her with hair. Poor thing—she was unfortunate to have visited a dreadful barber. (Yes, that would be me. Luckily, I never became a hair stylist—it just wasn't my thing.)
Do You Still Have Your First Doll?
Real Live Lucy
1965 Ideal Toy #FL20-E-H33
When she was new, Lucy had a pretty little white dress that was trimmed in pink, and there was a big blue felt dog on the front of her dress. I remember when the felt dog started to peel off her dress. It actually sort of disintegrated. Anyway, the dress didn't last much longer. Lucy may have been my only doll to actually have an extra set of clothes: the pants and top that she is wearing in the photo (definitely a style out of the 1960s).
She is all vinyl, definitely not a cuddly doll, but I did love her so. Her head also bobbles, although I do not remember the significance or the purpose of this feature.
"Real Live Lucy" was a more popular doll than Nancy or Annie. I found Lucy on many internet searches—and for sale on eBay, Etsy, and other online shops. I saw that she sold for US $34.50 and higher, with the original dress. She was also on eBay in her original dress and box, with the plastic still wrapped around her hair. She was posted for a price of US $499.00.
Lucy was a Christmas gift—probably when I was 2.5 or 3.5 years old. I remember opening the box. She was so beautiful. As you can tell, she later had the same barber that Annie did.
There's something else I must tell you about Lucy. She underwent an identity crisis and eventually changed her name from Lucy to Luke. Yes—my other dolls needed a big brother, so she became my boy doll.
1968 Ideal Toy Corp #BTT9-N-124
Poor little Thumbelina—that barber got a hold of her also. She has a pull string on her back. After pulling it and letting go, she squirms—well, she used to. Also, she is still wearing her original clothes (although I don't believe she had any other outfits).
I was able to find her on the internet. She is listed as "Vintage Sister Thumbelina Doll." I saw her on eBay at a starting bid of US $22.23. I also saw her listed for US $39.41 and $41.72. However, those dolls were fortunate enough to still have their original hair.
I think I got Thumbelina for my 5th birthday. I sure did love this little doll. I let her keep her name and called her "Belina" for short. I wish I would have never cut her hair. What was I thinking?!
1969 Ideal Toy #GH-15-H-357
There were two versions of this doll: Velvet was the blonde, and Chrissy had the red hair. Both Velvet and Chrissy's hair length could be altered. To make it long, just press the button on her belly and pull the hair out of her head. To make it short again, just turn the knob on her back, and her hair would slowly recede back into her head.
Velvet, in her photo here, is wearing her original dress. Poor thing—like the rest of my dolls, she never had any extra clothing, either. I did find Velvet (and Chrissy) dolls on eBay listed at a starting bid of US $19.99. She was also listed for $24.99 and $29.99.
I'm not sure if I got Velvet for Christmas or for my birthday. I think I was in the second grade when I got her (1971 or '72). My friend (Robin) and I had just heard about this doll. Both of us wanted both Velvet and Chrissy. I remember my mother saying that I didn't need two dolls, so I needed to decide which one I wanted the most. Robin's mother had said the same thing. I don't remember how we decided who got which doll, but I got Velvet, and she got Chrissy.
Let me just say that Velvet was very lucky that her hair could be easily changed from long to short—that way, she did not have to visit that awful barber.
Living Baby Tender Love
1970 Mattel Inc #140
Living Baby Tender Love is all soft-touch body. She has jointed limbs, so she is extremely flexible. She no longer has her original dress. (I really don't know what happened to all of their dresses.) She was one of the very first dolls where you could actually give her real water in her bottle, and then she would wet.
I did find her on Google searches; she was evidently popular. Mattel has an entire line of Living Baby Tender Love dolls. My doll, #140, is the only one with the jointed limbs. A few years after my wetting doll, Mattel released models that talked, kissed, and hugged. Then, in 1973, Hasbro had to go one step further than Mattel, and they released Baby Alive—she could drink and eat and go potty (#1 and #2). I never did get to see one of these dolls in action.
The 1970 Living Baby Tender Love #140 currently sells anywhere from US $54.99 to $125.00 on eBay and other sites.
Ohhh, it was very difficult convincing my parents to get this doll for me. But I finally got her when I was around 8 years old. My friend Robin was really jealous. I named her "Angel," and I really loved this doll. I played with her so much that her left leg joint eventually broke. I patched her up with string and Scotch tape. Well, that didn't hold for too long. My dad also tried fixing her leg by wiring it together, and that held up a little longer. Still today, her leg easily falls off.
Angel does own one of my handmade crocheted outfits (pink and red). But, I just couldn't photograph her in that—so, she is also wearing a dress that belonged to my daughter. Oh—by the way, I had given up my hair styling business, so Angel didn't have to suffer the humiliation.
1971 Ideal Toy #LB-12-307
Lazy Dazy was—well, how do I say it? She was just lazy. She just couldn't sit up and stay awake. Her body is separated into two sections. The lower half is a hard, cup-like piece that holds sand. It is slightly angled on the bottom. The upper part is basically soft, hollow, and floppy.
You turn Dazy upside-down and gently pat her bottom until all the sand fills up the hollow cavity. Then just sit her upright and watch. As the sand slowly empties back into the bottom part of her body, she leans to the side and eventually lies down on her side and closes her eyes. (It appears that my Lazy Dazy also has a lazy eye.)
I found a few of these dolls on eBay, listed around an average of US $15.30.
I got Lazy Dazy when I was around 7 or 8 years old. It appears that Dazy may have gotten a trim before I quit the barber business.
Barbie and Friends
I remember my first Barbie—well, actually, she was the first and only Barbie I owned. I eventually got a Ken doll and a Skipper doll, as you can see in the photo above, so then my collection was complete. I still marvel at the number of Barbie dolls that girls today own.
I always thought my Barbie family was rich. They owned a dressing case, a few extra outfits, a camper and a POOL! I have looked on eBay at the campers—there are a few in decent condition, but most of them are well played-with like mine. They have been posted anywhere from US $48.00 to $98.00.
That camper has been through a lot. I was the first of my friends to own the camper; eventually, one or two of my other friends also got a camper. We would get together outside and pack all of our Barbies in the campers and drive them through dirt, grass, and up and down hills. Sometimes, our brothers would join us with their G.I. Joe dolls. That always ended in them wanting to start a fight between G.I. Joe and Ken.
Yes—we definitely played with our toys. We never thought once about keeping them safe in a box somewhere so we could make a profit off of them one day by selling them on eBay, etc.
And here is Barbie's 1973 Pool Set. And yes, I still have the box. I've seen the Barbie Pool sell anywhere from US $15.00 to $35.00.
I was the only one of my friends to own the pool. My friends and I had so much fun having "cookouts" and swimming parties. That was until the boys would crash our party with their G.I. Joes.
Between my friends and I, we owned the pool, camper, car, kitchen set, the cardboard dream house, and the airplane (which was really like a carrying case that opened up into half a plane). I am sure I am forgetting a few things, but we thought we had it all.
Dawn dolls were small 6.5-inch plastic dolls produced by Topper between 1970 and 1973. Apparently, Dawn doll sales surpassed Barbie sales for a brief period of time. However, these cute little dolls were discontinued when Topper went out of business in 1973. Above are the three that I own.
Dawn dolls and accessories can be found on eBay in a large range of prices (from US $.99 to $135.00). I just had to laugh when I was looking at what eBay had to offer: Someone was selling 12 pairs of Dawn doll underwear for $5.50. That is just a little too weird for me!
I pretended that my Dawn dolls were Barbie's children. I still have the plastic stands to keep them upright. My little dolls had several different outfits and accessories, little hangers, the model busts to keep their clothes on, etc.
From the Johnny West Series
In 1965, Marx Toys came out with a line of action figures called the "Johnny West Series" in an effort to compete with Hasbro's G.I. Joe series. Josie West was introduced in 1967, although I did not own one until the early 1970s. She was the daughter of Johnny West.
Josie quickly became friends with my Barbie family, even though she was quite different. My brothers had Johnny West, Thunderbolt (Johnny's horse), and Chief Cherokee, amongst other accessories. Hasbro eventually expanded their line with "The Best of the West" collection. My brothers collected these. They had Fort Apache. Of course, I also enjoyed playing with the fort and the new action figures.
These Dolls Are Full of Memories
So—what do you think of my collection? I know they are old and beat-up, but I don't know if I will ever part with them. They hold so many memories of an innocent and carefree childhood from so long ago.
In the 1960s and 1970s, kids didn't have a whole lot. My friends and I only had a few dolls each, and we played and explored with our imaginations daily. We were mothers, doctors/nurses, teachers, and barbers to our dolls. When we put all of our dolls together, we had a nicely sized classroom. And when we cut their hair, we didn't have the proper scissors.
As I grew out of my carefree days of youth, I could not bring myself to get rid of my beloved dolls. I packed them away, and they remained hidden in a box and tucked into a dark corner of the attic. I remember moving from my parents' home into my own and thinking how ugly a few of these dolls were; yet, I was still unable to part with them. So they were transferred to a different corner in a different attic until I stumbled across them again and decided to share.
Tell Me About Your Dolls!
I would love to hear about your favorite dolls, if you owned any of the same dolls I did, if you still have your dolls, or if you just want to say hello!
What About You?
Do you still have your childhood dolls?
- American Character Dolls 1919-1968
This is a great doll reference website. You can find a host of different vintage dolls and lots of information including: Doll Auctions | Doll Books | Dolls For Sale | Forum | Doll Glossary | Doll Marks | Doll Values