Speaking of Dolls: Goodyear – More than tires

Goodyear.jpgA reader from The Villages, Fla. writes, “I have a doll marked Goodyear on its shoulder plate. It is very hard and is a greenish color under the paint. Is the “Goodyear” the same as the tire called “Goodyear” and what is the doll head made of?”

In the mid 1800’s in New Haven, Conn., the Goodyear Rubber Co. invented a way to vulcanize rubber so it would hold its shape. Rubber had been used in doll making for years but now it became an important material for making commercial dolls. In 1851, Nelson Goodyear, brother of Charles, invented hard rubber which was used for making dolls’ heads and entire dolls. Charles Goodyear obtained a U. S. patent in 1853 and a British patent in 1855 for molding toys of India rubber mixed with various other materials including gutta-percha. Coloring was added, and the dolls and doll heads were then vulcanized (heated). When cooled, the toys were very hard and held their shape. They were lightweight and could be easily cleaned.

While the all rubber toys were usually one-piece immobile playthings, the rubber shoulder head dolls resembled the popular papier mache dolls of the period. The same molds used to create the papier mache heads were often used for the rubber heads. Features were painted and molded hair was usually black although blonde is also found. Just as the hair styles of the papier mache heads varied from simple to elaborate, so did the styles of the rubber heads. These rubber shoulder heads are usually found on cloth bodies with leather arms and leather boots like the bodies found on their papier mache counterpart.

Over the years, the rubber used for these dolls has dried and become brittle. It becomes very hard and is often mistaken for papier mache. The paint also tends to flake off showing the smooth grayish green color of the rubber. The all-rubber dolls are often found with broken limbs or missing heads and the shoulder heads are often missing most of their paint. Because of this, it is difficult to find a rubber doll from this period in good condition. These dolls have a limited market but are considered quite rare.

Rotated S Temples.jpgTrisha from Southern California has just inherited a collection of dolls. Among the dolls are several Shirley Temple dolls. Her question, “How do I know which is the original Shirley Temple doll?”
The Shirley Temple doll is probably one of the most familiar of all dolls because it is a face that everyone recognizes. From the moment Shirley Temple made her screen appearance, America fell in love with her. The Ideal Novelty and Toy Corp. of New York saw an opportunity to cash in on this love affair, and cash in they did – over and over again.

In 1934, Ideal introduced  an 11-inch to 27-inch composition Shirley doll in a variety of outfits made famous by the child star in her movies. The doll was designed by Bernard Lipfert and showed a remarkable likeness to Shirley. The doll was well received by the public and soon there were many Shirley look-alike dolls produced by other manufacturers. But  the Ideal doll was the only “genuine Shirley Temple Doll,” as stated on the cloth label found on the doll’s dress. This doll, issued in the mid-1930s, is the doll that collectors refer to as the “original” Shirley Temple doll.

In the mid-1950s, Ideal reissued a 12-inch to 36-inch rigid vinyl Shirley. This Shirley was also well received and was played with by a new generation of Shirley admirers who were introduced to her on television. In the early 1970’s, a 16 inch Shirley was issued but this Shirley lacked the detail and the wardrobe of the earlier models. In the ’80s, Ideal issued a set of 8-inch and 12-inch vinyl Shirleys. They were inexpensive dolls with ill fitting wigs and bulky clothes. In the mid 1980s, a 36-inch model was produced by a company called “Dolls and Dreams and Love” but because of licensing problems, it was soon removed from the market.

Since the 1980s, Danbury Mint has produced a series of Shirley dolls in bisque along with doll artists who continue to produce their own versions of Shirley.

ByeLo.jpgMrs. Anderson of Ormond Beach asks, “Why is my mother’s 15 inch Bye-Lo baby worth less today than it was six years ago?”
The Bye-Lo, produced in the mid-1920s, is now suffering from overexposure. The doll market is driven by supply and demand and at this time there is more supply than demand. The early Bye-Lo baby was produced in all bisque, with a bisque head and a cloth body usually with celluloid hands. This version on the cloth body could be purchased in many sizes from a small 8-inch head circumference to a larger than life-size 18 inch head circumference.

The all bisque Bye-Lo, the very small head circumference and the very large head circumference are still quite desirable because they were not sold in as large a number as the medium size Bye-Lo with a head circumference of about 13 inches to 15 inches. This size was the most popular with children because it was easier to play with and to dress. We see more of these than any other size.

The original owners of these Bye-Los are now in their eighties and many are beginning to get rid of things they do not want or that their children do not want. Because of this, there are many, many Bye-Los on the market at this time and when there is an abundance in supply, the price will drop. This is also true of other dolls from the 1920s and 1930s, such as the Effanbee Patsy dolls and the Ideal Shirley Temple dolls. Hold on to these dolls a few years. Once this glut on the market passes, the prices will go up again.