Holly Hobbie Plates
Upon hearing the name Holly Hobbie, many children of the 1970s and ‘80s immediately associate her with ceramic and porcelain plates featuring decal decorations of Holly Hobbie’s art in the center, usually with avocado green borders, which were sold from 1971 through the late ‘80s, with a limited reappearance at American Greetings and Carlton Cards stores in the mid 2000s.
A wide array of related decorative porcelain items, including trinket boxes, vases, eggs, ginger jars, miniature kerosene lamps, and candle holders were also popular. Collectors favor the vintage plates still in their cardboard and cellophane packaging, originally priced around $8.50, although the limited edition porcelain bisque plates issued annually beginning in the early ‘80s are also desirable.
Holly Hobbie Dolls
Others who grew up in the ‘70s and ‘80s, when hearing the name Holly Hobbie, primarily remember the dolls. Beginning in the mid-’70s, Knickerbocker Toy Company began manufacturing rag dolls of Holly, her friends Heather (in light brown), Amy (in green), Carrie (in red), and her brother Robbie. Carrie and Robbie are a bit harder to find today, and often they show signs of being well-loved. Dolls in their original packaging are still available, however. According to KidEnergy.com, which sells a line of new rag dolls, “by 1975 Holly Hobbie rag dolls outsold Raggedy Ann dolls five to one.”
Knickerbocker soon expanded the line to include 6 1/2-inch vinyl dolls with rooted hair and removable clothes, who appeared younger in age, and who also had doll house furniture and a play set, “not included.” On the other end of the spectrum, Barbie-sized, 10 1/2-inch vinyl dolls appeared to be teenaged. In the ‘80s Gorham issued porcelain head dolls that are highly collectible today.
Holly Hobbie dolls, later including Grandma Hobbie, Baby Hobbie, and a patchwork Teddy bear, remained in production through the early ‘90s. In 1988 Amtoy produced the first and only African American version of a rag doll for a Christmas promotion at Zayre’s Stores.
Holly Hobbie Books
A natural tie-in for a greeting card manufacturer is gift books, and small, illustrated, hardcover books featuring Hobbie’s artwork appeared from AGC as early as the 1960s, with titles such as “Happy Candle-Blowing!” and “A Special Get-Well Recipe for You.” As Hallmark responded with their own line of Betsy Clark cards, books, and dolls, Holly’s list of titles expanded to books published by Platt & Munk, including “Holly Hobbie’s The Night Before Christmas,” “Holly Hobbie’s Nursery Rhymes,” and even “The Holly Hobbie Cookbook.” Today, Holly’s name is familiar to a new generation of readers as the author and illustrator of the New York Times bestselling Toot & Puddle series from Little, Brown, which has spawned its own short-lived lined of collectibles from Department 56, as well as an animated television program on Discovery Kids. She has recently begun a new series featuring the character Fanny. ?
Holly Hobbie Collectors Online: www.hollyhobbieworld.com
Margarett Wallace of Hayden of Alabama, has edited The Holly Hobbie Times for four years, although the subscription-based print newsletter has been around since 1993, the year of the first Holly Hobbie Club of America Convention in Ohio, now an annual event.
Her experience speaks to the devotion of many collectors: “I started collecting in 1979 when my daughter was born. I loved the look of Holly Hobbie and what she stood for. The simple life, her phrases of friendship and caring. My collection started out small but now has grown to over 1,100 different items. I am always looking for something that I don’t have. My granddaughters love to come and stay in the Holly Hobbie bedroom. My husband says that we live in a Holly Hobbie house because there is some in every room.”
She describes the audience for the newsletter as “teachers and bankers and homemakers, mothers, wives, retired grandmothers, and even a few husbands. They range from their mid-twenties into their nineties. I have readers all over the U.S. and correspond with collectors in the Netherlands, Australia, Germany, and Italy … everyone has her own favorite image or saying.”
Like Karen Burgoon’s website visitors, who say that even after spending hours viewing they still haven’t seen everything, Wallace’s experiences editing the newsletter and managing the convention have emphasized how wide the range is of vintage Holly Hobbie products.
“I thought I knew a lot about Holly Hobbie items, that I knew what all was made. But I am constantly seeing or hearing of items that I have never seen before. Many of my readers are the same way.” ?
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