Compo corner: Learning about composition dolls

Compo corner: Learning about composition dolls

Schoonmaker, Patricia N


Q Here is a newly acquired 20-inch baby doll with dark painted hair, single-stroke brows, blue glassine eyes with real upper lashes, and a closed rosebud mouth. She has a cloth body with composition arms and legs and has a unique story behind her. As Effanbees are my favorites, I told my husband when he attends auctions, as he does quite often, if you ever see dolls with “Effanbee” on them, to buy, even without me there, if the dolls are in good condition. Well, he did himself right well for his first time of buying me a doll. He bought this doll for $20. She is all original, even to her booties. I have researched in books and I believe she is Sweetie Pie. Am I right?

A What an amazing good luck story! Of course, she is worth many times over the price. (Evidently no other doll collectors were at this auction.) Yes, she is one version of Sweetie Pie that I have seen with gold paper heart tag. The doll made her debut in August 1942 in Playthings magazine. The company announced there would be no more Dy-Dee dolls after the current stock was gone, because rubber supplies were going to the World War II effort. So Sweetie Pie was created in her place and was still selling in 1950. Many of the dolls had tousled wigs and flirting eyes. Playthings stated: “She is a handsome doll and has many attributes, to say nothing of moving in a wide range of financial circles, starting at $4.95 and landing with a triumphant gesture in the $69.95 class. People have become used to dolls in the higher brackets.” F. A. O. Schwarz in the 1940s featured Sweetie Pie in a trunk with deluxe wardrobe and accessories.


Q Can you help me out on the identity of this 11-inch doll with side-glancing two-tone painted blue eyes with white highlight and painted upper lashes? There is a button nose and tiny closed mouth, as well as painted golden hair. I want to know how to dress him or her.

A You have an Alexander Little Cherub, a seldom-seen example. The doll was available in 1945 and 1946 only. She wore a frilly bonnet with double ruffles and a pink dress with high yoke, lace at sleeve edges, and a full short skirt. An embroidered square medallion of white was used as collar trim.


Q I would like to compliment you on your Compo Corner column. It’s so well-researched and an important reason why I subscribe. I save all the pictures in an album to augment my other research material. Thank you so much, as your columns have been very useful in identifying my compo dolls.

Enclosed are photos of a doll head that has all the earmarks of being from the same genre as the mystery doll discussed in your May Doll Reader column. She has the same hair definition and headband shown in your photos but in the form of a shoulder-head. The lip painting is the same but the eyes are black on blue on white. The painting is cheaply done over a somewhat less-than-professionally-trimmed mold. Unlike the doll shown in May, this doll has no marks on the head. I was attracted to it and I pinched it from my sister’s spare parts pile. I would like to restore it. This probably adds to the mystery instead of providing a solution.

A Thank you so much for the kind words. All the Doll Reader columnists strive to help collectors know more about their dolls and are happy to succeed. Your doll is one version of the many, many Patsy look-alikes. This type of doll sold for 25 cents in the early 1930s, hence not much hand labor was used. The head has marvelous detail in the hair comb marks and hair bandeau. Of course, she had a cloth body with compo hands up to the elbow. Some had compo wire-on legs. We have no further reports on the May 2003 mystery Patsy type, so if anyone has information, write me!


Q Enclosed are photos of a 13-inch compo I bought recently. Except for her toes, her compo is great. Someone has sanded off much of her hair paint. She has brown eyes, single-stroke brown brows, and a tiny rosebud mouth. She came in a trunk with travel stickers with additional clothes. Two print dresses are factory made and too big for her. There are no marks on her. Could she be a Patsy?

A Your doll is one version of American Character Sally. She has had a wig, and on the three-quarter view, you can see that the side and front hair was never painted. The dress style at this time was above the knee. Sally was American Character’s answer to Effanbee’s Patsy and was very popular. Most Sallys are marked, but some are not. We will include photos of Effanbee’s Patsy from our files for comparison.

Copyright Ashton International Media, Inc. Nov 2003

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