to right: Hannah, Elin, Suzanne and Lydia dollsall 14"
One set of dolls with the Mary Hoyer face that I find
really interesting are the Hedwig de Angeli dolls.
Most of you
are familiar with the modern American Girl dolls and the books that
accompany them, but you may not know that the Hedwig-de Angeli dolls
were the very first "American Girl" dolls in our
Hedwig dolls were created to depict the characters in the children's books
written by author, illustrator, singer, social reformer Marguerite
de Angeli. . . . continued below.
de Angeli stories taught lessons about history and tolerance
for other people from different backgrounds. All of the books depicted
by the Hedwig dolls carry the message that we are really all alike
inside and we all deserve the same respect and recognition.
De Angeli's books were ahead of their time in depicting the everyday
lives of struggling minorities such as; Quakers, Mennonites,
Pennsylvania Dutch (Amish), French Canadian, Swedish, the handicapped, and
black Americans. de Angeli is considered
to be the first author to address the issue of racial prejudice in a
children's book (Bright April, 1946). One of her books (The Door
in the Wall, a story about a crippled boy), has been in continuous
publication since 1949. De Angeli wrote in her autobiography that she
wanted to show children "It's not who you are that counts,
it's what you do with what you have that matters! A
wonderful message, indeed!
I think it is important that collectors
see these dolls so they become more widely known. Otherwise,
all-original Hedwig dolls run the risk of being stripped of their
ethnic clothing, redressed, and sold as either Mary Hoyer or Arranbee
(R&B) Debu'teen dolls. When that happens, a little piece of doll
history is lost. The Hedwig dolls are indexed and referenced in doll
books under the names: Hedwig, Hedwig-deAngeli, de Angeli or DeAngeli and sometimes
the incorrect spelling DiAngeli is used.
of Marguerite in 1909) Marguerite Lofft de Angeli was born on
March 14, 1889, in Lapeer, Michigan, (died in 1987) and moved with her family to
Pennsylvania when she was 13. Both states claim her as a
"Daughter." de Angeli showed great artistic and musical
talent at a very early age. She writes in her autobiography, Butter at
the Old Price, of an experience as a two year-old when she was left
alone in a room with a box of pastels: "What excitement to feel
the soft touch on the canvas, to see the cool bright mark it made.
Pink, fiery red, orange, violet, cool blue, and green. What wonder! I
could not stop until I had tried them all. Even the gentle but serious
talk my father gave me with my little hands in his could not erase the
joy of that first experiment with color."
By 1910, de Angeli had begun a very
promising professional career as a concert contralto when she met John
Daily "Dai" de Angeli in Canada. They fell deeply in love,
married, and settled in New Jersey to raise a family. Although
Marguerite abandoned her professional career in favor of being a wife
and mother, she expressed few regrets, and she and John raised a
family of six children.
De Angeli Dolls For Sale - use the search
ebay box to copy & paste or type a specific
doll name, this is a category site
wide search, so be sure to include your search term plus Doll or anything
you may want to purchase.
Try an ebay search, save and get email notification to find a De Angeli doll, as
they do not surface often.
Good luck we hope you find the doll of your dreams.
Marguerite de Angeli had a restless,
artistic soul and was driven to follow her literary, artistic, and
musical muses …but her family always came first. She wrote about the
dilemma of being a mother and
a writer/illustrator: "Sometimes I see myself standing beside the
dining room table, eager to begin or continue a drawing or a page of
manuscript and thinking to myself, if only I didn't have to iron
Nina's dress or mend Maury's trousers or sew that button, I could,
then sternly reminding myself of a happy day in my childhood, I would
think, perhaps this will be one of those days my children will
remember. I'd better make it a good one!"
Despite the need to balance art, music,
and writing with her family's needs, Marguerite de Angeli managed to
produce a remarkable literary legacy. Her body of work spanned more
than 50 years and included illustrations for several well-known
magazines, 30 children's books, a poetry anthology, an autobiography,
and illustrations for more than a dozen books by other authors.
de Angeli received numerous literary awards before her death at age 98 in
1987, including the Newberry Medal, the Newberry Honor Award (twice),
the Lewis Carroll Shelf Award, the Caldecott Honor Medal (twice), the
New York Herald Tribune's Book Festival Award (twice), and the Regina
Medal. She was also named a "Distinguished Daughter of
Pennsylvania" and was inducted into the Michigan Women's Hall of
Doubleday became de
when she first began writing and illustrating her own books. The books
were well received by both children and adults. At one point an adult
collector, Marian Poe, mused that it would be wonderful if the
children in Marguerite's books could be depicted in doll form, and
de Angeli and her friend, Hedwig Ryglewicz, agreed. Doubleday was pleased
with the concept, too, and so the idea took flight.
From the books of Marguerite de Angeli
- Front of the Hedwig Doll tag
Elin - tag reverse
Marguerite's friend Hedwig Ryglewicz, who was a
very accomplished seamstress, volunteered to costume the dolls in
outfits depicted in the books, so it was decided that the dolls would
be called "Hedwig Dolls." It
was also decided that each doll would carry a 2" round, black and
yellow cardboard tag tied to its wrist (shown above front & back).
The early composition dolls with the
Mary Hoyer face mold are the most difficult to find and also the most
expensive to buy now. The Hedwig dolls were produced during
the 1940s and 1950s as exhibit supplements used by book salesmen, and
they could be purchased only through Doubleday. After a trip to New
York's doll manufacturing district to find an appropriate doll, Hedwig
and de Angeli ordered the first 100 dolls from the Ideal Doll Company.
They were made of composition, had five-piece strung bodies, painted
or sleep eyes, mohair wigs, and were 14" - 15" tall. They
were the very same dolls used by Mary Hoyer
doll company and the Arranbee Doll
company. The Hedwig dolls carried no identifying head or body markings
at all, ever. This is one reason they are so hard to identify
today, particularly if their original ethnic clothing has been lost
and they are redressed.
When the doll project began, Hedwig
quit her job and devoted more than two years to costuming the first
100 dolls. Pouring over Marguerite's children's books, Hedwig
carefully chose which costumes to copy, and then she and de Angeli
made a whirlwind trip to New York's garment district to find exactly
the right fabrics and trims to use. The resulting costumes were little
works of art, meticulous in every tiny detail. Hedwig also
custom-designed the mohair wigs for the dolls she planned to dress
first, and she paid particular attention to making authentic
hairstyles. For example, Quaker Hannah's hair is brushed away from her
face and pinned at the back of her head, just as her faith dictated,
and Swedish Elin's hair is neatly braided. French-Canadian Suzanne's
blonde hair falls loose in a mohair bob, and Amish Lydia's auburn
braids are twisted into a bun at the nape of her neck.
Originally, Hedwig designed the four
girl characters, (shown at top) based on Marguerite de Angeli's books,
but more characters were added as books were published, including
three more girls and two boys. Both the dolls and their costumes
varied over the years, but the costumes were always meticulously sewn
by Hedwig, and they always depicted the exact costumes worn by
the characters in the books. The costuming was accurate right down to
the number of buttons and the size and type of trim decorating the
Hedwig costumed and wigged the
de Angeli character dolls over a period of 20 years, and there are many
differences between the early dolls from the 1940s and those purchased
and costumed later. The
April doll (from the book; Bright April 1946), for example, was a cheap hard plastic doll produced in the
1950s, but she is still sought out and valued by collectors because
she is a Hedwig doll.
& Cecelia dolls, 14"
both blondes, both dressed in their Polish outfits
April doll 14" - a black doll
Swedish, braided blonde hair
French Canadian, blonde
In all, Hedwig created nine character
dolls based on Marguerite de Angeli's books — Anelia doll (Polish,
blonde hair), Cecelia
doll(Polish, blonde hair), April doll (African American black doll),
Elin doll (Swedish, braided blond hair),
Hannah doll (Quaker, brunette
hair in a ponytail),
Lydia doll (Amish, auburnbraided hair twisted into a
bun), Suzanne doll (French-Canadian,
long blonde curly mohair wig),
Tadd (boy doll), and Yonie Wondernose (blonde, boy doll), all
14" tall. It is not known exactly how many dolls were produced altogether, but
it is believed that fewer than 100 complete and original dolls
are still in existence. Most of the known dolls are currently held by
de Angeli's heirs and friends, or by private collectors, and they are seldom
if ever sold on the open market. When found, the Hedwig dolls are
highly prized by those collectors who are aware they exist and now you