Cloth Dolls Antique to Vintage
Antique cloth stockinette girl doll with painted features, swivel neck, mitten hands and painted strokes indicating fingers, cloth torso.
The history of fabric dolls goes back as far as mankind has been making textiles and extends to the present day. The earliest existing cloth dolls were found preserved in wealthy patrons tombs in ancient Egypt.
During the 1880s cloth dolls with painted faces, printed lithographed fabric Rag dolls and primitive Folk Art dolls were popular in the New England states in the USA. By 1906 cloth dolls with printed photographic faces first appeared.
To identify a cloth doll look for a label sewn into a body seam or the dolls clothing, an ink stamp on the back, tummy or foot of the doll body. Many dolls are unmarked as they originally had a hang tag with the company and probably the dolls name. If these are missing, a bit of research will be needed to rediscover your dolls identify.
Cloth Dolls, Makers & Marks Identified
Dolls are shown by oldest date first
ca. 1870s Folk Art civil war southern cloth doll
ca. 1872 Moravian Polly Heckewelder cloth doll
ca. 1875 Izannah Walker cloth doll face
ca. 1880s Cobo Alice cloth doll face
ca. 1890s Americana cloth black doll face
Moravian Dolls 1872+ Bethlehem, PA USA, the Ladies Sewing Society of the Central Moravian Church created the Polly Heckewelder 15″ tall doll in 1872, in honor of Johanna Marie Heckewelder (known as Polly) daughter of missionary John Heckewelder from Salem, Ohio. Also Benigna a 6″ tall doll (named after the founder of the first Protestant boarding school for girls in America) made by the Bethel Circle of King’s Daughters of the first Moravian Church of Bethlehem, PA and Anna Nitschmann dolls. Moravian dolls are all unmarked.
Izannah F. Walker Doll Company 1865+ Central Falls, Rhode Island USA – It’s possible Miss Walker may have produced her cloth dolls as early as 1840, the primitive stockinette stuffed cloth rag dolls with oil painted or sculptured faces, doll mark Patented Nov. 4th, 1873 or I.F. Walker’s Patent Nov. 4th, 1873 or unmarked.
ca. 1890s Julia Beecher baby missionary rag doll
ca. 1890s Martha Wellings cloth doll.
ca. 1900 Art Fabric Mills cloth rag doll
ca. 1900s Mothers Congress cloth doll
ca. 1900s Philadelphia or Sheppard Baby cloth doll
Martha L. Wellington Doll Company 1883+ Brookline, Massachusetts USA – made flesh colored cloth stockinette or leather baby dolls with a wire frame inside the head for shape, pressed and painted facial features, painted arms and lower legs stuffed with cotton, doll marked with a oval label Patented Jan. 8, 1883.
Art Fabric Mills Company 1900-1910, then Selchow & Richter 1911-1930 USA – Edgar Newell the company president created a cutout printed cloth infant doll named Life-Size Doll, in sizes 8 to 30″ tall, colorful lithograph facial features, hair, tall black boots, undergarment and printed on bottom of foot, doll mark Art Fabric Mills New York Pat. Feb. 13, 1900. Some Art Fabric Mills cloth doll names are: Baby doll, Billy doll, Bridget doll, Buster Brown doll 16″, Cry Baby Pin Cushion doll, Diana doll, Dolly Dimple, Foxy Grandpa doll, Merrie Marie doll, 1907 The Newlyweds Kid, baby Snookums cloth doll of the comic strip The Newlyweds, a character by George McManus, Topsy dolls and Uncle doll.
Mothers Congress Doll Company 1900-1911, Philadelphia, PA USA – made cloth rag dolls from a seven piece pattern to be put together, dolls designed by Madge Lansing Mead, Mothers Congress doll mark on some dolls Baby Stewart doll, Children’s Favorite, Mothers’ Congress Doll, Philadelphia, Pa. Pat. Nov. 6, 1900.
Philadelphia Baby doll or Sheppard Baby doll ca. 1900s USA – sold dolls through the J. B. Sheppard Linen Store on Chestnut Street in Philadelphia. A life size cloth doll, 18-22″ tall, all cloth oil painted stockinette head and body, jointed at the shoulder, hips and knees, painted hair, molded face, painted eyebrows, deep set eyes with pronounced eyelids, closed mouth with indentation in lower center lip, applied ears, mitten style hands with separate thumbs, dolls are unmarked.
Colombian Doll Company 1891-1910 USA – dolls are named after the 1893 Colombian Exposition, the Chicago World’s Fair where the dolls were exhibited, the cloth dolls were made by sisters Emma & Marietta Adams; dressed cloth dolls, stitched fingers and toes, stitched shoulder, hip and knee joints, flat hand painted facial features and hair, painted by Emma until her passing in 1900, after 1900 artists were hired for the task. Marietta outfitted the dolls in simple cotton dresses, bonnets or caps hand sewn kid slippers or booties. Early doll mark Colombian Doll Emma E. Adams Oswego Centre, N.Y., later doll mark The Colombian Doll Manufactured by Marietta Adams Ruttan Oswego N.Y.
Anne Maxwell Dolls 1914-1916 Bayside, NY, made cloth rag dolls from 1914 to 1916, her patent was granted in 1915.
Madame Helena Paderewski 1915-1918 FRA – made cloth Polish relief dolls in world war one – WW1.
Raggedy Ann, Raggedy Andy cloth dolls 1915+ USA – dolls and books designed by Johnny Gruelle, first Raggedy Ann and Andy cloth dolls with brown or orange yarn hair were hand made by the Gruelle family, in 1915 a patent was issued for Raggedy Ann no. 47,789. From 1918-1934 book publisher PF Volland commercially manufactured the 15-16″ Raggedy Ann & Andy cloth dolls. Exposition Doll & Toy Mfg. Co. made the Raggedy Ann doll from 1934-1935. Mollye’s 1934-1937. Averill / Georgene Novelties 1938-1962, Knickerbocker 1962-1981, Applause 1981-1983+ now division of Hasbro who hold the patent and are still making the cloth dolls today. Patterns of Raggedy Ann & Andy dolls are available for home makers to make today.
Miss Marion Curry Tebbets and sister 1921-1930+ Pittsburgh, PA – are a one piece needle stitched cloth stockinette rotund doll, about 6 1/2″ tall, similar to Nelke cloth dolls. Dolls have a cloth label sewn into a seam, doll mark Petiekin Honey, Trade Mark, Reg. U.S. Pat. Off., Pat. May 13, 1924.
Bonser Doll Company, then Bonser Products 1925-1930+ Mineola, NY USA, founded by Helen Haldane Wyse, Bonser made washable cloth stockinette dolls; Betty Bonser doll, Bobby Bonser doll, Buddy Bonser doll, added in 1930 composition Rattle head dolls with a cloth body sizes 7-30″ tall, Bonser doll mark I am a Bonser Doll on a circular paper hang tag with a checkered border.
Etta Incorporated 1927-1930 NYC, USA, was an all women owned and founded by Miss Etta Kidd company that dressed handmade cloth art dolls; pressed faces with real eyelashes, bright blue painted eyes and long legs boudoir dolls, baby, toddlers to adult cloth dolls are unmarked came with an Etta label or tag.
Additional Cloth Dolls not shown, Company Information
Antique Leather Postcards of Dolls 1903-1909 USA, leather postcards of dolls, sayings and more were a fad between 1903-1909 when they were banned by the United States Post Office as they could get stuck in their sorting machines, quirky, unique and collectable. Here’s an offsite link.
Arnold Print Works Incorporated 1876-1925+ North Adams, Mass. USA, colorful printed lithograph cloth dolls patterns to be cut, stuffed and sewn by the home sewer, ca. 1893 Our Soldier Boys cloth printed doll designed by Celia M. Smith, 1892 Palmer Cox Brownies.
Aunt Jemima Mills Company 1908-1910 USA, black Aunt Jemima printed lithograph fabric dolls and other related cloth rag dolls, see the Advertising doll page.
Adrien Carvaillo 1915-1939 FRA – La Vénus dolls are 14 1/2 to 23 1/2 inches tall, made of felt cloth with painted faces, doll mark Venus or La VENUS, distributed by Bon Marché, dolls are similar to Lenci cloth dolls.
Cocheco Manufacturing Company, then Lawrence & Company 1827-1893+ Boston, MA USA – made cloth rag dolls beginning in 1889 designed by Celia & Charity Smith, doll mark Cocheco Manufacturing Company 1827, Boston – New York – Phlia (in a circle), Lawrence & Co, Patented Aug. 15th 1893 Number 503316. In 1893 Ida Gutsell designed the cloth rag dolls.
Collingbourne Mills Company 1920s USA – made cut out and sew at home cloth rag dolls and doll clothing, doll mark America’s Best Cottons, RBC cloth label.
Creations Larrea of Biarritz Dolls 1950s-1960s FRA – cloth wired dolls 10-11″ tall similar to Klumpe or Roldan of Spain dolls.
Darrow Manufacturing Company 1866-1877 Bristol, CT USA – made 15 or 18″ tall dolls with leather rawhide heads that were pressed, shaped and painted on a cloth body with leather arms and shoes, patented by Franklin Elijah Darrow and Deon E. Peck, dolls are marked with a green and gold paper label; F.E. Darrow PATENT May 1st 1866.
JK Farnell & Company or Farnell’s Alpha Toys 1871-1968 ENG – made pressed felt, velvet, stockinette cloth dolls, with side glancing eyes and smiling mouths, chubby bodies of stockinette with seams in front, back and sides of each leg, mohair or human hair sewn on in a circular pattern. Farnell made child dolls, native dolls, novelty dolls, coronation portrait dolls of King Edward VIII, King George VI,, dolls are marked with a tag Farnell, Alpha Toys, Made in England or HM The King, Made in England, J. K. Farnell & Co, Action London or the portrait character’s name.
William Gluckin & Company Inc. 1920s NYC, made lithographed mask faced boudoir doll mark 7001 Patent Pending Wm. Gluckin & Co. Inc. N.Y.C
George H. Hawkins Company 1867-1870 NYC, USA, made cloth head dolls saturated with glue or sizing, pressed into dies and hardened retaining its shape. Doll heads marked on shoulder XLCR DOLL HEAD Pat. Sept. 8, 1868 (issued in USA, France, England) which is sometimes found on Automata Mechanical dolls made by William Farr Goodwin.
Klumpe, Layna, Nistis or Roldan Companies 1950s+ Spain – all of these companies made cloth covered wire armature dolls with a painted mask face that represent; Spanish dancers, professionals, a person doing a hobby or activity, historic characters, dolls are usually under 12″ tall, are charmingly dressed and posed as about 200 different characters; a Flamenco dancer male or female, doing an activity; Fishing, holding a Birthday Cake, Lady Shopping in windy weather, Mother and Child, Skiing, Swimming, etc, as a Professional; Bull fighter, Doctor, Nurse etc. Dolls would have had a tag attached to the clothing identifying it’s maker. Effanbee imported Klumpe dolls to the USA. Rosenfeld Imports and Leora Dolores of Hollywood imported some Roldan dolls.
Krestine Knudsen, author, The Old Country Dolls book and dolls 1928+ Oakland, CA USA, made dolls as illustrated in her book, are dressed cloth rag dolls with oil painted faces, doll mark THE OLD COUNTRY DOLLS Trade Mark Patented on a white rectangular tag.
Richard G. Krueger Company 1917-1964+ USA, best known for their 1920s-1930s cloth dolls, mask face dolls, rag dolls and stuffed plush animals, also made bent limb baby dolls, rattle head dolls. Maintained a relationship with King Innovations, who was the sole licensed manufacturer by Rose O’Neill of cloth stuffed 1929-1930+ Cuddle Kewpies or Cuddly Kewpies dolls, sizes 11, 14 1/2, 17 & 22″ tall, Krueger registered patent 1785800. Many of their cloth dolls are similar to Averill, Mollyes and Knickerbocker dolls. Doll body and clothing is usually well marked with a cloth tag R G Krueger NYC. Krueger filed a trademark patent as late as 1964 and is the last date we could find for this company. They also sold plastic or vinyl baby dolls ca. 1960s.
Live Long Toys Company 1923-1940s Chicago, IL USA, made oilcloth, mostly comic cartoon character dolls designed by Eileen Benoliel; Skeezix, Little Orphan Annie and her dog Sandy, Herby, made actress Esther Starring in “Mama’s Angel Child” oilcloth doll designed by Penny Ross and Chester Gump designed by Sidney Smith are marked with their name.
Nelke Corporation cloth dolls 1917-1930, Philadelphia, PA USA, made dolls from single piece of knitted stockinette fabric from the Elk Knitting Mills Company (owned by Harry Nelke), the cloth dolls have bright waterproof painted faces, stuffed with float able Java fabric without using pins or buttons, doll marked with a ribbon label in a diamond shape Nelke. 1918 Nelke Dollies doll, 1920-1929 Gold Dust Twins dolls; Dusty and Goldie 5 1/2″ tall, cloth advertising dolls for Gold Dust washing powder soap, 1921 Nelke Boy doll, Nelke Clown doll, 1923 Nelke Cop doll and the Imp doll, 1923 Diggeldy Dan doll, a cherub like rag doll, 1924-1930 native American Indian dolls, Sailor dolls sizes 12, 14, 18″ tall, some cloth dolls are shown in the 1928 Sears catalog, page 157, Nelke dolls were also distributed by Davis & Voetsch.
Prager and Rueben Company 1942+, 510 East 73rd Street, New York, NYC, USA, made small US Paratrooper parachute, brown cloth dolls named; Raggy-Doodle 6 3/4″ tall with a mask face, attached clothing and attached parachute that folds back into a pouch on it’s back, WW II (1939-1945) era toy. Parachute is marked with red ink stamp; Raggy-Doodle, U.S., Parachute Trooper, Design Patent Allowed. Patent No. 133160 or 133180 by M. Hoyle.
Gertrude Rolllinson Doll and The Utley Company 1916-1929 Holyoke, MA – made cloth dolls with twenty coats of paint so they could be washable, dolls have molded painted hair or wigged, closed mouth, open/closed mouth some with painted teeth, some with pierced nostrils, doll mark Rollinson Doll Holyoke, Mass. with a doll in center of the diamond stamp.
Shanklin Toy Industry, then Nottingham Toy Industry 1915-1920 ENG – British Toys, made cloth dolls with composition heads or mask faces, cloth bodies usually of stockinet and baby dolls in both black or white. 1917 Baby Bunting doll, Bambino doll, Betty and Kate Greenaway children dolls, cloth Peddler dolls that can sit or stand wearing black and white swimsuits and hats. 1918 British Babes dolls, Bye-Bye Baby dolls, Christopher dolls, Jane dolls, Jim doll, Patty doll, Prudence doll, Shirley and Suzanne dolls. 1919 Baby Ann doll, Miss Peggy doll and a Bather doll.
Margarete Steiff Company 1880+ GER, best known for their Teddy bears and other plush animals Steiff also made dolls in felt, velvet or plush, dolls marked with a ear button KNOPF inn OHR after 1904. In 1988 a line of vinyl headed Steiff dolls on cloth bodies was introduced.
WPA Works Progress Administration cloth dolls 1930s USA, provided work for artists and seamstress during the Depression years, cloth dolls painted facial features, yarn hair, about 12″ tall, doll usually marked Michigan W.P.A. Toy Project, W.P.A. Museum Project Wichita, Museum Project 1865 W.P.A., W.P.A. Handicraft Project Milwaukee, Wisconsin, W.P.A. Macon, Georgia or similar.