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Friday, February 21, 2014

Happy Birthday, Sharon!

Happy Birthday, Sharon!!!  Here is an old Queen Anne wooden doll for you.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Renwal Doll House Furniture (February Program)

Renwal Doll House Furniture 

The Renwal Manufacturing Company was started in about 1939 by Mr. Irving Lawner (the name “Renwal” is Lawner spelled backwards) in New York.    The company produced toys from1945-1958 and then went on producing other products until 1976.  When toy production ceased the molds for the furniture were sold.  Other companies produced the furniture including “Empire Company” and companies in Hong Kong.  One must be careful when buying the furniture.  The original mold markings may still be on later pieces, but the quality was not up to Renwal standards.  The doll house furniture could be bought in stores such as Woolworth, Grant, and dime stores.  The furniture was sold in boxed sets (Jolly Twins) and as individual boxed pieces. The pieces were also used as advertising products for other companies.  The furniture was made on the 1 ½” scale.   There were various room settings, a hospital nursery, school, doctor’s office, animal hospital, etc.  Identifying markings varied over the years.  Early furniture was marked with a letter and then the catalogue number.  B = bedroom, D = dining room, L = living room, and T = bathroom.  Later the use of the letter was discontinued. The pieces were also marked “a Renwal product pat. Pend., USA (or USA and Canada).  Made in USA”.   Early pieces of furniture came in different shades of brown and muted colors.  Later furniture came in bright colors and may have stenciled designs on them.  Many of the pieces had various moving parts.  The doll house people were produced during various years. The dolls had metal riveted joints at the shoulders, hips and knees and were made in a solid color of plastic (color of the clothes) with the skin color and facial features painted on.  There was a family with a father, mother, brother, sister, and baby.  There were also various professions including a doctor, veterinarian, nurse, mechanic and policeman.  Average prices for the different pieces vary.  On Ebay the prices can be a few dollars to $15 to $20 a piece.  Mint-in-box sets sell for potentially hundreds of dollars.   

An excellent reference for Renwal doll house furniture is the book Renwal World Finest Toys, Doll House Furniture by Charles F. Donovan. 

Thursday, February 6, 2014

BAPS Cloth German Dolls

BAPS Cloth German Dolls

Where did the BAPS dolls come from?
Let’s go back to the 1940’s and meet Frau Edith von Arps.  She was born and lived near Burgkunstadt in the northern part of Bavaria – not far from Thuringia.  She founded the firm in 1946 and registered it under the name BAPS.

Frau von Arps suffered the deaths of her husband and 2 sons during WWII.  In order to support herself, she returned to a hobby that she had done in her past – doll making.  She was well traveled and educated – and a natural born businesswoman.  With the influx of U.S. military personnel near Nuremberg where she lived, her customer base was easy.  Who wouldn’t want a sweet doll souvenir to take home to kids, esp. of stories the children know?

Many people with BAPS today will tell of an older woman bringing the dolls on the Army base and selling them to Americans.  The items were also sold in the local German shops and exported to the U.S. – in 1948, dolls were sold in Harvey Stores and several department stores in the US.
As the business grew, Frau von Arps hired village women to help with sewing and selling the dolls.  These women peddled the dolls by going door to door. 

Now – for the dolls themselves –
The size averages about 4-5”.  Adult dolls are 5 ¼ inches to the scaled child 3 ½ inches.  The dolls are made on a wire upper frame which is attached to standard purchased wire legs with metal feet.  The framework is wrapped with a strip of a soft, fibrous paper material; legs and arms are then covered with felt.  The head is the last thing attached after the facial painting is completed.   Some exceptions exist that have arms that are thread wrapped rather than felt – like the English Grecon dolls. 

Facial features are hand painted.  Post war faces have more detail with faces being darker and eyes shadowed.  The later dolls have faces with stenciled features rather than hand painted. Many of the animals have embroidered eyes or sequined eyes and the entire metal foot is covered with felt. The later witch has a much more detailed face than earlier one.

The cloth covered doll head was sewn with floss cotton hair.  Fine stitches complete the seams, and then the dolls were then clothed with fanciful outfits.  A great deal of craftsmanship was given to these dolls along with props in many cases.  While some have a few moth holes or faded color, for the most part the dolls have remained in great condition considering their 50-60 year age.

Most unique to the dolls is the weighted metal feet.  In most cases, the dolls can stand on their own without a doll stand.  These metal feet are one way to identify the dolls, since there are no marks or tags, but some Grecon dolls did have metal feet too.

Click on photos to enlarge.