Wednesday, August 09, 2006
The dreams you dare to dream really do come true. This was certainly the case for Madame Beatrice Alexander who wanted to create beautiful dolls that would stimulate a child's imagination and be cherished for a lifetime. Eighty-three years later her dream lives on.
Madame Alexander's father Maurice was the epitome of the American Dream. He was born in Russia and learned the doll trade in Germany. He immigrated to the United States where he met and married another immigrant, Hannah Pepper. In 1895, Maurice opened the country's first doll hospital in New York City and later that same year "Madame" Beatrice Alexander was born in an apartment of the hospital.
Madame Alexander grew up watching the powerful bond between children and their dolls when tearful little ones would bring their broken dolls to the hospital for repair. No doubt an image that influenced Madame Alexander greatly as her very first dolls were unbreakable.
When World War I cut off the supply of dolls from Germany, Beatrice started to create her own cloth dolls and in 1923 the Alexander Doll Company was born. At a time when women weren't encouraged to go into business, Madame Alexander forged ahead and her company prospered. Also in 1923, FAO Schwarz became the first retailer to carry her dolls. Over 60 years later, FAO Schwarz would dub Madame Alexander the "first lady of dolls."
Over the years, Madame Alexander engineered many firsts in the doll world and won numerous awards for her designs.
Madame Alexander was often inspired by children's literature, history, and film. She seemed to have keen insight for knowing what characters would excite the public and continued finding innovative ways to recreate them time and again. The impeccable costuming, hairstyles and irresistible cherub-like faces have endeared Madame Alexander dolls to collectors from the company's inception and the designs get more elaborate with each passing year.
Among her first dolls was Alice in Wonderland, one of Madame's favorite literary characters. In 1933 Madame Alexander started a relationship with Disney that continues to this day and in 1937 a Scarlett O'Hara doll was produced based on the novel Gone with the Wind that was published the year before.
With the company's history of producing dolls of famous personalities and characters, it's no wonder in 1989 the Alexander Doll Company paid homage to the 50th Anniversary of the MGM film The Wizard of Oz with the release of a 14" vinyl Dorothy doll. Dorothy, dressed a blue jumper over a short sleeved white blouse with her dark hair tied in ponytails, looked like any little farm girl ready for adventure.
The following year an 8" 20th Anniversary Dorothy was made in a limited edition of 50 to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the Doll Cradle in Kansas. Oftentimes, the Alexander Doll Company creates very exclusive dolls as a token of appreciation for a retailer's continued patronage. In 1991, another 8" Dorothy was added to the Alexander Doll Company's Storyland Series.
Other characters soon followed and the Oz line has continued to expand over the years, eventually adding on such neglected characters as Miss Gulch, the Apple Tree, Auntie Em and Uncle Henry. Even Toto in 8" doll form, made an appearance at the 1997 Walt Disney World Doll and Teddy Bear Convention.
In the 8" doll line Dorothy wore costuming like that of her MGM counterpart while her three companions from the Land of Oz appeared to have jumped right off the storybook pages. The early Oz dolls were attired in enchanting designs and vivid colors that brought the familiar characters to life in a whole new way. In the late 1990s the Oz characters started to take on the look of the MGM film. Characters are added to and retired from the Oz line regularly to keep the line fresh and collectors on their toes. Some dolls are manufactured for only a year or less and others are made in small editions. The munchkins and winged monkey first introduced in 1994 and 1995 were such dolls with limited availability and have escalated in value and continue to be highly sought after.
The Oz dolls and all of Madame Alexander's dolls are a labor of love worthy of becoming heirlooms. Each doll is made by hand taking 2 - 3 weeks to complete. Hundreds of people work year round in the factory that has never moved from its original location in New York City. Extreme care goes into each doll from the face paint to the hairstyles to the minutest details like bows or lace on undergarments. These special nuances thrill doll enthusiasts and make Alexander dolls stand out in any collection.
The story of Oz has appealed to people of all ages for over 100 years. It's very likely that the Oz dolls of Madame Alexander helped endear the Oz characters to public consciousness and to children's hearts. Madame Alexander wanted to make dolls with souls and the Alexander Doll Company has been successful in capturing the souls and whimsy of the Oz characters.
Madame Alexander traveled over the rainbow in 1990, but her company continues to thrive with the Wizard of Oz dolls remaining perennial best sellers. I'm sure she and the beloved personalities that inspired their creation would agree there's no place like your home for Madame Alexander's dolls of Oz.
1989 – 1991 14” Dorothy #1532
1990 8” 20th Anniversary Dorothy Doll Cradle Exclusive Edition of 50
1991 – 1994 8” Dorothy with pigtails #464 #140464
1992 – 1995 8” Glinda the Good Witch #473 #140473
1992 – 2005 8” Scarecrow #430 #140430 #13230 #13231
8” Tinman Tin Woodsman #432 #140432 #13210 #13211
8” Cowardly Lion #431 #140431 #13220 #13221
1993 14” Dorothy wearing gingham and braids #1532
1994 14” Glinda the Good #141573
1994 8” Winged Monkey #140501
1994 Mid year introductions 8” Emerald City Dorothy #94-2
8” The Wizard #94-1
8” The Wicked Witch #94-9
1994 – 1995 8” Munchkin Peasant #140444
8” Mayor of Munchkinland #140443
8” Munchkin Herald #140445
1995 8” Auntie Em #14515
8” Lullaby Munchkin #14512
8” Lollipop Munchkin #14513
1995 – 2001 8” Dorothy with curly ponytails #140464 #13200
1996 14” Dorothy #87007
1997 – 2001 10” Miss Gulch #13240
1997 – 2005 10” Glinda the Good Witch #13250
10” Wicked Witch of the West #13270
1997 8” Toto with basket edition of 750 (first 400 sold at the Walt Disney
World Doll and Teddy Bear Convention #79180
1997 Walt Disney World One of a Kind Wizard of Oz Munchkinland Vignette
with 21” dolls of Glinda, Dorothy, the Wicked Witch and 8” Toto
Sold for $6,000
1998 – 2000 8” The Wizard of Oz #13281
8” The Wizard with State Fair Balloon #13280
1999 – 2001 8” The Apple Tree #13290
8” Lullaby League Munchkin Lullaby Munchkin #13300
2000 8” Dorothy with glitter shoes #13201
2000 – 2001 8” Oz Flower Munchkin #27035
15” Glinda felt (In 2000 only available at FAO Schwarz) #27570
2000 15” Dorothy felt with curled hair #25545
2000 – 2002 5” Dorothy porcelain
5” Lullaby Munchkin Porcelain
2000 – 2003 8” Winged Monkey #25950
2000 Mid year introduction 21” Wicked Witch
2001 15” Dorothy felt with braids (shown in catalog but never seen one) #25546
2001 – 2002 8” Daisy Munchkin #28770
8” Flower Bonnet Munchkin #28775
8” Emerald City Guard #31395
5” Cowardly Lion porcelain
5” The Scarecrow porcelain
5” The Tin Man porcelain
2002 5” Glinda porcelain
8” To Oz Dorothy with 3” teddy bear edition of 2500 #33630
8” To Oz Scarecrow with 3” teddy bear edition of 1500 #33633
8” To Oz The Tinman with 3” teddy bear edition of 1500 #33631
8” To Oz The Cowardly Lion with 3” teddy bear edition of 1500 #33632
2002 – 2003 8” OEO Guard #33595
8” Hairdresser #33585
2002 – 2005 8” Dorothy with long curled hair #13202 #13203
2003 21” Dorothy Cissy edition of 500
2003 Mid Year Introduction – 2004 Dorothy and Munchkinland Set 10” Dorothy Cisette with 5” Munchkins Lullaby Munchkin, Flower Bonnet Munchkin, Mayor of Munchkinland
2003 – 2005 8” Mayor of Munchkinland #37125
2004 8” Total Moves Dorothy edition of 1000 #38715
2004 – 2005 8” Coroner #38395
8” Wendy and the Yellow Brick Road
5” Petite Tinman
5” Petite Cowardly Lion
5” Petite The Scarecrow
5” Petite Dorothy
Petite Wizard of Oz Set 5” Daisy Munchkin, Lollipop Munchkin,
Coroner and Town’s Lady
2005 8” Wendy Loves Munchkinland #40160
2005 – 2006 8” Auntie Em #39910
8” Uncle Henry #39915
8” Dorothy Wendykin Wood Edition of 750 (only available through
FAO Schwarz for 2005)
9” Play Dolls Dorothy
2006 10” Glinda the Good Witch #42405
10” Wicked Witch of the West #42400
10” Wicked Witch of the East #42415
8” Off to Oz Dorothy #42420
8” Wendy’s Wicked Ways #42410
*** Madame Alexander has made many other Wizard of Oz items such as doll accessories, figurines, teddy bears, waterglobes, music boxes, hinged boxes and pins.
New styles of the 10" Wicked Witch of the West and 10" Glinda. In the past they had a more storybook type of appearance and seemed loosely based on the MGM characters. This year they have the MGM costuming. Really beautiful dolls.
Wendy's Wicked Ways is an 8 inch salute to beautiful wickedness. The catalog photo shows Wendy in a brown outfit but the final product is burgundy.
First ever, Wicked Witch of the East doll! Again, the coloring of the costume is different than shown on the prototype. The cape has green in it and the skirt is purple.
Added to the mainline catalog this year is the Dorothy Wendykin Wood doll that was previously an exclusive to FAO Schwarz.
Off to Oz Dorothy is an 8 inch doll with plush Toto packaged in a decorated lunchbox.
**I am pleased that at least with the special Dorothys, Alexander has been making better Totos. I have been complaining for years about the chintzy little plastic black Toto that usually accompanies Dorothy. (As a matter of fact, this is a big peeve of mine with many doll companies) Toto was a very important part of The Wizard of Oz and she should be considered a little more than an accessory. Toto has also been in more films than people realize. Give the little dog her due! Make her pretty!!
*** End of rant***
Lastly, The Alexander Doll Company will have a display and will be making a presentation at the International Wizard of Oz Club's annual Munchkin Convention this month. They have made a special one-of-a-kind piece to be auctioned. Very exciting for those attending!
Posted by Sharon at 12:44 PM
Labels: Wizard of Oz Dolls Madame Alexander 2006 Glinda Wicked Witch Dorothy Wicked Witch of the East