Q: One of these Shirley Temple dolls was given to my mother in about 1937. The other was given to me around 1962 when Shirley had a TV show. Are my dolls rare? How can I sell them?
A: We don't have this level of movie fandom today, but at one time, just about every mother in America wanted her daughter to be like movie moppet Shirley Temple.
Lord knows how many little girls suffered having their hair tortured into sausage curls!
Temple was an entertainment phenomenon who brightened the Depression years, tap dancing and mugging her way into America's heart.
Shirley Temple mania spawned a merchandising frenzy. From tea sets to clothing and dolls, her likeness was everywhere.
Many companies made Temple dolls, but those from the Ideal Toy Co. are best known.
Shirley became a gold mine for the company. From 1934 to 1939, Ideal produced six varieties of ST dolls. Ranging from 16 to 27 inches high, most had composition bodies, gold mohair wigs, hazel glass sleep eyes (i.e., they close), costumes based on Shirley's movie roles, and open mouths with teeth showing.
In "Collector's Guide to Ideal Dolls," 3rd ed. (Collector Books, $24.95), Judith Izen writes that some Ideal ST dolls had blue and green glass eyes, and some had tin eyes.
Several molds were used, and marks differ. Looking over images sent, Izen identified one doll as "Curly Top," produced in 1935 in sizes from 11 inches through 27 inches. The reader's 20-inch doll is worth $800 if in excellent condition. For top dollar, it must have no crazing, with original clothing and clear eyes.
"The reader's doll looks like she is wearing replacement shoes," Izen told us. Plus, the dress appears to have been washed. All that deflates price.
The vinyl-body circa 1961 doll wears a Little Bo Peep dress from the Fairytale Heroine series made in 12-inch through 19-inch sizes that year.
Fifteen-inch dolls such as the reader's are not as common as smaller versions. A 15-inch doll in excellent condition with original clothing retails at around $300.
But, Izen noted, "It looks like the elastic in the outfit of the reader's doll is somewhat stretched." She pegs value at $250.
As for selling, she recommends shopping the dolls to dealers at a local doll show or listing them on eBay. Find doll-show schedules at the collector Web sites www. antiquedollcollector.com and www.dollreader.com, as well as in local newspapers.
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