Tuesday, May 8, 2012

McGuffey Ana, a Doll of the 1930's

The Alexander Doll Company, founded in 1923, is still in operation today.  In 1928, a high quality line of dolls were produced and advertised as "Madame Alexander," which is the name now commonly associated with their dolls.  Alexander dolls were produced with only a few different face molds, the doll's originality lying in the various costumes.

The McGuffey Ana dolls were made from 1937 to 1943 and came in sizes from 9 inches to 22 inches tall.  They were made with the Princess Elizabeth face mold.  All were made of composition and had sleep eyes, except for the smallest 9-inch dolls.  The dolls (except for the 11 inch) had open mouths with tiny teeth showing.  They usually came with a braided wig.  McGuffey Ana dolls were dressed in old-fashioned dresses, often with pinafores.  They wore high-top two-button shoes.

My McGuffey Ana has "13" incised on her upper back.  She has brown sleep eyes and blonde hair in the characteristic braids with curly bangs.  In the photo at the left, she is shown wearing the dress in which she came to me.  It is an original McGuffey Ana dress, with a label so stating attached to the back neckline.  It is very possible that this dress originally came with a pinafore.  The shoes are replicas that I made from brown leather.

This photograph shows McGuffey Ana in her original combination.  It is a slip with a little eyelet ruffle.  The slip has attached underpants, which also have the eyelet ruffle.  The slip closes in the back with a safety pin.  The underclothing of early 20thcentury dolls often did not have any applied closures, such as buttons or snaps.

I decided to make a small wardrobe for my McGuffey Ana by replicating original McGuffey Ana outfits for which I found photographs on the Internet.  All of the dresses have high waists and full skirts.  All but one have short puffed sleeves.  The most often used trim was rick-rack sewn so that only one side of points showed on the outside.  Here is the first outfit that I made:

 This replica is a red plaid dress with puff sleeves and red rick-rack trim at the neckline.  Over it is worn a white dimity check pinafore, with white rick-rack trim at the neckline and on the edge of the sleeve ruffles.  The dimity that I used is not as transparent as the original.  Both garments close in the back with snaps.

 The second replica is a peach cotton dress with puff sleeves and white rick-rack trim at the neckline.  The accompanying pinafore is a pink rosebud cotton print that has a square neckline and sleeve ruffles.  The peach color of the dress isn't quite the right shade, but it will have to do.

Next is a light green gingham check dress with long straight sleeves that have white cuffs with lace trim.  The dress has a white Peter Pan collar with lace trim and a green silk ribbon sash that ties in a bow at the back.  Again, the colors aren't quite right, but I like the match between the sash and dress fabric color better in my replica than in the original.  The hat that my McGuffey Ana is wearing is also a replica.

The next replica is a blue-flowered cotton dress with puff sleeves and blue rick-rack trim at the neckline.  The puff sleeves on this dress have a little self ruffle.  The pinafore is white organdy with white rick-rack at the neckline and white organdy eyelet flounces around the armhole.
The next dress is made of brown striped cotton.  It has puff sleeves and brown rick-rack trim at the neckline.  This pinafore is constructed in a different manner from the previous ones.  Rather than a full bodice, front and back, this organdy pinafore has a bib in front, with eyelet flounces extending down to the waistband.  The back ties with organdy sashes.
 The final outfit that I replicated is a pink dress with puffed sleeves and pink rick-rack trim at the neckline.  With it was an organdy pinafore.  Rather than make another plain pinafore, I chose a piece of organdy eyelet embroidery with which to make the pinafore's skirt, with matching sleeve flounces.  This pinafore is constructed in the same way as the pinafore for the brown striped dress.  The organdy eyelet embroidery has lovely lily of the valley flowers above a scalloped eyelet border.  I found the eyelet at Farmhouse Fabrics and have been saving it for something special.  This is it!
On the left above is a picture of a hat that I found on the Internet, which said that it was an original McGuffey Ana hat.  I made a quasi-facsimile of it, shown on the right.  The flowers that I had on hand for doll hat-making are not quite as elaborate as the flowers on the original, but they are the same color combination.  
Lastly, the photos above show the trunk that I made in which to store McGuffey Ana's clothes.  It is a modified version of the McCall's pattern for an American Girl doll trunk and is made with foamcore board covered with cloth.  The inside has a rod for hanging McGuffey Ana's dresses and a drawer for her accessories.


xo, Nancy said...

Your work is lovely! My mother had a McGuffey Ana doll from her childhood. She called her Maguffa Ann. My sister and I were only allowed to look at her but not play with her. Now I sew for dolls and own 3 McGuffey Anas! I love them. And I love seeing the beautiful recreations you made of her wardrobe. I am inspired to sew some more!

Dawn said...

This is just wonderful! I have a lookalike McGuffey Ana. You have done all my research for me. :) I'll be revisiting your page often as I hopefully put together at least one outfit for my long neglected little girl.

Susan said...

I have this exact doll but I know for a fact my mother received it in a missionary barrel in Venezuela from the states in 1933 so I believe her to be made in the 1920s??? Is it possible she was made in the 20s? I also am looking to sell her with her estate so trying to get an idea what to start at. Do you know who may be interested in buying her. Thank you!

Catholic Bibliophagist said...

Hello, I've just read all of your blog posts, and I wanted to tell you how much I've enjoyed them. I too am now enjoying sewing for dolls now that I am over 60I love your little resin Hitty doll and wonder if they are still available. A quick Google search doesn't show much so I suppose not.