Kewpie dolls were cute sensation

In 1947 I received three porcelain cupid dolls. They are in excellent condition. Are these of any value?

In 1909, magazine illustrator Rose O'Neill's distinctive drawings of cupid figures appeared in the Ladies' Home Journal, thus giving birth to the "Kewpie." In the course of her lifetime it is estimated that O'Neill made over $1 million on her design. Besides being used for dolls, the Kewpie motif appeared on china, prints, vases, spoons, paperweights, postcards and dozens of other items.

As a member of the International Rose O'Neill Club (www.kewpieroseoneillclub. com), Len Witkowski is quick to point out that there was more to the artist than the Kewpie. "O'Neill was one of the leading illustrators of the 20th century," Witkowski says, "and some people collect just about everything associated with her."

But many more, he concedes, collect just Kewpie items, particularly the bisque (unglazed porcelain) dolls and figurines made in Germany in the early years of the Kewpie phenomenon. Common examples from this era can go for as little as $150, Witkowski says, while "really rare variants" go for as much as $4,000 to $5,000.

Your own Kewpies were made by the George Zoltan Lefton Co. of Chicago, Witkowski says, and would sell for about $35 to $50 each.

I am sending a picture of a 1928 Horsman Baby Dimples doll I purchased. It has a composition head with molded hair, a cloth body, composition arms and legs and tin eyes. It is marked "E.I.H. Co. Inc." I paid $200 for her, and we were wondering how much she is worth.

The E.I. Horsman Co. is one of America's oldest doll and toy manufacturers. Edward Imeson Horsman founded it in 1865 in New York City. By the late 19th century, the company was manufacturing tricycles, spring horses, skates, sleighs, doll carriages, baseball equipment and early board games.

Until the turn of the century, the company imported many of its doll parts from Europe, particularly heads and bodies. Horsman then began to focus on creating dolls of his own. Due to the onset of World War I in 1914, importing parts, especially from Germany, became difficult.

For several years, the company used heads of bisque, or unglazed porcelain, manufactured by the Fulper Pottery Co., but by the late 1920s bisque-head dolls had lost their popularity in the U.S. By then most of the dolls being produced in this country were made of composition, a molded material with a wood pulp base. The period from 1920 to 1940 is often referred to as the "composition craze period." Horsman made thousands of "compo" dolls during that time and it has been estimated that the company's production was up to 6,000 a day.

For a value on your Baby Dimples doll, I contacted Floyd Jones of Floyd Jones Inc. in Chicago. He is a doll dealer and a member of the National Doll Dealers Assn. ( He said the Baby Dimples model came in two sizes, one 16 to 18 inches long, the other a little larger at 20 to 24 inches. You have the larger version, which Jones says would likely be worth $250 to $350. The smaller version would probably sell for $175 to $250.


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