Madame Alexander Dolls Apollo PA
Lower Burrell, PA
The Fashions of Madame Alexander
|Written by Kerra Davis|
|Tuesday, 01 November 2005 00:00|
Just hearing the name of Madame Alexander brings immediate images into the thoughts of doll collectors. “Other” dolls sat side by side in the dime stores and grocery stores of the land, but not the Alexander dolls. By the 1940s and 1950s, they were so exclusive they were displayed in their own glass cases in the doll section of big department stores. These were dolls with the higher price tags. These were dolls made for “looking” … not playing.
What was it about these dolls that made them so different from the many others being manufactured?
Glenn Mandeville in several of his books about Madame Alexander Dolls gives the question an answer with these words: “The most often overlooked fact is that Madame Alexander was not a doll artist. She was a clothing designer…and to Madame, the dolls, for the most part, were merely the mannequins upon which she draped her dreams.”
Bertha Alexander was born March 9, 1895, in her family’s living quarters located above her father’s doll hospital in New York’s Lower East Side. She and her sisters grew up literally surrounded by dolls. In 1923, they began the Alexander Doll Company, with their specialty being “dainty costumes.” They dressed dolls as they had never before been dressed in America—in gorgeous silks, fine cottons and French voile prints.
During the 1950s, the company produced little booklets that advertised Alexander fashions for dolls. On the back of one such booklet is this description: “Madame Alexander’s Fashions for Dolls are made of the best fabrics obtainable, imported laces and organdies, the finest cottons and flannels. Great care has been exercised in the styling of the doll’s clothes, so that a little girl’s doll reflects the good taste which has been used in the selection of the child’s own wardrobe. Superior fitting and finishing of each small garment assures the little mother of long wear and much pleasure. No frustrating safety pins, but buttons and button holes or snap fastenings make dressing and undressing your doll lots of fun.”
Some of the booklets were issued for named dolls, but other booklets advertised clothing for dolls of three sizes—15 inches, 18 inches and 25 inches. Sometimes a certain style came in more than one color or print. Also listed were lingerie and accessories such as slips, panties, slippers, socks, jewelry and hats.
There were very few character faces manufactured in the Alexander doll line. Most of the dolls through the years and continuing today were like thousands of others. It was—and continues to be—the...