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Kewpie Dolls

About Kewpie Dolls:  Kewpie dolls have been a popular toy since they were first introduced more than 100 years ago. What started as just a small cartoon quickly became one of the first mass-produced toys in the world. In its long history, the Kewpie doll has been played with by children, adored by adults, and used as an icon to represent several brands and groups. People collect the dolls because they enjoy looking at their cute faces, but also because they want to hold on to a piece of history. With so many dolls to choose from, it can be hard to decide which ones to add to a collection. By learning about the origins and background of the Kewpie doll, an enthusiast can put together a collection that accurately represents the Kewpie doll throughout its history.

Origin of the Kewpie Doll

The Kewpie doll first made its appearance in 1909 in illustrations drawn by Rose O'Neill and printed in "Ladies' Home Journal." The Kewpie Pages became increasingly popular, and O'Neill began producing Kewpie Kutouts, which were paper dolls printed on front and back that were accompanied with stories. Due to increasing popularity and demand, figurines and models of the Kewpie were made from this illustration in 1913. Joseph Kallus was the sculptor who put together the first three-dimensional depiction of the doll. The name "Kewpie" is derived from the name "Cupid." This name was chosen because of the doll's resemblance to the Roman God of Love. The Kewpie doll has been continuously manufactured since its introduction in 1913.

Kewpie Dolls Throughout Their History

Kewpie dolls were first manufactured in Germany, but their production was moved to France and Belgium after World War I broke out. Several well-known German toy companies produced the Kewpie doll, including Kestner. The dolls were made of bisque and celluloid until 1949 when the first plastic Kewpie dolls were produced.

Japanese Manufacture

During this era, several Japanese companies were also producing Kewpie doll replicas. These companies did not have a license to produce the patented dolls, so they are not official Kewpie dolls. Many of these dolls are still sold in secondary markets, and although not official, they are still sought out by Kewpie doll collectors as a piece of history from this era in Kewpie doll history.

Kewpie Dolls as a Mascot

The Kewpie doll was extremely popular during the early 1900s, and its image was used in advertisements, logos, and mascots around the country. In particular, the Kewpie was chosen as the mascot for Hickman High School in Missouri in 1914. To this day, they are still known as the Hickman Kewpies. The Kewpie hamburger restaurant also chose the Kewpie for its name and logo in 1923. The logo features a Kewpie doll wearing a chef hat and holding a spatula. The restaurant, still in existence, was named an all-American icon.

Kewpie Dolls to Promote Women's Rights

Though Kewpie dolls were mostly collected and adored for their cute appearances, they were also used to promote noble causes throughout history. Rose O'Neill was known as the "Queen of Bohemian Society," and she was a prominent figure in the women's suffrage movement. Through her career she met with women's groups, and the Kewpie doll was also dressed in a way to battle for women's rights in the US.


Kewpie Doll Description

Kewpie dolls come in a variety of sizes, and have been made from many different materials in the more than 100 years that they have been in production. Typically, Kewpie dolls range in size from two inches to 12 inches, but some were as tall as three feet. While originally made from bisque, Kewpie dolls were also made from celluloid, wood, plastic, vinyl, and cloth.

While there have been a few variations in the appearance of the Kewpie doll throughout its history, it has managed to keep the same basic look over the years. The earliest dolls featured straight legs and an upright body as a solid piece. They had moveable arms that were attached to the body at the shoulders. The Kewpie doll's head is perhaps its most recognizable feature. Kewpie has three tufts of hair that are molded as part of the head. The dolls has chubby cheeks, a small smile, and large, round eyes. Very distinct and short eyelashes are painted above the eyes.

Markings

Most of the earliest Kewpie dolls don't have any distinct markings or signatures from the toy manufacturers. Collectors can look for O'Neill's signature on the bottom of one of the feet. Additionally, some dolls featured a red and gold paper heart on the doll's chest or back. Knock-off Kewpie dolls that were manufactured in Japan during the early 1900s have "Made in Japan" markings on them.

Other Kewpie Doll Items

Because of the popularity of Kewpies, many other items in addition to dolls were manufactured for fans to enjoy. Collectors can find a large selection of new and vintage Kewpie products including: plates, cups, salt and pepper shakers, coloring books, cards, jewelry, ornaments, and clothing. Additionally, Kewpie doll fans can find a large selection of crafts to make to go along with their dolls.

Kewpie Doll Clothing

Kewpie dolls are most commonly sold with no clothes on, but some are dressed in clothes as a celebration of a holiday or to promote a certain brand, event, etc. Kewpie dolls are also a dream come true for hobbyists who like to sew, knit, and make clothes. These dolls are easy to dress, and hobbyists can find kits to make their own clothes for Kewpie. Collectors are also able to find a large selection of clothing that has been handmade specifically for Kewpie.


Kewpie Dolls as Collector's Items

Many collectors are willing to pay high prices for the less common and much older Kewpie dolls that were made from bisque. Signed Kewpiesthat have an original signature from Rose O'Neill are also worth a lot and sought after by avid collectors. Dolls with unusual features or features that were produced for a short amount of time are also favored. Examples of these would be Kewpie dolls with glass eyes rather than painted eyes or dolls with jointed legs.


Collecting Kewpie Dolls on eBay

eBay is an online marketplace that brings together Kewpie doll collectors from all over the world. You can browse through the categories to find the dolls that you want for your collection. To get started, go to the Dolls and Bears category. From here, go to Dolls, By Type, and Kewpie to see what's currently available. You can also use the search bar at the top of the page or the Advanced Search feature for a more refined search. Make sure that you sign in to your account or register for a free account to bid on an auction or use the Buy It Now feature.


Conclusion

Kewpie dolls were one of the first mass-produced toys in the world, and retained their popularity for more than a century. The cute, naked dolls with three tufts of hair and chubby cheeks have been adored by children and adults alike. People who admire the dolls put together collections of Kewpies to show their love and adoration. Since many of the older dolls are highly sought-after and rare, they can sell for a high price in the secondary market. Before putting together a collection of Kewpie dolls, collectors should learn about the history and appearance of the dolls to choose items for the collection that accurately represent the history of Kewpie. Whether looking for vintage or modern Kewpies, collectors can find a large selection of the dolls on eBay. 

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Kewpie Doll

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Kewpie For Collectors Book Description Conceived and given life by artist Rose O'Neill, the beguiling Kewpie is one of the most recognized and loved creatures of modern times. In this book, a wealth of Kewpie collectibles come alive as author John Axe guides collectors through the origins of this beloved winged creature and how this translated into dolls, art, figurines and much more! Included in this story, is the warm partnership between Joseph Kallus and Rose O'Neill and the role Kallus played in conveying O'Neill's two-dimensional original artwork of Kewpies into three-dimensional dolls and figurines. This collector's reference details many aspects of the creative process including the numerous forms and materials through photos and never-before-published illustrations. As they celebrate their 90th anniversary, see Kewpies come to life and the magic they have in capturing our hearts! "Kewpie" is a registered trademark, used under license with Jesco Imports Inc.

Kewpie Dolls and Art With Value Guide Since there aren't many available reference books on the subject of Kewpie dolls, you may want to consider adding this volume to your library despite its limitations. The title led me to expect a reference book that would assist me with evaluating Kewpies for the purpose of resale. Unfortunately, a large portion of the book is devoted to the history of the development of the Kewpie and their creator. The content is also very, very limited. It really just includes dolls with a couple of other pieces such as a cup and saucer and a neck kerchief (without prices); there isn't really any "art" to speak of, either listed or valued. It does have an index, however it's primarily organized by the owner of the pieces, not by the actual pieces. Also, the values are not listed with the illustrations. They are located in a chart at the back of the book, which is organized by the item name, size, material, type, year made, manufacturer and current price. Unfortunately, the names don't really correspond with the actual items and it's difficult to determine which items the chart is actually referencing. Again, there aren't many Kewpie reference books available, so this one isn't completely without value, just don't hope for anything comprehensive or easy to use.

 

 

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