Magic Attic Club dolls were produced by four different companies between 1994 and 2004. They were the first competitors to the American Girl dolls but never realized their full potential. For more information on Magic Attic, visit the Just Magic site.
The Pedigree Toy Box catalog for 1966 shows a page of boxed “jewellery and nic-nacs” sets (what in the US would be called accessories) for dolls.
The jewelry includes a brooch which appears to be a deer, two pairs of earrings (one balls and one possibly cat heads), a tiara and three pendants (a ball, a heart and an abstract shape).
There’s also a video version of this post here.
The Alexander Doll Company issued six series of 14” First Lady dolls beginning in 1976 and ending in 1990, depicting the wives of the US Presidents. The first series, available from 1976 through 1978, included Martha Washington, Abigail Adams, Martha Randolph, Dolley Madison, Elizabeth Monroe and Louisa Adams. The dolls are not portraits of the actual women, and Madame Alexander used creative license in selecting the hair and eye colors of the dolls. They are made of rigid vinyl, with rooted hair and sleep eyes with brush lashes. They are jointed at the neck, shoulders and hips, and wear beautifully made outfits. In addition to the outfit pieces described, each doll wears white stockings.
Louisa Catherine Johnson Adams, wife of John Quincy Adams, was born in England, to a British mother and American father. She wrote music and poetry, and played the harp. She followed her husband in his diplomatic travels around the world, once crossing Europe by coach in the winter to join him.
Louisa Adams wears a short sleeved white satin gown decorated with white and silver metallic braid, and ruched bands of tulle. Her white taffeta and net petticoat and pantalettes are decorated with gathered white lace. She wears graduated “pearl” necklace and a cluster of rosebuds in her hair.
Diana, a lady of 1830, by Mirren Barrie is 12” tall and all cloth with a hardened face and hand painted features. Her wire armature enables her to stand unaided. She has embroidery floss hair and a detailed, early Victorian costume accessorized with hat, purse, umbrella and jewelry. Diana and her outfit are entirely sewn by hand.
She was made as the souvenir for the 25th anniversary of NIADA – the National Institute of American Doll Artists – in 1987.
Mirren Barrie was a native of Scotland who lived in Vermont in her later years. She was committed to historical authenticity in her costuming, and under Diana’s skirt is a hidden pocket which holds a piece of paper describing every article of her ensemble. The text reads:
DIANA: NIADA SOUVENIR DOLL FOR 1987, NIADA’S 25TH ANNIVERSARY
If you juggle the letters ‘NIADA’ you will find the name ‘DIANA’ so we have called this souvenir doll, Diana, and dressed her in NIADA’s colors for good measure. She wears a modified 1830’s dress in pure silk ribbon organza. Underwear was often embroidered, quilted and heavily starched. A number of petticoats were worn but Diana’s have been modified to a fancy chemise and one petticoat with a padded hem. This was dictated by the necessity to keep the waist as narrow as possible so the fewer layers in that area the better. Underpants will still not worn by adults but during the following decade they would become a part of the general underwear although there was much opposition and ridicule. They were considered unhealthy.
The emphasis in this costume is placed at the extremes – the hem and the neck and sleeves, all of which were extremely exaggerated, the sleeves being held out by either wire cages or feather pillows. Necks were very low, even to the extent of slipping off the points of the shoulders. Fashions began their careers at this time in the Courts of Britain and France. What the Court ladies wore filtered down through society’s stratas in varying degrees. In Britain, Queen Adelaide who was considered prudish would not allow ladies to attend her parties with very low necklines. Her husband, George IV, however liked ample displays of uncovered female so would not allow ladies to wear high necklines! A garment called a guimpe, rather like a high-necked camisole, was worn under the dress. Diana’s is of silk illusion veiling.
Fragile silk or satin shoes, flat-heeled and held on with ribbon ties round the ankle were often home-made. Ten years earlier in 1820 T. Hancock of Middlesex, England, invented the first elastic fabric with rubber in it. Elastic cloth or webbing as it was called, ultimately replaced the ribbon garters and the ribbon shoe ties. Shawls were very popular. Some were narrow and six yards long needing instruction as to how to drape these gracefully. Among others were the famous Paisley shawls made in the town of Paisley, Scotland. Shawls were to remain fashionable for most of the century.
Jewelry was profuse and heavy but worn only by married women – an indication of their husband’s affluence. The unmarried wore a single string of pearls. However, our Diana is an emancipated woman and wears what she likes! The settings are gold – silver was generally used for mourning jewelry. Accessories were many. Fans, muffs, reticules, parasols and handkerchiefs engaged the often gloved or mittened hands and together with extra long or full scarves and huge hats the 1830 lady must have found a windy day an interesting experience. Diana’s reticule is borrowed from a later period as it was felt to be a better compliment to her costume, – easier to make at a time when seconds were more precious than gold.
Hair styles were probably among the craziest. Hair was arranged in big sausages on either side 0of the face; the back hair was swept up smoothly and it, plus false braids, all oiled or lacquered into loops called Apollo’s Knots, were piled in fantasy on top of the head. Flowers, wheat, ribbons etc., were added. Hats had to be large to cover all this and trims were garish and copious. A silly, amusing and inventive period. 1823 saw E. Mackintosh of Britain patent the first practical process for waterproofing; 1807 B. Sanders of Birmingham, England invented the metal button formed of two disks locked by turning the edges and the shell button with a metal shank. In America Samuel Williston of E. Hampton, Mass, patented a machine to produce cloth covered buttons.
This doll is #194/201 (signed) Mirren Barrie NIADA 1987.
Diana is for sale in my Etsy shop.
Highland Lassie is an Authentic Tartan Dressed Doll made by Pedigree. She is 13 3/4″ tall (35 cm) and has a soft vinyl head and arms, and rigid vinyl torso and legs. She is jointed at the neck, shoulders and hips. She has short blonde rooted hair, blue sleep eyes with somewhat stiff lashes, and painted lashes below each eye. She is marked MADE IN ENGLAND on the back of her head. She was likely made in the 1960s.
This doll was made in several different sizes. A boy doll, called Highland Laddie, was also made. He has molded hair.
This Highland Lassie wears a kilt and sash in Royal Stewart tartan. Her outfit is actually more of a traditional costume for men rather than women. In addition to the wool kilt (with pin) and sash, she wears a black felt jacket with decorative top stitching and brass stud details; a belt with buckle; a white taffeta blouse with pleated lace ruffle at the neck and cuffs; a faux fur sporran on a metal chain; socks that match the kilt; black vinyl shoes with brass stud detail; and a black taffeta tam with red pom pom. The bagpipes she carries have a bag made of the tartan fabric. Underneath she wears plaid panties that don’t quite match the tartan. Highland Lassie’s outfit is not removable, and the jacket cuffs are sewn together to help her hold the bagpipes.
The Highland Laddie dolls I have found online are dressed the same as Lassie, except that the style of the hat is different. I have also seen Highland Lassies with a red jacket instead of black. Most of the jackets I have seen are a simpler style than the one this doll wears.
Her original box is printed with a tartan plaid and has a label on one end identifying her.