Dolls of Our Childhood

“American Character Dolls: Identification & Value Guide”

Judith Izen’s new book “American Character Dolls: Identification & Value Guide” showcases many wonderful dolls. The book has over 1,000 full-color photographs of the most enduring and beloved dolls of the century including Betsy McCall, Tiny Tears, Toni, Sweet Sue, Little Rickey- the I Love Lucy Doll, Tressy and the Whimsies. The book will aid collectors in identifying dolls produced by the American Character Doll Company. Most American Character dolls produced from 1919-1968 are affordable, however, some are highly desirable and command high prices. The identification and price guide will help readers sort out the prized doll from the common doll.

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By Judith Izen

The American Character Doll Company of New York produced lovely high quality dolls from 1919-1967. American Character’s most popular dolls were: Sally, Tiny Tears, Little Ricky from the “I Love Lucy” television show, Sweet Sue, Betsy McCall, Toodles, Toni, Whimseys, and Tressy. American Character also brought to life such unusual dolls as Topo Gigio, the Italian Mouse, and characters from the television show “Bonanza.”

American Character dolls were made of composition, rubber, hard plastic, and vinyl. The dolls were widely advertised on television on popular kids shows such as Shari Lewis and Ding Dong School House.

American Character dolls were mass-produced they are still affordable and currently seriously under-valued for collectors who wish to own a piece of doll-making’s golden era and recapture some of the joy of their childhood.

Tiny Tears

One of American Character’s most popular dolls was Tiny Tears. American Character introduced their first Tiny Tears doll with a rubber body in the early 1950s. Tiny Tears was a very talented doll because in addition to drinking and wetting, she had the innovative feature of crying real tears. Tiny Tears became wildly successful.

Many versions of Tiny Tears were made. The next version came with a hard plastic head and rooted saran hair. All Tiny Tears are getting high prices lately, especially ones mint in box.


Sweet Sue

Sweet Sue was part of American Character’s doll line for many years starting in 1948. Sweet Sue started out as an all hard plastic girl doll and went through many changes during her existence. In all her versions Sweet Sue was an excellent quality doll with beautiful clothing. These dolls are undervalued in the doll world now but as soon as the book gets widely distributed, you’ll see a rise in her price.


Betsy McCall

American Character made several Betsy McCall© dolls representing the popular paperdoll that appeared in McCall’s Magazine. American Character’s Betsy McCall dolls ran the gamut from miniature 7 1/2” size to large child size 34” dolls. The large size Betsys are 14,” 20,” 21 1/2,” 29.” The most popular and most commonly found are the 7 1/2” Betsy McCalls who are sweet delicate creatures with thin bending knees. They appeared for several years and have scads of outfits. All are extremely popular today with collectors who appreciate American Character’s fine doll artistry and are willing to pay high prices for them.



One of American Character’s crowning glories is the Toni® doll produced in 1958. American Character obtained a license to produce a doll with the Toni® Home Permanent name. Toni dolls came in four sizes 10 1/2", 14", 20", and 25." Toni’s face has a lovely quality to it. American Character developed a new vinyl to make a “peaches and cream complexion.” They advertised Toni doll extensively in magazines and on television. An entire line of clothing was sold separately for the 10 1/2” Toni doll. These fashions are adorable and capture the late 1950s styles.



In 1963 the American Character Doll Company introduced TRESSY® -- a doll whose hair grew. Tressy’s growing hair feature allowed American Character to compete with Mattel’s extremely popular “Barbie” fashion doll. TRESSY was an 11 1/2” vinyl fashion doll who had many fashions that could be purchased separately. Tressy came with a little fashion booklet that enticed children to purchase all her outfits, just like Barbie. The grow hair feature combined with the vast selection of fashions combined to make 11 1/2” Tressy one of the most popular dolls of all times. Tressy sold so well for American Character that they added other dolls to the Tressy line: a younger sister, Cricket, and a friend, Mary Make-up.


Peepers Baby

American Character tried to recapture their success with Ricky Jr. from the “I Love Lucy” television show with a baby from the “Mr. Peepers television show starring Wally Cox. The Peepers Baby” from 1954-55 was not a big success but she’s a cute baby doll.


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