If you happen upon a doll with chubby cherubic cheeks and a cute bulging tummy, wide set eyes and a shock of curled hair, chances are you have happened upon a Kewpie doll.
What exactly is a kewpie doll? Kewpie dolls are not well known, and while doll collectors are not necessarily beating a path to their doors, there are avid collectors of the kewpie doll.
The kewpie doll started out in print-form as the ‘brain child’ of Rosie O’Neill in the early 1900’s. In cartoon form they were depicted as ‘good spirits’ who would assist persons in troubling situations.
These kewpie dolls were designed to appeal to young women and children. The cartoon was a resounding success and fans started demanding replicas of these ‘characters’ which they could actually hold, so the first kewpie dolls were created.
It could be said that kewpie dolls were the first toy replicas of cartoon characters. The first kewpie dolls were actually manufactured in Germany from bisque. They were later made from celluloid material, porcelain and finally hard plastic.
The dolls were easily recognizable as a result of the unique, distinct shape and the brand ‘kewpie’ became hugely successful. The kewpie doll is infamous for its impish smile and eyes that are slightly turned to the side. These dolls were sometimes lovingly called ‘cupid’ because of its resemblance to the mythical matchmaker.
Later designs of kewpie dolls incorporated the looks of many different occupational workers, such as gardeners, musicians, soldiers and many others. The sizes of these dolls varies, and a kewpie doll could be anywhere from a few inches tall to almost a foot and a half tall.
Kewpie dolls are considered by many to be the most popular doll ever made. Incidentally, vintage kewpie dolls are now considered to be a rare collectible item, fetching exorbitant prices. As a doll collector you will find that adding a kewpie doll to your collection will cause your collection to be greatly admired.
Tips on Purchasing Antique Kewpie Dolls
* Search the web. There are toms of resources concerning kewpie dolls online. Check online auctions, doll shops, online antique shops and general toy stores.
* Antique kewpies were mostly made of bisque. Take time to examine your find in great detail. As a guide, the surfaces of modern bisque dolls are as smooth as glass, while the bisque of much older dolls tends to much rougher to the touch.
* The original kewpie doll will have the name of Rosie O’Neil engraved upon its right foot. It will also bear a red and gold heart upon its chest. As with any other collector’s item, great care should be exercised when purchasing kewpie dolls.
Antique versions are extremely expensive, and it is usually a good idea to have the doll assessed and its age verified prior to doling out your hard-earned money for an ‘antique’ kewpie doll.
As a result of the scarcity of the kewpie dolls, reproductions have found a strong and profitable market. As long as the collector knows exactly what he/she is getting, there seems to be no harm done. So, for interested collectors who are not willing to spend a fortune on an early bisque doll, the reproduction market is alive and well!