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Rosemary
"Walk, Talk, Sleep"

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Vintage Effanbee dolls are some of my favorites, and of those, I am very partial to Rosemary.   She is grouped in the catagory of "mama" dolls, that is, her head (shoulder plate), arms and legs are made of composition, attached to a cloth body.  A crier is inserted inside the body that enables her to say, "mama" when gently tipped (most are mute today).  Early mama dolls were bulky and wide and did not have very much movement.  By the end of the 1920's these dolls were slimmed down. Stitching was sewn across the hips, which allowed the legs to hang more freely so that a child could make her doll appear to dance or walk.  Rosemary was one of the first dolls designed with this slimmer body in 1926, and she was instantly popular.  Interestingly, the first dolls were marketed as "Rose-Marie" even though their body is marked "Rosemary".   Her hair was either mohair or natural human hair, which could be in short or long curls, brunette or blond.  She had real eyelashes, an open mouth with four teeth and a tiny tongue.  Her sleep eyes were a gray-blue tin metal.  These tin eyes do not cloud up like some of the later eyes used on dolls of the 30s and 40s.  This is a real plus, keeping her eyes clear and bright after all these years have passed.  The dolls are marked on the back of the shoulder plate, inside an oval:  "Effanbee/Rosemary/Walk, Talk, Sleep".   She came in several different sizes ranging from about 17" up to 30".   I've seen reference to her as late as 1931.

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There was also a line of dolls that were not really advertised with girl names, but used Rosemary's body mold and markings, that had flirty eyes (eyes that move from side to side as well as sleep).  In 1927 they were first referenced in a Montgomery Ward catalog as, "Effanbee's Masterpiece, Naughty Eyes. A Dancing Doll."  Interestingly, the following year, the same doll was advertised as "Laughing Eyes".  It is thought that perhaps customers did not like the term "naughty" used in reference to the doll.   My most recent Rosemary purchase was this flirty-eyed doll, at right.  She came to me overall very clean and originally dressed, but with a replaced red mohair wig.   I haven't seen Rosemary advertised as a redhead so this is probably not appropriate but is definitely a proper style.  These dolls are a little eerie because their expression is always a bit intense, as if very anxious.  I think it is because they do not have the real eyelashes (which tends to soften the expression)  so that their eyes can move more easily from side to side. Her eye lashes are painted top and bottom.  Still she is a sweetie and one of the rarer type of Rosemary dolls.

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Most Rosemary dolls were originally dressed very similarly.  They usually had a bloomer dress which included the one-piece bloomer style body suit, under a slip, with a dress over that.  Most of the dresses appear to be organdy with lace trim and usually do not have any buttons or snaps for closures.  Instead, many are fastened with small brass-type safety pins.  She also had leatherette tie or snap shoes and socks.  The socks often had a stripe which coordinated with the color of the fabric in the dress.  She could have either a matching bonnet or ribbon bandeau, or just a large tied bow hair accent.  She was sold with an Effanbee golden locket on a neck chain.  

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All of the dolls I have acquired were found in relative good condition but needed a little sprucing to bring back their personalities.  My blond with long ringlets (may have been called Mary Louise) was very dirty and was said to have a beige dress and ash blond hair.  After cleaning her, she actually has golden blond human hair and her dress is a pale pink.  Her teeth had come loose inside her mouth,  but I was able to reposition and glue them back in place. The dress is actually tagged with an Effanbee "Bubbles" tag, but is clearly designed as a Rosemary style.  A bit of a mystery but I do believe that it is original to her.   My brunette (below) has a thicker human hair wig, which had totally lost its curl as you can see in the before photograph.  I washed her wig, curled it and I swear her smile actually grew!  Her lovely original outfit is trimmed with white lace edged with black thread.  Her heart locket was pinned to her dress so I purchased a small gold chain at an antique shop and made her a more traditional necklace. 



Before

After

When I received this Rosemary, her human hair wig had lost all its curls but was still in wonderful condition. It is hard to believe that all that hair curled tightly into this cute bobbed style but it did.  Even I was surprised at the results.  I styled her hair over a year ago and it has retained its curls to this day.

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Many of the dolls found today are marked Rosemary, but were actually advertised in the late '20s as other names.  Mary Louise, Lovey Mary, Mary Sue and Rose Mary are most known.  So, finding a Rosemary today, especially if redressed, makes one wonder what her name really is.  It really doesn't matter much to me though, because they are all just precious little girls, no matter what they were originally called.

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This photo shows the difference in body construction between the two Rosemary dolls.   They are both marked exactly the same.  The one on the left is probably earlier, around 1925 while the one on the right is probably 1929 or so.

  

 

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References:  
Effanbee Dolls, The Formative Years 1910-1929, by Patricia N. Schoonmaker 1984 (Out of Print)
Effanbee, Dolls That Touch Your Heart, by Pat Smith 1983/Updated values 1998. 
Collector's Encyclopedia of American Composition Dolls 1900-1950, by Ursula Mertz 1999.


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DISCLAIMER: These web pages are meant for personal enjoyment and collector educational purposes only.  Any opinions are strictly my own and do not reflect that of the companies that are represented within these pages.   Information is presented based on personal experience or information gathered in current or out of print reference materials.  In all cases, I have tried to document references to the best of my ability.  Rosemary is trademark of  Effanbee Dolls.  This website is not owned, operated by, or affiliated with this company and Effanbee Dolls makes no representations or warranties about the content of these web pages.  ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

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