History of the Patsy dolls
And Just Me

Patsy by Effanbee has a rich dolly history that began 75 years ago, with a little 10" bisque doll by the name of "Just Me." Just Me was designed by Armand Marseille and made in Germany. Head molds are clearly marked on the neck. (Just Me was possibly another dress me doll and a competitor of the popular French Bleuette doll.)

Just Me was so popular in Europe that the Vogue doll company noticed her and decided to introduce Just Me in the USA. The dolls were imported and Vogue dressed them. Their heads are marked with German mold marks. The first Just Me dolls by Vogue had a fired bisque head and five piece composition body. These dolls sell for hundreds and even thousands of dollars now.

Inspired by Just Me, the Effanbee doll company created their molded hair Patsy doll, which was all compo. The body style and facial features were very much like Just Me.

Composition or "compo" is a wood product made from sawdust and glue that is pressed into molds. Later the pieces are given a primer coat and then dipped in fleshtone paint, which made a thick smooth surface. Sometimes plaster was used to mold the features on the head, before the head was painted.

The photo above shows a very rare AA version of the 11" Patsy Jr, made of composition material. Composition dolls were surprisingly durable as playdolls. Patsy was made in many sizes, 5" small to 24" large and many sizes in between. The Patsy Jr doll was 11 inches tall. Patsyette was 9 inches tall. Larger dolls might have names such as Patsy Joan. The Patsy dolls literally took "Just Me" to a new level or height that she had never been.

Patsy was so popular that other companies noticed her and produced copycat versions of Patsy.

During the height of Patsy's popularity, the Vogue company made clothing specifically for Patsy. They made outfits for all the Patsy sizes. Vogue didn't sell the dolls, just the outfits. I am guessing that world war may have played a part in all this: perhaps Vogue couldn't import the Just Me dolls from Germany anymore, so they possibily collaborated with Effanbee. But this is only a guess. It would be interesting to know how the world wars did influence dolly productions.

When hard plastic dolls were made in the 1940's, Just Me's solemn expression and tiny rosebud mouth influenced the early 8" Ginny dolls by Vogue and the Alexanderkin dolls by Madame Alexander, both of which continue to be very popular with collectors today. Many other companies made similar copycat dolls in the 8 inch size.

The photo above shows a 10 inch hard plastic Block doll, which is one of my favorites from the hard plastic era.

The Just Me face is also reflected in the vinyl Ruthie dolls of the 1950's, which were sold by all doll companies for awhile. This face mold was one of the first vinyl dolls that was made. In the early days of vinyl, a mold company made the dolls and sold them to doll companies who dressed them. All the doll manufacturers sold the Ruthie head mold for awhile. Bodies were mixed and matched, so each company would have a unique variation for the body but the heads were pretty much the same. Doll companies eventually sold their own unique head molds that were distinctive for their brand name, but early vinyl dolls were mostly generic.

The Horsman doll company named their generic doll Ruthie, so she is most commonly known by that name. Horsman's all vinyl Little Betty has the Just Me face style as well.

As vinyl technology progressed, the gorgeous all vinyl fashion dolls of the 1950's were introduced. The solemn expression of Just Me matured in the faces of vinyl lady dolls such as Cissy, Cissette, Uneeda's multi-jointed fashion Dollikin and the Horsman Couturier dolls. The photos above show Uneeda Toddles on the left, who was an immediate predecessor for the Cissy face mold. (Toddles has a larger head size than Cissy, a wider neck and the nose is not as dainty as the turned up noses of the fashion dolls.)

The photo on the right shows a Uneeda fashion doll with the glamorous Cissy face. Cissy is still being made today by the Madame Alexander company. A smaller 10 inch size is known as Cissette.

Through the 1960's no one remembered Just Me, until she was re-introduced in the late 1970's and early 80's by porcelain doll artists. Porcelain was extremely popular during the 1980's, and Just Me was one of the favorite molds used. Some of the cottage industry Just Me dolls were even sold in fine department stores. The reproduction dolls were usually made with all porcelain bodies. The body styles frequently varied from the slender Just Me body with the bent arm.

Vogue brought back the JUST ME dolls for a short time, recreating them to be just like the antique JUST ME dolls.

In 2003, Robert Tonner brought back the Patsy dolls by Effanbee. Tonner's Patsy dolls have the classic slender 5 piece Just Me body with one bent arm, and the little solemn face with the tiny rosebud mouth. They are just like the vintage Patsy dolls except they are made of vinyl. The Effanbee Patsy dolls were produced as 5" Wee Patsy, 9" Patsyette, 14" Patsy (shown) and 18" Patsy Joan.

The pictures below are of the 18 inch Patsy Joan.

Copyright (c) 2002, 2012 Cynthia Stevens All Rights Reserved