Lee Middleton Dolls are known for their incomparable baby dolls. The company was founded by the late Lee Middleton from Springfield, Ohio, a self-taught artist. The vinyl porcelain-feel dolls produced by this company revolutionized the modern doll industry.
Lee Middleton Original Dolls produced the dolls. The company's name was changed to the Middleton Doll Company in 2001. In 2010, it was purchased by the Alexander Doll Company, producer of Madame Alexander dolls.
Years of Production
Lee Middleton started making dolls in her home in 1978. The vinyl dolls commenced production in 1984. The original artist and founder of the company Lee Middleton sadly died in 1997. They were made in Belpre, Ohio, until 2004 when the majority of production was moved overseas. The new soft-feel vinyl "Breath of Life" baby dolls began production in the second half of 2004. Lee Middleton Original Dolls artists included Reva Schick, Eva Helland, and Jane Pinkstaff.
Material, Characteristics, and Sizes
All dolls today are made of high-quality vinyl. All dolls are hard vinyl, except the "Breath of Life" Babies, which are made with soft-to-the-touch lifelike vinyl. The majority of dolls are 19 inches to 22 inches and are baby and toddler dolls, although the company also produces some taller standing children. Starting in 2003, the company also added a "Classic Miniatures" line, which are miniaturized versions of popular, previously produced dolls. The Classic Miniatures are 9 inches tall.
Prices and Secondary Market
Some of the earliest dolls designed by Lee herself have gone up in value on the secondary market, but the majority of the dolls have not had enough years to create a track record with collectors, and are available at retail.
Collecting the Dolls
Lee Middleton Dolls have been synonymous with the best in baby dolls nearly since their inception. One of the last major doll companies to move production overseas, the dolls are treasured by collectors for their workmanship and their huggable, realistic baby designs. Most of the dolls have soft bodies and the latest "Breath of Life" babies also have soft, huggable vinyl and individually rooted baby hair that realistically mimics the hair on a very small infant.
The company also produced toddler dolls. The toddler dolls tend to have more vinyl, with less of the body of the doll being cloth. This enables the doll to wear a wider variety of clothing.
Collectors of Lee Middleton Dolls tend to be very devoted, often with entire rooms devoted to their adopted charges. The dolls also are given to children as a special doll (one that the child may well have to pass on to their children someday). The Treasured Child line of baby dolls was made for children, and it featured a posable body and a lower price point.
Certain stores throughout the United States had "adoption centers" for the limited edition baby dolls, where the collector or child could "choose" their baby from a "baby nursery" with a baby nurse in attendance.