Norah Wellings was from Shropshire, England. She was the main doll designer at Chad Valley Dolls from 1919 to 1926, when she left to form her own doll company with her brother Leonard. The resulting company was the Victoria Toy Works, located in Wellington, United Kingdom. All the dolls produced here were from various types of cloth. Norah's dolls were sold worldwide, and many were made for various tourist industries, most notably the cruise ship industry, for which Norah's sailor dolls were made for various cruise ships as souvenirs.
All Norah Wellings dolls are made out of cloth. They have stitched joints and various types of molded faces. They usually have painted features, including eyes, but rarer models have glass eyes.
Years of Production
Norah started producing dolls through her own company in 1926, and the dolls were produced until the factory was closed in 1959 (although the dolls were available in the early 1960s). The vast majority of the production of the Victoria Toy Works factory was in the 1930s and 1940s.
The smallest dolls, small child or souvenir dolls, were only 7 inches to 9 inches tall. More deluxe dolls could be as large as 24 to 29 inches or more, but we think the vast majority of Norah Wellings dolls are under 18 inches, with many being smaller.
Companies That Have Produced the Dolls
Norah Wellings dolls have only been produced by The Victoria Toy Works; however, dolls designed by Norah Wellings (not with specific credit) were made by Chad Valley.
As of 2016, the vast majority of Norah Wellings Dolls can be found for under $200 each; many can be found for under $100. Larger, rarer models, as always, will sell for much more.
Marks on Dolls
The dolls themselves are not marked except with a paper tag on the foot or wrist; however, the dolls have a distinctive look and can easily be identified without the tag present.
For More Information
Gillian Trotter, the author of the now out-of-print "Norah Wellings Cloth Dolls and Soft Toys" has a wonderful blog about Norah Wellings Dolls and Soft Toys. If you can find a used copy of "Norah Wellings Cloth Dolls and Soft Toys", it is an excellent reference.
Norah Wellings Ship Souvenirs
Some collectors of both dolls and cruise ship memorabilia collect Norah Wellings Sailor dolls, with particular attention paid to the ship which is indicated on the rim of the sailor hat. An example of one such doll is shown; for another example from a collector of Queen Mary memorabilia, with an excellent photo of the original Norah Wellings Production tag, see the S.S.Maritime website.