Patsy dolls are arguably one of the best-known dolls to come out of the composition doll era, second perhaps only to Shirley Temple dolls, which were sculpted by the same doll designer. They are also one of the dolls to come out of the 20th Century that have been produced the longest, off and on since 1928. Patsy was designed by well-known doll designer Bernard Lipfert. She was sculpted to resemble a three-year-old toddler. For most of her life, she has had molded, bobbed hair. She was one of the first dolls to have an entire manufactured wardrobe available separately, and perhaps the first doll to have her very own family of named dolls produced, including Skippy and Patsy Joan.
Patsy Dolls have always been produced by the Effanbee Doll Company. That said, since the late 1940s, Effanbee has been owned by a series of different companies and Patsy dolls have been licensed to various companies, including Ashton Drake. Currently, Effanbee Dolls is owned by the Tonner Doll Company.
Years of Production
The first Patsy doll was produced in 1928. The Patsy Family dolls were produced by Effanbee throughout most of the 1930s. In 1947, a new owner of Effanbee, Noma Electronics, produced several re-issued Patsy and Patsy family dolls. There was a large gap in production until the 1970s when a few reproduction Patsy dolls were produced. In the 1980s, Patsy dolls appeared for the first time in vinyl, and then were produced on and off through the 1990s, and then again in the 2000s when Tonner Dolls bought the company out of bankruptcy.
Dolls in The Patsy Family
Patsy was only the first of the Patsy family of dolls. Patsy has a little sister called Patsyette. She has a big sister called Patsy Ann, and a brother named Skippy. Additional dolls in the family include Tiny Patsyette Baby, Wee Patsyette, Patsy Lou, Patsy Joan, and Patsy Jr.
Sizes of Patsy Family Dolls
The classic Patsy doll stands 14 inches tall. Dolls in the Patsy Family, however, vary greatly in size. Wee Patsyette stands just over 5 inches tall. Patsyette stands 9 inches. Patsy Ann stands generally 19 inches tall. Patsy Baby is just 10 inches and Patsy Jr. is 11 inches. Patsy Lou and Patsy Ruth are larger, from 22 to 26 inches tall. The tallest doll in the Patsy family stands about 29 to 30 inches tall and is called Patsy Mae.
All Patsy and Patsy family dolls were made in composition through the 1940s. Nearly all reproductions made from the 1980s on have been in vinyl, sometimes made to resemble the look and feel of composition dolls. Most Effanbee dolls have molded hair, but some had wigs over that in the 1930s, and Tonner Dolls has produced Patsy family dolls with actual hair (not molded) as well.
Current Owner of Effanbee Dolls
Tonner Dolls purchased Effanbee Dolls out of bankruptcy in 2002 and has produced many Patsy and Patsy Family dolls; the dolls are high-quality reproductions made in hard vinyl. Although Patsy dolls are not currently in production at Tonner Dolls, they retain the license to produce them. You can find out more information about Patsy at Effanbee by Tonner Dolls.
Prices and Secondary Market for Patsy Family Dolls
As of 2016, the rarest dolls in the Patsy family line, such as Patsy Ruth and Patsy Mae, can sell for $500 or more, as can rare trunk sets. Mint dolls with original clothing and wrist tags are the most desirable. Dolls with crazing, replaced clothing, or repairs sell for much, much less, as do more common Patsy dolls in average condition. Some very nice Patsy family dolls that are not mint or perfect sell in the under-$200 range. Tonner Patsy family dolls sell at around retail, with only the rarest of them such as convention or limited-run dolls selling for much more.