With her blonde curls and plenty of spunk, Shirley Temple won the hearts of movie-goers as one of the most popular child stars of all time. She appeared in her first movie when she was just 3 years-old, and by the time she was 5, this dimpled darling was singing, dancing, and acting her way into the hearts of movie goers across the country.
Later in life, she was known for saying, “I stopped believing in Santa Claus when I was six. Mother took me to see him in a department store and he asked for my autograph.” While little Ms. Temple may have stopped believing in Santa, the American public never stopped believing in her. Like those featuring the Dionne Quintuplets, plenty of items now sought by collectors bore the image of the sweet-faced girl who churned out movie after movie throughout the 1930s and well into the ‘40s.
Temple made more than 40 feature films, and the child star still has a following today. She was widely mourned by her fans and those who knew her as a respected diplomat for the United States government upon her passing in February, 2014. Some of the most popular items collectors seek from Temple's early career include dolls and glassware.
Shirley Temple Dolls
Dolls fashioned to look like Shirley Temple were first made in the 1930s by Ideal. The early composition (a composite of glue mixed with sawdust commonly used to make doll heads and limbs from the 1920s through ‘50s) dolls had precious blonde curls and open-mouthed smiles. These range in size from 11-inches to 27-inches tall, and they sold very well when they were new.
But, composition tends to craze and crack when not stored properly, so only the examples that are in excellent to mint condition bring the highest values. Rare or unusual outfits complete with an original doll can also add a good sum to the overall value.
Later versions of Shirley Temple dolls were made in vinyl, also by Ideal, according to former Dolls Expert Denise Van Patten. The vinyl versions made in 1957 are the most desirable of these to collectors. The 1990s saw porcelain commemorative dolls made in Temple’s likeness being sold as collectibles.
To learn more about Shirley Temple dolls, pick up a copy of Shirley Temple Dolls and Fashions: A Collector's Guide to the World's Darling by Edward R. Pardella (Schiffer Books).
Shirley Temple Glassware
The most common type of Shirley Temple glassware was made by Hazel Atlas Glass Company in cobalt blue. These were actually premiums used to promote Bisquick baking mix and Wheaties cereal, according to Kovels.com. This breakfast set includes a bowl, milk pitcher, and mug decorated with white decals depicting a young Shirley Temple in several different poses.
Since they were widely distributed in mass quantities, a number of these glass pieces have survived over the decades since they were made. However, they were heavily used by the children they were intended for, and finding pieces with decals in great condition and unfettered in terms of chipping and cracking, especially the bowls, can be a bit more difficult than finding them in general.
These pieces have been reproduced as well. The decals on the reproductions are often whiter than those that have faded with age, and the detailing is not as good (although even the originals are a bit grainy in appearance). The blue glass can also have rough mold lines, and a deeper color of blue in the reproductions when compared with originals.
You may also run across pieces with new Shirley Temple decals that were never originally made such as vases, shakers, bells, and salt dips. These were largely manufactured during the 1980s and ‘90s as Depression glass peaked in popularity with collectors.
Other Shirley Temple Memorabilia
From paper dolls still being printed and sold today to vintage movie posters and books, there is no shortage of ephemera available for Shirley Temple enthusiasts. Most of the children’s books tie into movie themes, but there were also "life and times" books and books featuring Temple's favorite poetry, to name a couple, published in the 1930s.
Jewelry lovers will find pieces such as rings and charm bracelets made by Monocraft, the company that became Monet Jewelers several years later, in 1936. The line was only made for a limited time so these pieces don’t come up for sale as often as some other Temple memorabilia, but they can be found with some patience.