Three Madame's of Cloth Dolls

Early felt Lenci circa 1930s — with her menagerie of friends.

The dolls of Lenci are among the most prized in doll collection. Starting in the 1920s, Lenci was an expensive Italian doll with precision workmanship that adult collectors were immediately drawn to. Its creator, Elena Scavini (her nickname was Lenci), developed the wonderful felt pressed faces,  their pouty lips and sideways-glancing eyes. The dolls from the art deco period of the 1920s and 1930s are especially appreciated today.

11” Georgene Averill_1930 - professionally known as Madame Hendren.

11” Georgene Averill_1930 - professionally known as Madame Hendren.

A contemporary of Lenci was Georgene Averill. From New York City, Lenci was clearly an inspiration. Between the two World Wars, the United States had to come forward with new doll concepts to replace what had mostly been a European market.  

Georgene Averill was very much on the same path, in the same decade as Beatrice Alexander. Both women entrepreneurs started in New York City, circa 1920 with flat faced cloth dolls. Averill's first big success was the Raggedy Ann dolls.

Flat faced 1930s Alice in Wonderland and much more pronounced facial features of a 1940 Suzie Q.

In the 1920s, the dolls of Lenci became a design inspiration for Alexander to refine her own flat faced cloth dolls made by Beatrice and her sisters. Molded facial features started to appear on Alexanders cloth dolls in the early 1930s. With Lenci's influence,  the Alexander cloth dolls would take on more facial definition. Some of the dolls of Beatrice Alexander and Geogene Averill are so similar, it's difficult to tell them apart.

Georgene Averill, a contemporary of both Beatrice Alexander and Lenci, would all three adopt “Madame” to become Madame Lenci, Madame Hendren and Madame Alexander. Madame Alexander seemed to waver between  Madame & Madam - finally settling on the "e" at the end.

In the 1920s and 1930s, the dolls of Madame Lenci became a design inspiration for Madame Alexander to refine her own flat faced cloth dolls.