With pink roses in her luxurious blonde hair and bouquet, and a beautiful Margaret face, this stunning Princess Margaret Rose is a breath of fresh air. The gown is of silk organza, and is the most beautiful shade of blue with pink taffeta underneath. Trimmed with silver braid at the hem. Delicate jewelry includes a refined beaded necklace and crystal drop at the center of the sweetheart neckline. She also has her clover wrist tag. This doll was a first place winner at the 2017 Madame Alexander Doll Club Convention. The golden era of the Alexander Doll Company was in full swing at this point in time. The company was working on all cylinders and had recently moved to their new factory building in Harlem. Department stores and retailers vied with each other for exclusives that they could claim as their own. This might help explain some of the rare and difficult to find color combinations dolls like this occasionally show up.
Princess Margaret Rose
Madame Alexander did the gowns of the Princess Margaret Rose Bridesmaids in different colors — shades of pink and blue are more familiar. This is a lovely buttercup yellow organdy with pink taffeta underneath. The affect has an iridescent feature to it that's both romantic and unexpected. The soft pink roses in the dolls hair, dress and bouquet all reinforce this feature. This c. 1953 doll touches on both the perennial favorite theme of the wedding party, but also the British royal family. Princess Margaret herself would have been about 22, and becoming a huge celebrity on her own by now. Her early relationship with Peter Townsend (just divorced and older man) would just now becoming headline news, giving Margaret both the status of royal princess but a media celebrity. When her sister, now Queen Elizabeth, had to deny permission to marry Peter Townsend, Princess Margaret became an international icon for tragic young love.
The British Royal family were, well Royal! They also, with the help of two young princesses who happened to also be sisters, morphed into contemporary celebrities for the public and media to feast on. Madame Alexander's fascination with the wealth and prestige of the Royals, the Windsors in particular, is well displayed by the decades of tribute and marketing. Translated first by composition, and then, following the ferocious wave of new technology, quickly moving the princesses into hard plastic.
Princess Elizabeth, as an early composition doll of the 1930's, did not sell particularly well at first. As the emphasis shifted to Royal Princess, and future Queen of England, the dolls popularity substantially grew. As they bloomed into young women, Margaret Rose would take stage center with her well documented but doomed love affair. The princesses, with all things considered and the advantage of hind site, did an amazing job of juggling a traditional English world and transitioning to a new 20th century universe. As dolls, this genre is one of the most exquisite created by Alexander - the auburn hair tones and, lovely fabrics in a series of soft pastels honors her subjects and her own creative direction.
Back from the 2014 MADAME ALEXANDER DOLL CLUB CONVENTION in Philadelphia, and for myself, one of the highlights is the Competition Room. It's agony and ecstasy is always part of the experience, and what an experience it is! Making the selection comes quite some time ahead of the convention because your entries have to be submitted to the chairperson months in advance. I'm obsessive - compulsive about the process, and enter the maximum of ten entries. For me, it's a little like packing for a weeks trip - if there's a chance of rain, snow, heat wave or a red carpet, I've got it all crammed-in. The complications of bringing ten outstanding dolls is daunting, with all kinds of extra planning, weeping and whining. With that said, it is also one of the great joys of collecting.
My own collecting has become driven over the past five years by my article writing and seminars. I don't have a magic closet, so, off we go on another adventure to find the best examples I can to help tell the story of the people, events, social and technical transitions that create the conditions for these wonderful dolls to happen. My competition entries this year certainly are illustrative of this journey, with several very interesting dolls that represent just a fleeting moment of doll production or trends of the doll industry and whims of the public.
This is the fascinating doll I used for the poster of my MADC Philadelphia seminar. "BALLERINA" is a unique bridge in design and technology to the previous "KAREN BALLERINA" and the following "NINA BALLERINA." This example has its box with Alexander Doll Company number of 5100 for the 14" doll and the FAO sticker with their number of 16-58. A unique doll that's not easy to research, the FAO catalog and the dolls Alexander Doll Comapany box, with corresponding numbers, helps to create a research anchor and establish the dolls legacy.
Arlene Dalton, who was the voice of KSL Radio character the "STORY PRINCESS," would later go to New York and take the STORY PRINCESS to the Howdy Doddy Show. She would next move to the Perry Como Show. Coming back to Utah, she would work with the Osmond family in their Orem studio. This 1948 doll came in the trademark ZCMI gold box with the Alexander Doll Company label on the inside lid.
In a 1949 radio article, ZCMI store management is quoted saying the one thousand "STORY PRINCESS" dolls ordered sold out in four weeks. Their only regret was not ordering an additional 500. A very rare doll, this is an unusual verification of exact numbers produced - which is often next to impossible to establish.
Again, a very rare doll that ties in the department store with the radio station and their trademark personality of the "STORY PRINCESS", with printed documentation of the specific (very limited) quantity produced. Arlene Dalton would touch the lives of millions of children through both radio and TV.
This 18" Elise 1963 No. 1765 RENOIR PORTRAIT is very interesting in several ways. By a series of events out of the control of the Alexander Doll Company, Elise became the fashion doll star of their 1963 company catalog. Jacqueline (Kennedy) getting the boot via the request of the Kennedy White House, the company must have been scrambling for a quick replacement. Elise to the rescue in a stunning series of portrait dolls created that year to fill the opening left by Jacqueline. Beautifully executed, the RENOIR PORTRAIT is a surprisingly complex gown which includes some detailed accessories. The hair color for this doll is a unique dark brown and is listed in the company catalog as being patented. Even then, the doll is referred to as "a collector's item" in the 1963 company catalog.
20" COCO is remarkable for the obvious interest of the Alexander Doll Company to create their "next big thing". Just as the company did not have Shirley Temple in the 1930s, they did not have a Barbie for the 1960s. COCO required a tremendous amount of development and design to create a new doll from the ground up - not even her shoes were a carryover. To take it ever further, the portrait doll series has a slightly different mold than the thinner COCO fashion dolls. Adding to the mix, Alexander walked a very fine line of risking being censured by the fashion house of Coco Chanel. Marketing the doll was a sensitive situation possibly escalating her demise after only one year.
My personal favorite this year's convention is my 14" composition "PRINCESS MARGARET ROSE," first place and Judges Choice winner. This is such a romantic interpretation of Princes Elizabeth's younger sister, Prince Margaret Rose. At this point in time, Margaret was the glamor-puss of the royal family, and was getting many of the magazine covers. Margaret was just on the verge of her world famous, and ever so tragic love affair. Aborted by the orders of her older sister, Queen Elizabeth, this was the stuff of timeless tragedy. Sympathetic to her sisters situation, Elizabeth ultimately bowed to the objections of the Queen Mother regarding Margaret's love interest, Peter Townsend, being a divorced man.