The Alexander Doll Company made a complete about-face from a long run with composition dolls to the new process of hard plastics. Alexander started their transition in 1947. The first dolls made of hard plastic had the look of composition that their costumer and retail buyers had become used to seeing. Alexander was all-in with this dramatic change of manufacturing and supported it within the doll industry and publically such as Playthings Magazine. This era of dolls was changing quickly with new technology not yet tested. Other manufactures rapidly followed this lead set by the Alexander Doll Company and sent the industry on a decade-long race and sometimes bitter competition for the "next big thing."
This title should perhaps read "earliest" hard plastic by Madame Alexander. In 1947, Alexander switched over most of their production to hard plastic. The first introduction of plastic on such a scale must have been a nerve-wracking experience for the company to make this commitment. Not only was the public accustomed to the look of composition dolls that dominated the doll market since the 1930s, but hard plastic also had a few hiccups to resolve in its early use for dolls and toys. Although nothing as daunting as the problems that came with composition production, Madame Alexander worked with Dupont to iron out some plastic formula issues.
The Wendy Ann made of composition was also one of the Madame Alexander dolls that made the 1947 and 1948 transition into hard plastic. The costuming for this Wendy Ann is charming, with baby blue and pale pink rayon georgette elaborately trimmed with lace, and a blue satin bow for her hair creates the party dress effect of this beautiful doll. Wendy Ann is wearing black Mary Jane shoes of the period. One of her two hang tags announces "human hair" for her wig. The other tag is a cloverleaf Wendy Ann hang tag.
For those that watched the movie The Kings Speech, there was some interesting insight into the home life of Princess Elizabeth. With a peek into the royal nursery, Elizabeth was quite fond of her dolls and equestrian toys — which would become a life long passion for horses. At the same time, Madame Alexander was making dolls for the American market celebrating the young princess who was just about to make a huge bump in rank by becoming a royal princess, and heir to the British throne, once her uncle abdicated in 1936 and her father became king.
Princess Elizabeth and her sister, Princess Margaret had their play dolls, which were well played with, and they had dolls presented to them in a ceremonial capacity. The Royal Collection Trust has maintained a fascinating reserve of both of these dolls and toys — providing a unique look into these unique lives. The princesses grow up right at the brink of WWII, and lived with the war in London. They had virtually no friends their own age, so their play world was even more important.
Part of the fascination is enhanced by the long tradition of beautiful dolls created by Madame Alexander celebrating Princess Elizabeth who would become Queen Elizabeth, and a mother with children of her own. This all composition jointed body, glassine sleep eyes, real upper lashes, painted lower lashes, open smiling mouth with teeth and felt tongue. Betty face mold, with a mohair wig, was part of the early composition dolls by Alexander that would develop with the newest technology of each decade.
Part of the collection that showcases the childhood dolls and toys of Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret
Madame Alexander had a gift for capturing the essence of our cultural emotions and translating those shifts and trends into her dolls. One of many social adjustments was the transitioning of horseback riding and the equestrian arts from being a necessity of transportation, a form of horse mastership of the nobility and wealthy, and a principle element of military prowess into something that could be enjoyed by the general public and physicalness especially well suited for children and young adults.
Equally suited to boys and girls, this public transition would spread from Europe and throughout the United States. Surprisingly, it was a young royal who would help open this door and help with the introduction. A young Princess Elizabeth was one of the first to be translated by Madame Alexander, which included in her Royal wardrobe, a Princess Elizabeth in her riding attire. For those who saw the movie The Kings Speech, the period of the movie and the Alexander Doll Company production of Princess Elizabeth were at the same time. It was just becoming acceptable for women to ride “astride," without riding sidesaddle. Fast forward to the 1950s, a now Queen Elizabeth has Prince Charles and Princess Anne - both young riders who gave the emerging sport new role models the same age as many children starting to take up riding and equitation.
Programs like the Pony Club which made its way from the hugely successful program in England and helped bring a uniform program of teaching horsemanship and the care and maintenance of your pony across the United States, Canada and Australia. With the glamorous young Kennedy family in the White House, the 1960s would get a new infusion from First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy and the pony Macaroni brought to live on the White House grounds for the benefit other children Caroline and John-John. Each generation would get a fresh translation by Madame Alexander.