Vintage Effanbee Dolls

Effanbee dolls

The History of the Company

In 1910, two businessmen who'd become acquainted by operating adjoining shops on the Boardwalk in Atlantic City, New Jersey, formed a partnership to sell dolls and toys. Three years later, they decided to manufacture dolls with the trade name for the company being based on the initials of the two friends, Bernard E. Fleischaker and Hugo Baum. Therefore, the company became known as Effanbee to accent the founders' initials. Effanbee has since produced many successful commercial dolls which have become very desirable collectibles.

When Hugo Baum died in 1946, Bernard Fleischaker moved to California and began a new business, Fleischaker Novelties, which also made dolls. Effanbee in New York was operated by Hugo Baum's sons, Bernard and Walter, but was sold to Noma Electric, a manufacturer of Christmas tree decorations.

Effanbee dolls

This company did not continue a strong interest in the dolls and the situation went from bad to worse. The once important Effanbee company began to slide into a second-rate position.
In 1953, a new partnership was formed by Bernard Baum, Perry Epstein and Morris Lutz who repurchased the Effanbee part of the business from Noma and began to restore it to its former market position. These three men made a great success of the company and, with their creation of the Patsy doll family in the 1920s, they went from strength to strength.

With the death of both Walter Fleischaker and Beranrd Baum in the 1960s, the company was then passed through many different hands. In 1987, Effanbee was sold to Russ Berrie and, much like the Noma Electric ownership in 1946, Effanbee declined in position from 1988 to 1991. In 1992, it changed hands once again. The firm was purchased by the Alexander Doll Company and operated independently. It was during this period that Effanbee started its climb back as a collectible doll favourite.

Effanbee dolls

Effanbee Dolls

Leading the company was the husband-and- wife team of Stanley and Irene Wahlberg. In June 1995, the Wahlbergs, together with Margiann Flanagan who became vice- president of design, bought Effanbee from Alexander. This is when the real success story began.

In that year, the three decided that the original dolls manufactured between the 1920s and '40s, should be brought back. These included the Patsy family, (sisters Patsy Ann, Patsykins,
Patsyette and Patsy Lou) and other early dolls, such as Patsy joan and Rae. Patsy had been the brainchild of creator, Herr Bernard Lipfert.

Effanbee dolls

First named Mimi in late 1927, her trademark was issued on Valentine's Day, 1928,
number 238,800. By January 1929, her makers had acquired patent number 1,238,558, pertaining
 to the head and neck joint in an effort to deter other manufacturers from issuing lookalikes.

 In the Butler brothers catalogue of 1928, Patsy is referred to as "The Hit of the Year" and "A Lovable Imp".Particular attention is called to the fact that she could stand alone (most earlier cloth- bodied dolls did not have this ability) and be placed in many poses.

Effanbee dolls

She was listed as being 13" tall, of composition, with painted hair and eyes as well as a tiltable head (many earlier dolls had solid shoulder heads) and movable limbs. Her first clothing was said to be an organdy short dress with lace trim at the neck and sleeves and a full-length lace- trimmed undergarment (combination suit), cotton socks and slippers. She also wore a bandeau on her head.

Over the following years, this dot'was to become one of the most famous and
desirable ever produced. Because the originals were all composition, most have since flaked and cracked and are very difficult to find, particularly in good condition would coif these versions today, boxed and several hundred pounds,ion. in good condition

Effanbee dolls

Again, the original patterns were unearthed and used to create the outfits.
And, in order to keep the cost down,manufacture was shifted to the Far East. Current Effanbee dolls are still made in China, Taiwan and Thailand.

The first reproduction doll was Patsy Joan. This beautiful 17" high doll comprises open and close eyes with either moulded hair or a wig and is dressed in a blue and white sailor dress, matching underwear, white socks and black patent shoes. She retails at $120- £85.

Effanbee Doll Prices

Effanbee dolls

Among the other dolls produced in 1996 was Patsy Flapper priced at $75 £50. Standing 13" tall, she sports a wig and painted eyes and was dressed like the original in a pink dress, matching panties, blue coat and hat adorned with pink, yellow and green edging. To complete the outfit are white ankle socks and pink ornate shoes.

Patsy Cowgirl, recreated from the original 1936 Texas centennial costume, stunned collectors with her astounding likeness to the old version. Today, this doll costs just$85- £60. The Patsy Trunk Set, at$150- £100, was another outstanding success. Not only was the doll copied right down to the last detail but her additional clothing,made this one of the most popular dolls any company has ever produced.

Effanbee dolls

Then came the resurrection of the Honey dolls originally produced from 1949 to 1957 and now costing$500-$750- £400- 600 boxed and with their original clothing. During this period, many different versions were created - all in hard plastic and in a multitude of costumes. If it's an original you're after, American internet auction sites, such as eBay, are likely to prove your best bet. 

Honey Walker was the first in the series as she was the only one with a built-in walking mechanism and, again, the reproductions were taken from the moulds that had produced the originals. Each Honey doll stands 18" tall and comes with a choice of hair colors and open and close eyes. Some of the outfits are elaborate - like Honey Ballgown, Prince Charming and Cinderella - or natural like Honey Gingham. They range in price from $120 $260-£80 up to £120.

Effanbee dolls

Well worth a mention for the budget collector of smaller dolls are the 8" Patsyette models witih the same face as the Patsys but on a smaller scale. The impish expression is matched with painted side-glancing eyes. Available with either wigs or moulded hair, the choice of outfits is vast and all have matching underwear, white ankle socks and shoes. Prices range from $30-60 £20 to £50. 

Patsy Ann is the chunky doll of the range - slightly taller than Patsy Joan at 18" with open and close blue eyes and thick dark eyelashes. She made her entrance in the Grand Finale collection, dressed in a black and pink party dress with matching panties, socks and black patent shoes. A black velvet
headband adorned with pink bow enhances her beauty in preparation for the Christmas party which she was about to attend.

Effanbee dolls

Every single Effanbee doll comes in its own box with identity bracelet, certificate of authenticity and doll stand. Separate outfits, again based on the originals, are also available for every size of doll.
When Effanbee decided to re-launch its famous Candy kid range, it hit upon the idea of offering the collector not only the doll but also a variety of outfits in a red and white display box for $140-£90.

If you are in the fortunate position of finding an early Effanbee which has been ?  kept in its original box and clothing then, of course, you would have to be prepared to spend several hundred pounds.

Effanbee dolls

 However, most early finds are in poor shape, with arms and legs that need re-stringing and wigs that have become dirty and matted from too much handling. Many of the dolls that had open and close eyes are now either permanently asleep or awake because too many inquisitive fingers had been poked into their sockets!

Today's Effanbee dolls are as lovely as their original sisters but unbreakable. Hence, there is no need to worry about any deterioration to their appearance.

 This explains the success of these new creations which give collectors the world over the chance to recapture that same magic experienced by so many doll lovers of the past.

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