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Nancy Ann Storybook Dolls
Little dolls with exquisite costumes delight generations:  Part II
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The first dolls produced by the Nancy Ann Storybook company in 1936 were called "Hush A Bye Babies."  The dolls' bodies were manufactured in Japan and dressed by the Nancy Ann company.  The dolls are only 3 3/4" tall, and are marked "Made in Japan."  Other Hush a Bye Babies were later made in the United States, in 3 1/2" and 4 1/2" sizes. 

Nancy Ann Abbott, the owner of the company, had long had a strong interest in creating a storybook line of dolls from known books and nursery rhymes, and so the first Storybook series of dolls were produced in 1936.  The earliest of these dolls (between 1936 and 1939) are painted bisque and are also marked "Made in Japan" or "Judy Ann USA."  Most of these dolls have molded hair under their wigs and other identifying features, such as a chubby tummy.  Later dolls are more slender.  All Nancy Ann Storybook dolls have marks that are incised in the back, and all (except the earliest dolls mentioned above) have one of these marks: "Storybook Doll USA," "Storybook USA," or "Storybook Doll USA/Trade Mark Reg."  The Trade Mark Reg. mark is the latest mark, used on the plastic dolls only.

The earliest Nancy Ann painted bisque dolls had hip joints.  Frozen leg bisque dolls were introduced in 1942.  Bisque dolls were produced until 1948, when the hard plastic dolls were introduced.  All of the dolls had hand painted facial features (except the later hard plastic dolls with sleep eyes).  The hard plastic dolls are not as sought-after by collectors as the painted bisque dolls.

The dolls came in different series, which encouraged collecting by young girls and their moms.  Series included Days of the Week, Months of the Year, the Storybook series, a Sports series, a Nursery Rhymes series, a Powder and Crinoline series (princesses and their courts), an All-Time Hit Parade series (keyed to different songs, such as "Over the Rainbow) and even an Operetta series!

The earliest dolls go for the highest prices today--mint in box dolls dated prior to 1940 can often sell for several hundred dollars or more.  Later hard plastic dolls from the 1950s usually sell for under $50, but even the later bisque dolls can sell for $150 or more if mint in box.  Value is influenced greatly by condition--even more so than with other dolls of this era.  Many of the Nancy Ann Storybook dolls were purchased to BE on a shelf--they were collected and not played with.  Because of this, unlike, say, Shirley Temple dolls or Toni dolls, many, many Nancy Ann Storybook dolls have survived in mint condition today, complete with their boxes, tags, and booklets. Therefore, Nancy Ann Storybook dolls in lesser condition sell at considerable discounts.  Also affecting price is the huge number of dolls produced overall.  Many, many Nancy Ann Storybook dolls have been made--at one point, over 8,000 dolls a day were being produced!

Also greatly effecting price is the rarity of a particular series and rarity of the costume of the doll.  For instance, a great number of versions of each type of doll "such as "Tuesday's Child Is Full Of Grace" were produced, but some versions are much rarer than others.  Sometimes, a particular costume was produced only for a short period of time because of difficulty in getting a particular fabric or trim.

Nancy Ann Storybook dolls remain one of the most beloved and sought-after dolls for collectors today.  They are completely irresistible, and their petite size makes a large collection of the dolls a possibility for nearly any collector.  Also, since there are so many variations of the dolls, collecting can be a nearly endless pursuit--many Nancy Ann Storybook collectors number their collections of Nancy Anns in the hundreds!  So, next time you are in an antique mall and see a little Nancy Ann doll looking up from a shelf, make sure you take a good look!

Part I:  History of Nancy Ann Storybook Dolls and Nancy Ann Abbott

Part III:  Nancy Ann Storybook Photo Gallery

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Denise Van Patten--your Guide to Dolls
Article, Graphics Copyright © 2001 Denise Van Patten

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