All About Terri Lee Dolls:
Terri Lee started life as a composition doll in the late 1940s but spent most of her life (until 1962) as a popular hard plastic doll. Terri Lee has a distinctive face mold and a devoted following among collectors. In a book I once called Terri Lee homely and I don't think I've ever had as much mail regarding anything else I've ever written (and yes, the mail was uniformly pro-Terri). Terri Lee was made by an American company.
Years of Production of Terri Lee Dolls:
Terri Lee was first offered for sale in 1946. She was a composition doll until 1948 when she was produced in Hard Plastic. For a brief period she was unsuccessfully made in vinyl (1950). The original family owned company produced Terri Lee dolls in Nebraska and then California when a fire struck the factory in 1958. Dolls were then produced by several companies that owned the rights to the molds until approximately 1962. Terri Lee reproductions were produced by Knickerbocker dolls starting in 1999 for approximately three years. Terri Lee dolls were again produced from 2003 through 2006.
Company That Produced Terri Lee Dolls:
The first company that produced Teri Lee dolls was owned by the family of creator Violet Lee Gradwohl. They produced Terri Lee until 1958, when various companies including Magna and Mar-fan. Knickerbocker Dolls produced Terri Lee reproductions from 1999 until their demise in 2002. Finally, Terri Lee Associates was formed by original family members and they produced Terri Lee dolls for both collectors in children from 2003 through 2006, with play dolls sold in Target.
Material, Size and Characteristics:
Terri Lee dolls are 16" tall. The dolls have painted eyes and bodies jointed at the neck, shoulders and hips. Terri Lee was made in composition from 1946-1947, hard plastic from 1947-1962 with production briefly in soft vinyl in 1960. Most of the reproduction Terri Lees have been made with hard vinyl.
Prices and Secondary Market for Terri Lee Dolls:
Terri Lee dolls have had a relatively steady market in the past few years. Nice examples that need a little tender loving care can be found in the $200 range. Rarer and mint models can run $400 to $600 or more. Patent Pending marked dolls are highly sought after as are dolls in desirable outfits including the Bluebird, Campfire Girl, Formal outfits and Cowgirl outfits. Early composition dolls with minimal crazing and mint condition are rare and bring a premium. Tagged Terri Lee clothing in mint condition is also highly sought after.
Marks on Terri Lee Dolls:
Composition dolls are marked on their backs TERRI LEE // PAT. PENDING or TERRI LEE PATENT PENDING. Painted plastic and hard plastic dolls are marked TERRI LEE // PATENT PENDING through 1951 and then TERRI LEE from 1952 onward.
Other Terri Lee Characters:
Terri Lee has a male friend, also 16 inches tall, called Jerri Lee who was produced since the late 1940s. She has a little sister, a 10 inch baby doll called Linda Lee introduced in 1950. A tinier, 10" version of Terri Lee and Jerri Lee was introduced in 1954 and 1955 respectively, and was called, aptly enough, Tiny Terri Lee and Tiny Jerri Lee.