Personal Effects: Effanbee dolls

BY JERRY SAMPSON

Community columnist

Question: Dear Jerry, Can you tell me what my doll is worth. She’s been with me since a Christmas many, many years ago. She’s gone with me everywhere except college. She’s in excellent condition with lots of her clothes. She stands about 18 inches high. I called her Susan but I think the store called her Patsy. I think she might have been old when I got her. I don’t want to sell her. Like I said, she stays with me. Love your articles. Thanks.

Answer: Oh How sweet that you’ve kept a childhood keepsake all these years. You have an Effanbee doll.

Effanbee dolls were founded around 1910 in New York City. Effanbee stands for Fleischaker & Baum or F & B. They were the first company to produce realistic proportioned dolls.

The company, not the store, named your doll Patsy Ann. Patsy Ann was wildly successful with a fan club of over 275,000 members at one time. Plus a large wardrobe strengthened her appeal. Many of her outfits were made by Vogue. They didn’t make the dolls just the clothing. 

She’s a composition with molded hair. Composition is a combination of sawdust and glue. Painted with a primer and dipped in a flesh toned finish coat. Some lines had human or mohair wigs. And there were various sizes too. You have the largest size.

She’s a sleepy-eye, closed mouth model. As far as I could find they were made in 1928 and continued to be made until the 1950s. These later lines were all vinyl. Being your doll is a composition, I’d think that she dates to the mid to late 1930s.

However, in 2003 Effanbee brought back the Patsy Ann doll in a smaller size.

What strikes me is the condition of your doll. She still has that, almost, factory fresh shine to her. You must have taken very good care of her. Be sure if you store her flat, you lay her face down. This will keep her sleep eyes from falling out. A weight in the head, over time will, pull the eyes out, from being laid on her back for too long. Standing or sitting up is fine.

In this condition and with this many clothes I expect she’d sell in a retail environment for about $150. Thanks for a great question.