Before the Ideal Novelty and Toy Co. was founded in 1907, and way before the company became famous for its Shirley Temple, Betsy Wetsy, and Patti Playpal dolls, Morris and Rose Michtom invented the Teddy Bear in 1903.

The bear may have given the company its start but dolls quickly became the focus of Ideal’s business. At the time, many dolls were made out of unglazed bisque, which was prone to chipping, cracking, and even shattering. Ideal claimed its composition dolls were unbreakable.

From the beginning, Ideal created dolls based on characters and people who were already in the public eye—the company understood the importance of branding. For example, a boy doll called the Uneeda Kid, named after a biscuit company, was introduced in 1914.

The most successful Ideal doll was the Shirley Temple doll, which debuted in 1934 and was produced in numerous sizes. Unlike other Ideal dolls from that time, whose hair was molded and painted, Shirley had a mohair wig that imitated the child star’s curly locks. Outfits included dresses worn in films such as “Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm.”

Another collectible set of Ideals dolls from late 1930s featured Disney characters such as Snow White and Cinderella. At the end of that decade, Ideal also offered a doll modeled on a young Hollywood starlet named Judy Garland, who had just appeared in “The Wizard of Oz.”

After World War II, Ideal launched two doll series based on cosmetics. The Toni series appeared at the end of the 1940s while the Miss Revlon series dominated the 1950s. But 1960s was a decade of stiff competition for Ideal, mostly from the 1959 introduction of Barbie by Mattel. In 1961, Ideal came out with a Barbie lookalike called Mitzi, but these clones were discontinued in 1962 when the more Ideal-like Tammy line was started.

Also in the 1960s, Ideal continued its practice of creating characters based on cartoons, comics, and TV shows. Pebbles and Bamm-Bamm from the “Flintstones” appeared in the mid-1960s, as did Samantha and Tabitha dolls from the TV show “Bewitched.”

Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)

This densely packed index of antique and vintage dolls claims to offer over 10,000 images of dolls from the 1800s … [read review or visit site]

Vintage Dolls of the 50s

Vintage Dolls of the 50s

Rhonda Wilson's collection of 1950s dolls, organized by name (Ginny and friends, Littlest Angel and friends, etc.) … [read review or visit site]

Kaylees Korner of Collectible Dolls

Kaylees Korner of Collectible Dolls

Kaylee's extensive collection of vintage dolls from the 1930s to 90s. Click the balloons to browse. Though Kaylee s… [read review or visit site]

Museum of Childhood

Museum of Childhood

Embrace your inner child on this website from the Victoria and Albert Museum, filled with high-quality images and i… [read review or visit site]

Clubs & Associations

Discussion Forums

Other Great Reference Sites

Most watched eBay auctions    

Original Shirley Temple Doll With Closing Eyes1930's Ideal Composition 11" Shirley Temple Doll , All Original Pin, DressesVintage 25" Shirley Temple Composition Doll With Flirty Eyes By IdealVtg Antique 1930 Ideal Shirley Temple Orig Wig Dress Incised Doll 25" (3 Of 1501930's Ideal 16" Composition Shirley Temple Doll - Early Mark Cop Ideal N&tVintage Shirley Temple Dress, Tagged, 1930s Needs TlcVtg Antique 1930-1940's Deanna Durbin Ideal Composition Doll 21" Tall (1 Of 150)1930's 18" Ideal Shirley Temple Composition DollVtg Antique 1900's Simon & Halbig Incised Pieced Ears Bathing Doll (2 Of 1502 – 20” + 1 – 18” Ideal Revlon Dolls Vt-18 Vt-20 From My Own Collection DressedLtd Stamp & Vintage 1959 Mccall Boy Doll Ideal Playpal Companion 35" Tall Hp9Shirley Temple 1934 Bright Eyes Plaid Dress Red Variation Ideal Compo TaggedLot Of 2 Vintage Ideal Tammy Dolls With Doll Clothes In Tammy CaseVintage Tammy Doll And Accessories In Original Box, Ideal Toy Corp.Vtg American Character Toni 3pc Formal - 10.50’’ Fashion DollsIdeal Little Miss Revlon 10½" Doll With Case, Clothes, And Accessories Nice 1960's Ideal Patty Playpal Doll 35-3 Large Companion Doll Brown Hair Blue EyesVintage Tiny Bam Bam (rubble) Flinstone Mib 1963Vintage 1966 Tiny Thumbelina 14" Doll Original Ideal WorksLtd Toy Stamp & Vintage 50's Ideal Saucy Walker Doll, Blonde 22" Version W/ BoxScarce 1939 Ideal Superman 13" Wood & Composition DollLot Of Ideal Toys Tammy Doll......... No ReserveToy Stamp & Vintage 50's/60's Ideal Shirley Temple 15" St-15 W/ Red DressVintage Ideal Tammy Doll With Accessories And Extra's 1965- Perfect!Old 1934 Prototype Ideal 18" Composition Shirley Temple Nice Doll 22" Vintage Ideal Baby Coquette Composition DollVintage Vogue Jill Ideal Litte Miss Revlon Clothes Shoes Accessories Doll Head Ltd Toy Stamp & Vintage 1930s Ideal Shirley Temple Composition Doll 18" Ap61Original 1962 Tammy Doll Ideal Toy Corp. Bs-12 2Composition Shirley Temple Snow White In DressVintage Ideal Vt-18 Beautiful Rare Hazel Green Eyes 17" Miss Revlon Doll, Wow!Vintage Ideal Doll Crissy Original Box Huge Lot Of Outfits DressesVtg Pepper Doll Ideal Tammy's Family Japan 1964 6407 & Box CompleteSuperb Jewel! Vintage 1958 Mib Little Miss Revlon 10 1/2" Platinum...Rare 1962 Tammy Doll Near Mint W/ Over 70 Clothes & AccessoriesVintage 30's Shirley Temple Trunk/tlcVintage 1950's Ideal P-91 Toni 15" Doll Green, Pink & Gold Dress Outfit/ ClothesLtd Stamp & Vintage Ideal Patty Playpal G 35 Life Size Doll 35" Tall Hp11Orig Vintage 18" Ideal Miss Revlon Doll Complete Outfit W/ Tagged Cherries DressVtg American Character Toni 3pc Sunsuit - 10.50’’ Fashion DollsShirley Temple DollLtd Toy Stamp & Vintage 1961 Ideal Lori Martin Doll G 38 Metro Goldwyn 35" Hp16Vintage Captain Action Figure 1966 Doll, Outfit, Hat, Guns, Boots And Belt Vintage Original 1930s Ideal Composition 22" Shirley Temple DollLot Vintage Ideal Crissy And 2 Velvet Dolls, Box, Org Outfits Mod Hong KongVintage Original Box For Shirley Temple By Ideal Vintage 1960s Barbie Tammy Ideal Japan Doll Lot Clothes Pepper Case Dresses 70+Rare 1959-61 Ideal Toy Corp "peter Playpal" Be-35-38, 38" Original Clothes NrLarge Vintage 1960's Patti Playpal Ideal Doll G-35 7 Yellow Dress Life SizeVintage Miss Revlon Ideal Toy Prom Dress, Nurse Uniform, Slips Fits Cissette TooVintage 1960's Doll Lot. Barbie Tnt, Misty Or Tammy, Dollikin + Vintage ClothesIdeal Japanese Tammy Doll In Baton Girl Outfit 7310 Cream Dress Boots Baton HatPeter Playpal Strung Head Only1930 Ideal Shirley Temple Doll 20"Ideal Vinyl Shirley Temple St-12 Doll1949 Ideal Doll Co. P-90 Brunette Toni Doll Vintage 1930s Cop Ideal N&t Co 17" Shirley Temple Composition Doll/for RepairShirley Temple 1930's Baby Take A Bow Doll Dress1930's Old Ideal Composition Shirley Temple Original Doll Wig Dress Shoes SocksVintage Ideal Clothes For 14" Toni Doll -pink Flocked Nylon W/lace Trim