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    

Lot Of 11 Vintage Ideal Nra Composition Shirley Temple Dolls And BooksShirley Temple 22" Composition Doll 1930's Ideal With Bonus OutfitRare Prototype Shirley Temple Ideal Doll Vintage Composition Original Excellent Toy Stamp & 1930s Ideal 15 Inch Composition Shirley Temple In Original BoxToy Stamp & 1950s Ideal Shirley Temple 19 Inch Doll Beautiful With Flirty EyesVintage Ideal Doll ~ Miss Revlon ~ Vt-18Vintage Toni DollLtd Toy Stamp &1930s Ideal 22" Composition Shirley Temple Doll Nra Tag OutfitHtf Rare Shirley Temple Blue Bird Bluebird Dress With Original 1930s Pin PinbackVintage Ideal Pos-n Tammy Doll Candy Striper/nurse Set-htf Hat & Clipboard Wow!!Two 18" Composition Shirley Temple Dolls By Ideal To Restore One Is Rare MakeupAntique Vintage Steamer Trunk For 15" Shirley Temple Doll & ClothesLot-11 Vintage Antique Dolls Baby's Baby Clothes Ideal AlexanderVintage 1939 Ideal Superman Doll Wood Jointed, Composition About 14 Inches TallIdeal - Little Miss Revlon Doll - Undies, Black/pink Outfit - Shoes Vt - 10 1/2Vintage 1960's 12" Tammy Platinum Blonde Hair Doll Ideal Toy Corp. Bs-12 1Vintage Shirley Temple 11 Inch Composition Doll ~ Handmade Reproduction DressVintage Ideal Patty Playpal 30" Doll B-32-5 Patti Play PalComposition Shirley Temple 22" Doll Labeled Dress2 1950s Ideal Dolls ~ Miss Revlon ~ Vt-18 And Vt-20 In BoxBeautiful TammyBeautiful 22 Inch Queen Of Diamonds Miss Revlon With Original Outfit And BoxVintage 1950's Ideal Little Miss Revlon Clothes Dress Hat Shoes Slip New In Box Rescued 22" Ideal Compo Shirley Temple DollVintage 1968 Crissy Doll With Hair That Grows Nos - Ideal Toy Rare Vintage 1950s Ideal Black Baby Doll Saralee; African American Vinyl & ClothVintage Ideal Shirley Temple Doll Case With Lots Of Dresses Pajamas Shoes Socks 1930's Ideal Composition Shirley Temple Doll To Restore Or For PartsHuge! Vintage Ideal Tammy Family & Miss Clairol Doll Case Clothes Acc LotPenny Play Pal Doll Vintage Original Ideal 32"Ideal Betsy Wetsy Doll Original Clothes-accessorie Sleepy Eyes-drinks-wets-criesLovely P-93 Strawberry Blonde Ideal Toni,21"orig.outfitVintage Ideal Tammy €Vintage Original Tagged Dess For Ideal Toni P-90 DollVintage 1960's Ideal Patti Playpal Violet Flower Dress & Pinafore 35" Doll RareNice Patti Playpal Head With Spring Baby FaceVintage 50s Ideal 10" Little Miss Revlon Brunette Fashion Doll VgcLovely Vintage Blonde Ideal Toni P-90 DollVintage Tammy With Two Doll Stands - Excellent Condition!! Shirley Temple Composition Doll No Clothes Cracked And Missing Toes Sold As Is13" 1930's Composition Shirley Temple DollRare Vintage Ideal Tammy Tagged Red / White Dress , Necklace Shawl ShoesVintsge Toni Doll/tagged Dress By Ideal Plaid DressVintage Shirley Temple Composition Doll 26" Tall W/ Round Noise In Her Back Vtg Lot Doll House Furniture Renwal-ideal-rosbro Kitchen Bedroom Baby CleaningVintage Plastic 25-11 Baby Doll Molded Hair Ideal Playpal Companion? 60's Doll?Vintage 1961 Ideal Ott-19 Thumbelina Baby Doll Moves W/wooden KnobVintage Ideal Bibsy Baby Doll 23" Works Nice Vintage Condition Marked D-235 Original Crissy Velvet "funderwear" & Outfit Package Ideal 1972 Mint 1972Gorgeous P-93 Toni In Rare Dress;one-owner Doll In Orig.conditionLittle Miss Revlon 10" 1950s Doll In Vintage Print Dress, ShoesVintage 1960's 12" Tammy Light Brown Hair Doll Ideal Toy Corp. Bs-12 8Vintage Mod Ideal Tammy Pieces To Racquet ClubVintage Mod Ideal Tammy Pepper Htf Highland Fling DressVery Cute, Well Made Replacement Blue/white Dress For Ideal Shirley Temple DollVintage Original? Blue With Pink Rick Rack Trim For P-90 Toni DollDoll Clothes For 14" Shirley Temple DollVintage Shirley Temple Doll By Ideal St-19 With Original BoxStamp 1950's Vinyl Flirty Eye Shirley Temple Doll 12" Tall W/original ClothesVntg Saucy Walker Doll-16"-crier Works!-original Dress-underwear-wig