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    

! 1930s Composition Ideal Shirley Temple Doll 22" Tall In The Original BoxVintage 13" Composition Shirley Temple Doll Original Shoes Socks Slip & PantiesLarge Vintage Lot Some Shirley Temple Doll Clothes Dress Jumper Bonnet15" Ideal Shirley Temple Doll With Original Ideal Outfit Adorable 1930's Composition 21" Ideal Shirley Temple Doll Vintage Ideal Tammy Doll & Case With Accessories Lot Clothes SkisVintage Pink Flared Shirley Temple Dress With Blue Bows Tag1930s 11" Composition Blue-eyed Shirley Temple Doll W/ Original OutfitVintage Shirley Temple ? Cotton Plaid Doll Dress With Yellow Tie1930s 13" Composition Shirley Temple Doll W/ Original Outfit, Excellent Cond.Adorable 1930's Composition 18" Ideal Shirley Temple Doll Vintage Ideal Toy Corp. Platinum Patti Playpal Original Life-size Doll G-35-7Vintage 30's Shirley Temple Doll Red Musical Notes Dress For 20" Doll + PantiesVintage 1963 Tammy The Doll You Love To Dress In Box 1960's Ideal Blonde Bs-12 11960s Brunette Saucy Walker Playpal Doll By Ideal 28" Rare Pullback Hair Style!!1934 Vintage Composition 20" Ideal Shirley Temple Doll In Tagged DressVintage Ideal Shirley Temple Character Doll St-15 W/ Tagged Dress & PinsVintage Shirley Temple ? Tartan Plaid Doll DressVintage Ideal Tammy Doll High Color Bs-12Adorable 1930's Composition 16" Ideal Shirley Temple Doll Vintage Ideal Tammy Doll Lot Platinum Blonde Brunette Dolls 60's Tlc Bye Bye Baby Ideal Corp Playpal Family Made Only One Year Beautiful Doll 6 MonthVintage Ideal 18" Revlon Doll In Black Chemise ~ All Original 1958-1959Vintage 1963 Tammy Doll By Mattel 9000-1 Blonde Nm*vintage* Crissy And Velvet Doll Clothing 26 Pc. IdealAntique Cop Ideal Shirley Temple Blonde Composition Sleepy Eye Teeth Doll 18"Vintage Assortment Tammy Pepper Doll Shoes Mixed LotIdeal Vt20 "bendable Knees" Revlon Doll Needs Tlc Rare Hard To Find W/teddy36" Original 60's Ideal Patti Playpal! 1950s Ideal Shirley Temple Doll 12" Tall In Original Outfit In Original BoxVintage Ideal Tammy Doll - Pos'n Tammy Wblonde Hair & Braided BunVintage Ideal Pos'n Tammy Doll W/braid Platinum Blonde Doll Bendable DollTwo Shirley Temple Compo Dolls As/is 13" And 16"1959-60 ~ 28" Ideal Suzy Suzie Play Pal Doll ~ Great Cheek Color ~ Cute Outfit1983 Ideal Coleco Cabbage Patch Kids Vintage Xavier Roberts Girl Doll Gingham Vintage 1930s Shirley Temple Composition 16" Doll Reliable Toy Canada Orig DresIdeal 1958 12" Shirley Temple Doll And Outfits,poster All Mint And Boxed. Shirley Temple Vintage 1950's 12" Doll W/ Original Case & Outfits / ClothingOld 1940's Ideal Baby Beautiful Miracle On 34th St. Natalie Wood Movie Doll Antique Cop Ideal Original Shirley Temple Redhead Composition Doll & Pin 18"Vintage Patti Playpal Doll With Clothes Shoes And Box - As Is - For PartsVintage Ideal Tammy Sister - Pos'n Pepper Doll - Blonde Ballerina W/frecklesVintage Ideal Pos'n Pepper Doll Tammy's Little Sister With BangsEarly Vintage Ideal Composition Shirley Temple Doll 13"Vintage Composition 1930's 21" Ideal Deanna Durbin Doll Vtg Miss Revlon Bride Doll 18" 1950's Ideal It-18 Original Clothes Display Only?Vintage 36" Toddler Playpal Shirley Temple Black Limited Edition Doll 1984 W/coaVintage 1962 Ideal Doll Clothes Shoes Lot Blonde Tammy Doll Coat Jumpsuit 12 InVintage Ideal Composition Shirley Temple Doll Restoration Or Parts 20 "1960s Rare Brunette Tammy In Hard To Find - Fraternity Hop - Nice!Ideal Vintage 1963 Tammy Car Blue Mgb Roadster #9700 1:10 Scale With Doll #bs-12Vintage Blonde Tammy Doll Ideal1930s Ideal Shirley Temple Composition Doll With Teeth Sleep Eyes Original DressPepper Tammy's Family 1963 Ideal Toy Doll 9400-3 New In Box Redhead Rare TammyFour Vintage 1950s Ideal P90 Toni Dolls Dressed Parts Or Restore OnlyVintage 1950's Little Miss Revlon Formal Gown Dress TaggedVintage Ideal Tammy Doll Pepper Outfit Highland Fling Skirt Hat Lot Clothes Tag Deanna Durbin Ideal Composition Doll Teeth Sleepy Eye 24"? 25"?Vintage Ideal Tammy Doll Brunette Tammy High Color Doll 60's Era Tammy,tressy,misty Lot