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    

13" Shirley Temple 1930's Composition Doll/box All OriginalVintage 1960s Ideal 35" Patti Playpal Doll Rare Carrot Top Original Shoes, DressAdorable Antique Composition/cloth Ideal 16" Shirley Temple Baby DollTwo Ideal Little Miss Revlon Dolls In Original Boxes!Patti Play Pal Carrot Top G-35-71930s Ideal Shirley Temple Doll Curly Top Big 24" Composition Beauty!Vintage Ideal Tammy - Pepper Dolls - Clothes & Accessories LotIdeal Miss Revlon Doll Vt 20Shirley Temple Ideal Doll Marked St-17-1 With Bag & Original BoxAntique Original 20" Ideal Shirley Temple Doll Composition Button Vintage DressIdeal Little Miss Revlon Clothing LotA Pretty 1959/62 Curly Blonde Patti Playpal By Ideal And Is Redressed.see Her Ltd Doll Stamp & 1940's All Composition 14" Mary Hoyer Doll20" Baby Shirley Temple Original Tagged OutfitTammy Platinum Doll Nmw/box - Complete W/playsuit, Shoes, Stand, Booklet22" Antique 1930s Ideal Shirley Temple Composition Doll W/ Orig Dress Ideal ToyVintage Patty Playpal Doll Ideal G-35 For Repair Parts Green EyesVintage Ideal Tammy Doll Blonde Cheerleader Rubber Head Vintage Ideal Patty Playpal W/ Short, Shirley Temple Curls & Green Dress8 Ideal Tammy Family Dolls - Patti Mongomery Ward Exclusive - Pos'n Pepper Etc..1967 Newborn Thumbelina $9.99 Start Vintage Ideal Doll Original Outfit Works Victorian Fabric Ideal Reworking For Period Dolls Costume.Old Antique Marked Ideal Composition Compo Mama Type Doll W/ Cloth Body NrVintage 1950's Ideal 12" Shirley Temple Doll With Trunk Of Mama Made ClothesIdeal Glamour Misty 1960's Vintage Doll Lot Clothes Mary Poppins Sindy For OoakVogue Ginny Bakes Bread With Matching Ensemble For Patti PlaypalThree Sweet Ideal Toni Dolls P91, P90, P90w Nice W/original Dresses,wigs,shoesIdeal 28" Hard Plastic Saucy Walker/playpal Doll Tlc, Parts, RepairVintage Ideal Revlon Doll Vt -18 16" Composition Shirley Temple Doll All Original With Rare Dress & Clear EyesLovely 1960's Vintage 36" Patti Playpal Type Companion DollVintage Lot Doll Clothes, Accessories Barbie, Tammy, Exquisite Handmade 96 PiecePretty Ideal Vintage Tammy Doll In Candy Striper Uniform 1960s Barbie Friend Vintage 1967 Ideal Toys Giggles Doll Moving Eyes & Head Giggling Antique 13'' Shirley Temple Composition Doll Super Cond.~vintage 1950's 18" Ideal Miss Revlon Doll~vt 18Vintage Ideal Tammy's Family Carrot Top Red Head Pepper Doll With Clothing Lot1950's Ideal Shirley Temple Doll With Trunk And ClothesLarge Lot Of Tammy Tressy Family Clothes Dolls AccessoriesVintage Tammy Complete Outfit Original Celo Card Never Been Taken OutLtd Toy Stamp & 1966 Ideal Capatin Action Doll & Superman Costume All OriginalDoll Ideal 16" Saucy Walker 3 Dress Dresses & ShoesA Group Of Patti Playpal Shoes As Is Fixer Upper. And As Is. Lot Of Vintage Tagged & Homemade Ideal Tammy Barbie Doll Clothes 20+ PiecesVintage Tammy Sorority Sweetheart Outfit Original Celo Card Never Been Taken OutRare 26" Shirley Temple Composition 1930s W Original Box As Found- For Resto Tammy Doll Vintage Case Clothes Ideal Cricket Doll 15" Crissy Family #4Ideal "betsy Wetsy" 14" Doll In Original Box With Layette, Bottle, Tag1950s Ideal 19” Brunette P-92 Toni Doll W Tagged Outfit, Original Box & More!Vintage Shirley Temple Doll By Ideal 19 InchesShirley Temple Doll Ideal St-12 Clothes Shoes Sleep Eyes Teeth Hair With Net On17" Old Antique Ideal Composition Cloth Flirty Eye Baby Doll W Dimples 1930s TlcVintage Ideal Tammy Doll Auburn Hair Beautiful Condition With Long GownGreatoriginal Shirley Temple Baby Takes A Bow?Vintage Little Miss Revlon Outfit #9159 Debutante DressIdeal Miss Revlon Fashion Doll High Hled Feet Se Jtd Waist Earrings Vinyl 1950'sIdeal Tammy, Tammy's Mother, Sister Pepper Vintage W/ Original Clothes!!!Vintage Ideal Cricket Girl Doll In Original Outfit5 Lbs Vintage 1930s 40s Shirley Temple Scrapbook Items Saalfield No 1714 Photos