When illustrator and cartoonist Johnny Gruelle’s terminally ill daughter, Marcella, found a faded rag doll in her grandmother’s attic, he painted a new, smiling face on the toy. Naming it Raggedy Ann after two poems by his friend James Whitcomb Riley, “The Raggedy Man” and “Orphan Annie,” he made up a series of stories around this character to entertain his only child, who loved to spend hours playing dolls.
After her death in 1916, Gruelle wrote and illustrated 25 storybooks based on those tales. Responding to the series’ popularity, in 1918, Gruelle and his family made several dozen dolls to sell with the books, and later that year, Gruelle licensed the publisher, the P.F. Volland Company, to manufacture the dolls based on his 1915 patent for an all-cloth doll with shoe-button eyes, a painted face, brown yarn hair, a dress, pantaloons, a pinafore, stripped legs, and black cloth shoes.
Soon after the dolls were sold, Gruelle received a package from a childhood playmate of his mother, who explained that their mothers had made a pair of boy-and-girl companion dolls for their two children. In the package, she had sent him Raggedy Ann’s “twin brother,” Andy, and soon the family started to license dolls of Raggedy Andy and other characters from the books, including Beloved Belindy and the Camel with the Wrinkled Knees, as well as coloring books, puzzles, and games. All are hot collectors’ items today.
It is rumored that the original P.F. Volland dolls had a real candy heart, but after parents complained the candy was switched out with a cardboard heart. Mollye Goldman was the first, in 1935, to produce the dolls with an “I Love You” heart imprinted on the chest.
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Recent News: Raggedy Ann and Andy Dolls
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12 Aiken gifts ideasAiken Standard, December 7th
Alyce Heffelfinger of AH Dolls is an example of a local crafter who can make up a teddy bear or a Raggedy Ann doll; she can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also pop into Pitter Patter Children's Boutique or Kid to Kid for items such as...Read more
Historically Speaking: Toy timeline gives insight into holiday favorites over ...Norwich Bulletin, December 7th
From 1910 to 1920, Raggedy Ann dolls became popular, originating here in Connecticut. Also, Erector sets, Tinker Toys, and Lincoln Logs were enjoyed. Outside play included hopscotch. Through the 1920s, the yo-yo was introduced as a commercial toy...Read more
LA Dance, 'Nutcracker' usher in holiday seasonRepublican & Herald, December 7th
Before the show Friday night, Lois Ann Maley, producer and director, said that new this year to the show were candy canes, Raggedy Ann dolls and tap dancing soldiers. There was also a new Clara this year, Brianna Ryan, 12, of Kulpmont. Ryan, who has ...Read more
Lalor Continues Marine Tradition with Toys for Tots in Hopewell JunctionHudson Valley Reporter, December 6th
Toys for Tots was started by the Marine Corps Reserve in 1947, when the wife of a Marine Reserve major in Los Angeles made a Raggedy Ann doll to donate to a needy child, but he couldn't find an organization to give it to. Marine reservists collected 5...Read more
GLOBALINX Partners with Industry Master Agent for Annual Holiday DriveTelecom Reseller (press release), December 5th
Originally a Los Angeles charitable effort in 1947, Toys for Tots was created by William Hendricks, inspired by his wife Diane who tried to donate a homemade Raggedy Ann doll to a needy child but could find no organization to do so. At her suggestion...Read more
Dancers set to perform 'T'was the Night Before Christmas'Natchez Democrat, December 4th
And Samantha Ashley — who as a Raggedy Ann doll pops out of a Christmas present — said she understands why, if toys were alive, they would dance when free of the box. “It gets hot in the box,” she said. In one scene, Santa's elves have to fight the...Read more
Victorian Christmas Stroll shows toys through timeTbo.com, December 4th
“Toys: Then and Now,” features tin soldiers and super hero figurines, board games, old-fashioned hoops, stuffed bears, Lincoln Logs and Lego sets, Raggedy Ann dolls, View Masters and more. They are on loan from about 20 collectors in the community...Read more
Roosevelt School gets visit from Raggedy Ann and AndySuburban News, November 25th
Mrs. Mary Agnes Faver's class at Roosevelt School last week. He shared the Raggedy Ann and Andy dolls his mom made, as well as a story about Raggedy Ann and Andy being respectful, responsible and safe. They follow "Tracks to Success" just like us...Read more