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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Book review: 'Classic Toys'Florida Times-Union, October 3rd
Lionel Trains, little green army men, marbles, Monopoly, Mr. Potato Head, Nintendo Game Boy, Play-Doh, playing cards, Radio Flyer Wagon, Raggedy Ann and Andy, rocking horse, roller skates, rubber duck, Rubik's Cube, Scrabble, Silly Putty...Read more
Vanishing ActsWall Street Journal, October 2nd
Once fixtures of the childhood scene, Raggedy Ann and her sailor-suited brother, Raggedy Andy, have largely receded into the mists of nostalgia. It's a century since Johnny Gruelle created Raggedy Ann as a rag doll—an old-fashioned one, even at the ...Read more
Rag doll with red yarn hair celebrates 100th birthdaySalisbury Post, September 19th
It's been 100 years since American author Johnny Gruelle dreamed up a novel story about a little red headed rag doll. In the small town of Arcola, Illinois, Gruelle created Raggedy Ann for his daughter, Marcella, when she brought him an old hand-made...Read more
Fla. Raggedy Ann fan has gigantic doll collection13WMAZ, September 14th
Amato's' husband gave Robyn her most expensive Raggedy Ann doll – over $1,200 dollars. She got her first doll in Dade City. She's always trying to add to her collection, sometimes spending hours per week on eBay searching for the vintage dolls...Read more
Tampa Raggedy Ann fan has gigantic doll collectionWTSP 10 News, September 14th
391 CONNECT 4 TWEETLINKEDIN 2 COMMENTEMAILMORE. Robyn Amato never had a Raggedy Ann doll as a child but in the last two decades, she's made up for lost time. "Do you have a very understanding husband?" I asked. Robyn nodded with a, "Yes ...Read more
TEMECULA: Old Town store hosting Raggedy Ann 100th anniversary eventPress-Enterprise, September 11th
Serendipity Antiques in Old Town Temecula is hosting a special event Saturday to mark the 100th anniversary of Raggedy Ann, a doll that was patented in Sept. 7, 1915. The event, which is scheduled for noon to 4 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 12, includes a visit...Read more
The Inside Story of Raggedy Ann, Who Turns 100 Years Old This WeekYahoo Parenting, September 8th
Back in 1915, kids' favorite activities — when they weren't working in the mines or in textile factories — included shooting marbles, catching 7-cent movies, and playing with Raggedy Ann. And though times have clearly changed, the beloved children's...Read more
Raggedy Ann turns 100Chron.com, September 5th
When his daughter brought him an old handmade rag doll, Johnny Gruelle, drew a face on it and decided to call her Raggedy Ann. The former newspaper cartoonist had no idea his creation would be such a success when he received the patent on ...Read more