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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Museum looks at Connecticut circus historyHartford Courant, June 29th
Kids Club activities are suspended at the museum for the summer, and will resume on September 12 with a celebration of Raggedy Ann's 100thbirthday. Summer activities at the museum include a Mill of the Month tour on July 25, beginning at 4 p.m., ...Read more
Cartoonists exhibit at Historical Society's Town HouseNew Canaan Advertiser, June 26th
Come and learn how Johnny Mouse, a cartoon (circa 1912-1914) by Clifton Meek, inspired Walt Disney's Mickey Mouse, see the early comics strips of Johnny Gruelle (one containing the seeds of Raggedy Ann), and view the Pulitzer Prize winning editorial ...Read more
Farmington doll maker marks time with needle and threadSanta Fe New Mexican, June 23rd
FARMINGTON, N.M. — Lovilla Grim has created her own Raggedy Ann and Andy dolls for more than half her life. Grim, 86, who lives in the Apple Ridge senior community here, said she often struggles to explain her devotion to the iconic American rag dolls...Read more
Claribel M. HoldenLewiston Sun Journal, June 22nd
In addition, she created Raggedy Ann and Andy dolls, sock monkeys, mittens, quilts and other crafts, winning many blue ribbons. She was famous for her baking as well, making dozens and dozens of Christmas cookies and birthday cakes for lucky recipients...Read more
Lewes reflects on death of Hope TylerThe News Journal, June 20th
She collected Raggedy Ann dolls — and had about 200 of them — and would give them to her seven grandchildren when they visited town. Barbara Vaughan met Hope shortly after she moved to Lewes in 1992. They worked together to organize the ...Read more
Raggedy Ann enthusiasts celebrate character's 100th birthdayWAND, June 12th
Officials say the birthday celebration will be held during the annual Raggedy Ann Rally in Arcola on June 12 and 13. Among the events planned this year will be a welcome dinner and auction of collectible Raggedy Ann and Andy items at Yoder's Kitchen in ...Read more
GUEST COLUMN: Scarecrow Joe and Raggedy AnnNorthwest Georgia News, June 10th
I called her Raggedy Ann, but when we walked her into the jail one of the deputies said, “Watch out, here comes The Maggot.” We booked her in and the jailer told a woman matron, “Take her up and see that she gets a shower.” Pete and I went back to the ...Read more
The Strange Link Between Raggedy Ann and the Anti-VaxxersPhiladelphia Magazine (blog), February 23rd
I didn't have a Raggedy Ann doll when I was little, but I had Raggedy Ann books, written and illustrated by one Johnny Gruelle. The one I especially remember was called Raggedy Ann's Lucky Pennies. What I mostly remember about it was that it was dark ...Read more