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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Writing Women Into History Awards Presented March 5Western Illinois University News, February 11th
Sargent also has been active with the McDonough District Hospital Auxiliary, contributing more than 100 Raggedy Ann and Andy dolls for the Hospital Gift Shop and serving as the treasurer of the MDH Auxiliary's Coffee Shop, a position that requires her...Read more
Tea party delightThe Wilton Bulletin, February 11th
The library is inviting kids ages 4 and up to join in on the Raggedy Ann Valentine Tea Party on Saturday, Feb. 13, from 2 to 3:30. Children will hear some of the timeless Raggedy Ann and Andy stories by John Gruelle, a Wilton resident, who wrote them...Read more
Wilton Bulletin BoardThe Wilton Bulletin, February 11th
Raggedy Ann Valentine Tea Party, Saturday, Feb. 13, 2-3:30, Wilton Library. For children 4 and up. Raggedy Ann stories, make old-fashioned valentines, attend a tea party. A pair of Raggedy Ann and Andy dolls will be raffled off. Bring your own Raggedy...Read more
Raggedy Ann and Raggedy Andy dolls to be raffledPenBayPilot.com, February 1st
As well, there will be opportunity to participate in a raffle for a pair of Raggedy Ann and Raggedy Andy dolls, with their friend. They come in a wicker basket with their own patchwork quilt, all handmade by Florance Merrifield. Drawing for the raffle...Read more
Raggedy Ann Turns 100Publishers Weekly, September 22nd
Raggedy Ann has endeared herself to young readers for a century – both as a rag doll toy with button eyes and red yarn hair and as the character of a bounty of stories by the late Johnny Gruelle (1880–1938). Next month Simon & Schuster is commemorating ...Read more
Tampa Raggedy Ann fan has gigantic doll collectionWTSP 10 News, 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
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
Now blighted, Indy man looks to save 'Raggedy Ann and Andy' homeWISH-TV, August 25th
INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — As the city continues to deal with this recent wave of violence, it's now turning its focus on abandoned homes. The Department of Public Safety says the homes become a hot bed for violence. The city says it wants to demolish 300 ...Read more