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Sunday, 31 January 2010

Susie identified

It has taken several months, and four doll identification books plus a fair amount of looking on ebay and the wider web but I have at last concluded that Susie is not a Roddy doll as I had first thought, but is in fact an unbranded Petalskin Palitoy doll.

I bought the 'Collectors guide to dolls and Toys of the 1960s and 1970s Vol II' only to realise after it arrived that it covered American not English dolls.  However despite this, it did enable me to identify other dolls in my collection, so it wasn't a waste of money.

I also bought Frances Bairds 'British Teenage Dolls 1954 - 1984' but although this book was helpful for information and photos, because it concentrates on Teenage dolls which are different from child dolls, the only thing it helped me establish was that Susie was not a teen doll.  However a lot of the teen faces were very reminiscent of Susie one way or another.

Susan Brewer's 'British Dolls of the 1960s' is a mine of information and photos, and did give me the clue that some doll factories swapped moulds and that well known stores in England would get the manufactors to make dolls for them which were not branded so are often difficult to identify today without their original box.  This could have put me off trying to find out more, as Susie is unbranded, though is clearly marked 'Made in England 18D' on the back of her head.  But by this time the sleuthing bug had well and truly bitten and I was less and less convinced that she was a Roddy, as none of the Roddy doll body shapes matched hers, though disconcertingly neither did any of the other well known brand British dolls of the era either.

I also purchased Colette Mansell's 'The Collector's guide to British dolls since 1920'.  This is also full of interesting information and photos, but still nothing matched Susie.

More web searches followed - I couldn't find any website specifically dedicated to Palitoy dolls, the firm has gone out of business but I was becoming more certain that Susie was a Palitoy because despite the body shape being different from every doll I could see in the books and online, some clues were starting to emerge that matched the doll I've had almost all my life.  On ebay sellers would list Tiny Tears dolls (Palitoy) and would often put their size markings in the listing - height and face design.  I worked out that 18 stood for 18 inches and D stood for the face design.  I haven't seen this convention on other dolls of the era, only on Palitoy.  Could this mean that Susie was a Palitoy made for one of those department stores (such as Woolworths or Tesco)?  Some of those unbranded dolls had been sold with no clothes.  This would fit with my earliest recollections of her hand made knitted outfits but no shop dress.  But what I needed to see was a doll with similar body shape that had identification marks or a box.  So I started watching 'Palitoy' on ebay, and one day a doll appeared that had the self same body shape but a different face and was 2 inches shorter than Susie.  She was listed as possibly a Palitoy, and with the markings that were the Palitoy convention.  I successfully bid for this doll, she did not cost much.  I had hoped to find something in her hair to tell me that she was definitely Palitoy, but beyond the 'Made in England 16' mark on the back of her head, she, like Susie, had no other identification.  However interestingly her torso and arms are from the precise same mould, but her legs are a shorter version of Susie's legs.
The unnamed, unbranded Palitoy doll,
and close up of her 'Made in England 16' marking
More haunting of ebay continued, with other similar dolls appearing, but only one with a similar face to Susie, which I bid on but unfortunately didn't win.  Then last week, cornfieldsdancing listed a mint in box vintage Palitoy Petalskin doll on ebay, and it was the missing link that I needed.  That doll had the same face and body shape as the unmarked doll I had purchased, though was 18 inches like Susie, and was described as follows:
Palitoy 1967 Petalskin Doll
She is vinyl and can be dated as she is in the 1967 catalogue
Her name is Penny

I had planned to bid for the doll, but there was an option to buy it now or bid, and someone else decided to pay the £40 buy it now price, so I didn't get it.

None of the books I purchased mentioned the Petalskin Palitoy dolls, or showed photos of them.  However the box of this doll was clearly marked Palitoy.  The doll came fully dressed, with a night dress in a bag as well.  It is just possible that Susie did have this dress once (the socks are the same length as appear in those early photos of me holding her) but it isn't something I recall, so it must have got lost.  The seller mentions a 1967 Palitoy catalogue.  I have not yet located any Palitoy catalogues online, but they must be out there somewhere.

When we were watching Dancing on Ice 2 a couple of weeks ago, with the girls surrounded by their dolls in skates, my little one suggested that Susie should have skates too.  I knew that Sasha doll shoes fit her feet (the Gotz shoes are too big), so found a supplier who does the loveliest shoes for Sasha dolls and discovered that yes indeed skates were available.  So I spoiled myself and Susie and bought the skates, some tights, a pair of socks and dear little pink shoes with bows.  The package did not take long to arrive and although I had to loosen the laces on the boots completely to get them onto her feet (especially over the tights), Susie now has her own ice skates.  I haven't had time to make her an outfit yet, so she is borrowing the Gotz ballet outfit (though the leotard is a little to long for her).
Susie in her skates and the Gotz ballet outfit
However yesterday I saw that the vinyl around Susie's repainted lips were discoloured a sort of orange colour, something I had not noticed before.  I wasn't sure if the paint from the lips had done this, so scraped it off, as I didn't want further damage.  So Susie now has orange coloured lips rather than the rosebud pink lips she has sported for the past year or so since her restoration.  I will wait to see what happens to the discolouration over the coming weeks, I hope it fades.
Close up of Susie with her pink lips,
but clearly showing the orange stain surrounding them

close up of Susie's lips with paint removed, showing the orange staining

The unnamed doll and Susie: their face shapes are different, but torsos and arms are the same shape and size.
Legs are the same pattern, just different sizes
Susie and the unnamed, unbranded Palitoy doll
(Susie is wearing her skates, hence the marked difference in their height)

Saturday, 30 January 2010

Susie again - and a sore throat

I've got a raging sore throat this evening, so instead of composing the post I was planning, I must go to bed as I have to sing tomorrow morning in church and am hoping that warm Ribena, strepsils, gargling salt water, paracetemol and a good night sleep will enable me to sing without too much pain.

Susie has some new things, and I have worked out what make of doll she is.  With that tantalising news, I bid you goodnight.  Hopefully tomorrow I shall be able to spend the time I can't tonight to tell you all about my sleuthing.

Tuesday, 26 January 2010


During the past 2 or 3 weeks my doll blog has gathered 4 more followers:

Danitza Zarate doesn't appear to have a blog, just an email address so I know nothing about this person.

Sandra Morris runs a small business for which she makes minature dolls and toys.  She has a small (live) dog with real character whose reaction to the recent snow was great fun to read about.  You can read her Tales of the Toymaker at 

Püppilottchen (Nicola) lives in Germany, designs toy for sale and collects vintage Lundby dollshouses and Kathe Kruse dolls.  I enjoy looking at her doll photos on flickr as well as her blog at

Diepuppenstubensammlerin is the newest follower and collects vintage Lundby and Hennig dollshouses.  She also lives in Germany and her blog at is all in German, so I use Google translate because my German is minimal.  She also has lots of dollshouse photos on flickr.

Welcome everyone to my doll blog.  I'm planning some more posts shortly, I just need to take some photos.

Sunday, 10 January 2010

Dancing on Ice week 1

This evening was the first installment of the 2010 series of Dancing on Ice with Torvill and Dean.  I had finished Peter's skating outfit a couple of nights ago, in time for the start, so at last he has something to wear to tie in with the girls.  When the programme started my little one insisted that all the dolls with skates had to change into their skating outfits, and the whole lot of dolls, including the new Aussie girls ended up on the sofa with my girls to watch the programme.  Somehow my husband managed to squeeze in too, as he likes the programme and usually has interesting things to say about each performance with the eyes of a layperson who has only skated once.  Belle likes Harriet's original knitted dress, but I realised for the snow photos that it really is too short on her to be called a dress (although the dolls are the same height, the difference in their proportions does make a difference to how the clothes look on them), so I lent her Anna's skirt that I had made some months ago, as the elastic on the skirt isn't too tight for her waist.  I think it looks pretty good with the cream jumper.

All the dolls:  l-r Harriet, Anna, Matilda, Jayne, Belle, Samantha and Peter
my girls are hidden in there somewhere

My elder daughter was allowed to stay up for the skate off, but we recorded it for the younger one, as it was definitely well past her bedtime and she had a late night on Saturday.

Later Peter tried his skating moves with Harriet and then Anna.  But I think he would secretly like to skate with Matilda, if only I can organise some skates for her and Belle.  I suspect I shall have to buy some Gotz skates and use the blades on some home-made skates.

Harriet and Peter who is wearing his new black leggings and silver top
I french-plaited Harriet's hair
Showing Peter's top made with that difficult silver material
Peter and Anna

Wednesday, 6 January 2010

Aussie Girls enjoy the snow!

This morning we woke to 3 1/4 inches of snow, and we had it light compared to some areas in the UK. The girls were up and dressed in record time (why is it that on a normal school morning my elder girl in particular won't get up, but on a snowy day she is all bright and breezy!). Both their schools were closed, as are most in the area, and where I work was closed too (though I could work at home as some of my colleagues will). But my neighbour suggested I enjoy the day with the girls and the snow rather than try and work with a house full of kids and dog.

Matilda and Belle with the snowgirl in our front garden. 
Matilda even has snow in her hand.

My husband cleared the drive and provided us with a mound of snow for the snowgirl. Then Matilda and Belle borrowed warm clothes (the ones that would fit) from the Gotz girls. Fortunately Peter's original shoes are a looser fit on him and Belle's feet fit them snugly, so she was able to join Matilda on her snowy adventure. The Gotz girls and boy stayed indoors in the warm - we don't have enough warm coats for them all to venture out at once! So it looks like I need to get sewing again.

Close up of Matilda and Belle with the snowgirl
 With our little Christmas tree in the back garden
See their feet sinking in the snow!
So here you go - the first photos of Australian Girl Dolls in English snow. Don't they look pleased!

A snowy welcome

Because of my blog silence (almost) over Christmas, I've been remiss in not welcoming two new followers:

Neither Lúcia Soares and Pandora Box appear to have blogs, but both seem to be following several blogs - welcome to my blog.

Tonight it is snowing heavily again - it started here just before 8 pm.  As it is Twelfth Night, I undecorated our little potted Christmas tree and put it out in the garden, about 45 minutes later it looked like this:

Since then my husband has looked out and and commented that it is now so covered in snow it isn't so photogenic.  Poor little tree, going from a warm house to snow in one quick move!  I hope it survives.  We've got at least 2 1/2 inches now, and it is set to continue.  Goodness knows if the schools will be open in the morning, and what the roads will be like.  At the office today we were told to bring work home just in case, but I shall find it difficult to work if the girls are at home too so I'm hoping that the schools will be open and that we'll manage to get them there (and me to work).  Apparently this is the worst cold snap that England has seen in 30 years.  I'm hoping to photograph the Aussie girls Matilda and Belle in the snow tomorrow with the little tree, but am not sure what Belle will wear on her feet, as we've only got one pair of boots that will fit (Matilda's boots).  So maybe they will have to take it in turns to go outside!

I've spent part of this evening continuing with Peter's skating outfit.  A few days ago I bought some black stretch jersey material and made him some skating leggings.  Now I am using the silvery material from which Lacey's skating skirt was made to make him a top, however because the silvery material is so slippery to sew, I've made the bodice double layered - with the black jersey on the inside of the top.  It has turned out very well, and all I need to do now is sew the fastenings on the back and some sequins, but that is a job for tomorrow night, as it is late and I've burned the candle at both ends too many nights in a row.

Oh, it is tomorrow already - goodnight!