Friday, April 28, 2017

Vintage Doll: Betsy McCall

I first saw Betsy McCall at an exhibit on toys at the Missouri History Museum. My friend and I both really loved the 1950s Betsy McCall on display there. So I decided to get her a Betsy McCall doll for her birthday!

Warning: this post contains nude doll pictures.

The article "Who Dressed Betsy McCall?" by AnneLise Wilhelmsen has some great information about Betsy McCall and the clothes that she wore. Many of her dresses were designed by real clothes designers. This provided both the designer and McCalls with great promotional material and exposure to consumers.

About half of Betsy's clothes were designed by Helen Lee. Lee believed that children's clothes should be fashionable, since they outgrew them every year anyway, and that the clothes should not be restricted to pastel colors.

I am pretty sure that the dress this Betsy is wearing was designed by Lee. It has the bold colors and the plaid that she favors. It's a beautiful dress!

The Bleu Door has a section on Betsy McCall! You can go there to see the original stories written about Betsy, as well as the paper dolls. This is also a great resource to learn about fashions worn by American girls in the 1950s and beyond!

There are several generations of Betsy McCall dolls out there, and they are different sizes. This is something to keep in mind if you are looking for patterns. I was excited to find this set of vintage patterns on etsy, because the patterns were designed by Helen Lee.

The Tonner Doll Company made the most recent Betsy McCall dolls, which are 7 or 14 inches high and are now retired. I did not find their faces to be as charming as the original, vintage dolls.

There are a lot of Betsy McCall dolls out there, and they are in different price ranges. The prices on ebay are generally lower than those on etsy. I bought this doll for $31 plus shipping.

Betsy came with a very complete outfit. She has a dress, a crinoline like Maryellen's, bloomer-type panties, socks and shoes.

 Betsy's crinoline. The elastic has seen better days. Helen Lee preferred to design crinolines that were built into the dresses, because it made dressing easier for both the girl and her mother.

I wish this dress had a built-in crinoline, because this one keeps slipping down due to the elastic.

I took the crinoline off for some of her pictures, because it was showing under the edge of her dress.

Here are her panties. Again. it's very like Maryellen's.


Rear view. There is a round stamp above her butt that says McCalls, but I couldn't get a clear picture of it.

Betsy cannot stand up on her own. She has jointed knees, which are very nice but which do not help her in the standing department.

She sits very nicely with the jointed knees.. It just looks slightly odd to me because the waist of her dress does not sit at her actual waist.

Betsy has sleep eyes. They sometimes fall a little bit shut, but a nudge with my fingers opens them all the way and they will generally stay that way.

She's really in very nice condition. The main problems are dry hair, sleep eyes that don't always stay completely open, and the elastic on her crinoline. Not bad for a 60 year old doll.

Betsy is cute as a button, and I kind of want one myself!

I know she has a loving home, though!

I have more pictures of Betsy, which I will share in a separate post.


  1. Aaaaaand I absolutely love her! Thanks, Beth, for such a thoughtful gift -- and for the history lesson to go along with it! She's precious, and I have just the place to put her. Her tiny knees are my absolute favorite.

    1. I am glad you like her! She fits the doll couch I made you.


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