August Princeton Doll & Toy Museum Study Group 'Ruth Gi bbs Dolls'
- Yesterday was the 3rd Tue of the month thus `Princeton doll & Toy Study Group in Hopewell, NJ'. The topic for the day was Ruth Gibbs Dolls. Ruth Gibbs was a manager for Dennison, the office supply and Crepe Paper Company in NYC. She had all sorts of connections including a friend in Philly whose ceramic business was declining and wanted to help her out. So she designed a China head doll in the 12" size. It was 1946 just after WWII. It was fired and assembled in Flemington, NJ and her husband started a small factory there. The head was a Flat Top China but face did not duplicate a China head doll but had a more modern painting. She named it Little Godet doll. A McCall's pattern was designed for the doll with about 7 Victorian outfits. The doll became the doll for a centennial celebration in Connecticut and later was introduced at an international festival similar to Toy Fair today. Thus the doll began to spread to the nicer department stores and a second doll in the 7: size was introduced with the same Flat top China hair style. It was soon changed to a page boy hair style which continued to the end. The painting on the small dolls is very modern and nothing like a China head. The early ones are white while the later one are pink. Most often the hair color and shoes are the same color until the later dolls which might have gold shoes, necklace and/or bracelet. A set of dolls was designed for sale at Williamsburg and those had gold buckles. Swiss tulle/net was used to stiffen the underskirt and often for the lingerie. Production stopped when the factory burned to the ground in 1963. Her children/grandchildren have started a ceramic tile business in the Yardley, PA area about 25 miles from the original factory. The dolls were also sold only in Swiss tulle lingerie with patterns for dressing them and even with fabric and trims to encourage sewing. Arlene Coleman, today's presenter, had put an advertisement in the Flemington papers asking for information from anyone who had worked in the factory or knew of any dolls. None of the former employees contacted her but from far and wide bits of information were accumulated. When the factory had burned arms and legs had survived as well as some records and photos. A small collection was purchased by the Raggedy Anne Doll Museum in Flemington, NJ and a special display was set up. When the museum closed one lady bought the entire Ruth Gibbs display. She wrote an article for `Doll News'. One of the ladies at the meeting had the copy of the newspaper article requesting Ruth Gibbs Doll information as well as the various articles on Ruth Gibbs dolls from Doll News & Doll Castle News. Others shared their dolls including one with the original cardboard stand invented by Mr. Gibbs.
Virginia Aris shared a funny anecdote: a car load of ladies stopped at the Princeton Doll & Toy Museum for a bit and said they were headed over to Flemington to the Ruth Gibbs Factory to buy dolls. Virginia told them the factory burned in, she thought, 1963. The ladies were not to be deterred and set out on their way. About 45 min later she received a phone call from one of the women who said, "You knew what you were talking about. The factory burned to the ground in 1963 and there are NO dolls here." Virginia had a few of the Ruth Gibbs dolls in the museum as well a two in the gift shop for sale and they may have returned for them
Barbara up from