Trio of Rare 1930s Depression-Era Folk Art Mickey Mouse Dolls


A collection of three antique Mickey Mouse dolls, hand made in the Depression Era, early 1930s (1930-1932). One with a black cotton body, red felt hands, black leatherette shoes, red and white striped drawers, and a blue and white sailor suit; one with a black cotton body, green felt feet, and red felt hands; one with a black cotton body, black felt feet, green felt hands, and green cotton shorts with gold metal buttons. 

Fragile, and wear as shown. 16 1/2" from the tips of the ears to the bottoms of the shoes.

The first Mickey in the sailor suit has red felt hands, black leatherette shoes, and what would be a removable outfit (if the hands weren't so big). There's a shirt with a navy, white-trimmed sailor collar, a pair of wide-legged navy sailor trousers, and red and white striped knit underwear. This one looks to be the "original", as his stuffing is cotton and the stitching is done more neatly. At the same time, he was undoubtedly hand-sewn.

The others seem to have been constructed from this initial pattern (perhaps by young sewers, perhaps so that all the children in the family could have a personal Mickey doll?). In any case, they have a foam stuffing, a thicker felt for the hands, and also for the feet. One has black shoes, green gloves, and green shorts with silver metal buttons; the other has green shoes, red gloves, and is otherwise in the mouse buff.

After the success of "Steamboat Willie", Walt Disney commissioned Charlotte Clark to make Mickey Mouse Dolls ( Unable to meet the demand, they then issues Charlotte Clark Mickey Mouse Doll patterns. However, these dolls are smaller, have four fingers, wear different shoes, and have different facial features (pie-slice round eyes and nose wrinkle markings).

These dolls look more similar to the Steiff Mickey Mouse dolls, in terms of the shape of their eyes, their expressions, their gloves, their shoes -- everything except their size (these are also larger). And Steiff didn't produce patterns.

In short, these dolls seem to have been home made to look like the expensive Steiff dolls, based on the idea that patterns for the dolls were possible, and that if you wanted one -- or three -- badly enough, you could make them yourself.

The dolls illustrate, in any case, a great desire on the part of their little owners for them to come into existence, and they have been accordingly well-loved.

There are period mendings, probably done by the child. The dolls came to me in rough shape: I dusted them off with a very lightly damp rag (but still some markings), and I resewed as delicately as possible some of the previous injuries to maintain structural integrity (two of the arms had tears). The fabric will not withstand heavy cleaning and mending. These are toys for playing with, but they have also aged their way into being museum-quality examples of early folk character dolls.