Mr. Rabbit makes Easter appearance; Shirley Temple collectibles plentiful

By Terry Maurer, What's It WorthApril 19, 2014 

Happy Easter! In today's What's It Worth?, we have celebrities with us. First, there is that illustrious symbol of the day, "Mr. Rabbit." And, a famous movie star too.

Come along as we explore the background and value of two readers' dolls and examine a star-related piece of blue glass.

Q. Our doll was made by my great-grandmother and we've always given "Mr. Rabbit" a place of honor in our home. What can you tell me about him? -- David in Kennewick

A. For centuries, going back to the earliest times, dolls were made by hand. It has only been relatively recently that dolls became commercialized and started to be made in factories.

What you have in Mr. Rabbit is a modern version of a Victorian era anthropomorphic doll. That is, a doll that has human characteristics.

While Mr. Rabbit has big ears and paws, he also has humanlike arms and legs.

These dolls were quite popular in the late 19th century, and they came as rabbits, dogs, cats, foxes and other animals.

This modern version is an adaptation and, according to experts, is well made. He was likely created in the 1970s.

His market value will not be high, perhaps $25 or so.

Q. With the passing of Shirley Temple, we are all looking at our Shirley Temple dolls with a little more affection and curiosity, as there will never be another to equal Shirley Temple Black. This picture is of my favorite Shirley doll. She has her original mohair wig, teddy and shoes. Her dress is a copy made of period material. She has hazel eyes and six little teeth. Her head is marked "16," "Shirley Temple" (in an arc), "Co. Ideal," and "N&TC" (Novelty & Toy Company). Her back is marked "Shirley Temple" and "16." Overall condition is fair to good, with some crazing on the legs. Any information you can supply would be much appreciated. -- Joann in West Richland

A. Shirley Temple, an Oscar winning actress, ambassador, humanitarian and "America's Sweetheart," died in February at age 85.

A California native, she entered films at age 3 and made more than 40 movies during the 1930s and 1940s.

When her film and TV career ended, she served as the U.S. ambassador to Ghana and Czechoslovakia, and was the first female chief of protocol of the United States.

Dolls named for the child star were introduced by Ideal in 1934. They were wildly successful, racking up more than $5 million in sales in the first five years.

Shirley's mother, Gertrude, was involved in the contract negotiations with Ideal. It is said she rejected more than 28 mold designs before an agreement was reached.

The dolls can be found with any number of original clothing styles, ranging from Wee Willie Winkie to The Little Colonel and Texas Ranger.

Sixteen-inch Shirley dolls, like the one described by Joann, can be quite valuable. In perfect condition, with original clothing, they list for $1,600 in Dawn Herlocher's "200 Years of Dolls" (Krause Publications, 4th edition, 2009). That's what collectors call a "book price."

At auction, a doll like this will sell for anywhere from $150 to $700.

Q. This 4 1/2-inch high blue glass creamer with Shirley Temple's image belongs to my mother. Is it at all valuable? -- Dorothy in Kennewick

A. Not highly valuable, these sell for anywhere from $5 to $25. Millions were made by Hazel Atlas Glass Company and U.S. Glass Company from 1934-42.

They were given away as premiums when you purchased Wheaties or Bisquick. Although collectors will call this a creamer, it is actually a small milk pitcher from a breakfast set that also had a bowl and mug.

While Dorothy's is the genuine item, these are being reproduced today and that has caused values to slip badly.

-- Terry K. Maurer is a member of the Certified Appraisers Guild of America. Send questions about your antiques and collectibles to tchwhatsitworth@gmail.com.

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