Archive for the "Cloth Toys" Category

A very unusual felt “Easter Tot” dating from 1916.  This little guy was a premium from the Home Life magazine in Chicago.  A patron could receive two of the Easter Tots for a one-year subscription of the magazine or four Tots for a three-year subscription.

The Tots featured on the sheet are most-definitely knock-offs of Rose O’Neill’s Kewpies, Grace Drayton’s Children, and Palmer Cox’s Brownies.  There was a Kewpie doll produced during the same era with a costume identical to the “Tommy” Tot’s costume. 

Extremely rare collectible in nice condition!  He will be listed for sale on EBay later this weekend!  Check out the link to my auctions at the top of the page!

An adorable image of a baby and a “Brownie” Cloth Doll, probably made by Arnold Print Works. “Brownies” were cartoon characters created by artist Palmer Cox in the late 1800s. Many toys and games were modeled after these gnome-like characters with mischievous features.

The website, Gnomes and Fairies, describes the history of Cox and his “Brownies.”

Palmer Cox (1840 – 1824): The Walt Disney of the Victorian Age.

Cartoonist, children’s writer, and illustrator.  They called him “The Brownie Man.”
“I was brought up in an old Scottish settlement, and the people had a quaint notion of a Brownie who was supposed to attach himself to each particular household and help the old folks do odd jobs when nobody was looking. That was the idea which I developed.” Palmer Cox

They said he drew brownies on the uprights of the barns he helped to build in Granby, Quebec, Canada, where he was born.

Palmer Cox was a tall, rugged, warm-hearted man with a great talent; a devoted Mason who loved children. He created characters based on the brownie gnome and dressed them in costumes representing different nationalities and professions. He authored and illustrated stories about their helpful activities in children’s books and a magazine called St. Nicholas. His books sold over a million copies. With the composer Malcolm Douglas, he wrote, produced and directed a musical show that ran for five years on broadway and around the world.

The Brownie character was popular for thirty years, especially in the 1890’s. It was the first character in America to have its own line of packaged products, and advertised a variety of products, including the Brownie Camera.

What a treasure! This uncut cloth “Little Red Riding Hood” doll dates from 1892. She is so beautiful with her stunning red cape and blonde curls!

This cloth doll was made by Arnold Print Works of North Adams, MA. The website, Through the Eyes of a Child, describes the company’s history and the history of cloth toys.

Advances in printing are directly tied to advances in the doll world. Scraps from the printing industry were the beginnings of papier mache dolls in the early 19th century. The advent of lithography printing a design on fabric was a natural extension to printing on paper. In the late 1800s, the main design was printed and then the fabric was hand colored. This printed fabric was then sold by the yard, often with printed instructions and sewing lines indicated on the fabric.

With continued advances in printing, the early 20th century found the entire doll printed on the fabric. While dome of the dolls included darts for three dimensional effects, most were designed to be cut and then sewn to form a pillow like doll.

Arnold Printworks

The Arnold Printworks was based in North Adams, Massachusetts. It printed cut and sew dolls from the 1890s through the 1910s. Ceilia and Charity Smith, sisters in law from Ithica New York, designed many of the dolls and animals printed by Arnold Printworks and later Cocheco. The sisters patented many of their designs. Their designs included a stitch jointed cloth doll printed on cotton with chromolithographed face. Their dolls were sold in the US as well as Britain and Germany.

The cloth printed by the Arnold Printworks was tinted with oil color. Directions for the sewing included a round base for the foot to include a cardboard reinforcement to allow the doll to stand.

The Arnold Printworks is noted for printing play dolls such as the 7 inch Palmer Cox Brownies on a yard of fabric for 20 cents in 1892. Pickaninny, Little Red Ridinghood, Pitti Sing and Our Little Soldiers were also printed in 1892. The Columbian Sailor of the 1892 Exhibition was patented in January 31 1893. The Improved Foot Life Sized doll was printed in 1909, a jointed rag doll was printed in 1911 and a Gibson Girl doll was printed in 1912.

Marketing and dolls, like printing and dolls, are also a natural fit. The Arnold Printworks printed such famous advertising dolls as Aunt Jemima and Rastas, the cream of wheat chef. Marketing dolls were printed from 1905 through the 1950s.

This cloth doll is currently available for sale!  Check out my Ebay auctions at the top of the page!

Rose O’Neill’s Kewpies have captured the hearts and imaginations of children for over a century.  The little cherub with the impish grin is just so appealing!

Continuing with my “Christmas in July” theme for the week, I am showcasing a Kewpie Christmas Display sign from 1913. This sign was probably displayed on a store counter and advertises a line by Royal Society (H. E. Verran) of Rose O’Neill-liscensed Kewpie fabric designs to embroider. These fabric pieces are very rare and collectible. I have posted an example from this line (possibly a dresser scarf) in the gallery at the bottom of the post.

The text reads on the advertisement reads:

I am the Kewpie Santa Claus

I bring my friends a Christmas suggestion that is new, original and of wonderful interest to both those who give and those who receive, in


What is so fraught with tender well wishing as a gift made by friendly hands — a gift of wonderful beauty for all the years — a gift of such irresistible appeal as Kewpie’s embroidery designs. They are to be had either in tinted stamped goods or in the Royal Society Package Outfit which embrace pillows, dresser scarfs, bibs, fancy bags and all sorts of novelties.

Stop back next week as I’ll be posting more information about Rose O’Neill and her famous Kewpies!