I came across this wonderful booklet describing a doll giveaway at an antique doll show earlier this month. The booklet is form the Crofts & Reed Co. store in Chicago which was in operation during the early part of the 20th century. A patron of the store could receive a doll for free with a $4.00 order of Soaps, Teas, Extracts, or Spices.
The doll given away was most likely from a lesser-quality German dollmaker like Armand Marseille. The doll’s story inside the booklet is just so endearing that I have copied it in full below. The hard-sell at the end is a bit disturbing though! It seems like a lot of advertising from this era was aimed at a child’s pull on his or her family. Enjoy!
I am a big, beautiful doll, twenty-four inches tall and as fat as a healthy baby. My name is Mary, Clara, or Jennie, or whatever you choose to call me, because I have not yet been christened.
I was born in Germany, thousands of miles away from here. My home was a big, noisy shop where thousands of men and women and boys and girls worked busily and sang as they worked. Here my face was given its first wash with nice warm water and pure soap, my lips and cheeks were given the fresh, pretty colors that you see in them today, and my beautiful curly hair was combed and tied with a nice blue ribbon.
Then I was laid on a table, together with a hundred other dolls, every one of which was my twin sister. After awhile a Doctor came along who looked at my eyes and teeth, felt of my hands and feet, and gave me a pair of lace stockings and kid slippers and the dress that I still wear. He said that I was a perfect doll and would live a long and happy life.
After he left me it grew very dark and I felt frightened until I saw the moon smiling at me through the large windows.
In the morning a bright little girl picked me up, carried me to the other end of the room and very tenderly laid me in a long, brown paper box. She put a pillow under my head and cushions all around me, because she said I was going on a long journey, thousands of miles across water and land, and if I was not well taken care of might be hurt.
Then I fell asleep and when next I opened my eyes I was being carried aboard of a big ship. There was so much noise and excitement that it was all very interesting. I could see men and women bidding each other good-bye and smiling through their tears. Men in blue uniforms and brass buttons rushed up and down shouting orders. Bells clanged and whistles tooted. Someone shouted “All ashore, boat leaves in five minutes,” and soon we were on our way across the great Atlantic ocean.
When we had been sailing many days and were far away from shore a great storm arose and I heard people tell each other that we would never reach America. Great waves, as big as a house, washed across the lower decks and we rolled from side to side with a dizzy, sickening motion that made many people very ill. But after awhile the wind died down and before many more days we were safely landed in New York. Then I was put aboard of a train and in a few days more I found myself in Crofts & Reed’s big Chicago Warehouse, none the worse for my long journey and without a bruise or a scratch.
I wish you could visit this big warehouse because it’s full of blonde dolls, brunette dolls, big dolls, little dolls, trains, rocking horses, drums, go-carts, dishes, cameras and hundreds of other interesting toys too numerous to mention.
It’s very interesting here, but I will not be happy until I find a nice home and someone to love me. I am sure you would soon learn to love me. Won’t you please send for me right away? I’ll promise to be just as good as can be. I’ll go to sleep as soon as you lay me down and never awake till you pick me up. I will always be smiling and happy. I will never cry or scowl or pout. I will bring you joy and happiness. I am as healthy as can be. I never was sick a day in my life. I can sit up, move my head and put my arms around your neck.
I am easy to get. If you want me just take orders from your relatives and friends for $4 worth of Crofts & Reed Co. Soaps, Spices, Teas, Extracts, Perfumes, Toilet Needs, etc. You will be surprised at how easy it is to get orders for these goods. They are so clean and fresh and pure that nearly everybody wants them. Why, your family along can use $4 worth of such goods in one or two weeks’ time.
Thousands of my twin sisters have been sent to little girls who have earned them by taking orders for C. & R. products. It’s so easy and takes just a very little time.
And maybe your brother would like to earn a nice present. If so he’ll find hundreds of toys to choose from in our big catalog and he can send his order in with yours.
I want to come and live with you I want to be your Baby Doll. Will you please get up that little $4 order right away?