Updated: Feb 22
Bubbles was created by the famous sculptor Bernard Lipfert and debuted in Playthings magazine in January of 1926 she was a 21 inch doll. It is said that unadvertised forms of the Bubbles doll were in production as early as 1924. However, Effanbee dolls launched her in 1926 with the ad “there is nothing like her in dolldom; the happiest smile in the world." By May of 1926 nine sizes of the Bubbles doll were in production. The dolls were sold dressed in organdy, lawn or silk. Playthings magazine called her “the doll sensation of 1926…” By 1927 there were copies of Bubbles made by Effanbee’s competitors and Bubbles was soon registered under Copyright No. 75246 and the trade name Bubbles was also registered in the United States Patent Office. In March of 1927 Effanbee issued the following statement:
“The Personality and Charm Of People Simply Can’t Be Copied…. When a new
doll of many excellent features and qualities becomes a best seller, imitations and
copies are sure to spring up. That has been the case with BUBBLES’ the EFFANBEE
doll that has been an instant success because it sells on sight. But like the personality
of an individual, or the creation of a skilled artist, copies are only poor imitations.
They make the original stand out all the more – in striking contrast.”
Interestingly, some models of Bubbles are marked 1924 when the first doll made her debut in 1926. Effanbee did make a Honeybunch doll with the Bubbles mold. Honeybunch was a Mama doll and was not marked on the doll. Bye-Lo-Baby and Bubbles are about the same age. Bubbles was a very appealing doll to a child and deemed “not breakable (with reasonable care).” She was heavily advertised as the doll that would grow old with the child, “the dolls with the golden heart” aka the Effanbee heart wrist let. She was deemed the “wonder doll of her generation, just bubbling over with life and laughter. No little girl can cry or look cross with this darling doll in her arms. Bubbles happy smile keeps you happy too.” Bubbles was one of the first dolls to go to patent/copyright court for infringement. Effanbee sued Horsman and won. I find it amusing that Bernard Lipfert was designing dolls for more than one company, so of course, there will be strong similarities in the dolls manufactured.
Source: Schoonmaker pg.216 Ill 411 &413
Here are some ads from Advertisement for EffanBee Bubbles, Patsy and Lovey Mary Dolls EFFANBEE DOLLS 1926:
Here they are, children
The dolls with the golden heart
TAKE your choice of these two adorable dolls.
There is Bubbles, the wonder-doll of her
generation,just bubbling over with life and
laughter. No little girl can cry or look
cross with this darling doll in
her arms. Bubbles' happy
smile keeps you smiling too.
"Bubbles was modeled after an adorable real baby precious little white teeth. And you ought to hear her cry for you! THE most wonderful
thing about these dolls is that they won't wear
out. That is because they are Effanbee Dolls.
You can play and play with them, and they
will last until you grow up. Ask Santa please
to bring you Bubbles or Lovey Mary, which-
ever one you prefer."
Widely advertised Effanbee Bubbles.
"There goes that dimpled little finger again - straight into her rosebud mouth! Preciously like a real one year old baby with her twinkling blue eyes, face just puckering into an April smile, and chubby little active hands. Blue eyes that go to sleep. Open mouth with two little teeth. Composition arms, cotton stuffed body. Dainty white organdie dress trimmed in lace and embroidery. Organdie underskirt and real rubber panties. Almost unbreakable composition head, arms jointed at shoulders, and curved baby legs. Every doll has EFFanBEE locket and chain and six photographs. The two large sizes have real leather bootees; small sizes imitation white leather booties; white socks. All have crying voices.
16 inch - $3.89, 17 1/2 inch - $4.79, 20 inch - $6.19, 22 inch - $7.98, 24 inch - $9.45 "
"Bubbles and Lovey Mary come in all sizes.
Shown here they arc 19 inches tall and cost
$5. At all better- class department and toy
stores. You can tell them, in your favorite
department or toy store, by their dear little
golden heart necklaces. Every Effanbee Doll
wears a golden heart. A golden heart neck-
lace for every child Lovey Mary wants every
child to have a golden heart necklace, too.
If you would like one, mail the coupon and
6c to Lovey Mary Effanbee,
45 Greene St, New York City "
I marvel at the creativity, simplicity and charm of how these dolls were marketed. Part of the appeal of restoring and redressing composition dolls comes from the nostalgia of days long gone, simple values and traditions that we can only read about now. I read that one publicity story describing Bubbles said that it was incredible that these dolls were make from the simple ingredients of wood flour, flake glue, rosin, starch and other ingredients pressed into the head and shoulders to make a beautiful doll! This is the first time I have read anything confirming the ingredient rosin. I have long suspected pine rosin was in the ingredient list. I can smell it when I strip the dolls!
Source: Schoonmaker pg 215
Speaking of stripping dolls.....I just finished restoring an 18 inch Bubbles! Bubbles is a local clients doll. I have had the privilege of meeting Bubbles' owner first hand. Bubbles belonged to my clients mother. She is having her restored to hand down to her great niece, it's a beautiful heirloom to pass on. When I was checking the doll into my "doll hospital" I noticed that she didn't have the tips of her fingers on her right hand. My client suggested that her mom probably bit them off! Yikes, these dolls had lead based paint back then. Oh well, nothing that can't be fixed. Here are some before photos of this darling baby.
I was so excited to get started on her that I didn't take pictures until after I had her partially disassembled. But you can see the heavy crazing, lost paint and skin compo layer and of course the short fingers. I removed her tin eyes, and all the paint and skin composition.
I added wire "rebar" to her short fingers and reconstructed them with a two part epoxy. Then I sanded and primed the doll with an oil-based primer. When I was satisfied with the results, I airbrushed her skin tone with oil-based paint. Her hair was airbrushed with multiple colors of "blonde" to get the right color for her hair. She was blushed in all the right places and finally her facial features were painted with acrylic paint. Bubbles was reassembled and finally ready to be redressed.
Fortunately, I have an old Effanbee Bubbles dress to use for a pattern. I pressed the dress and carefully copied it to create a pattern for the bodice of her dress. I had a pattern to use for a new bonnet as well.
Her dress is made from 100% cotton organdy, with cotton lace and rayon ribbon. Her slip is cotton voile with cotton lace. Her booties are 100% wool felt and she is wearing cotton socks.
I am thrilled with how this doll turned out and as always, the rewarding part of my job is having the opportunity to be present when my client sees the doll for the first time. She was overjoyed and cried! This doll is a cherished piece of her mother’s childhood. The joy of seeing the doll as she would have looked new was something that my client had not really thought about. It is bittersweet to have an heirloom restored. She misses her mom and wishes she could share this moment with her. Like I have said before, those joyous moments are why I do this. Restoring Timeless Treasures for Generations to Come is my motto and goal. It is a privilege to share my gifts and talents in this way.
Thank you, Beth, – Enjoy Bubbles!
Source: Effanbee Dolls - The Formative Years 1910-1929 by Patricia N. Schoonmaker