Things We Love

Vintage Vocab: Kewpie Dolls



I'm not a doll collector by any means, but I can't resist a Kewpie. I'm particularly partial to the little vinyl dolls from the 1960's. But Kewpie dolls were kickin' it well before then. The Kewpie entered this world in 1909 in the form of an illustration by Rose O'Neill that appeared in an early edition of Ladies Home Journal. They were dubbed "Kewpies" because of their Cupid/cherub-like appearance, and the name now signifies one of the longest-running toy fads in known history! Early Kewpie dolls were manufactured in Germany and made out of bisque and later celluloid.

The Kewpie craze wasn't confined to dolls - Kewpies appeared on stationary, books, housewares, and all manner of knick knacks. There was even a "Kewpee" burger joint chain 6 of which still exist to this day! The first plastic Kewpies appeared in 1949. These vinyl plastic dolls were manufactured in Taiwan or Japan, and frequently given away as carnival prizes. Kewpies are highly collectable, and as with many vintage & antique items - older and more unusual = higher value. Who can resist that sweet little cartoon face and that ridiculous, trademark 'do?

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