The T. Eaton Beauty Dolls
Bisque, compo, plastic, vinyl - they're all beauties!
1901 Eaton Beauty by Cuno & Otto Dressel (17") with bisque heaad, ball-jointed body and original clothing and red ribbon sash
Back in 1994, the T. Eaton Company Ltd. of Toronto, Ontario, Canada, celebrated its 125th anniversary. Produced for the company was a limited edition of 125 Eaton Beauty dolls, continuing a tradition of Eaton Beauty dolls that began in 1900.
The T. Eaton Company and their department stores across Canada, had become famous for its merchandise catalog issued several times a year. The major catalog was the Christmas issue. For many children, the Eaton's Christmas catalog became the main tool to let parents and Santa Claus know what every good boy and girl wanted for Christmas. As an extra marketing tool, Eaton's sponsored the annual Santa Claus Parade in Toronto.
From 1900 on, the Eaton's Beauty doll became the object of desire for almost every Canadian girl. The first ad in 1900 stated, "Eaton's Beauty, all jointed, special $1.00, large sizes from $1.50, $2.00, $2.50, $3.00 and up to $10.00 each." The doll had a leather body, bisque head, movable eyes, curly hair and wooden arms and legs.
The first four years the doll was leather-bodied. Afterward the doll was made from papier-mache, composition, latex, vinyl, plastic, composition again and bisque.
Ad from the 1981 doll
The Eaton's Beauty became sought after by children due to the affordable price and high quality. The company had prided itself on the motto "Goods satisfactory or money refunded."
The early dolls did not come with their own sets of clothes. From 1900-1908 the dolls were sold undressed. Then a chemise was added, or a slip, or she came fully clothed. In 1927 a princess slip - a kind of all-in-one underwear - was introduced on the doll.
From 1940-1943, extra outfits were offered for sale. In fact, depending on the part of Canada, there were different outfits available. The price of the doll was $1.29, and she came with only socks, shoes and a lace-trimmed slip. Extra outfits such as a frock with buff sleeves and bonnet to match went for 85 cents.
In the catalog distributed in Winnipeg, Manitoba, for the 1940-1941 season, the outfits sold for 95 cents each, and the four outfits available were different from the 85 cent outfits. In Winnipeg one could buy a ski suit with hood, an old-fashioned dress with a bonnet, a pleated dress and hat, and a party frock with petticoat and hat.
Variations in Catalogs and Stores
Since Eatonís had so many stores across the country, there exist many variations of dolls and outfits. There is evidence that an Eaton Beauty which was sold in Toronto one year might have never appeared in the catalog in another area until the following year. Also, what was offered through the catalog and what was sold in the stores might have been different. If a doll didn't sell well in one area, it might have been shipped to be sold later elsewhere.
1970s Eatonís Beauty by Dorothy Churchill
Besides the change in body construction over the years, the material employed in the construction of the head has changed several times.
From 1900-1914 the head was bisque. In 1915-1916 the head was composition. When the doll reappeared in 1924, it was bisque once again and remained so until 1940, when composition reappeared. Vinyl was used from 1954-1965, and since 1977, bisque was used.
Over the years, the hairstyle would change to keep the doll fashionable. She had long curls in the beginning, but keeping with the "flapper" era, she appeared with bobbed hair in 1927. In the 1930s, ringlets appeared and remained until the mid-'40. when the doll reappeared on the market in 1954, she had saran hair. Since 1977 a variety of hair wigs have been used.
Telltale Signs of a Real Beauty
Collectors need to know that the badge and ribbon are a major identifying feature of an Eaton Beauty doll. From 1904-1964 the doll carried a badge that declared her to be an Eatonís Beauty. There is one exception: The 1963 doll does not have the badge. But in the Christmas catalog she is pictured with the headline "I'm Eaton Beauty."
The 1962 and '63 dolls offered different outfits. In 1962, the 22" vinyl plastic doll was jointed. She came with a two-tone dress, slip, panties, socks and shoes. The doll cost $4.98; for $7.95 a doll with extra outfits could be purchased.
1913 Eaton Beauty by Armand Marseille has her original Eatonís Beauty ribbon
The 1963 doll was an inch shorter and there were three extra outfits; the price was the same as in 1962. Each year the extra outfits included a heavy winter coat; these dolls were realistically dressed for Canadaís climate.
Dolls Mirror Dollmaking History
The Eaton Beauty doll is a history of the changing nature of dolls and the industry in the 20th century. The first dolls were made in Europe, but later Canadian manufacturers began to make her. From 1906-1913 the dolls were manufactured by Cuno and Otto Dressel. But with the start of World War I in 1914, trade with Germany was no longer possible.
The 1915-1916 dolls were made by Dominion Toy Company of Canada. In the 1920s and '30s, the dolls were made by Armand Marseille and, again, the Dressels.
With the coming of World War II, production was taken over by the Reliable Toy Company of Toronto. Reliable was the largest toy manufacturer in the British Empire and had become famous for its Shirley Temple doll during the Great Depression.
The Reliable Toy Company manufactured the Eatonís Beauty doll during the war years. There was some discussion in the early Ď50s of reproducing and continuing with the Reliable doll, but the molds for all the dolls were stolen in a break-in and were never found.
1927 Eaton Beauty Armand Marseille 390 doll (22") has a bisque head and ball-jointed body and wars her original cotton chemise and ribbon
Changes Through the Years
Through the years there have been many changes in the Eaton's Beauty dolls. In the early years, many different sizes were sold from 18" and larger. In 1909-1910 the dolls measured 19 1/2", 21", 25" and 26". In 1928-1929, three sizes were offered - 22", 25" and 27". Prices were $1.5, $3.50 and $5.
For the 1964 Christmas season, three fully dressed dolls were available. One wearing a dotted dress with puff sleeves and a two-tiered slip sold for $9.98. She also wore a pearl necklace and bracelet. The others sold for $6.98 and $4.98.
In 1965 Eaton's offered four dolls. The first stood 21" tall and wore a white taffeta dress with a red velveteen bodice. She was priced at $4.98.
A second Beauty with a posable body stood 18" tall; her price was $5.98.
A third Beauty, called Little Sister, was 14" tall and sold for $3.98.
The fourth 1965 doll was $4.98, but had available three outfits. For $7.98, one could place the doll as well as an embroidered dress, a coat with hat and muff, and a taffeta dress under the Christmas tree.
1962 Eaton Beauty by Regal Toy Co. of Canada (21") vinyl head and plastic body, original dress and replacement ribbon
Eatonís produced Beauty dolls in the 90s. In 1995, one was available in the fall; in 1996 and 1997, there was a doll available in both the spring and the fall.
Books on Eatonís Beauty Dolls
Dolls of Canada - A Reference Guide by Evelyn Strahlendorf, Book Lore Publications, 1986, Ottawa, Ontario Comprehensive history of Canadian dolls.
The Charlton Price Guide to Canadian Dolls. Evelyn Strahlendorf, Charlton Publishing, Toronto, Ontario.
Those Enchanting Eatonís Beauty Dolls, Judy Tomlinson, 1981. Published by the author.
Information about the Eatonís Beauty dolls is an ongoing research area. There were many different ones produced. New information comes to light every so often.
Jim Trautman is a freelance writer for magazines and television. He is presently working on several projects. Jim can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org