Robert Tonner DollsThe History of Patsy®
One of Effanbee's great success stories was the Patsy® doll designed by Bernard Lipfert and advertised in 1928. She almost was not named "Patsy®". The identical ads advertised her as "Mimi" late in 1927 and then as "Patsy®" in 1928 "Playthings" magazines. Patsy® was one of the first dolls to have a manufactured wardrobe just for her but other manufacturers sold not only accessories but clothing as well. Patsy® was made of all composition and her patent was hotly defended by Effanbee® and what was actually patented was a neck joint that allowed the doll to pose and stand-alone. She portrayed a three year old girl with short bobbed red hair with a molded headband, painted side glancing eyes, pouty mouth, bent right arm and wore simple classic dresses closed with a safety pin. She had a golden heart charm bracelet that fit tightly on her wrist and a gold paper heart tag with her name. Patsy® was so popular she soon had several sisters in sizes from 5 ¾ inches to 29 inches, many factory variations and even a boyfriend, Skippy.
Effanbee® promoted Patsy® sales with a newspaper "The Patsytown News" that went to reported quarter million children. Effanbee® also had an " Aunt Patsy" that toured the country promoting their dolls. In addition they formed a Patsy® Doll Club and gave free metal pinback membership buttons to children who wrote in or bought a Patsy® doll. Effanbee® tied their doll line to popular current events such as producing George and Martha Washington for the bicentennial of George's birth. They costumed a group of dolls like the White Horse Inn Operetta that toured the U.S. During the war years; they fashioned military uniforms for the Skippy dolls and also costumed dolls in ethnic dress (Dutch) or after characters in books like "Alice In Wonderland".
The death of Hugo Baum in 1940 and the loss of income during the war years' brought the Effanbee® success story into a decline. In 1946, Effanbee® was sold to Noma Electric and they reissued a 1946 Patsy and later a new 17-inch Patsy Joan. Since that time the company changed hands several more times, at one time with Stanley Wahlberg as president and Irene Wahlberg as designer.
Limited editions of Patsy Ann™ and Skippy were issued during the 1970s, and Patsy® reappeared in vinyl in the 1980s. Effanbee reissued Patsy Joan in 1995, and continued with a new group of Patsy®, Skippy, and Wee Patsy™ dolls in vinyl painted to look like the old composition ones. In 2002, the Robert Tonner Doll Company acquired Effanbee® from bankruptcy. Tonner, a talented designer had already made a name for himself with his creations of Betsy McCall and fashion dolls like Tyler, Esme and Sydney. It is expected his creativity will enhance Effanbee's entire line.--Patsy Moyer, Author of "Patsy and Friends."