1997 32¢ American Child
Classic American Dolls
Issue Date: July 28, 1997
City: Anaheim, CA
Printed By: Sterling Sommer for Ashton-Potter (USA) Ltd
Printing Method: Lithographed
Perforations: 10.9 x 11.1
Created by Dewees Cochran, the American Child dolls were, and still are, subtly distinctive from other dolls. A painter and sculptor, Ella Dewees Cochran began crafting dolls after the 1929 stock market crash – a time when people were investing in neither paintings nor sculpture. Her first dolls, dubbed “Topsy” and “Turvey,” were long-legged black cloth characters which she sold to Saks Fifth Avenue and F.A.O. Schwarz for Christmas. Given the advice that “whimsy was out and realism was in,” she developed her portrait dolls.
Designed to be played with, as well as treasured by collectors, her dolls were immediately popular. In 1936 Cochran signed a contract with Effanbee to make the American Children series, based on six basic types of faces in American children. The dolls were made of a wood pulp and glue called “composition.” She also introduced her own Look-Alike line of dolls (made of a latex material) – designed to look like their owners.
The dolls brought Cochran fame. Her innovative methods caused her to be recognized in national newspapers and magazines, as well as on radio programs. In 1939 she appeared on the cover of Life magazine. Experimenting with and refining her techniques, she continued creating her dolls until 1980.