Vintage Bleuettes

A WWI SFBJ Bride Doll

One of the joys of this website is the people I meet through the "Contact Me" feature.  I often receive requests for help in identifying or dating dolls, and questions about Bleuette and other SFBJ dolls.  Sometimes I am able to confirm the identity of a genuine Bleuette--hooray!   Some of the nicest correspondences are those where I can help with information about a treasured family doll.  None has given me more satisfaction than helping Nola O. in Christchurch, NZ, find an authentic head for her grandmother's bride doll, a vintage SFBJ 60 mold, size 6.  The family had the complete doll, but her head was shattered beyond repair.  The story has a wonderfully happy ending, and the restored doll is now safe and admired in the New Zealand south island town of Murchison, in the Murchison Museum.  You can read the story and see the bride below.

 

Allie - The White Family Bride Doll

At the end of 1917, Mr Colin Campbell of Nelson presented the Nelson Red Cross Branch with two dolls to be raffled to raise money for the WWI war effort. First prize was one doll dressed as a bride which had a full trousseau consisting of a wedding dress, going away dress, motoring coat, evening dress, morning dress, afternoon dress, blouse and skirt, sports coat, hats to match, shoes and stockings, boudoir caps and two sets of underclothing, and a suitcase to hold the clothes. A chemise was all that remained of the clothes. Second prize was the other doll dressed as a bridesmaid. Miss Ethel Mackay made all the beautiful garments and Louissons Ltd made the hats and displayed the dolls in the window of their shop in Trafalgar Street, Nelson.

The raffle was drawn at the Empire Theatre in Nelson on 23 January 1918. First prize, being the bride doll, was won by Mrs Percy Bond and the second prize, being the bridesmaid doll, was won by the Murchison Red Cross. No information has been found on the whereabouts of the bridesmaid doll. Mrs Bond re-donated the bride doll to the Red Cross to be raffled again and this raised a few shillings over £50 and was drawn on 3 May 1918 and won by Mrs Ernest White (Alicia) of Fern Flat, Murchison. About 4,400 raffle tickets were sold at sixpence each and the sum raised for the Red Cross from both raffles was about £110 which would be approximately $12,349 at today’s value (third quarter of 2014).

The doll is of Parisienne manufacture and has the mark S.F.B.J. 60 Paris 6 on the back of the neck. Société Française de Fabrication de Bébés et Jouets (S.F.B.J.) was the largest doll and toymaker in France and operated from 1899 until 1957. The numbers mean it is a 60 mould and a size 6 doll, being one of the larger sized dolls. The doll head is of bisque, the body and legs are composition, the arms are jointed wood and she stands 57cm (22½ inches) high. As the original head was broken a replacement authentic head was sourced.  The doll would be about 100 years old.