Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Raggedy Ann


Yeah! My first week! I managed to talk for seven days,so today is devoted to something close to my heart.
It was inevitable I do a post on the most recognizable doll ever, Raggedy Ann. She exudes kindness, generosity, cooperation, friendship and love. Whether Ann is letting birds grow in her hair or doing a good deed, she is the most beloved doll.
Few people realize the true story behind Raggedy Ann. She became who she is almost by mishap, another doll born out of need. It is not about Raggedy Ann, it's about her little girl companion, Marcella.
Marcella was the real life daughter of the inventor of Ann, Johnny Barton Gruelle , born Christmas Eve 1880 and died at a early age of 58 on January 8, 1938. Mr Gruelle was an accomplished artist. Early on in his career, he was a cartoonist for magazines and newspapers, he is the developer of Mr. Twee Deedle working very hard to get the character published. Sound familiar? Once Mr. T.D. was accepted and published routinely in the newspapers, Johnny Gruelle assumed the ambitious project of illustrating volumes of the Grimm Fairytales and holds the honor of the first volume published. His illustrations are romantic almost dreamlike capturing the smallest detail on every troll and borrowing from his father's ability of using golds and violets for the main palette.The elder Gruelle, Richard Buckner, was a successful portrait and landscape painter. The family was, and still is, close.
As I reach this point in the post I find the Internet, although offering a lot of information on Ann and her family, describes everything else in very brief phrases. Ten years ago NO information was to be had on Johnny Gruelle, he was a very private person preferring to speak with children and relating to them remarkably well.... I have a collectors book from the 1980 in which a page is devoted to the company of Raggedy Ann.... Johnny Gruelle. It describes that at the age of two, Marcella, Johnny 's daughter and main character of the Raggedy Ann Stories, became ill with a terminal sickness. Johnny Gruelle lost everything to fight the decease the was ravishing Marcellas tiny body.
Upon a visit to Marcellas grandmother, Johnny found a dusty stuffed doll in the attic, she was without a face or hair. Mr Guelle drew the button black eyes, triangular nose and separated mouth, his mother made the clothes. Raggedy Ann having red yarn hair was all Johnny could find for materials.
The collectors book explains that until then Marcella was giving up, she wasn't allowed outside because she would become dirty and her illness would worsen, Ann wore a apron and adventured outside in every story. Johnny Gruelle sat at Marcella bedside every night and recited stories of Ann to his daughter, soon Marcella regained the sparkle in her eyes and the zest for life. Marcella died at the age of 13 or 14 in the year of 1915. It devastated the family, she lost her battle with an infection from the small pox vaccine.

What became of sorrow and grief was a patent for Ann, number 47789, awarded later that year on September 7, 1915. The family produced enough handmade dolls in the following weeks, the trademark logo Raggedy Ann was granted. It excelled Ann to a commercial entity. Johnny Gruelle continued with his illustrations but also began documenting stories of Ann, adding Andy, uncle Clem, Fido, beloved Belinda and more. The series of books were picked up and published by PF Volland Co. After Johnny Gruelle died in 1938 his brother Justin and his son, Worth carried on his legacy. In 1938 Myrtle Gruelle, the widow of Johnny, authorized the selling of Ann w to Georgene Averill who changed Ann making her with orange hair, 15'' version, and googly eyes. She was a predominant doll maker that was in business for over twenty five years. Georgine sold Ann to Knickerbocker who placed a V space in the eyes of the dolls. Raggedy Ann is 85 years old.
To date, Raggedy Ann remains the doll that will never be out of fashion. Children love and admire the sweet red haired hope with the candy heart.

Free unpublished e-books by Johnny Gruelle can be downloaded from Project Gutenbury at http://www.gutenberg.org/etext/18190. Hope it works.
My first endearing couple. C&G Design.

15 comments:

tina said...

You are very knowledgeable with all of this! Thanks for teaching me. I never really did like Raggedy Ann as a doll, more a Barbie girl, but she is defintitely an icon. Madam is cute.

Dawn said...

I enjoy halloween with the kids, babe is getting too big though. Maybe I'll post on norma jean, and elvis sometime.
I'm not really a Barbie but I am getting her and the family. Did you know American girl is by the same company? Mr. Pleasant did it for only 7 years. Going to town today.

Skeeter said...

I no longer have my original Raggedy Ann & Andy dolls but do have an Ann and Andy set that were given to me in my teen years. They were hand made and not store bought though...

I never had a Barbee Doll but Francie instead, A little Indian Doll I got when in Smokey Mountains when a child and a beautiful 19”Bride Doll that I begged my grandmother for! I still have them all and don’t know what to do with them since I never had any children to pass them along to…

Skeeter said...

Just thought of this after going back to the other doll posting...

Somehow, I ended up with one of my brothers GI Joe doll... I gave it back to him back in 1994 before we left for Germany. He and I both cried when I gave it to him. He thought it was long gone....

Jean said...

Great post Dawn and I agree with Tina that Madam is really a cutie.
You sure should do the Norma Jean and Elvis as they sure did look good then also.

Great story about the GIJoe Skeeter.

Dawn said...

Hi Guys,
Skeeter, I gasped when I read you have a Francine, she is my fave and was going to mention that to Tina. Barbie is nice but too many to keep. I'd like one with the bubblecut. I first found Francine on a shelf at a thrift. I didn't know who she was but something about her made me want her. Since then I have another. I'll do a post, she has good valve. GI Joe too. He has a lenghtly history. Hang onto your ann and andy they too are in many books even homemade.
I picked up a porceline andy musicbox today for 5$. Oh I was so excited.

tina said...

Never heard of Francine.

Jean said...

Me either Tina but I would know, if it has to do with dolls, Dawn would.

DP Nguyen said...

Ugh, this was such a sad post and a really moving story. Thank you for researching and educating us all about the history of this amazing doll. I've always had a soft spot for raggedy ann dolls.

Dawn said...

Tina, Barbie has a LARGE family and I did not know that either, remember the suntan barbie we got one Christmas? Alan, todd, skipper, and tutti to name a few. Francine is Barbie's cousin. She is a mod (squad) type.
Yep, like to find the history of dolls mom, I find so interesting.
DP, I was very touched when I read my book, Ann and Andy stories are always so full of hope, that's why. What an unbelivable legacy to have for your loved one.

tina said...

I like Mod Squad so maybe it is coming back to me. I forget more than I remember nowadays.

Skeeter said...

My Francie is the one with Growing Hair! I still have the instruction booklet that shows different hair styles for her! My grandmother gave her to me for Christmas and I have a picture of me holding her that day!

Jean said...

How awesome to have that and a pic from that special day Skeeter!!! Very neat indeed.

Dawn said...

That's the second one! Not sure if I have the right outfit as I've seen her (books) in two different dresses. A rare find, and in your case original owner.

Clara Di Vincenzo said...

Hi I was looking at this beautiful Raggedy Ann doll.
I painted a mural which appears Raggedy Ann.
Spectacular.