I have found very little information about the unexciting doll kits bearing Tasha's signature and a related date. They were authorized by her though not designed by her. Dates on the backs of the dolls range at least from 1973 to 1982. The dolls are not particularly attractive but they are of interest because of their association with the beloved artist. I have seen a picture of one with an impressed date and name and the year 1985. It may not be connected to the earlier run of them.
Here are a few of the doll heads:
See how carefully Meg is signed in 1973. Later dolls seem to be done in a much heavier hand and perhaps not by Tasha herself at all.
1974 Emma has the more refined lettering.The dolls are readily found on ebay by searching Dolls, Tudor. They were made with red hair, blond hair, and black. Names for them include Meg, Trudy, Sally, Beth, Mollie and more. Kits included patterns, muslin, ceramic arms and legs and a shoulder head. Although they are not charming to me, I have two of them just because I am interested in Tasha and also am a doll and toy collector. Let us set these dolls aside from our consideration here.
Tasha is known to have made a few dolls with her own hands as we have seen in her books. The most prominent of them is Emma Birdwhistle. I believe Emma resembles Tasha herself with the almond eyes, long nose lovely cheekbones and high arched brows. The Tasha Tudor museum dates Emma Birdwhistle as circa 1985 – 1986. Other creations include Thadeus Crane, and Captain Shakespeare made earlier and well documented.
Over a long life of producing things to sell, Tasha participated in a number of business ventures. Mugs, aprons, cookie cutters and more were made and or designed by her. In the 1980’s flyers came to me in the mail from one of the family enterprises offering the latest cards, prints and assorted other Tasha items to order by mail. A few of these I saved as part of my Tasha memorabilia. Sadly they were lost in our house fire. I have asked a few friends and only one of them even remembers these mailings. At one time there was an offer of a very expensive special order doll made by Tasha. Some few of these may have been ordered.
NOTE: I stand corrected here, a very knowledgeable and highly regarded friend has pointed out to me that the doll offered was said to have Tasha's own hand involved only in painting the faces. The flyer states that Tasha has created the doll, but this means apparently that she has designed it.
At the time of Tasha’s passing, much biographical information was published on the internet, and I printed some of it for my scrapbooks about Tasha. In re reading one of these, “Tudor. A New England Illustrator” Wm. John Hare states “The Franklin Mint commissioned Tudor to design Meg, Jo, Amy and Beth in porcelain to commemorate The Little Women (1982)." The Franklin Mint issued four figurines bearing Tasha’s name and advertised as designed by her. These four figurines were issued in 1982-84. Thus it is established that Tasha had a contractual agreement with Franklin Mint and worked with them on at least this one project. We know Tasha loved Alcott’s “Little Women” and had illustrated an issue of it years before.
What would be more natural than for Tasha to design next four dolls representing the little women? Franklin Mint issued four dolls not figurines in 1984 -1986 of the “Little Women” girls. They do not bear Tasha’s name but the overwhelming majority of the mint’s dolls do not acknowledge a designer. The advertisement I have seen for one of them does not say who designed them. I own examples of all four and so can picture them here for you, but I would need permission to use pictures of Emma Birdwhistle, made 1985-1986 by the family estimate. So for those of you who can, please turn to page 62 of the book “Tasha Tudor’s Dollhouse” and look at Emma Birdwhistle for yourself. She is first of all a similar size to the Four Franklin Mint Little Women. Her high arched eyebrows and long nose and shape of her face with the lovely cheekbones are so like the four Franklin dolls which exactly bracket the date of Emma’s creation. A few pages later is a good profile image of Emma seated at a table. The most telling features to me are the almond shaped eyes of Emma and the four little women, eyes unlike other doll’s produced that year by the mint.. Looking at them as a group, the Franklin Mint ceramicists could surely have modeled from Tasha’s doll.
Remembering Tasha’s strong interest in period clothing, the costumes for three of the dolls might have been acceptable to her while the almost gaudy bridal dress on Amy is painful to see. But bringing to mind the frothy bridal dress of Melissa for the doll's wedding covered by Life Magazine no less in 1955, the dress is not without some credibility.
So I look at the four sisters from the Franklin Mint and wonder.
I wrote to my friend Helen, "Emma of course looks like Tasha herself, looking at the lifetime of pictures in "Drawn from New England". I wonder if others think this?" Helen replied "I have heard forever that every doll maker reproduces her own face. Looking at some of mine I sort of hope that isn't true." Helen said also " Tasha was meticulous in her art (and in her life) and she loved what she loved, one of which was Little Women."
The proof lies somewhere in records of the Mint itself, if these still exist and can be accessed. So that is my rabbit trail. Bunnies anywhere?
Go look at Emma Birdwhistle if you have the book . Please do read the very interesting comments below. e
Keep the comments coming, here is a scan of the flyer sent to us by Jane, see her comments below. Thank you Jane! I do not see the size of the doll but she seems small in her lovely presentation band box. Daisy is priced at $1900.
If I wanted to enjoy a similar doll I would be very happy to redress Franklin Mint's Jo above shown in Red Velvet. The hair can stand more than a little taming. Jo is readily and inexpensively found on ebay and etsy. I think she would like to have a corgi don't you? e Click any picture to see it larger.
Look at the face of Miss Daisy Belle! Surely they are family!