Pretty Bessie



While lounging on my sofa perusing my doll magazines a few weeks ago, I came across something that made me sit up and take notice!

Her name is Pretty Bessie, and she certainly lives up to her name! Look at this darling face.

Pretty Bessie is a very rare and seldom seen. She dates in the 1920s.

She was created by Joseph L. Kallus. Of course, when we hear that name, we think of Cameo, Rose O'Neill and Kewpie!

But Mr. Kallus was responsible for producing many other dolls. Pretty Bessie was one of his lesser known creations.

Pretty Bessie stands 17 1/2" tall. She is all composition except for her wooden neck plug. Her body and limbs are molded as one piece with her arms molded next to her sides.

   She wears a molded-on sculpted short dress with a separate beige organdy lace trimmed collar that ties with pink ribbons.

There are three rows of white ruffles on the molded-on dress and one white ruffle on each sleeve at the wrist. There are two ruffles higher up on the arms which are painted blue like the rest of the sleeve. The dress is painted light blue.

Her shoes are molded on black Mary Janes, but the strap moldings are painted blue as part of her socks.

The body resembles the clothing used on the Swing-n-Sway dolls. The whole body has a shiny finish and the knees are highly blushed. Only the head moves. It's attached with a wooden neck plug and metal hooks. The plug is similar to Mr. Kallus' Margie dolls.

The head has a matte finish to the paint. The head resembles F&B Patsy or R&B Nancy with molded hair painted blond with a side part. Her eyes are side glancing to the left and painted blue. There are 12 lashes painted on each eye, and the eyebrows are one stroke painted in the same color blond as her hair. Her mouth is molded with an open/closed detailed smile and the entire mouth is painted a pinkish orange color. The same color is used for dots in the corner of the eyes and in the nostril holes. Her cheeks are beautifully blushed.

Pretty Bessie wears a decal label on her dress that says "Pretty Bessie//Des. & Copyright//By Jos. L. Kallus". If not for this label, she would be unmarked. From the labels on dolls designed and copyrighted by Mr. Kallus, it appears that he used "Jos. L. Kallus" on dolls before 1925 and "Joseph Kallus" on dolls around 1929. If this is the case, then Pretty Bessie was created sometime between 1925 and 1929. Thus, she would have come before Margie or Patsy appeared!

It doesn't seem that Pretty Bessie was produced in large quantities. Many collectors are not familiar with her, and as far as the author of the article in the Doll Reader magazine could find, she is not shown in any book, and mentioned only once with the comment that "Pretty Bessie came in a 9" and 14" size also, and was available with dresses in pink, white and blue". It is not known why Pretty Bessie was not mass produced or highly advertised.

This concludes my Mini-Study. I found information and pictures of this great doll in the 1994 Doll Reader Magazine, Publisher: Cumberland Publishing Inc., Author of piece: Susan Girardot.