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Kewpie Doll Study


Kewpie....a chubby little cherub with a sweet smile,..

three tufts of hair..tiny wings,

...and starfish hands was the creation of artist and illustrator Rose O'Neill.

The Kewpie has become the most recognized and copied doll the world over. Kewpies can be found in any medium made.

From 1913, Kewpie dolls were manufactured by J.D. Kestner and other German firms. They made bisque Kewpies that often had imperfections in the making.

The dolls were sometimes signed on the foot-"O'Neill". They also had a red and gold paper heart or shield on the chest and a round label on the back.

The all bisque Kewpies were made in many sizes. From 2" up to 12". The standing Kewpies had stationary legs standing together and sometimes had jointed arms. Kestner Kewpies were made with blue wings, painted features and side glancing eyes. They were made in many positions, standing, sitting and huggers. Kewpies were also made doing various things, these are called Action Kewpies.

Kewpies were made in so many forms. They were soldiers, mayor, governor, firemen and so many other characters it would take forever to list. There is even a "Kewpie Mountain" made up of 17 Kewpies.

Kestner also made Kewpie with a bisque head with glass eyes and composition toddler body. Also Kestner made a bisque head with cloth body Kewpie.

Celluloid Kewpies were made by Karl Standfuss, Saxony Germany. They were made from 2 1/2" up to the rare 22" size. The name most identified with Kewpie is Cameo. Kewpies were Cameo's hallmark of fame.

This is the back of the 22" celluloid showing the wings.

Cameo was founded in 1922 by Joseph L. Kallus. Cameo made Kewpies in composition, hard plastic and vinyl. They were made in many sizes and poses.

Cameo also interchanged the vinyl Kewpie head with the Miss Peep body. This is one of those dolls, notice the hinge joints generally have an "S71" along w/the rest of the mold # and name information on the neck of the doll. In 1972 the Cameo Doll Co. was sold to the Strombecker Corp. Kewpies were reproduced in the original molds by Strombecker.

Mr. Joseph L. Kallus, the original owner of Cameo, retained some of the company's molds, and reissued them under Cameo Exclusive Products. Some were issued in limited editions. All Cameo Kewpies are marked. All cloth Kewpies were made by Richard G. Krueger, Inc. or King Innovations, Inc. New York. They were made in 10"-12 "-18"-and 22".

Many Japanese firms have made and still make Kewpie-type dolls. And many Carnival dolls imitate the darling Kewpies.

In the 1980's Jesco, which took over the Cameo company, began making Kewpies in all vinyl.

The pictures and some information for this study are from the following:

Patricia Smith's Modern Collectors Dolls, 7th Series
Jan Foulke's Blue Book, 24th Addition.