Raggedy Ann: The Legend
There are several legends about the first Raggedy Ann doll, but the one account that is probably the closest to the truth had Johnny Gruelle, as an adult, rummaging around the attic and finding a doll his mother made for his sister years earlier. It's been said he thought the doll would be eventually be good for a story.
The real origin is not actually known, but it doesn't really matter. What does matter is the doll did exist and is still around today.Raggedy Ann: The Books
The first book, "Raggedy Ann's Stories", was published by Volland in 1918. But Johnny Gruelle actually filed the patent application several years earlier, in May of 1915. The next month (June 1915) Gruelle filed a trademark application for the logo "Raggedy Ann". His intentions were commercial from the beginning. These filings were done several months before his daughter Marcella became ill and died from complications of a vaccination.
Her death devastated the family and, according to Gruelle, the Raggedy Ann Stories were the ones he used to tell his daughter. And his books and illustrations have been a wonderful tribute to Marcella, keeping her memory alive for over 85 years.
Gruelle was a talented artist, both before and after the debut of Raggedy Ann. But of all his work, these dolls and stories have withstood the sands of time, have survived intact, and are still a very popular licensed item.
Raggedy Ann: The Dolls
The first dolls were most likely made by Gruelle and his family, as dolls were necessary to prove his need for a trademark. When Gruelle gave Volland exclusive rights to the doll, the company ordered dolls from a midwestern manufacturer. Several years later Raggedy Andy appeared and Gruelle kept a tighter rein on Andy. He wanted more control over the production and quality of the dolls, they were manufactured by another company, but still sold under the Volland company name.
Unauthorized Molly-'Es Raggedy Ann and Andys appeared in the 1930's, which caused a costly and lengthy trademark battle, eventually won by Gruelle. At this time Exposition Dolls had the license to produce Raggedy Ann and Andy, but because of the legal battles, the company had few doll sales.
After Gruelle passed away in 1938 his wife came to an agreement with Georgene Novelties to produce the dolls. Georgene Novelties had the licensing rights until 1962, at which time the license was then granted to Knickerbocker Toy Company, continuing until 1982.
The licensing went to Applause and Hasbro in the early eighties, but here's where it gets confusing. According to The Raggedy Ann & Andy Family Album by Susan Ann Garrison: "The Applause Toy Company began as a division of Knickerbocker Toy Co.in 1979. Knickerbocker was a subsidiary of Warner Communications and sold their toy line through Toys 'R Us stores. Applause, on the other hand, was a gift line marketed through Hallmark. Applause merged with Wallace Barrie in the early 1980s and presently does its licensing through Hasbro Company."Newer dolls in my collection have been marked and tagged in a variety of ways, including:
- Dakin Signature Collection, a division of Applause
- Playskool - Subsidiary of Hasbro
- Applause, Licensed by Hasbro
In 1999 the goal of many collectors came true when the Raggedy Ann & Andy Museum opened in Arcola, Illinois -- the birthplace of Johnny Gruelle. Arcola is also the home of the annual (since 1989) Raggedy Ann & Andy Festival, visit the small town during the months of May or June and you'll be seeing lots of red!
Raggedy Ann: More Collectibles
Raggedy Ann collectibles come in many forms. She has adorned just about anything made of fabric from dish towels to curtains. There are telephones, radios, toy cars, toy boxes, dishes, cookie jars, books, toy cars and, of course, many dolls. Recent favorites include the Holiday dolls - Halloween, Christmas, Valentine's Day, Spring/Easter and Patriotic attire for Raggedy Ann and sometimes Andy.
Ready to Start Collecting?
If you are a beginning collector, check out some of the newer collectibles out. Adler, Applause, Enesco, Polonaise, Simon and Schuster have all been licensed to produce dolls, books and other products. Walmart has sold a line of Raggedy Ann Nursery items and several years ago, the U.S. Post Office honored Raggedy Ann with several collectibles -- a doll, afghan, and ornament. Many of the newer items are easily found at online auctions and web sites.