Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Hair Happenin's Francie Doll

I see a lot of vintage vinyl doll cases when I'm antiquing, and, while I've come across a few genuine Barbie ones, most are knock-offs or "generic" versions. It's always worth checking such cases out, however, for I've found they often have treasures within. This particular case, made by a company called Miner Industries, features just such a generic fashion type doll on the cover illustration.

The dealer had it priced absurdly low, I'm guessing because he thought the dolls inside were equally generic. They were not. While the clothes were nothing special, the doll on the right is a Tressy, made in 1965 by American Character. She's notable as one of the earliest "growing hair" dolls: a special button on her stomach and a keyhole on her back enabled her young owner to extend or retract a special "growing" strand of hair, that could then be styled in all sorts of ways by using included accessories.

(Don't the dolls look like they're gossiping and passing secrets to each other through the partition? What else could they do to pass the time, being packed away as they were for 30 years?)

 While not a Barbie, Tressy is still an interesting and attractive vintage fashion doll:

The other doll was a Barbie, or rather a Francie, Barbie's Mod cousin from England. This particular version is from 1970, and was called Hair Happenin's Francie. Francies tend to be much scarcer than Barbies of the same vintage, so she was quite a find.

Francie has a completely different face sculpt from Barbie, with softer, younger features and big brown doe-like eyes. This model sported a sleek blond bob, and originally came with several hair pieces to change up her style. Clearly, this case belonged to a child who loved doing hair. Perhaps she (or he?) grew up to become a stylist...

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