How do I Clean or
Restore My Raggedy Ann Dolls?
CAN BE FRAIL. IF YOU TRY THIS, YOU DO SO AT YOUR OWN RISK!
First, I do not recommend
the cleaning of the older (pre-1960) cloth dolls. The main reason is the
fabric tends to be weaker than the washable fabrics of today. Many cleaning
solutions may have chemicals in it that will speed up any normal decaying of
the fabric. Or, if you rub too hard you can actually rip the fabric. It is
best to leave these old things as they are or, hire a professional. If you
are not sure, it is best to leave it alone. Remember, these older dolls have
probably seen some many a rough and tumble day, some long and miserable
nights and, many, if they could talk....just think of the stories they could
tell of the places they have been and the things they have been a witness
to. So, I would rather imagine that stain on Ann's arm was from the time she
helped make cookies with Marcella. Or, that tear stain on Andy's face was
put there when some child lost their dog.
Now, with respect to newer dolls (post 1960's). Some tags on the dolls will
indicate that you can "wash in a washing machine". Some people say, "put it
inside a pillow case". Do yourself a favor and don't do it! I have seen
where this does not work very well due to the yarn hair coming loose and,
non-color fast fabric bleeding over onto other clothing.
Other tags indicate
"surface cleaning only". I have had generally good success spot cleaning the
faces (but, not including the eyes, nose and mouth area and painted areas) and hands. The
eyes, nose and mouth areas tend to smear the paint if the cleaner is too
harsh. I have used a good quality "spray foam" carpet cleaner and a white
Terri cloth towel. Apply a small amount of foam on the towel then, lightly
rub the affected area. Move to a cleaner part of the towel and repeat as
necessary. Several applications (generally not more than 2-3) may be
necessary to remove most of the soil. THIS NEXT PART IS IMPORTANT.....After
each application, you must slowly dry the cleaned area with a blow dryer on
low heat. If you do not, you run the risk of it drying naturally and leaving
a water stain. While this has worked ok in most instances, a lot of stains
just will not come completely out. You must watch carefully to not rub too
hard in this process or you can "fray" the cloth material and weaken it at
the spot. Sometimes, you clean the one bad spot on the face and then realize
you now must clean the whole face because you got the one spot so clean it
now looks funny.
Cleaning the Clothing:
I recommend COLD WATER WASH ONLY! Soak them in a pan in the sink and add a
tablespoon of ERA detergent. Swish them around to get them good and wet and
sudsy. Let them soak for about 1/2 hour, swish them around in the soapy
water for a few minutes more to loosen the dirt, then rinse real good IN
COLD WATER. Then, hang dry. Do not squeeze or ring out the water, just
flatten the fabric and hang dry. A light ironing with a warm iron afterwards
will take out the wrinkles and the fabric won't be so limp.
Warning: I have found that washing in warm or hot water may shrink, fade or
otherwise ruin the garment. Some of the older colored fabrics may not be
colorfast and actually bleed over onto other clothing. Also, the elastic
around the hands and pantaloons may stretch so, there is not much choice
except to replace it or leave it alone.
Restoring old Raggedy Ann (pre 1960's:
This is going to depend
on how old the doll is. The older dolls were made back when there was not
much attention paid to durability of fabrics. I'm talking about Raggedy's
made from the 1920's up through the late 1940's. The fabrics can be brittle
and tear very easy unless treated by a professional. So, if you have one of
the older Raggedy Ann dolls, you just might want to leave it alone or, find
a local professional to do the restoring.
The newer versions say, 1960's Knickerbocker
Toy Co. made dolls, can sometimes be restored and look very good. My advice
is to find a local seamstress to do the work. They have the proper tools and
knowledge to restore loose hair or, make a new apron, pantaloons or dress.
Good luck......and be careful!
Raggedy Ann has a long
history. The first dolls were made by the Gruelle family prior to 1918 to go
along with the Raggedy Ann & Andy Story books being sold by the P. F.
Volland Co. The commercial made dolls started production sometime between
1918-1920. Click here to see the
For a more detailed
history and just really great reading (lots of pictures, too), I strongly
suggest obtaining the following books:
- The first book on Raggedy Ann and, the
book that got a lot of us collecting was The Raggedy Ann and Andy
Family Album (144+ pages) by Susan Ann Garrison. Susan, a school
teacher, started collecting Raggedy Ann back before collecting was popular
and so, she already had many of the examples of dolls in her book. Through
interviews with Worth Gruelle and Kim Gruelle (Son and grandson
respectively, of Johnny Gruelle) and other family members she designed a
color pictorial history of over 500 Raggedy Ann dolls and included
information on the companies that made them, the accessories, coloring and
story books, games, puzzles and more. The book is in its third printing
and comes with a price guide. You can order the book through most book
stores or, from The Raggedy's & Teddy's Co. - email
- Wonderful Raggedy Anns by Joyce Gerardi Rinehart has pictures of a
lot of different Raggedy Ann's and miscellaneous items (candles, clocks,
lights, books, toys, figurines, etc.). Written in 1997 it has over 190
pages and I believe over 700 color pictures. Copies and be purchased from
you local book dealer or Schiffer Publishing Co., Atglen, PA (610) 593 -
- The Collector's World Of Raggedy
Ann And Andy, Volume One by Andrew
Tabbat. Andrew has been collecting since the 1970's and has one of the
most complete doll collections I am aware of. His book This book gives a
lot of the early history of Raggedy Ann and other Johnny Gruelle
characters and present a very good visual idea of the different doll faces
from the early 1900's - 1950's.(125+ pages). It can be ordered from Theriault's Gold Horse Publishing (800) 966 - 3655.
- The Collector's World Of Raggedy
Ann And Andy, Volume Two by Andrew Tabbat. This volume describes the
Raggedy Ann dolls and other Johnny Gruelle characters from about the
1950's up through the 1990's. The pictures present a wonderful array of
all the many different Raggedy Ann items out there. (125+ pages). It can
be ordered from Theriault's Gold Horse Publishing (800) 966 - 3655.
- For a great book on the life and times
of the creator of Raggedy Ann you will want Johnny Gruelle Creator of
Raggedy Ann and Andy by Patricia Hall. Who was Johnny Gruelle? When
and where was he born? How did he come to create Raggedy Ann? (220+
pages). You can order it from your local book store or from The Raggedy's
& Teddy's Co. -email
- How many books did Johnny Gruelle
write? When were they published? What are they worth? Check out Raggedy
Ann and Johnny Gruelle, A Bibliography of Published Works by Patricia
Hall. (190+ pages). Pelican Publishing Co.
There are other books,
some good, some not so good. But you need to start somewhere if you are
trying to find out about Raggedy Ann.....and these books will be a good
place to start. Good Luck!
What is the value of my Raggedy Ann?
An exact date of when your doll might have
been made is near impossible due to the
generally poor record keeping by most doll companies. But, through the years
some production records have been recreated from the memories of former
employees, company invoices and other information available to the authors
and, in some of the books noted herein you may be able to determine
The best source at present to check on valuations is eBay and
other auction web sites. Remember, value is determined by the market.
The market is made up of people who are willing to buy from those willing to
sell. A seller can set a price for their item but, if no one is willing to
buy it at that price then....the market is saying it is not worth what the
seller is asking. Prices rise and prices fall, so does the market. The
value today might not be the value tomorrow. Pay particular
attention to the differences between the doll that sold and your doll.
Condition, completeness, are also indicators of value.
Price Guides: I would like to add a word of caution about the "price guides"
you may find in some of the books mentioned here. Price guides are just
that! A guide or indicator of value and, certainly not an "appraisal" of a
doll or item that you may have. Price guides are current only as of the date
they were originated and could really be "out of date" due to lag times of
the publisher and when the book was actually published. Value is determined
by several things: condition, completeness, design and rarity, not to go
without mentioning "location". I have seen similar condition dolls sell for
higher prices in foreign countries compared to what it sold for in the U.S.
Also, a doll may sell for more in California, than Florida. So, besides
condition and other factors, location can have an effect on value. Again,
let any price guide be just an indicator of value and go from there.
If you need or require a valuation for insurance purposes, check with some
local antiques appraisers in the yellow pages for more information. A check
with local doll clubs may get you a name of a local doll appraiser.
Sometimes insurance companies will have a list of local antiques appraisers.
As with any appraiser, you will want to check out their credentials and get
references. Ask about their doll appraisal experience. A "real estate
appraiser" may not have the experience required to appraise dolls or
antiques for the same reason you would not call upon an "antiques appraiser"
to give you an appraisal of your home.
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can I find out about Raggedy Ann shows and festivals?
Try the following
links for Raggedy Ann shows and festivals:
The Annual Raggedy Ann
Festival in Arcola, IL
Do you have a question we
have not answered?
Then, Email me at