Saturday, September 7, 2013

Pre-Mattel American Girl Samantha


Meet Samantha! She is the only American Girl doll I own, and she was made in Germany for Pleasant Company, which I guess makes her a little bit special. My guess is that I received her for Christmas of 1996. I could take pictures of her body, but it would probably make more sense for me to borrow my daughter's Samantha and show comparison pictures. In the meantime, I will say that my Samantha's body is relatively chunky compared to more modern dolls. I purchased Nellie's Spring Party dress for Samantha, and it is rather tight. In fact, I can't get the Velcro completely shut.

Picture courtesy of American Girl Wiki 


Unfortunately, her feet seem to be bigger than modern American Girls' as well. I bought high button boots from Samantha's collection sometime in 2004-2005. I was going to pose Samantha in them, until I found there was probably no way I could get them on (they are just pull-on.) Instead, I settled for patent-leather shoes that I bought in a set from American Girl with black tights, white tights and white socks similar to the ones that came with Samantha's birthday party dress. Even those, I had to work to get them on, and creased the backs a little bit. But they are better than the plastic ones from her meet outfit.

Shiny!
So here Samantha is in her meet dress, black tights and black shoes. I didn't put her matching hair ribbon in.


I like her face very much. She seems happy, intelligent, and interested in what is going on around her. I don't know enough about the earlier dolls to know how different the face is, if at all. Again, when my daughter gets her Samantha from where she is carefully packed away, I can take side by side pictures.

The back of her dress and the cuffs of her sleeves open and close with the ubiquitous Velcro. The straps on her shoes also close with Velcro. The dress also feels nice, with a little touch of a silkiness.

I decided to also show one of Samantha's accessories from her collection. I don't have many, but I chose the doll carriage from Samantha's birthday story.


The carriage is made out of what feels like a laminate plastic, all the gold pieces are plastic, and the wheels themselves are narrow strips of rubber. The red handle itself (which you will see in a the next picture) might be made of wood, and it is set in slightly crooked, but the carriage is still an attractive piece. The part where the feet would go has more space than the seat, but in the story Samantha and her friends have a puppy riding in the carriage, so I guess Pleasant Company wanted to make room for it.

Here Samantha is taking one of her dolls for a walk in the park.


The doll herself is not from Samantha's collection. She's something I happened to pick up, I believe at Windy City Dolls in Chicago. I wish I could find more like her, because she is a real treasure, and was not too expensive.

She has beautiful green glass eyes, a nice wig, beautifully detailed hat, dress, shoes and purse, and glued on stockings. In fact all of her outfit is glued on or sewed on, and I can't find any sort of maker's markings on her. I believe Victorian Trading Co. also had some dolls like her at some point, but my budget doesn't always work with getting things while they are in stock! :) She is about 8 inches tall, and is either bisque or porcelain (I don't really know the difference.) Her head, arms and legs are strung.


In comparison, Samantha's Nutcracker doll, from her Christmas story, is not nearly as nice, but the genius of having books to go along with the dolls was that the items from Pleasant Company could be more desirable as they could be used to act out the dolls' stories. Not that I think Pleasant T. Rowland was necessarily mercenary or that she didn't introduce the books and dolls primarily to help girls learn history, because I don't know. But the Nutcracker doll does suffer in comparison to the doll above, and is still selling for at least $18 or more on eBay. I doubt I paid much more than that for the doll in brown above, just because I know how much discretionary money I usually tend to have/spend.


If you've never seen Samantha's doll, Clara, in person, she has no moving parts, and comes with only her dress, pantalettes, a pink ribbon in her hair and her little Nutcracker. I don't really keep Clara and her Nutcracker together, so I didn't photograph it. If someone really wants to see it, I can take a picture. Clara is between 7 and 8 inches tall. If you look at pictures of dolls for sale, the looks of Clara and her Nutcracker seem to be all over the place over the years of production.

Honestly, I would really like to get Nellie's doll, Lydia, but paying $40 to $50 for a doll not much different than Clara is a bit much for me. I really think a lot of Lydia's appeal is the relationship to the American Girl Nellie, and her story, because otherwise I don't see getting much for the money.

Have any thoughts about American Girl pre- and post-Mattel? Quality of accessories? Whether you see the company going up, down or just maintain the status quo? Share them!

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