Dy-dee dolls were the first see-pee dolls. The early Dy-Dee dolls had composite features and elaborate hair and the unique looks these dolls had brings back a lot of memories for a lot of women. Perhaps this is why these dolls today are some of the most expensive baby dolls on the market. See what makes them so special below.
When Were They Made?
Dy-dee dolls were made from the 1930s-1970s, with some collectors editions and reproductions made in the 1980s and 2000s. The earliest dolls had cloth bodies. In the 1930s the Dy-dee hairstyle (either molded onto the doll’s head or made from a wig of karakul wool) was a much tighter curl in keeping the fashions of the era. She was one of the first drink and wet dolls on the market -along with Betsy Wetsy (made by Ideal Toy Company)- and she made a huge sensation. Not surprisingly, Dy-dee dolls, while popular in the 1930s, wouldn’t become a toy store staple until the 1950s when working and middle class families had more disposable income. By this point the curls on Dy-dee’s head were more relaxed.
The dolls were made by the company Effanbee, maker of many toys which are today quite collectible. Effanbee also made the “Honey” Tintair doll, a competitor of the Toni doll which not only let little girls set her hair, but also dye it!
By 1937 Effanbee had introduced their Dy-Dee “Sun-tan” African American drink and wet doll, and by the 1970s they had created dolls to be used in healthcare training with a valve on the baby’s bottom to “administer” injections.
In the 1990s some of the vintage dolls that were so popular in the 1940s-1960s attained a more collectible status. Not only were they full of nostalgia for many, but they were part of a bigger trend towards collecting mid-century toys, art, and advertising. This trend continues today, increasing the price of many older toys and advertising materials with time.
How Much Are They Worth?
While a Dy-Dee doll in rough shape can bring in less than $50 on eBay, that same model in good shape with her accessories can fetch into the thousands. A Dy-dee Lou doll from the 1930s in pristine condition with her trunk, clothes, baby diary, rattle, and all the fixins sold on eBay recently for $3,475.
The Dy-Dee dolls were made in various sizes from 9″ to 20″ and the size certainly affects the price of these collectible dolls. There was a literal trove of accessories available for each baby doll. These “layettes” included everything from bottles to clothes to rattles to diaper pins to blankets and even a rubber lap sheet. Given that the layettes set for different dolls could be quite large, it’s no wonder that having all of the these accessories can dramatically increase the value of a baby doll/ layette combo.
Composition dolls were completely replaced by rubber and plastics by the 1950s, but early Dy-dee had a composite heads and rubber bodies, let versions were all rubber. Composition dolls are made of wood dust and glue that is then shaped via molds and then sanded and painted. Dolls made from this material have a hard time withstanding heat and/or hard use, and tend to crack, or craze over time. Given this fact about composite dolls, any Dy-Dee composite dolls in good shape will bring in more money when sold. Furthermore, early rubber dolls have the tendency to very badly discolor when exposed to heat, which is another factor in determining the value of a vintage Dy-dee doll.
Over the years the Dy-Dee dolls evolved to become more life-like with rubber eyes and tears ducts that also leaked water. Eventually the competing Tiny Tears doll, as well other rival drink and wet dolls would come to be more popular in the days before Barbie. But, we think of these old baby dolls have such charming features and sweet faces that it explains why they’ve become so collectible at the moment.
So it this doll the most expensive babydoll from the 21st century? Prices for the 1930s Shirley Temple doll in good condition range from less than $100 to over $2,000. Tiny Tears dolls in near mint condition with accessories tend to sell for less than $1,000 at the very top of the market. So, it would seem that of the vintage baby dolls we know and love that the Dy-dee is the most valuable at the moment!