By A. Glenn Mandeville
Q: My mother, when downsizing, came across a doll she had bought years ago, a 17-inch Ideal Shirley Temple. She was still strapped in the original box, which I believe is the first box with the gold lid and white stars with Shirley Temple’s picture on the end. The doll is flawless — I am amazed at the condition of the vinyl, plus the hair has never been disturbed. The dress is tagged underneath on the back seam and not down the front as usually seen on these dolls. What more can you tell me about this outstanding doll?
A: First off thank you for allowing me to examine this doll and photograph her in person, since you live locally and we were able to safely meet. I can honestly say this is the most mint vinyl Shirley Temple in the 17-inch size I have ever had the pleasure to see in person. Like you, I have never seen this particular dress. It is quite stunning on this doll as it matches her eye color exactly. The hair color is as fresh as the day the doll was made.
She also has the rare oblong version of the purse and has her signature pin and wrist tag. I agree with you about the box; it was the first box. Some dolls in the 17- and 19-inch versions had what collectors call flirty eyes, which means the eyes not only open and close but roll from side to side.
Your doll is wearing a dress made of nylon, which was a relatively new fabric for use on dolls in the late 1950s. Some dolls even came with a wrist tag stating the dress was made of the new miracle material. It’s difficult to estimate a value for this doll, because most 17-inch standard-eye dolls are not in this spectacular condition and sell for around $195 to $250. I feel certain that your doll would bring a much higher price. Thank you for sharing this outstanding doll not only with the readers of DOLLS but also with me personally!
A. Glenn Mandeville is the author of numerous books on dolls and doll collecting and writes his Curious Collector column for each issue of DOLLS magazine. Send your queries about vintage and modern dolls, with photos, to Curious Collector.