By A. Glenn Mandeville
Q. My friend gave me this stunning all-hard-plastic Mary Hartline doll as a gift. I have never seen such a mint doll, plus her face looks like she is painted and not shiny like most hard plastic dolls of the time. Can you tell me more about this procedure and when it was used?
A. Mary Hartline was born around 1926 and was the pretty princess of TV on the ABC children’s show “Super Circus.” The show was on television from January 1949 until June 1956. Hartline acted as the band leader.
Your doll is indeed special! In 1939, during the last run of the Shirley Temple dolls, Ideal started to paint the composition. The technique did not resurface again until 1952, which is about the date your doll was made. The finish is amazing, and I’ve only seen it a few times. Be careful with that finish — oils from your hands can dull it.
Another thing that makes your doll special is that she comes with a letter from Ideal, a baton, and an autographed photo of Mary Hartline. The dolls also came in a blue or green dress. Your doll is super mint condition, with all the bells and whistles! Because of the painted face and the other items with your doll, including the cardboard leg brace, I would value your doll between $400 and $600, possibly more.
This is a great doll — try to display her in an area that avoids direct sunlight, as the dress will fade easily. This is one of the most stunning examples I have ever seen!