By A. Glenn Mandeville
Q: I received this stunning Mary Hartline doll for a holiday gift. While I have the hard-plastic Mary Hartline, I had never seen one with a vinyl head and rooted hair. Also, I never knew that Mary Hartline’s iconic dress came in white. I’m sure there is more to this story, so what can you tell me?
A: Yes, there is a lot more to the story! Your doll dates from about 1955 and is not shown in any of the Ideal Toy Company catalogs that I have. She is made from the hard-plastic mold used on the Toni and Mary Hartline dolls, but cast in vinyl with the hard-plastic walker body used on the dolls from this period.
This style has many interesting features, including the fact that the rooted hair is in exactly the same hairstyle as the wig used on the hard-plastic head version. The doll is also a walker, which makes it easier to date. The white dress makes her quite unusual, along with the vinyl head and rooted hair. Your doll also came with the gold baton that was unique to this doll.
In consulting with an expert on hard-plastic and vinyl dolls, the conclusion is that this doll is very rare — in fact my source didn’t own this version of Mary Hartline. I have only seen this doll one other time, and it was not for sale. Estimating a value on this doll is very difficult, because it is so rare. Also making a valuation difficult is the fact this example would have a limited appeal on the collector market.
An educated guess for this doll in near-mint condition would be around $200, maybe more, to the right collector. If mint in the box, the value might be double that or even higher. My advice would be to keep this doll, because I doubt that you will see another example. Thanks for sharing!
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.