Greensburg Daily News, Greensburg, IN

February 19, 2014

Collecting pieces honoring 'America's Sweetheart'

By Linda Hamer Kennett Daily News
Greensburg Daily News

---- — Able to hold her own with some of the finest tap dancers of the 20th Century, always coiffed with 56 perfect golden ringlets, and driven by one of the most notorious stage mothers of all time, little Shirley Jane Temple burst onto the big screen at the age of 3 to begin a career that would establish her as the greatest child star in American film history.

Her first major hit came in the 1934 release “Bright Eyes,” for which she was presented with a specially designed miniature Oscar for her performance. It was peak of the Great Depression, and her wining smile and sunny disposition came as a ray of hope for the desperation that faced thousands. Her film career spanned 15 years during which she made more than 20 full length feature films. Today the dolls made in her likeness are considered to be one of the most collectible of all American-made dolls.

The ideal Toy Company was the first to manufacturer the Shirley Temple doll from 1934 to 1939. Available in nine sizes ranging from 11 to 27 inches tall, the composition dolls were made of six pieces strung together with elastic and painted flesh tone. They have hazel eyes with upper hair lashes and painted eyebrows, lower lashes and lips and mohair wigs. They are marked SHIRLEY TEMPLE on the back of the head or neck.

Shirley Temple baby dolls, produced in 1935 and 1936 are the most highly-sought by collectors. They were made with either composition or rubber and are marked SHIRLEY TEMPLE on the back of the head. The baby dolls came both bald and wigged. They will have an open mouth with three lower teeth and two upper ones. Their original costume consisted of an organdy long dress and bonnet with cotton panties and slip and leather booties. Height range on these dolls will be from 16 to 27 inches.

Vinyl dolls were made from 1957 to 1963 during the Shirley Storybook television series. They have a smiling, dimpled mouth and saran hair. Their five sizes range from 12 to 36 inches and were marked on the back with the inch measurement and the letters ST or STN. Costumes on these dolls are 1950s fashions or famous story book characters.They do not have the value of earlier dolls.

During the 1930s every little girl in America wanted to be just like Shirley Temple, and the Nannette division of Rosenau Brothers made that possible with their line of clothes for toddlers. Collectors watch for coats and snowsuits made by H&J Block, swimsuits by Shawmut, raincoats by Sherbrook, and slips and panties from Kaufman Brothers.

Other Shirley collectibles include the three piece breakfast set from 1930s boxes of Bisquick and Wheaties, tea sets, coloring books, paper dolls, play kits and sheet music of the songs in Shirley’s movies.

Press books listing the products available after the release of each of her early movies are in high demand, as are movie heralds, lobby cards, and theater programs. Movie posters from the ‘30s and ‘40s are a great find and have been know to bring up to $1,000 in mint condition.

We lost our “Sweetheart” two weeks ago.

Of the many things written about her life and her accomplishments, in the days since, one quote stands out in my mind. Addressing our nation during the Great Depression, President Franklin D. Roosevelt closed one of his famous “fireside chats” with these words of encouragement, “...our country will be alright, as long as we have Shirley Temple”.... and through her movies and the collectibles bearing her likeness we always will.

Until next time,


Linda Hamer Kennett is a professional liquidation consultant specializing in down-sizing for seniors and the liquidation of antiques and may be reached at 317-429-7887 or