This past weekend seemed like it was going to be ordinary, perhaps even a little boring. I didn’t need to record an episode of THOR: The Lightning and the Storm, we didn’t have major plans–we could just laze around the house and take Sarah to the park at Buckman. As we left, we noticed a garage sale across the street and strolled by. As I walked past random books and toys, kitchenware, and clothing, I spotted her lying on a blanket. Felicity.
Ragged and frizzy, her signature side tendrils nowhere to be seen, wearing purple glitter shoes with a crumpled “Rose Garden” gown, Felicity was instantly recognizable to me as the redheaded Colonial American Girl doll I used to quietly squee over as a teenage babysitter going through the children’s Pleasant Company catalogs. And now, for $30, she could be
mine my daughter Sarah’s! The lady even threw in a stand.
A quick history: Pleasant Company introduced their line of American Girl historical dolls in 1986. The original three included Kirsten, the Swedish pioneer, Samantha, the ladylike Victorian, and Molly, the spirited WWII-era girl. Felicity, the spunky Colonial lass, was introduced in 1991–about the time the catalogs started flooding my neighborhood. They were (and are) of very high quality, with period-accurate clothing, accessories, and furniture, and each came with a line of books that dealt with such topics as war, child abuse, slavery, and other weighty issues.
They also were (and are) very expensive. In 1991, a Felicity doll and paperback book was $82. Add her entry-level accessories, and the total came to $108. A full Felicity set in the early ’90s, including the hardback books, clothes, tea set, school set, party set, winter set, toys, clothing, furniture, horse, and dozens of other items came to $1,332. I am not kidding. I did the math.
So owning a Felicity doll was out of reach, not only because I was 16 years old (the horror), but also because there was no way in heck I could have afforded it. But when I was younger, I had a very deep appreciation for dolls (I had two Kimberly dolls I was slavishly devoted to), and I was very impressed by the level of detail that went into the clothes and accessories when I pored through the catalogs. She had a Shrewsbury cake set with tiny cookie cutters! A silver chocolate set! I rued that I was not a younger–and richer–woman.
With all this swimming through my head, I handed over the cash and took
my Sarah’s Felicity doll home, where I took to the internet to do some research. It appears that this Felicity doll is an early, pre-Mattel one: she has the softer red eyelashes, and there is ribbon edging at the base of the wig. The body is in great shape structurally, as are the eyes. The main issues were dirt, ink, and glitter on the limbs and face, frizzy hair that needed a good brushing, and someone pierced her ears. Also, while she still had her original “meet” dress, it was stained and crumpled, and she was missing the original shoes, stockings, and undergarments.
Fortunately for me, there are hundreds and hundreds of American Girl videos on YouTube, most shot by actual pre-teens. Did you know you can straighten an American Girl doll’s hair?!? Or curl it? While I won’t be trying that any time soon, I did learn that the best way to clean the doll is to use a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser, which I quickly did, removing the ink from her feet and glitter from her face. I brushed her hair (I even found a few tendrils) and tied it back, then hand washed the dress and hung it to dry.
The next day I touched up the dress with the iron and redressed Felicity–much better! She has “official” undergarments coming her way thanks to my Dad, who wants
my Sarah’s doll to be properly dressed, and I may have found replacement stockings and shoes for cheap on Amazon, and I may have ordered them.
But my biggest find? The Pleasant Company actually released doll dress sewing patterns, for those girls who had crafty moms, grandmas, or aunts. While I found some physical patterns for a pretty penny on Etsy, I found free pdfs online at AG Playthings. So, if I want to go totally crazy and make her a mob cap or a Christmas dress (who am I kidding I am totally crazy), I have the option.
I mean, I have time, right? Sarah is only two, and the dolls are meant for kids eight and older, right? I’ll totally be done playing with
my her Felicity in six years.