1950s Doll by Ratti

Name:  Unknown circa 1950s doll by Ratti

Made by and When:  Ratti, circa 1950s

Material:  Hard plastic

Marks: (Head) Inside a circle reads RATTI / Italia [with two side-by-side rats on their hind legs] / MADE IN ITALY / 50. (Upper Back) The same marks except Italia is not inside the circular Ratti mark and the number 50 is not on the upper back.

Height: 17 inches

Hair, Eyes, Mouth: Short, black-rooted hair that has become brittle. The hair is now gelled into place to eliminate shedding. The scalp has manufactured black paint. Brown flirty eyes with eyelids and eyelashes, the eyelids are now inside the doll’s head after detachment from the eyes during shipping from Northwestern Europe to America. The mouth is closed with painted-red full lips.

Clothes: Redressed in a period-appropriate dress, white crocheted panties, more modern white sandals, and an added turquoise headband. The original gold-tone hoop earrings remain sewn to the hair in the location of the ears.

Other: Made in Italy, this lovely doll has factory-painted fingernails and toenails and a non-working voice box in the middle of the back. It was donated to the museum by Jolie van der Klis of the Netherlands who purchased it from another woman in the Netherlands several years before the donation. The doll had been the original owner’s childhood doll. Based on the hoop earrings sewn to the hair, an African tribal garment might have been the doll’s original clothes.

Ratti Doll Company History (provided by Jolie van der Klis): Founded in 1913 by Antonio Ratti and Giovanni Vallenzaca, the company made wickerwork baskets in the early years.  By 1919, Ratti and Vallenzaca along with Antonio’s son Augusto began making dolls and other toys. In the early 1930s, Ratti imported [cardboard*] doll heads from Germany but soon began making their own [cardboard] dolls marked Ratti. They switched from [cardboard] to modern materials—early plastics made from synthetic components like polystyrene and later polyethylene. Some of the early dolls are made of a grayish material that is spray painted afterward. The Ratti doll in this installation is made of that grayish material, which is thinner and not as sturdy as the American-made hard plastic dolls of the 1950s.  The company began making vinyl dolls in 1953 (this rigid plastic doll’s origin, thus, precedes that year). That same year, Gianni Ceppi, son-in-law of Antonio Ratti, took over doll manufacturing.

In 1969, the Ratti company was acquired by Mattel.

See the Ratti company’s timeline here (near the end of the page).


1950s hard plastic doll by Ratti made in Italy
Upon arrival, the eyelids and original eyelashes were inside the doll’s head after becoming detached from the eye mechanism during shipping. The doll’s hair has been gelled in place in this photo and in the following photos.


Your comments are valued. Donations aid the initiative to preserve Black-doll history. 

If you subscribe to DeeBeeGee’s Virtual Black Doll Museum™ by email, be sure to click the post title in the email, which links to the website to view all text and associated media. Please “like” and share this installation with your social media doll contacts. To subscribe, add your email address to the subscribe or sign-up field in the footer or right sidebar. 

Published by DeeBeeGee

Doll collector, historian, co-founder of the first e-zine devoted to collecting black dolls; author of black-doll reference books, doll blogs, and doll magazine articles.

3 thoughts on “1950s Doll by Ratti

  1. Hi Debbie,

    I am thrilled, that is such a lovely post!

    I just tried to respond, but for some reason, even om my newest laptop, I cannot reply.. (It probably has got to do with my laptop, or the spam-protection, I often have problems replying to WordPress-blogs, but it worries me that I even have them only newest laptop now ;-/) (I am sort of ‘lost’ trying to figure it out ;-/)

    So I’ll send you my comment, and maybe you can post it underneath the Post…?

    I’ll ask my husband for help later.. (he’s going to visit his Mom who had an operation right now) but he often has got many solutions for computer-problems 😉

    All the best from Hilversum! Hartelijke groetjes, Jolie

    My comment: “It is SO nice to see she has survived the long trip to the USA, and that you managed to replace the lost eyelashes so well! Our parcel-service is not always very careful with the boxes, but I was afraid to damage the wig or head lifting the wig to fill up the head with paper..

    Ratti dolls are all dear to me 🙂 They were the very first dolls my sister and I had as children, it is an honour to me this sweet doll has a place in your Museum now! (I thought about searching for the very first owner, to let her know too, but I bought her through a platform back then, it only rendered a temporary emailaddress.) All our childhood Ratty-dolls had names ending with the (Dutch) “-eaze”-sound, (so) her name would probably have been something like Louise. But of course, today she is too vulnarable to still be a ‘play-doll’ 🙂 Thank you so much for sharing these lovely photo’s!

    Hartelijke groeten, Jolie ”



  2. Hi Jolie!

    I just emailed you after I revised the installation to let you know some of your pictures were used in it and to share the link. It pleases me that the installation pleases you. I am forever grateful that you entrusted me with this lovely, rare doll. She will always have a place in my collection and now will be forever in DeeBeeGee’s Virtual Black Doll Museum for subscribers and others who visit to admire and learn about. Thank you again!

    Your miles-away doll friend,



  3. P.S. Jolie, I believe the original owner would be pleased with what we’ve both done with this lovely doll and how much pleasure she has given both of us.



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