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).
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