Miss Birdie Fethalite is an Australian doll, who was born in the 1940s in Sydney. She has an extensive wardrobe, consisting of two summer frocks:
two winter coats:
a siren suit:
and a party dress:
From the front, Birdie looks nicely rounded. Her back view, however, shows that she is flat, and even slightly hollowed out:
From the back, you can see how her clothes clip on around her waist. Sadly, she has had an accident some time in which she lost most of her right arm.
Birdie is not as fortunate in regards to housing as she is with her wardrobe. I'm sure she would love to live in the Marquis kitchen and other rooms in that set. As I didn't win it, however, I have posed her here in front of Marquis kitchen furnishings set up in front of the photo of the inside of the box on my computer screen. It looks just the right size for her, and the walls even match one of her dresses - but as she can't live in front of the computer all the time, I will have to find another home for her!
Perhaps she could live with the Cacos, and they could all share the curling tongs:
This little doll is marked with the Fethalite brand name and symbol:
The number 204/1 appears to be the product number. All the pieces of clothing are also marked: the frocks are 204/2, the long dress is 204/3, the coats are 204/5, and the siren suit is 204/6. She must have had another outfit too, as 204/4 is missing from this set.
Fethalite plastic products were made by Pierwood Plastics (Piercy & Ashwood) in Chatswood, Sydney. qilich has a Fethalite catalogue from 1949, which shows miniature kitchen and bathroom sets, and a couple of dolls, but not this one. Her hairstyle and the siren suit definitely date her to the 1940s, so she was probably made before 1949. I wonder if she was always alone, or whether a family of dolls was produced?
Update:Ysé6 and Roberta have told me on flickr that the same doll was also made by the Selcol company in England. A Selcol doll is listed on ebay at the moment - here she is with her outfits and her right arm:
The clothes are almost the same as Miss Fethalite's, although the decoration on the long dress is different. The piece missing from my set is probably the little gym tunic, here in yellow next to the yellow frock.
Thanks, Ysé6 and Roberta - though I'm sorry to realise that all Australian-made plastic dolls house miniatures were made using moulds from US or British companies! Seems we did OK on production (at least while tariffs were in place), but didn't produce original designs.
Update 2: Sally also has a Selcol doll set: see her blog stitchywoowoo. It's clear from Sally's pictures that the frock is a pinafore dress - Miss Birdie's frock doesn't have straps, so that's another difference between the English and Australian clothes.
And Marcie Tubbs has very kindly emailed to say that in her book Dollhouse and Miniature Dolls 1840-1990 (which I have!), she pictures both a 'Peggy' doll made in the US by Ideal in the mid 1950s, and a Lido doll dress set, also made in the US. She also received a photo from a reader of a boxed set of 'Peggy's Magic Snap-On Wardrobe', made by Bell Industries (in the UK, I assume). The dolls and clothing sets made by Selcol, Fethalite, Ideal, Lido and Bell, in the UK, US and Australia, are almost identical. As Marcie says, this doll really travelled! I wonder where she started? The mid 1950s Ideal catalogue which Marcie has describes her wardrobe as consisting of 2 bathing suits, pajamas, 2 over-coats, hat, 2 school dresses and party dress. The Lido set identifies the bathing suit as a play jumper. Sally describes the 'school dress' as a pinafore dress (the Australian one isn't, as it doesn't have straps). I was seeing the clothes through the lens of 1940s British novels, so the bathing suit / play jumper looks like a gym slip to me, and the pajamas look like a siren suit. If Peggy was originally made in the UK, the siren suit would make sense (and as I suggested, it goes with her 1940s hairstyle). If she was first made in the US, then they probably were pyjamas originally.
So, more questions: where was she first made? when? and how did she come to be made or sold by 5 companies in 3 continents? We may be able to answer some of them if we're lucky enough to find dated catalogues showing the Selcol and Bell dolls one day.