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Spetember, 2006

A  Lenci Dolls Collector article--for Lenci doll collectors

Lenci 300 Series : Part 1, The early years

Patricia Hayes
For The Lenci Doll Collector

The Lenci 300 Series dolls with their endearing pouty expressions are among the most popular of the Lenci dolls. Made by the Lenci company of Turin, they first appear in Lenci catalogs in 1925. Their popularity is indicated by their appearance in several Lenci catalogs, dressed in a extensive range of colorful outfits, and also seen in costumes of various regions and nationalities. After the Lenci company management is taken over by the Garella family in the early 30's the 300 series mold continues to be used. These doll are still much sought after by collectors, and fortunately for Lenci fans, they are frequently seen at auction and on eBay.

The Lenci 300 Series, of height 44 cm , first makes an appearance in the Lenci catalog for 1925 and continues to appear in subsequent Lenci catalogs of '26, '27, '29, '30, and '31. After 1931 the 300 series type is continued under the new Garella ownership

Early versions of the 300 series from 1925 up until 1927, have all four fingers of the hand joined, with separate thumbs, and have solidly stuffed bodies. From 1927 onwards, only the two middle fingers are joined, and the 300 series dolls now have a hollow molded felt body. The back and front of the body is molded separately, the two halves are then joined giving a more realistic appearance and a lighter weight doll.


300 series Lenci doll 1925

1. Lenci 300 Series doll, 17.5", 44 cm, 1925 (Private Collection, Photo: Tony Cookson)

300 series lenci dolls 1925 catalog

2. 300 Series Lenci dolls in the 1925 Lenci Catalog (Lenci Catalog, 1925)

In the early versions of the 300 series, the mohair hair is stitched to the head in wefted rows, with tufts of individual hairs rooted around the front hairline in some versions. On the 1927, 300 series doll seen below, all of the hair is stitched in rows. By 1931, 300 series dolls are seen with hair applied entirely in rooted tufts. Such costly and labor intensive work will not be seen to the same degree after 1931, as the Lenci company, under the new Garella management, is forced to make cutbacks to survive the Great Depression of '31-'40.

Image 1 above, shows an early 300 series Lenci doll in near mint condition, with solid body and joined fingers separated only by stitching. This doll wears a colorful 100% wool felt outfit in the patchwork style typical of the 1920's Lenci dolls. A search in the Lenci catalog for 1925 identifies this doll as model 300 B ( if you have the Dorothy Colemann book "Lenci Dolls" see Page 52 ).

The doll in the red outfit in Image 4 below is an example of the 300 series dolls produced from 1927. This doll has the hollow body and the joined middle fingers. The influence of Art Deco, also known as Style Moderne or 1925 Style, is apparent in the richly designed Lenci felt outfits of this period. The red outfit shown here is a wonderful example of the Art Deco influence.

Images 8 - 10 below, are 300 series dolls from '30 / '31, at this point the range of outfits has expanded to a variety of themes, all richly detailed and meticulously finished, they are fine examples of the art of Lenci, at the apex of design and development, during the period up to 1931 while the company was under the original Scavini ownership.


Lenci 300 B

3. Detail of 300 B, 1925 (Private Collection, Photo: Tony Cookson)

4. Lenci Model 300-9, 1927 (Private collection)

Lenci 1927 catalog

5. 300 Series dolls in the Lenci catalog of 1927 ( Lenci Catalog 1927, Piglia collection) 

Lenci Child doll

6. Detail of outfit in 100% wool felt (Private collection)

Lenci Child doll

7. 300 Series, 17.5" 44 cm, 1927 (Private collection)

8. Lenci young gentleman, Model 300-71, 1930 (Private collection, Rosita Siccardi

9. 300 Series, model E-34 Cowboy, 1931 (Private collection, Rosita Siccardi )

Lenci boy with horse, 1931
10. 300 Series model E-82, 1931 (Private collection, Rosita Siccardi

11. Lenci boy, 1931 Catalog (Lenci Torino, Catalog 1931)

12. 300 series dolls in the 1926 catalog. (Lenci Torino, 1926)



Patricia Hayes
For The Lenci Doll Collector

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