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April, 2006
A  Lenci Dolls Collector article--for Lenci doll collectors

Dolls of the Lenci 109 Series


 1. Brightly dressed early 109 /14 Series doll, presented in the Ars Lenci Catalog for 1925 (Private Collection)

Dear Reader,

When most people think of Lenci (pronounced 'len-chi') or Lenci-type dolls, they think of vintage felt/cloth dolls made in the early 1900's with side glancing eyes, often wearing in colorful regional costumes.  The story of the original Lenci company of Turin (Torino), Italy and of their founder Elena König di Scavini (whose nickname was "Lenci"),  is not widely known.

Over the last few weeks I've been exploring some vintage Lenci catalogs and vintage dolls books -- and I have been impressed at the range and evolution in the styles of dolls produced at the height of the Lenci doll fame during the 1920 and 30's, particularly the 109 series.

Lenci Ad in 1923 Playthings Catalog
2. Early 1920's Ad in Playthings Catalog.

Early 109 series Lenci doll
3. Early 109 Series doll

The very early 109 series dolls can be difficult to identify as the style and construction evolves over the 1920’s.  In the early 1920’s  the 109 dolls are 19” /20” inches tall and the brows are indicated by dots,  the eyes are larger than the later 109’s and the facial expression is less well defined than the later dolls. The arms are held close to the side of the body.


 109 series 1925
  22 inch 109 series dolls from the 1925 Ars Lenci catalog.

The doll in the plaid dress, and the doll in orange and yellow at the beginning of this article are both from the 22 inch 109 series, seen in the 1925 Ars Lenci catalog. By the mid 20’s the facial features have become more distinct and the brows are full.

This style is well known to readers of the THE LONELY DOLL® series by Dare Wright. The main character is a 22 inch 109 Series Lenci doll named Edith.

 Brook Ashley, who has inherited Dare Wright's original Edith doll tells me that Edith's original clothes match those of the 109/14 doll seen at the beginning of this article which dates her to the corresponding entry in the 1925 Ars Lenci Catalog 1(Image5, left)

 Book cover picture © Brook Ashley
5.  Edith's original outfit identifies her as a 109/14 Lenci,  Book cover picture courtesy of Brook Ashley .

I am delighted to hear of a new book in THE LONELY DOLL® series, authored and photographed by Brook Ashley, Brett Wilbur & John Ogilvie, called "The Lonely Doll Makes New Friends©" featuring the original Edith doll, wearing her original Lenci outfit, beautifully photographed in color, as you can see from the cover picture above. Edith is a very fine example of the 109 series solid body type. Her dress is of organdy fabric embellished with felt trimmings, with matching felt bonnet and shoes.

Until the late 1920’s solid bodies of cloth or felt are seen, with the head and limbs of 100% fine wool felt, being stuffed with excelsior or similar material they are weighty and solid in comparison with the later hollow body dolls. Hands are mitten style with separated thumbs and stitching to indicate the 4 fingers. Outfits are elaborate and mainly of 100%wool felt.

Lenci 109/39

6. Doll in felt outfit with muff is a 109/39 from the 1925/26 catalog; 109 indicates the series and 39 is the outfit number.


1931 Lenci Catalog

7. The 109 Series became the A series Lenci dolls in the 1931 catalog.

Toward the end of the 1920’s  the 109 hollow body lighter weight  felt dolls appear with more defined facial features Examples of the hollow body 109 Series ( now renamed as the A series) are seen in the 1931 Lenci Catalog. Only the middle 2 fingers of the hand are joined.

22" Lenci doll

8. 22” 109 Series hollow body type Lenci doll from late 1920’s




Ashley, B., Wilbur, B., & Ogilvie, J. January 2006, The Lonely Doll Makes New Friends: A Story In The Dare Wright Tradition, Xlibris Corporation, Philadelphia.

Coleman, Dorothy, June 1977, Lenci Dolls,  Hobby House Press Inc, Grantsville, Maryland

Scavini, et al., Ars Lenci Ars Lenci 1925, Torino.[Catalog]

Scavini, et al., 1931 Lenci Torino, Via Cassini N.7,.[Catalog]

Siccardi, Rosita, Destiny of “Una bambola e altre creazioni” Lenci-cloth dolls' long life" [On-line] dolls.htm

Photo Credits:
Image 5: Book cover, © Brook Ashley
All other images: Patricia Hayes

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