Dolls of the Lenci 109 Series
1. Brightly dressed
early 109 /14 Series doll, presented in the Ars Lenci
Catalog for 1925
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
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.
2. Early 1920's Ad in Playthings Catalog.
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.
22 inch 109 series dolls from the 1925 Ars Lenci
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
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)
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
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
in felt outfit with muff is a 109/39 from the 1925/26 catalog; 109 indicates the
series and 39 is the outfit number.
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.
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,
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]
Image 5: Book cover, © Brook Ashley
All other images: Patricia Hayes
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