How to Identify a Madame Alexander

By Janet Beal

Whether a treasured doll from your childhood has become the perfect gift for a granddaughter or you have become interested in dolls as collectibles, Madame Alexander (MA) dolls offer more than 80 years of charm, fashion and lovability. Often dressed in clothes of the time or created to represent popular figures from the news, films and fairytales, MA dolls embodied the interests and enthusiasms of many generations of girls. Follow the steps below to identify these wonderful dolls.

Examine your doll carefully. Collectors note that many MA dolls are marked with "Mme Alexander" or "Alex" at the nape of the neck. Because not all MA dolls are marked, examine your doll thoroughly, because you may locate the marks of other manufacturers, usually at the hairline, on the back or even on the soles of the feet. Collectors also note that clothing labels attached to garments or even woven into material may feature MA markings.

Use company history to identify the general age of your doll. Early dolls made by Mme. Alexander and her sisters were created from felt and other fabrics in the 1920s. Dolls made in the 1930s and 1940s were made of plaster-and-sawdust composition material. In the early 1950s, the Alexander Doll Company made a permanent shift to plastic.

Determine whether your doll resembles someone who was famous --- from Scarlett O'Hara to Queen Elizabeth II to Jacqueline or Caroline Kennedy. Mme. Alexander was quick to obtain permission to create dolls based on important popular events, such as the debut of "Gone With the Wind" or Queen Elizabeth's coronation. This quality still holds: A line of Welcome Home dolls celebrated the return of U.S. troops from Operation Desert Storm. Careful renditions of historically accurate clothes and hairstyles are a hallmark of MA dolls.

Check catalogs and collectible websites for further information. The Madame Alexander Doll Club and other collector blogs note the issue and discontinuance of certain dolls and provide good descriptions of size, clothing and accessories that may lead to your doll's original name.

Contact or even visit the Alexander Doll Company for help in identifying your particular treasure. The company maintains a doll hospital (the original source of the company) in New York City, and experienced employees can provide helpful information for identifying as well as repairing your doll.