Nancy Ann Storybook Dolls

Wee Dolls for Wee Collectors
About the company: 

In 1936, Nancy Ann Abbott started costuming bisque baby dolls imported from Japan.  She worked from her San Francisco apartment and sold the dressed dolls in her book lending shop.  There she met her future business partner Allen “Les” Rowland.

In February 1937, Nancy Ann and Les formed Nancy Ann Dressed Dolls, with Nancy Ann handling production and Les managing finances and promotion.  In 1945, the company name changed to Nancy Ann Storybook Dolls because so many of the dolls were titled after nursery rhymes and storybook characters.

By 1942, the company was grossing $1 million a year, and by the 1950s, the company was producing 12,000 dolls a day.  If you were a little girl growing up in the 1940s and 1950s, you probably owned a Nancy Ann Storybook Doll.

Nancy Ann Abbott, also known as the “doll lady,” battled cancer before passing away in 1964.  And with Les’ health failing, the company lacked leadership driving it into bankruptcy in 1965.  

The company was eventually purchased by Albert Bourla and stockholders.  In 1967, the dolls, which were plastic and made in Hong Kong, were presented at the Toy Fair in New York.  This venture only lasted a few years producing a variety of dolls, and in the 1970s an auction of doll parts and accessories eliminated the remaining inventory.

In 1998, Mr. Bourla planned a reintroduction of a bisque line of 5-1/2" Storybook dolls. The dolls were packaged in a red leatherette bound box shaped in the form of a book.  As it turned out, only the first four dolls were ever produced before Mr. Bourla decided to sell the company.

In 2003, Mr. Bourla sold the company to sisters Claudette Buehler and Darlene Budd.  They commissioned doll artist Dianna Effner for a new sculpt and Londie Phillips to design the costumes. 

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