Nancy Abbott

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On February 22, 1901, Rowena Haskin was born in Lake County, CA. As the years went by, she attended CA School of Fine Arts, changed her name to Nancy Ann Abbott, and moved to Hollywood. She danced and acted in Universal Studios silent movies, and became a Hollywood studio designer. She always had a love of dolls and created them most of her life.

Her zeal for costume design became a consuming passion. By 1936 she was designing costumes for small bisque baby dolls that were made in Japan and giving them as gifts. She would make replicas of her favorite costumes and dress dolls for her friends. Everyone loved them and she decided, in 1936, to start making dolls to sell. She started her company with approximately $125, working long hours from her home in San Francisco, California.  At first she sold them out of a little shop she was working in.  The orders began to grow and   Nancy Ann Abbott and her business partner Allan Leslie Rowland purchased a 400 sq. ft. shop with 4 employees and incorporated The Nancy Ann Dressed Doll Corp. on Feb. 23, 1937 with Nancy Ann handling production and Les managing finances and promotion. In 1938, the company opened its own pottery plant in Berkeley, CA, to make its own bisque dolls, using its own molds. Nancy Ann Storybook Dolls were now being sold nationally. 

 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 battled cancer before passing away in 1964.  And with Les’ health failing, the company lacked leadership driving it into bankruptcy in 1965. 

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