|Description||Kewpie doll, made of bisque porcelain. Molded and painted facial features with side-glancing eyes. Body has jointed arms and small blue wings on the neck. Impressed mark " O'Neill" on the bottom of the feet. Possibly made by J.D. Kestner, Germany.|
|Ownership and History||
The kewpie character was originated by an American illustrator named Rose O'Neill. It debuted in 1909 as an illustration in the Ladies Home Journal, and the creator said it was modeled after her baby brother.
The dolls were patented in 1913 and were first produced by the J.D. Kestner Company in Germany. Rose O'Neill devised the name "Kewpie" from "Cupid," spelling it with a K because she thought it was funnier that way. The doll has tiny blue Cupid wings on its shoulders. It also has O'Neill's signature impressed on the bottom of its feet, indicating that this is an authentic Kewpie, because there were many unauthorized knockoffs.
These were wildly popular; it was reported that at the peak of the Kewpie craze, there were 30 German factories producing the dolls to meet demand. They were also produced as other varieties of merchandise ranging from rings to door knockers.
|Maker||Kestner, J.D. (attributed)|
|Support Acknowledgment||Online Collections Database record made possible by the Staten Island Historical Society, 2012.|
|Legal Status||Items represented here are from the collections of the Staten Island Historical Society. Materials reproduced for personal non-commercial use must credit the Staten Island Historical Society. Commercial licensing is available.|