Are you a collector, always on the lookout for unique and exclusive items? If so, you’ll be thrilled to learn about the rare custom-made designs from Annalee dolls. These extraordinary creations, crafted with painstaking detail, hold a special place in the hearts of collectors worldwide. Join us as we delve into the fascinating stories behind these coveted dolls that have become true collector’s treasures.
The Fortunoff Connection
In the New York and New Jersey region, the Fortunoff business flourished under the guidance of Max and Clara Fortunoff. To commemorate Fortunoff’s 75th anniversary in 1997, Annalee Dolls designed the exquisite “Anniversary Kid.” Limited to only 750 pieces, this 7-inch doll proudly waved a banner proclaiming “Celebrating 75 Years.” Sold exclusively at Fortunoff stores, each doll came with a certificate of authenticity, further enhancing its allure.
Exclusive Retailer Offerings
Annalee Dolls also created special exclusives for retailers through the Parkwest/NALED catalog. Two standout designs featured in the 1998 Christmas catalog were the enchanting “Spinning Christmas Joy” and the charming “Christmas Tree-ditions.” The former showcased a delightful 10-inch elf spinning joyfully atop a colorful top, while the latter depicted a stately 12-inch mouse alongside a 3-inch mouse, both adorned with adorable Christmas trees. The larger mouse drew attention with its expertly designed snowshoes, adding a touch of whimsy to the design.
Suzy Squirrel’s Debut
In a historic moment, Annalee Dolls unveiled its very first squirrel design exclusively for General Stores of Brick, New Jersey. “Suzy Squirrel,” released in the summer of 1997, captured the hearts of collectors with her endearing 7-inch figure. Suzy merrily filled a burlap bag with seeds and nuts, her creative wireframe eyeglasses adding a touch of playfulness. Don’t forget to admire Suzy’s extra-long bushy tail, a testament to Annalee’s impeccable attention to detail.
Sailor Mice and War Memories
In 1980, Robert Bennett of Meredith, New Hampshire approached Annalee with a special request. He desired a doll to commemorate the reunion of the crew of the Plankowner LST 735, a United States Navy ship from World War II. Annalee rose to the occasion and crafted the iconic “Sailor Mouse.” Standing at 7 inches tall, this exclusive design proudly displayed the name LST 735 on its hat and banner. Limited to just 65 pieces exclusively for the crew members, the Sailor Mouse became an incredibly rare and highly sought-after doll. Adding to its rarity, a 12-inch variant was created as a one-of-a-kind prize for the crew reunion.
The Kentucky Derby Affair
Did you know that Annalee dolls made an appearance at the Kentucky Derby? In 1975, Talents Unlimited of Kentucky partnered with Annalee to offer a supply of unique felt horses and jockeys. Known as the “Kentucky Crazy Horses” or the “Track-Crazy Horses,” these charming animals became a sensation at the track. With their brown bodies and darker brown saddle blankets, the horses exuded elegance. The jockeys, sporting white bodies, blue jackets, and distinctive red and white striped bibs, added a touch of authenticity. Limited to small quantities, these dolls quickly sold out, becoming prized possessions for collectors lucky enough to acquire them.
Saks Fifth Avenue Exclusive
In 1954, Saks Fifth Avenue commissioned Annalee to create a distinctive doll to captivate their discerning customers. The result was the captivating “Girl Ski Doll.” Standing at 10 inches tall, this unique creation showcased an embroidered tag bearing the prestigious Saks Fifth Avenue name. Dressed in a red wool hat with a playful multicolored pom-pom, the doll evoked the spirit of winter fun. Her slate blue jacket, dark blue twill pants, and signature hand-laced leather boots exuded elegance. Adorned with almond-shaped eyes, a hallmark of early Annalee dolls, the Girl Ski Doll is a true collector’s treasure. In fact, it once sold for an astounding $1500 at an Annalee auction.
The allure of Annalee dolls only grows stronger over time, with collectors eagerly seeking out recent designs. The Summer Prototype Auction saw fierce bidding for various dolls, with prices ranging from $200 to $575. Notable mentions go to the 6-inch “Love, Peace, & Pride Mouse” from 2021 and the 33-inch “Old Snow-man Winter” from 2019, which fetched the highest bids at $555 and $575, respectively. Another recent gem is the highly coveted 7-inch “Big Game Football Mouse” from 2019. With only 53 pieces ever made, this design has become a true collector’s holy grail.
The Thrill of Collecting
While all Annalee dolls are special, a select few rise above the rest, captivating collectors with their rarity and unique stories. The journey of collecting is an adventure, with each new find adding excitement and joy. So, embrace the thrill of the hunt and revel in the magic of Annalee dolls. Happy collecting!