Over its 100-year history, the Eaton Beauty Dolls have been treasured by children and collectors alike. The dolls changed each year. Details enable owners to trace the evolution of the dolls within the context of events in 20th-century Canada and to identify them in their own collections.

By 1887, Eaton's catalogue was reaching Canadians from coast to coast. According to William Stephenson in The Store that Timothy Built: "By 1887, barely three years after the start, he could boast it was already a nation-wide enterprise, rivaling his massive store as a money maker." By the end of the 19th century, great improvements in parcel post as well as Eaton's postage-paid policy on orders over $5.00 made ordering from the new catalogues easy.

Some of the early catalogues featured inexpensive chinahead dolls with cloth bodies. The china heads were also available separately; bodies could be made for them at home. Imported dolls that had not been seen previously were sold through the catalogues. Bisque heads were made of unglazed china. "Composition" bodies were made from a paste of fine sawdust, cornstarch, glue, and possibly some other ingredient. C Read More
Over its 100-year history, the Eaton Beauty Dolls have been treasured by children and collectors alike. The dolls changed each year. Details enable owners to trace the evolution of the dolls within the context of events in 20th-century Canada and to identify them in their own collections.

By 1887, Eaton's catalogue was reaching Canadians from coast to coast. According to William Stephenson in The Store that Timothy Built: "By 1887, barely three years after the start, he could boast it was already a nation-wide enterprise, rivaling his massive store as a money maker." By the end of the 19th century, great improvements in parcel post as well as Eaton's postage-paid policy on orders over $5.00 made ordering from the new catalogues easy.

Some of the early catalogues featured inexpensive chinahead dolls with cloth bodies. The china heads were also available separately; bodies could be made for them at home. Imported dolls that had not been seen previously were sold through the catalogues. Bisque heads were made of unglazed china. "Composition" bodies were made from a paste of fine sawdust, cornstarch, glue, and possibly some other ingredient. Companies had their own formulae.

In the 1890s, dolls with bisque heads and leather bodies became available. Clothing was homemade for the mostly undressed dolls. At the time, girls had few activities available to them and doll costuming allowed them to use their artistic talents and creativity. Young girls practiced their sewing skills by making doll clothes and made elaborate wardrobes. Sometimes they had small trunks in which to store their wardrobes. Girls often played with their dolls until they were 14 or 15 years of age.

In 1900, Eaton's catalogue introduced the first Eaton Beauty doll. The advertisement read: "Eaton Beauty, all jointed, special $1.00; large sizes from $1.50 to $10.00 each." The smallest dolls (20 inches [50.8 cm] tall) were a dollar, a price that was maintained until 1916. For the first five or six years, the bisque heads were shoulderheads (the head and shoulder plate were all one piece) with sleep eyes and curly mohair wigs. The shoulderheads were often made by Armand Marseille in Germany, model 370. The bodies were made of kid leather and were jointed at the knees, hips, elbows, and shoulders.

© Canadian Museum of Civilization Corporation

Colour photo of a doll

This type of doll was used as an Eaton Beauty in 1900 and was made by Armand Marseille, Germany. Bisque head, model #370, leather body, replaced ribbon.

Evelyn Strahlendorf

Leather body, replaced ribbon.
Modèle no 370
© Doll courtesy Gloria Kallis, Whitecourt, Alberta


Colour photo of the Eaton Beauty 1901

The Eaton Beauty for 1901 was made by Cuno & Otto Dressel, Germany. Bisque head, fully ball-jointed, papier mâché body; original underwear, socks and shoes, old cotton dress, may be original.

Doll courtesy Evelyn Strahlendorf

© Doll courtesy Evelyn Strahlendorf


The choice of company to manufacture the dolls was, of course, a business decision and each year Eaton's chose the company that had the best price. In 1904 and 1905, the Beauties were made by J. D. Kestner of Germany and had leather bodies and bisque shoulderheads marked 15413; six or seven sizes were available. In the catalogues, the dolls were illustrated in line drawings, making it very difficult to identify the manufacturers. An Eaton Beauty with the original chemise and ribbon and a photograph of the doll with the delighted little girl who received it is the most accurate indicator that it's an original.

In 1905, Winnipeg had a rapidly growing population of 77 000 when Eaton's opened a large five-storey department store and introduced a catalogue specifically for the influx of settlers moving through Winnipeg into Western Canada. Like some other merchandise, the Eaton Beauties shown in the Toronto catalogues were not always the same as those shown in the Winnipeg catalogues.

The 1906 and 1907 catalogues carried the Eaton Beauty Dollar Doll. Made by Cuno & Otto Dressel, it came in seven sizes from $1.00 to $5.00. The red ribbon had the Holtz Masse (wo Read More
The choice of company to manufacture the dolls was, of course, a business decision and each year Eaton's chose the company that had the best price. In 1904 and 1905, the Beauties were made by J. D. Kestner of Germany and had leather bodies and bisque shoulderheads marked 15413; six or seven sizes were available. In the catalogues, the dolls were illustrated in line drawings, making it very difficult to identify the manufacturers. An Eaton Beauty with the original chemise and ribbon and a photograph of the doll with the delighted little girl who received it is the most accurate indicator that it's an original.

In 1905, Winnipeg had a rapidly growing population of 77 000 when Eaton's opened a large five-storey department store and introduced a catalogue specifically for the influx of settlers moving through Winnipeg into Western Canada. Like some other merchandise, the Eaton Beauties shown in the Toronto catalogues were not always the same as those shown in the Winnipeg catalogues.

The 1906 and 1907 catalogues carried the Eaton Beauty Dollar Doll. Made by Cuno & Otto Dressel, it came in seven sizes from $1.00 to $5.00. The red ribbon had the Holtz Masse (wood composition) logo beside the gold Eaton Beauty logo.

Armand Marseille made the Beauty for the 1908-09 catalogue with pretty bisque heads, glass eyes, and long ringlets. Sometimes, two sisters receiving Eaton Beauty dolls were given dolls with different eye colour (blue or brown) so they could tell their dolls apart.

Schoenau & Hoffmeister also made the Beauties for the 1908-09 catalogues only; Cuno & Otto Dressel made them again for 1909-10 and 1911-12.

Armand Marseille of Germany provided the dolls for the catalogues of 1911-12, 1912-13, 1913-14, and 1914-15. During the First World War, dolls from Europe were not available. Luckily, the dolls had been already purchased for the 1914-15 fall-and-winter catalogue. The Beauties were available in a 27-inch size [65.58-cm] for $4.00 and a replacement head could be ordered for 35 cents.

© Canadian Museum of Civilization Corporation

Colour photo of The Eaton Beauty 1905 to 1906

This type of doll was used as an Eaton Beauty in 1905-1906 and was made by Armand Marseille, Germany. Bisque head, model #390, fully ball-jointed composition body.

Gift of Mrs. C. Moore, Ottawa

Bisque head, fully ball-jointed composition body.
D1073
© Canadian Museum of Civilization


Colour photo of Eaton Beauty 1913 to 1914

Eaton Beauty for 1913-14 made by Armand Marseille, Germany. Bisque head, fully ball-jointed composition body; replaced dress, original red ribbon, socks and shoes.

Evelyn Strahlendorf

© Evelyn Strahlendorf


The Dominion Toy Manufacturing Company, a new Canadian doll manufacturer, was established in Toronto in 1911. It produced a very nice composition fully ball-jointed doll, but with a composition head, not bisque. Dominion provided Eaton's with the Eaton Beauties for 1915, but the sleep eyes were not glass and the composition heads not as beautiful as the bisque. The Eaton Beauties became available again in 1924 when they could be imported from Germany.

The Schoenhut all-wood dolls made in the United States were featured in the 1917 catalogue and priced at $4.50, enough to buy a week's groceries in 1917! Japan tried to fill the void by supplying bisque headed dolls with Caucasian features, but none were used as Eato Beauties.

In 1922, the catalogue showed an "Eaton's Special Doll" made by SFBJ in France, marked S.F.B.J./60/PARIS. Many collectors today believe their S.F.B.J. dolls are Eaton Beauties, but the dolls were never called Eaton Beauty in the catalogue.

Eaton's fall-and-winter catalogue for 1923-24 included a "Miss Canada Doll." She was all composition, fully ball jointed and 18 inches [45.72 cm] tall. She was dressed in a Read More
The Dominion Toy Manufacturing Company, a new Canadian doll manufacturer, was established in Toronto in 1911. It produced a very nice composition fully ball-jointed doll, but with a composition head, not bisque. Dominion provided Eaton's with the Eaton Beauties for 1915, but the sleep eyes were not glass and the composition heads not as beautiful as the bisque. The Eaton Beauties became available again in 1924 when they could be imported from Germany.

The Schoenhut all-wood dolls made in the United States were featured in the 1917 catalogue and priced at $4.50, enough to buy a week's groceries in 1917! Japan tried to fill the void by supplying bisque headed dolls with Caucasian features, but none were used as Eato Beauties.

In 1922, the catalogue showed an "Eaton's Special Doll" made by SFBJ in France, marked S.F.B.J./60/PARIS. Many collectors today believe their S.F.B.J. dolls are Eaton Beauties, but the dolls were never called Eaton Beauty in the catalogue.

Eaton's fall-and-winter catalogue for 1923-24 included a "Miss Canada Doll." She was all composition, fully ball jointed and 18 inches [45.72 cm] tall. She was dressed in a red felt coat with white woolly cuffs, collar, and matching hat at a price of $2.95.

The Eaton Beauty by Armand Marseille with her identifying ribbon, chemise, socks, and shoes, was back in the 1924-25 fall-and-winter catalogue. Her 21-inch [53.34-cm] body was fully jointed composition and her glass sleep eyes had real eyelashes. The doll cost $1.50 and was also labelled as an "Eatonia" doll, indicating an excellent value. By the 1920s, the popularity of the Eaton's Beauty doll was remarkable and little girls throughout Canada were putting it on their Santa Claus wish list.

Other department stores introduced their own beauty dolls. The 1910-11 Hudson's Bay Company catalogue showed a doll with a bisque shoulderhead and leather body with a ribbon labelled Western Beauty. Another doll was found wearing a green ribbon with Hudson's Bay printed on it. Simpson's 1927 catalogue featured a doll called a Simpson's Princess doll. A lovely 30-inch [76.2-cm] Armand Marseille has surfaced with a red ribbon marked Canadian Beauty. Lovely as these dolls were, they were never as popular as the Eaton's Beauty dolls.

From 1925 to 1927 the Beauties were made by Armand Marseille, but the 1927-28 catalogue showed a Cuno & Otto Dressel doll. The 22-, 24- and 27-inch [55.88-, 60.96-, and 65.58-cm] dolls wore the Princess slip for the first time and the new, short bobbed hair that was fashionable at the time.

In the 1928-29 catalogue, a 21-inch [53.34-cm] doll was shown with a ribbon identifying her as an Eatonia doll. She was only a dollar while the same sized Beauties cost $1.50. Because most families had very little disposable income at the time, many parents bought this less expensive doll and told their daughters it was an Eaton's Beauty. The doll was offered again in 1931.

With the Depression in full swing by 1934-35, the Eaton Beauty, again made by Armand Marseille, had only a five-piece composition body and painted bisque head. The painted bisque was not washable so the price was lowered to $1.39 and a replacement head was available for 39 cents. Many people did not have cars at this time and most of the Christmas shopping was done from catalogues.

© Canadian Museum of Civilization Corporation

Colour photo of Eaton Beauty for 1915 to 1916

Eaton Beauty for 1915-16 made by Dominion Toy Mfg. Co., Toronto. All composition, fully jointed body.

Harry Foster, doll courtesy Evelyn Strahlendorf

© Harry Foster, doll courtesy Evelyn Strahlendorf


When the Second World War began in 1939, the Eaton Beauties were again produced in Canada. The Reliable Toy Company in Toronto made an all-composition 18-inch [45.72-cm] doll wearing the Princess slip, socks, shoes, and a red ribbon declaring them Eaton Beauties. Extra clothing was also available for 95 cents. This doll was one of seventeen featured on four commemorative stamps of Canadian dolls issued in 1990.

Although it was possible to buy an Eaton Beauty in 1944 and 1945 from stocks on hand, Reliable had stopped making them in 1943 because the eyes were metal and there were restrictions on the use of metal due to the war. From 1946 to 1953, Eaton Beauty dolls were not available although the popular Little Angel and Baby Precious dolls were advertised in the catalogues.

The 1954 Winnipeg gift catalogue showed an Eaton Beauty doll. It was made by the Dee & Cee Toy Co. and was 18 inches [45.72 cm] tall with a vinyl head, rooted Saran hair, and rubber arms and legs. She wore a striped dress with a matching bonnet and a red ribbon and sold for $5.98. A similar doll was sold in the Winnipeg 1955-56 catalogue wearing a two-tone taffeta dress, a straw hat, an Read More
When the Second World War began in 1939, the Eaton Beauties were again produced in Canada. The Reliable Toy Company in Toronto made an all-composition 18-inch [45.72-cm] doll wearing the Princess slip, socks, shoes, and a red ribbon declaring them Eaton Beauties. Extra clothing was also available for 95 cents. This doll was one of seventeen featured on four commemorative stamps of Canadian dolls issued in 1990.

Although it was possible to buy an Eaton Beauty in 1944 and 1945 from stocks on hand, Reliable had stopped making them in 1943 because the eyes were metal and there were restrictions on the use of metal due to the war. From 1946 to 1953, Eaton Beauty dolls were not available although the popular Little Angel and Baby Precious dolls were advertised in the catalogues.

The 1954 Winnipeg gift catalogue showed an Eaton Beauty doll. It was made by the Dee & Cee Toy Co. and was 18 inches [45.72 cm] tall with a vinyl head, rooted Saran hair, and rubber arms and legs. She wore a striped dress with a matching bonnet and a red ribbon and sold for $5.98. A similar doll was sold in the Winnipeg 1955-56 catalogue wearing a two-tone taffeta dress, a straw hat, and a red ribbon sewn into the waist seam of her dress.

The dolls with rubber arms and legs did not usually survive very long as the rubber deteriorated quickly. Dee an Cee provided a doll for the 1956 Toronto Christmas catalogue with a vinyl skin body stuffed with cotton and a vinyl head with rooted hair. She wore a rayon ninon dress and straw hat trimmed with flowers, again with the Eaton's Beauty ribbon sewn into her dress.

In 1957, the Eaton Beauty dolls came in eight inches [20.32 cm] as well as in 18 [45.72 cm] and 23 inches [58.42 cm], and were priced at $2.98, $5.98, and $7.98 respectively. The dolls were made by Dee & Cee but the eight-inch [20.32-cm] doll had no ribbon and was identified as an Eaton Beauty only on the box.

© Canadian Museum of Civilization Corporation

Colour photo of Eaton Beauty 1941 to 1942

Eaton Beauty for 1941-42 made by Reliable Toy Co., Toronto. All composition; original nurse's uniform, ordered from the catalogue.

Evelyn Strahlendorf

© Evelyn Strahlendorf


No Eaton Beauties were shown in 1958 and 1959. In 1960, Dee & Cee made an 18-inch [45.72-cm] doll with a vinyl head marked "1960/Eaton Beauty by Dee & Cee." She wore a lovely flowered taffeta dress with a white pinafore.

In 1962, the Eaton Beauty was a 22-inch [55.88-cm] doll made by Regal Toy. She had long hair and an Eaton Beauty ribbon; extra outfits were available. In 1963, the catalogues identified a 21-inch [53.34-cm] Regal doll as an Eaton Beauty but there was no marking and no ribbon.

The 1964 Eaton Beauty doll wore a dress with a red velveteen bodice and white lace-trimmed skirt. Two similar dolls were also shown but neither of them wore an identifying ribbon. In 1965, four dolls were offered as Eaton Beauties, but again there were no Eaton Beauty ribbons.

In 1977, collectors of Eaton Beauty dolls were happy to see Eaton's revert to the earlier doll with a bisque head and ball-jointed composition body. Dorothy Churchill of Toronto made these reproductions of Armand Marseille's popular mould #390 doll. The dolls were marked A4M/Dorothy/Churchill 1977 and were attractively dressed. The artist continued making Eaton Beauty d Read More
No Eaton Beauties were shown in 1958 and 1959. In 1960, Dee & Cee made an 18-inch [45.72-cm] doll with a vinyl head marked "1960/Eaton Beauty by Dee & Cee." She wore a lovely flowered taffeta dress with a white pinafore.

In 1962, the Eaton Beauty was a 22-inch [55.88-cm] doll made by Regal Toy. She had long hair and an Eaton Beauty ribbon; extra outfits were available. In 1963, the catalogues identified a 21-inch [53.34-cm] Regal doll as an Eaton Beauty but there was no marking and no ribbon.

The 1964 Eaton Beauty doll wore a dress with a red velveteen bodice and white lace-trimmed skirt. Two similar dolls were also shown but neither of them wore an identifying ribbon. In 1965, four dolls were offered as Eaton Beauties, but again there were no Eaton Beauty ribbons.

In 1977, collectors of Eaton Beauty dolls were happy to see Eaton's revert to the earlier doll with a bisque head and ball-jointed composition body. Dorothy Churchill of Toronto made these reproductions of Armand Marseille's popular mould #390 doll. The dolls were marked A4M/Dorothy/Churchill 1977 and were attractively dressed. The artist continued making Eaton Beauty dolls through 1981 until illness forced her to stop.

April Katz of Toronto made Eaton Beauties for Eaton's from 1983 to 1989. They were beautifully dressed little girl dolls with bisque heads and porcelain bodies. In 1989, April Katz produced a 16-inch [40.64-cm] doll called Louisette. Although she was a lovely doll she was not popular with collectors.

In 1991, the American company, Dynasty Doll, made Joyce Marie, an elaborately dressed child doll wearing a large hat. She came with a Certificate of Authenticity. In 1992, Yvonne Richardson of Toronto designed a lady doll, produced by Dynasty Doll. Unfortunately, the lady doll was a disappointment to collectors who had been waiting for the next Eaton Beauty. Many of these dolls were sold at a reduced price.

In 1994, Dynasty Doll produced Emily Anne, an elaborately dressed child doll priced at $250. In 1995, Ivy Marie was introduced as the first Eaton Christmas Beauty doll. She was a lady doll with a cloth body, porcelain hands and feet, upswept hair, and a burgundy satin lace-trimmed gown complete with matching hat and parasol.

Annabelle, the Eaton Beauty Doll for 1996, was another lady doll. She wore a white ribbon with gold print declaring her an Eaton Beauty. In 1997, Effanbee produced a child doll in a fancy costume wearing the identifying white ribbon. There was also a Christmas Beauty in 1997, a lovely lady in a green gown.

The last Beauty appeared in 1999 completing 100 years of a Canadian series of dolls much beloved by children and doll collectors across the country.

© Société du Musée canadien des civilisations

Colour photo of Eaton Beauty for 1963

Eaton Beauty for 1963 made by the Regal Toy Company, Toronto. Vinyl head, plastic five-piece body; redressed.

Evelyn Strahlendorf

© Evelyn Strahlendorf


Colour photo of the Eaton Christmas Beauty for 1997

The Eaton Christmas Beauty for 1997. Bisque head; all original lace-trimmed, dark green gown and matching hat.

Doll courtesy Connie and Roger Leask, Battleford, Saskatchewan

© Doll courtesy Connie and Roger Leask, Battleford, Saskatchewan


Learning Objectives

The learner will:
  • observe and identify the characteristics of early 20th century lifestyle;
  • compare the evolution of the Canadian and Quebec society over several decades;
  • explain the similarities and differences between past and present society;
  • discuss the main events of the 20th century (economic crisis, World Wars, unionization, feminist movement) and the impact that they had on Canadian and Quebec societies.

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