Cybis Doll Designs for the Hamilton Collection

There are only two known instances when the Cybis studio ever licensed any of their designs to another manufacturer. Both of them were dolls produced by The Hamilton Collection during the early 1990s. This doesn’t come as a huge surprise because Cybis’ biggest rival, the Boehm studio, had been working with the Hamilton Collection ever since the late 1970s for both floral pieces and collector plates. Boehm actually made those items, which is why Hamilton’s name doesn’t appear anywhere on the items themselves.

However, Boehm also partnered with Hamilton for three porcelain doll issues: a baby/christening doll in 1993, and a toddler and a bride doll in 1994. Boehm’s name does not appear anywhere on those dolls. This indicates that Boehm only supplied the design prototypes, and that the dolls themselves were entirely manufactured offshore by Hamilton. This was what the Cybis studio did: They supplied the design and a prototype, but Hamilton took care of everything else: marketing, production, and distribution.

‘A Gift of Innocence’ clown doll

The first Cybis/Hamilton Collection collaboration resulted in the production of a clown doll called A Gift of Innocence.

 

It was a modification of Cybis’ circa-1970s open-edition child clown head Funny Face into a doll with a porcelain head and other components. It is important to stress that no part of the doll was actually physically produced (made) by Cybis. The only involvement that the Cybis studio had was to provide the head sculpt design, and probably a single sample, to the Hamilton Collection production department, and sold Hamilton a license to manufacture the doll, use the Cybis name in its marketing campaign, and sell the product.

The doll is about 18″ long. It was introduced by Hamilton in the summer of 1991 as a numbered limited edition but the edition size is unknown. Examples numbered in the high 3000s have appeared for sale online, so it’s likely to have been an edition of between 4000 and 5000.

A helpful Archive reader who recently purchased one of these dolls has been kind enough to take some photos to illustrate this post; all the images watermarked ©SaffronCrowcus are hers. Many, many thanks! 😊

The box front and COA repeat the assertion that the doll is the “first-ever porcelain doll to bear the Cybis name” – which is not the same as stating that it is actually made by Cybis.
On the back of the box exterior one finds the place of manufacture (Malaysia.)

The doll as originally packaged in the box.
The doll pictured above was missing the hangtag that was originally attached to his wrist. It reads,

The renowned Cybis Studio and The Hamilton Collection are proud to present “A Gift of Innocence”, inspired by the original collection of Cybis masterpieces, (Children to Cherish.) This doll is available exclusively from the Cybis Studio and The Hamilton Collection. Each doll has been created in fine bisque porcelain, delicately painted by hand and dressed in hand tailored clothing.

I have never seen a Cybis price list that includes any doll. However, the only applicable price list I have at present is the one for the Spring 1991 introductions, and I have no 1992 price lists at all. Their 1993 price lists do not mention either doll, but it is possible that it may have been on a 1991 or 1992 Cybis price list if the hangtag claim of it being available from both sources is true.

It is also possible that the dolls may have only been available at the Cybis studio/showroom, which had begun doing the factory-tour-bus thing in the early 1990s. Many items that never appeared on any published Cybis price list were available for purchase in person at the studio during the 1990s. That said, I was at the studio several times in 1991, 1992 and 1993 and never saw either of the Hamilton dolls on display there at those times, nor were they ever mentioned to us.

This generic ‘care’ card was also included with all of Hamilton’s porcelain-component dolls.

I have always been curious about the construction of the doll itself (i.e., which parts actually were porcelain) and whether the clothing could be removed/changed. My very helpful reader made it possible to answer those questions.

The clown outfit can be opened, but cannot be removed. The back and collar are secured by plastic snaps, rather than the more durable and easier-to-open metal type. In the upper photo, the stamp on the back of the doll’s head can also be seen. It shows the doll’s name, the manufacturer and copyright information, and the doll’s production number (in case the COA ever got lost.) The place of manufacture is not indicated in this easily-viewable area.
The place of manufacture (Malaysia) can only be discovered if the clothing is opened and the body-materials tag exposed. This tag is sewn into a structural seam, as required by law. It also discloses that the doll body is 100% cotton (both cover and stuffing/filling.) The cover material appears to be a muslin weave.

This is the extent to which the doll’s outfit can be removed. It’s not clear how far the porcelain neck area extends below the muslin body cover.

The hands and forearms are porcelain. Because the sleeve opening is narrower than the hand, and has limited stretch, the outfit could not be removed past the uppermost area even if it were not as snug-fitting as it is.
This photo shows how far the porcelain forearm/hand extends upward. It is approximately where the elbow would be if the doll were articulated (having movable joints.) The shoes and socks are permanently attached to the legs and feet, which are also porcelain but thus are always hidden.

A small bouquet of fabric daisies accompanied the doll; it’s small enough to fit within the doll’s fingers, or be placed in his lap.

This is Hamilton’s ad that appeared in various magazines such as Collector Editions and Acquire.

Their six-folded marketing brochure featured this photo on the cover when folded up.
This interior panel had a “first-ever…” blurb on the facing panel.
The text of the brochure is very detailed. Notice that it mentions five porcelain components: head, arms, and legs. This indicates that although the legs and feet are permanently hidden by fabric, they are porcelain. Even more interesting is this, stating that this doll is intended as

…the first in a collection of Cybis dolls entitled Children to Cherish. Each doll is inspired by a different sculpture from Cybis’ coveted collection of children.

As far as we know, only two such doll designs were actually produced by Hamilton. It also raises the question of whether the heads were in fact designed by Cybis, or whether a Hamilton designer created them, using the Cybis pieces as the basis, and thus needed only Cybis’ licensed approval of the final design. If that was the case (the head having been designed outside the Cybis studio itself), then whoever did this doll was a good copyist indeed. But regardless of where the doll head was designed, it was not done by the same two artists (Marylin Chorlton and William Pae) who created the original Cybis piece. That much is certain.
When completely unfolded, the reverse side of the brochure looked like this. An excellent photograph, I must say. However, I wonder how many people noticed the difference  between the doll in the advertisements and the dolls that were actually produced. Can you spot it? (* If not, the answer is at the very end of this post.)

These dolls regularly appear on eBay nowadays and sell for between $30 and $50 depending on condition. They originally retailed for $135 from Hamilton.

 ‘A Gift of Beauty’ young girl doll

The other Cybis/Hamilton doll is called A Gift of Beauty and was a 1992 release by Hamilton. She is the same size as A Gift of Innocence and retailed for the same $135 price.

In contrast to the clown doll which is easily found, I have seen less than a dozen of these come up for sale online. This may be because it did not sell as well; there are gazillions of collector dolls depicting girls, but there is also an additional collector genre for clown items of all kinds, allowing Gift of Innocence to reach beyond only the collector-doll market.

The original box and COA for this doll differ slightly because she cannot claim to be the first-ever doll connected with Cybis.

The back of the box reveals that these dolls were made in the Philippines, rather than in Malaysia as the previous doll was. Hamilton – and its sister mass-market-collectibles companies under the Bradford corporate umbrella – had factory affiliates all over the world. There is another difference here also: It says © 1992 Cybis, whereas the previous doll’s box stamp says © 1991 HC (for Hamilton Collection.)

The difference between the two neck stamps is a big deal from a legal perspective. Not only does the 1992 doll give the copyright owner as Cybis, but there is an additional mold impression saying © 1992 Cybis for Hamilton Collection. According to this, Hamilton retains no ‘rights’ to this product at all, except as a licensee to manufacture, distribute, and advertise it on Cybis’ behalf as well as their own. The studio clearly wanted to identify itself more strongly with this second doll than with the first, but I have no idea why. It’s obvious that some wrangling took place between the production of the first and second doll issues!

Two different examples of an in-box doll. The doll on the right retains the original netting that holds her curls in place, as well as the original plastic bag. Unlike the clown doll, this one includes a stand.

This doll came with a card giving instructions for posing. The doll in the photo above has not been posed as suggested.

She came with this hangtag and the butterfly which I assume is made of porcelain. The text inside the hangtag is identical to the one that came with A Gift of Innocence, except that the doll’s name was changed to A Gift of Beauty.

A comparison of the butterfly on the Cybis Psyche with the one accompanying the Hamilton doll.

The doll also wears a fabric headband to correspond with the sculpture, the only difference being that the doll’s butterfly is not attached to it, but is meant to be held in her hands instead. The doll’s headband is more decorative, however. The lower left photo shows that the doll’s hairstyle does indeed mimic that of the Cybis piece.

 

This is the only close-up photo of this doll’s hands; it’s not known how far up the porcelain goes, but my guess is that if the arms have a wire inside for pose-ability, the porcelain is probably no longer than her wrist, in order to minimize the weight at the end. This photo also shows some detail of her dress fabric and the faux pearl trim on many of the edges.

This photo of the ‘bagged’ example shows that she wears lace pantaloons and a lace petticoat beneath her dress. I assume that, like the clown doll, the socks and shoes are permanently affixed and that her feet and/or at least part of her legs are porcelain.

I have never come across any advertising material for the Gift of Beauty doll, but if anyone happens to have an advertisement or brochure and would like to contribute some photos for this post, I would be most grateful! There is a contact form link below. It would also be nice to someday have a photo of one posed with butterfly-in-hands as the Hamilton insert suggested.

Although these two dolls were never made at Cybis, they are part of the studio’s history because they are the only two known examples of a Cybis-licensed product.

(* The advertising photos all show the bows at the doll’s collar, wrists, and ankles as blue – but the majority of dolls seen for sale today have white bows. The white bows have oxidized over time to various shades of cream or yellow, although the dolls that were never removed from their box do have whiter bows today. The doll used in my comparison photo was made with blue bows. However, almost all of those have oxidized to a teal color over time; some are even lighter or greener than the example that I chose. I have never seen a Gift of Innocence doll whose bows have remained the same color blue as the Hamilton advertising showed.)

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