Vintage Visitors – Tuppence or a Penny?


Little Tuppence and Penny Brite

Today’s Vintage Visitor post is about three dolls which seem to be causing collectors a great deal of confusion  Deluxe Reading’s Penny Brite and Lincoln International’s Little Tuppence and Posing Penny.

I think I mentioned that Naomi had a Penny Brite doll as a child. I remember her quite well. I think it was the second version that Naomi had as the original Penny Brite could not be posed according to what I have read but the later ones could. I can remember the advertising jingle which mentions that Penny Brite “can be posed like you.” I also remember that Naomi’s Penny Brite had wired arms and legs and that her limbs had indentations which my Patch did not have.

Penny Brite by Deluxe Reading (Topper Toys)

First manufactured in 1963 Penny Brite is not that hard to find, she is about eight inches tall and is marked A-9//DELUXE READING CORP.//©1963 on the back of her head. Other possible head marking (first line) are: 81, 832, A25, B90, B132, A100, B19 and B143. On her back she is marked DELUXE READING CORP.// ELIZABETH, NJ.// PAT. PENDING.

(Topper Toys) Deluxe Reading Penny Brite and clothes.
(Topper Toys) Deluxe Reading Penny Brite and clothes.

Penny Brite had short blonde hair, dimpled cheeks and was originally sold in a red and white dress with embroidered flowers on it. She had several outfits and some rather cute playsets.

 

The Competition

I should also mention that there a lot of other Penny Brite clones. Miss Cindy was a very similar doll to Penny Brite made by a company called Cragstan.  Miss Cindy is marked Hong Kong on her head and back. Cragstan produced several outfits for Miss Cindy as well.

Miss Cindy by Cragstan
Miss Cindy by Cragstan photo from http://kenbarbieclones1960s-1990s.weebly.com/preteen-doll-competitors.html

Now here is where the fun begins. Another doll very similar to Penny Brite is Little Tuppence who was made by a New Zealand Company called Lincoln International in 1965. These dolls were sold throughout Australia and New Zealand. Little Tuppence had a friend doll called Posing Penny. Can you see why this was going to get confusing?

I’ve been doing some googling as I was confused about it myself. I’d never found out what the differences were between them.  I found an eBay buyers guide on the subject which gives the markings for each doll and this is the best way to ID them.

This is what the guide says about it.

Little Tuppence and Posing Penny are usually around 20 cm or 8 inches tall, however some can be up to 1 cm taller. In general, there are no markings on Little Tuppence or Posing Penny doll’s head, although some have a very faint A 9 marking near the hairline.  Some Little Tuppence dolls have large soft vinyl heads, while others have smaller harder heads.  They are marked on the back of the body, usually across the shoulders, with either HONG KONG, MADE IN HONG KONG, MADE IN HONGKONG or MADE IN N.Z. These markings are usually in raised lettering and some can be very small or very hard to read. Some dolls however have no markings at all.

Jennifer Burnett’s article about the early history of Barbie which I posted recently also contains some information about Little Tuppence. You can read it here.

I have included a link to the guide at the end of this post so anyone trying to figure out what they have can read it in full. The other main difference seems to be arms. Little Tuppence and Posing Penny have hands that are spread flat and their palms face backwards. Penny Brite has hands that are slightly cupped and palms face the doll’s sides.

Little Tuppence has short blonde hair that varies in shade and texture and was sold in a white broderie anglaise top with attached slip with a red skirt over it. She had a red hair band and shoes to match. Posing Penny has reddish-brown hair in two bunches. She was sold in a red and white polka dot bikini.

Of course there were other Penny Brite clones which were generally less well made, with lightweight plastic bodies and various hair colours. They were usually although not always stamped made in Hong Kong on their backs.

Naomi's Penny Brite clones
Naomi’s Penny Brite clones

Having read all this I was now ready to ID Naomi’s vintage dolls. One of them in particular interested me. A brunette with freckles. Is she “Posing Penny”? I had not seen it mentioned that Posing Penny had freckles but it was quite common in companion dolls at the time, Patch, Pepper and Skooter all have freckles. More importantly what about the doll marks?

On the back of her head I could see a faint mark that included what looked like a number 9. On her back the Hong Kong mark. She could be Posing Penny which would be cool as she is a fairly hard to find doll. Here she is. What do you think?

One of the blonde dolls had the same mark on her head so I’m thinking that she might be Little Tuppence. The brunette doll was wearing the outfit I identified as Little Tuppence’s so she will have it back. This doll and one of the others has red staining on her feet which is apparently common in Little Tuppence dolls which were sold in red shoes.

Another characteristic of Little Tuppence and Posing Penny is that sometimes you find them with one leg slightly shorter than the other. I noticed this trait on the brunette and at least one of the other dolls.

The others may also be Little Tuppences or they may be Hong Kong mystery girls. They are not Penny Brite as they don’t have the Deluxe Reading mark and their hands are not correct. I don’t believe they are Miss Cindy as they are not marked Cragstan. Little Tuppence was a big seller in Australia and New Zealand so I think that they are more likely to be Little Tuppence than anything else.

One of them does look a lot more like Penny Brite than the others. Her hands face to the sides of the doll but she is only marked Hong Kong. I think she was made with the Penny Brite head mold however and she is more likely to be a Penny Brite clone than a Little Tuppence. I’ve not heard if Deluxe Reading produced unmarked dolls for the Australian market but that would not surprise me either.

Conclusion

I am fairly sure I’m right about the first two dolls being Little Tuppence and Posing Penny. I’m not at all sure about the others. I do think that the little airline stewardess outfit one of them is wearing is a Little Tuppence outfit even though it is untagged.

Little Tuppence in original outfit and friend Posing Penny
Little Tuppence in original outfit and friend Posing Penny

References:

The World of Penny Brite http://www.angelfire.com/retro/penny_brite/pennyb/pennyb1.htm

http://dollreference.com/deluxereading_pennybrite_doll1964.html

http://www.ebay.com.au/gds/Guide-to-buying-Little-Tuppence-and-Posing-Penny-dolls-/10000000001218987/g.html

http://kenbarbieclones1960s-1990s.weebly.com/preteen-doll-competitors.html

 

 

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3 comments

  1. Hi, I’m Jennifer, who wrote the Aussie doll article and the Little Tuppence guide you reference. I can ID your dolls. You have three Little Tuppences, a Posing Penny and a clone I am yet to identify. In the group photo above, the three dolls to the right are Little Tuppence – two with the hard head and one with the soft head. The hostess outfit is also Tuppence’s Air Hostess fashion, and you also have her original fashion. The brunette is indeed Posing Penny. The last doll is a mystery. I come across her often and she is such high quality she is often mistaken for Tuppence or Penny Brite. I am yet to identify her, but will keep at it! Lovely dolls. 🙂

    Like

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