Family

1951 & 1963 – Betsy McCall on Christmas Morning

Paper dolls 12 years apart

Paper dolls were fun for mid-century girls. As a kid growing up in the sixties, I remember the thrill of getting a book of paper dolls. They were sold on thick glossy cardstock with perforations that allowed you to push out the shape of the doll and her clothes to be mixed and matched.

Betsy McCalls Paper Dolls – December 1951 and December 1963

Any 6 year old girl knows that the best thing about having a doll is dressing her. This is true for flat dolls and 3 dimensional dolls as well. McCall’s magazine agreed. They published their Betsy McCalls series for decades and eventually sold Betsy McCall dolls that could be loved and dressed and purchased in the store. A Betsy McCall page could be found in each issue. I have two December issues of McCall’s magazine showing Betsy McCall on Christmas morning. One from 1951 and one 12 years later from 1963. Each page included a few paragraphs to tell how Betsy enjoyed Christmas morning.

Betsy McCall on Christmas Morning December 1951
Betsy McCall on Christmas Morning December 1963

The Betsy McCall page served double duty. It was also an excuse to sell stuff. Here’s a write up from the 1963 issue to tell the reader where they can buy Betsy’s nighties.

Betsy’s pretty lingerie by Her Majesty (sized 4 to 10). Slip about $3. Gown about $5. Peignoir about $16. Set about $21. May be seen as Saks Fifth Avenue New York, Frederick & Nelson Seattle, Bullock’s Los Angeles, Higbee’s Cleveland.

One more sweet thing found in small print is instruction telling how to get more Betsy McCall paper dolls. Here’s what the 1951 issue said.

For designs for a paper-doll family on sturdy cardboard, send 10 cents in stamps to Modern Homemaker, McCall’s, Dayton 1 Ohio.

I’m not sure what “10 cents in stamps” is referring to. However, the 1963 edition tells the reader to send coin and not stamps. Note the difference in the address. Apparently a box number and zip code was not necessary in 1951.

For paper dolls of Betsy and her cousin Linda printed in color on sturdy cardboard plus 18 new costumes to cut out for them send 25 cents in coin (please do not send stamps) to McCall’s Box No 1100 Dept 1 Dayton Ohio 45401.

Here’s to kids, the anticipation on Christmas Eve, and the thrill on Christmas morning.

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