A new year with A NEW CHALLENGE

Okay ephemera people out there, specifically paperdoll people. I'm giving you a challenge. Actually what I'm doing is begging for help.

Below you will see the subject of my quandary. This little paperdoll is old and brittle. It came in a box I purchased on ebay years ago. The seller bought it from a fellow who bought it from an estate sale. It had once belonged to a librarian who paid $10 for it. Since it was just one of many paperdolls in the box it cost me about $4. The problem is I have never seen anything about these G.E.M. cut out dolls. Obviously the box/doll goes with only two of the outfits, the other two being for a boy. So this means there must have been a series of these dolls, both boys and girls, but I've found zip/nada/nothin'! Not one of the reference books shows this. I've found nothing online referencing these dolls.

So I'm throwing it out there onto the net in hopes I'll be able to pull back some sort of catch. Any ideas? Anyone?

G.E.M. paper doll_cut out_tatteredandlost
Click on image to see it larger.

UPDATE: If you look at the comments section you'll find one from Lauren Sodano at the Strong National Museum of Play in Rochester, NY. She has provided the information that this doll was most likely published by the George E. Mousley Company that was located in Philadelphia. I did a little googling and can't find much about the company other than a few games that were produced in the late 1950s. I did however find a couple postcards that were published by a "George E. Mousley"in 1910 so perhaps that is how this company started. I also found a listing at Ancestory.com for a George E. Mousley in Philadelphia, but I'm not a member of the site so I can't dig any further.

So keep your eyes open for "G.E.M. BRAND", "Geo. E. Mousley" or "George E. Mousley" because sooner or later there must be something about this company and its origins.

And special thanks to Lauren Sodano of the Strong National Museum of Play for sending me this information.

UPDATE 2: This is really getting interesting because it looks like what we have here is some, shall we say, "cross pollination" in the paper toy world. Linda from The Paper Collector has put out a call about this doll and received the following from Peggy Ell:
Hi Linda,
The doll's body is Janet from American Colortype, but her head is different, can't place it. The clothing is from Universal - see pgs 311 & 312 in Mary's 20th Century book.
Indeed Peg is right on the mark. The clothing on pgs. 311 & 312 in Mary Young's 20th Century Paper Dolls guide do match these clothes attributed to the Universal Toy and Novelty Mfg. Co. And the doll body on the back of the box above does match the American Colortype doll Janet which is on pg. 12, but not the head.

So was there outright theft by one company using images from another company? It's pretty common to find dolls used over and over again by one particular company. There were several dolls on the market that were simply Shirley Temple without Shirley. Same clothing, but the dolls were changed. But, as I recall, this was generally done within in one company that owned the original art work. I've never seen parts of a set coming from so many directions.

The Universal Toy and Novelty Mfg. Co. was based in Chicago and one of the things they produced were baseball cards as can be seen here and here and pull-toys as shown here. And of course the paper dolls shown on pgs. 311-312 in Mary Young's guide.

So, how did all of these bits-and-pieces end up together in the hands of George E. Mousley in Philadelphia at G.E.M. Brand? The mystery gets more complex.

Let's see if any other information surfaces.


A special thanks to Linda at The Paper Collector for choosing to honor me today with a mention of my blog. Her blog is a special place for those who especially love paperdolls and she has been very helpful to me in discovering the name of one set I purchased at an estate sale.

I would in kind like to pass along this honor to Janice at Janice Pattie who is constantly testing her creative juices, always entertaining, and makes me smile when I think of Scotland.

And I'd like to acknowledge Pieces of the Past, the funoldhag, for sharing her personal vernacular photography collection with all of us. Her families story in photographs is something rare to find online.

And frankly, Spotty Dog is a gem I wouldn't want to be without. The drawings always bring a smile. Another Scot with a sense of humor.


  1. Can't help with the doll query I'm afraid, but thank you very much for the award. There is something about your blog posts which brings out the worst errr best in me lol! You have made me look at some of my old tat in a different light. Indeed today when I was putting away my Christmas decorations, I was looking at the little old tree that my gran gave me and the little box of glass baubles that goes with it and I found myself thinking "maybe I should take a picture of that, someone might be interested in it" but I didn't, so it will have to wait till next year.

    Good luck with the paper doll.

  2. You know, at least I know my job here is done. Someone is looking at their flotsam and jetsam differently. The little scraps we don't even notice but we're constantly moving around.

  3. I may be really whacked on this one, but I think that I've seen GEM as either a tobacco or flour product, and I'm wondering if these were possibly offered as premiums. They almost look tobacco card shaped as it is.

  4. Well if anyone were to know of old companies it would be you from your great sources of old paper. This might just be a direction. Thanks Dave!

  5. From an artistic viewpoint, these look very similar to some sheets I have that have a logo of a globe with "Universal" across it and "Made in USA" underneath.

  6. Eugenia, These don't have anything like that written on them. Do you know any other information about the ones you have? The only part I didn't scan is either the top or end of the box which simply says "Brand" in large letters. There's no USA. There is a small code on the front lower right corner of the box that says "M 5735" but that's it.

  7. Can´t help you with the paper dolls. Are they American or British?
    But, splutter, splutter, thanks very much for mentioning Spotty Dog. I'm delighted to bring a smile your way! Happy New Year!!

  8. I'm thinking probably American, but there's no solid reasoning behind that. I just think of the red and white striped dress as a flag.

    Well, Rosie, your drawings and site just make me happy!

  9. Hello from Strong National Museum of Play in Rochester, NY! Our permanent collection includes a two-sided advertising poster from G.E.M. Brand, named after George E. Mousley, of Philadelphia. One side shows some of the unique toys his company produced, while the other shows his prize Christmas offering—a manufactured Christmas stocking filled with small toys.

    You can see the poster here: http://www.museumofplay.org/blogs/wp-content/uploads/2010/01/1031930.jpg

  10. Thank you Lauren. This sounds like a definite link. I appreciate you sending along this information!

  11. Well, better come late than never... by the time I get caught up with my reading...you've just about solved the issue... cause if they were "borrowed" there might not be a trail to follow through that company... and if not many survived... you could very well be the first one to actually document that these little "gems" exist!

    You just get all the excitement over here.

  12. Eloh, You're fashionably late. My forensic scientist coming in to pick over the pieces that the rest of us have mucked up.

    I'm still hoping there is a definitive answer out "there" for this doll. I'm hoping someone someday steps forward saying "Hey, I've got one of those!" so I know I'm not alone.

  13. It's a really small world. George E. Mousley was my (3x) Great Uncle. George was an importer of paper goods, Christmas stockings and novelties.

    His brother, Charles, is my 3x grandfather.

    1. Wow, it is a small world, and all because of an old piece of paper. If you ever find out anything more about the company he ran let me know.

    2. George Edward Mousley (2 JUN 1862 - 17 AUG 1940) married Emma Louise Dakenwadel (26 APR 1866 - 21 OCT 1946). He had a shop at Fifth and Ranstead Street (the building is no longer there - it was removed when they created "Independence Mall," the home of the Liberty Bell. In fact, the building that houses the bell looks out across a lawn that was his store.

      George moved out of the city (for the summers) when his daughter married a man named Seward around 1910. G.E.M. then had a store on the boardwalk in Wildwood, NJ (just south of Atlantic City.) It was at this time he started with publishing postcards. When he died, someone bought the business and moved it to Rhode Island - I know they made large posters of "Mickey Mantle" holding a bat for young boys to practice throwing pitches at/past.

      George's biggest claim to fame was the creation of the toy filled Christmas stocking - the doll's dress paper you show, may have been stuffed in such a stocking. He imported nearly all his merchandise.

    3. Thank you! I'll do a repost of this tomorrow and add your information.