Kewpies on parade

first_imgThe Kewpies range in size – from 1 to 24 inches – and materials such as bisque, celluloid and vinyl. They come in several different characters, such as a bride and groom, police officer, prisoner, Lil’ Bo Peep, Sleeping Beauty, a soldier and an Olympian. Their distinctive look includes star fingers, a round head with a topknot of hair, and large eyes that look to the side. But the time has come for the Merriams to share their collection with others. “I liked them because they are happy,” Debbie Merriam said. “They smile, have big eyes and a little, chubby tummy.” The Merriams’ appreciation for the Kewpies started when their daughter had to go to the hospital for surgery. The couple bought her a small vinyl Kewpie doll and she carried it with her to the operating room. After that, Debbie Merriam saw a composite Kewpie she liked and bought it for herself. They soon found themselves “eyeballing every store for the pleasant doll,” Bill Merriam said. The Merriams realized that – like the rest of the world – they, too, were hooked by the charming icon. The Merriams’ entire collection of Kewpie dolls and toys is up for sale, but there is one item Bill Merriam said he will not part with – a large doll with a cloth body and plastic head. Bill Merriam said he has been talking to people in Tokyo, where the doll is also popular, and a local antiques dealer. But he wanted to allow anyone interested in the vintage doll to have a chance at buying one. “There are some things that just stay in the collection,” Bill Merriam said. The Merriams can be reached by calling (909) 985-4748. Staff Writer Lori Consalvo can be reached by e-mail at lori.consalvo@dailybulletin.com, or by phone at (909) 483-9391. 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! UPLAND The sight of a hundred Kewpie dolls could trigger a range of emotions in people – from a sense of nostalgia to fear. But the image is a mixture of business and pleasure for Bill and Debbie Merriam. “If a guy’s got to play with dolls, I would rather play with a Kewpie than anything else on the market,” Bill Merriam, 75, said of the dolls designed by Rose O’Neill that date back to 1913. The Merriams have made a living for years as antiques dealers. And after more than 20 years of collecting Kewpies, they’re finally ready to part with the dolls. “I’ve got so many of them and my children are not real interested in them,” said Debbie Merriam, 70. “We have had them for so many years. We need to paint (the front room) and recarpet and get a new sofa.” Their asking prices range from $25 for a reproduction of a small doll to $900 for their most valuable figure, a black Kewpie, also known as a “Hot and Tot.” The Merriams have acquired a large collection of the Kewpies as well as other merchandise fashioned after the doll. The merchandise includes board games, books, clocks, dishes, lamps, puzzles, telephones and quilts. “They have a certain amount of innocence,” Bill Merriam said. “They wrote songs and books about the dolls. Kewpie was in the comics.” last_img

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