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American Character
Tiny Tears
(highlighting 50s-early 60s models)

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Tiny Tears was one of the most popular baby dolls of the 50s and early 60s.  She was manufactured by American Character Doll Company and was offered in a variety of sizes in the time that she was available. Tiny also went through a couple of style changes over the years, but always retained the one characteristic that made her famous; she cried real tears! Whether she is like the one above, all rubber body (jointed limbs) with hard plastic head/molded hair, or rubber bodied with a vinyl head and rooted hair, or a completely all vinyl doll, she is highly collectible.  Tiny Tears doll collectors today all seem to have their favorite version.


My reference materials state that Tiny Tears was first introduced in 1950. A distinguishing characteristic of these dolls are the two tiny holes on either side of the bridge of the nose (however, there were other crying dolls such as Dy-Dee Baby and Betsy Wetsy).  This is where the tears came out when the doll's tummy was squeezed after drinking water from her bottle. Tiny Tears will be marked on the back of her head with either American Character or Amer. Char., identifying the company name, and may have patent #2675644.   It is unfortunate that because the early dolls were made with rubber (which does not hold up well over time), many of them are literally, "falling apart" due to the fact that the rubber is corroding because of being exposed to excessive sunlight, water, and generally being played with (loved).  This is common to rubber products and happens to other rubber dolls as well.  Thus, it is important if you find a Tiny Tears with an original rubber body, try and protect it from the sun and don't handle it too much.  Because rubber is a natural element time will probably catch up with these cuties and their bodies will start to crack and fingers fall off, limbs may even collapse as if melting, but if this is the doll of your youth, finding a Tiny Tears in relatively good shape will be a treasure to enjoy for however many years are left in the doll's life.


Tiny Tears usually came in some form of a pink and white dress.  Generally the dress had a white bodice with a pink or pink/white checked skirt. She is also commonly found in her signature embroidered one piece white romper with pink ties.  Tiny Tears was featured in many toy catalogs with a complete layette which varied in contents.   At minimum she came with a bottle and a small bubble pipe that could be inserted into her open mouth.  Putting a little soapy solution in the bulb portion of the pipe, then squeezing her tummy while she held the pipe in her mouth, produced a large bubble, delighting I'm sure, her little mommy and friends.  Because this doll did suffer from being "water-logged" many have developed either an odd discoloration of their facial skin, or a mottled "stained" appearance.  Unfortunately I don't believe there is anything that will relieve this condition.  My advice for buying a Tiny Tears as a collectible is to find one in as nice a condition as possible, to uphold its value.  

Another common feature to many Tiny Tears is their "rock-a-bye eyes".  This clever feature allowed Tiny to be laid down with her eyes still in the open position (sleep eye dolls usually close their eyes immediately upon being laid horizontally), and then by gently rocking the doll back and forth, the eyes slowly begin to close until they are completely shut. 


Tiny in her own rocking cradle (1961)

Dolls with rooted hair came in either a strawberry blonde (sometimes referred to as light auburn) or rarer brunette.  I have no documentation that there were any other colors beside these two.  Some of the very earliest wigged dolls had a soft furry caracul type or lambswool wig.   It came in either the strawberry blonde or darker brunette as well.  


By 1963, American Character designed Tiny Tears with quite a different appearance but she was still available with many of the same accessories as the earlier dolls.  Several new variations were also introduced such as Teeny Tiny Tears, Baby Tiny Tears, Teeny Weeny Tiny Tears, etc.  Because these dolls have such a different facial expression, they are probably not even recognized for who they are by many collectors.  Currently these dolls do not hold the same collectible value as the earlier dolls, even if in the "mintiest" condition, because they are not as classic. (Sorry, but I do not have an example to show of this type of doll.)

A magazine advertisement for Tiny Tears from around the very early 50s.  The ad shows Tiny blowing bubbles, being bathed, and getting a diaper change.  The lead caption reads, "A Gift your little girl will never forget!"  How right they were.  Tiny Tears is so very collectible today!

Old Sears Catalog Ad for Tiny Tears around 1955, 
with a detailed description and showing some of her many accessories.  
The AD makes mention of the "new" 20" size doll.


Current Doll Value Guides show the rubber bodied dolls between $100-225 and the vinyl between $65-125+ (these estimated prices do not include the dolls from the later sixties)

Click here to take you to Kaylee's Korner Doll Shoppe 50s dolls, where I might currently have a Tiny Tears doll or two for sale.

Collector's Guide to Dolls of the 1960s & 1970s by Cindy Sabulis
Girls Toys of the Fifties & Sixties By Thomas Holland
Dolls and Accessories of the 1950's by Dian Zillner
15th Blue Book, Dolls & Values, Jan Foulke

Past Featured Articles

Reference Materials

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