Composition is a mixture of glue, sawdust and/or other substances--wood flour, wood pulp, cornstarch, resin, and the like. Dolls with heads made from this were prominent during the 1920s through the 40s. Less fragile and less expensive than porcelain, they remained popular until after the Second World War when plastic took over the market. Several different manufacturers produced composition dolls including Ideal.
According to the doll guide books, the Snow White composition doll utilized the Shirley Temple body mold, but not always her face mold. If a chin dimple is present, it's an Ideal Ginger doll head. The Shirley face has two side dimples. This one below displays a single chin dimple. It features real upper lashes, painted lower lashes, and the new Magic Eyes that could move and close. She has an open mouth with upper teeth. Mohair wig. The body is jointed at the neck, shoulders, and hips. She wears a red and yellow dress with a dwarfs print on skirt. Blue and yellow versions were also produced.
A 13" example.
Images via rubylane.
The larger size dolls had a different face mold. This tall Snow White is approximately 22".
Image via princericharming.
A face sculpt with the two side dimples.
The blue and yellow dress is shown in The Complete Guide to Shirley Temple Dolls and Collectibles by Tonya Bervaldi-Camaratta.
The body molds for the Shirley Temple dolls are marked on the upper back, often with the size number: "18" for the eighteen inch doll.
Other Snow White dolls are marked "Ideal" with a number on the back of the neck.
In the winter of 1994, the editors of Disney Magazine published a letter that they'd found in a stack of mail. It was dated 1987. It included a photo of the Shirley Temple Snow White doll and a story of how the author had as a child received it as a gift in 1938.
Magazine scan courtesy of Dan Alexander Dizmentia.
This next Ideal Snow White doll did not use the Shirley Temple mold. It features a composition head and shoulders, arms and legs. The body, though, is made of cloth. The hair is molded and painted black with a blue or red bow. Painted eyes on the face. The back of the neck is typically marked "Ideal doll". Originally came with a blue and white dress with dwarfs print.
Composition dwarfs were also produced. This Dopey is 11 inches tall. Composition head and arms. Cloth body. Painted face. Felt clothing (with a couple different color variations). Includes buttons and a belt (missing in the pics below).
Original cardboard tags.
Images via Hakes.
We'll look at the Ideal cloth dolls in the next Archive entry. Also see the Ideal Dopey ventriloquist doll and vintage Ideal doll catalog pages.