In early 1930 another 'Jollyboy' Sailor was introduced model 139. It is interesting as I would have expected the number 139 to have been made first as most of Norah Wellings dolls normally run in numerical order. However this was not the case in this instance. The 139 model had painted eyes although I have seen the earliest and largest examples of this model with glass eyes but they are hard to find. The mouth was painted smiling or with teeth showing and the hair was also painted. His body construction was similar to model 140 and he still had bare feet but he was thinner and they were made with either velvet or felt heads and only the head was jointed. It appears both models were available in the early 1930's and the sizes then went from 10 inches to 36 inches. In the 1936 catalogue only the painted hair Sailor model 139 was available and he continued to be made right until the last catalogue in 1958. Model 140 had been discontinued by 1936 but I am sure special orders would still have been available.
Before the 2nd World War the 'Jollyboy' model 139 had some variations. The head was now made in stockinette or cotton due to lack of materials and very few felt and velvet ones were made. The faces were still painted with either a smiling mouth or with painted teeth.Many were produced without painted hair. They still had the velvet body but most were now made with black feet to represent shoes.The sizes available were 7 to 36 inches. The 8 to 9 inch size with black feet is one of the most popular sailors to be found today and there were over 100.000 of these made to cover sales at Navy week which was the first week of August every year and the crews used to sell them on the dockyard. The Sailor hats had the ship names either hand written or printed on the hat band. The Aldershot Tatoo was also another very busy time for Sailor Dolls to be sold.
Norah Wellings 'Jollyboy' Sailor Model 139 Pre World War II with black feet to look like shoes.
In the late 1940's through to the last Norah Wellings catalogue in 1958 it is the earlier 'Jollyboy' model with painted eyes and bare feet that is pictured. The smaller sailors with black feet are not catalogued.
When Norah Wellings retired and ceased production in 1959 Cunard Shipping Company asked another famous British Doll maker Peggy Nisbet if she would supply them with Sailor Dolls. Peggy Nisbet asked Norah Wellings if she would have any objection to her making the dolls. Norah was quite happy for her to do so but would not supply the pattern or techniques as her dolls were such a part of her. Peggy Nisbet Sailor Dolls are often mistaken for those of Norah Wellings to an untrained eye. Other companies also copied the sailors from the 1960's and a company called Empire produced many. They are often found with Sticker 'Empire ' under the collar at the back .The Sailor dolls were made well into the 1980's
First Sailor Doll is a Peggy Nisbet next to the most popular 'Jollyboy, Sailor 139
Norah Wellings Dolls left the factory with a cotton label and most of the Sailor Dolls have the label on their foot but some have them under the collar on their back sewn on the body out of sight, often these can be missed so make sure to look there if you can't see a label anywhere. It is because the smaller 8 to 9 inch sailor dolls were made in such vast numbers that makes them so easy to find today and at reasonable prices. There are many that just collect the Sailors and want a Doll with each ships name, they certainly have numerous to choose from and some will pay extra so they can acquire a particular ships name. Norah Wellings also made other sailor dolls that are harder to find but I will cover those in another article at a later stage.