Obsessive Nostalgia Disorder Monday: Old American Girl Doll Catalogs



I did not have an American Girl doll of my own as a kid.  My sister started receiving the catalogs in the early 1990s, and because I was in middle school, I decided I was too old for a vinyl doll.  Never mind the fact that Kirsten was so adorable, with her Swedish immigrant/pioneer girl clothes.  Nope, I was too old.


But my little sister, who was better with money than anyone else in the house, saved up and bought her own Samantha doll ($82) with book (oops - $86), plus her accessories set ($20).  Her doll, book, and accessories cost $106 in 1991. These were never inexpensive dolls.

My grandmother scored a few American Girl bookish collectibles at an estate sale last week, and brought them to our house, along with four old American Girl catalogs from 1991 and 1992.  The catalogs had belonged to my sister, although I loved to look at them myself.  I wasn't ready to be out of middle school.  I wanted to go back in time and play dress-up with Kirsten, Samantha, and Molly, too.


Our first two catalogs were from the waning days of the original three dolls.  The dolls were still issued by Pleasant Company.  (Pleasant Company became a subsidiary of Mattel in 1998.)












Just in time for the holiday season, 1991, a fourth American Girl doll was introduced:  Felicity Merriman.








My daughters had a ball looking through these catalogs the other night.  They loved looking at the Kirsten and Felicity stuff, since they hadn't seen much of it before.  Most of all, they loved seeing the pages full of little girl clothes that matched the doll clothes.  They have pajamas to match Molly's and Kit's, but the dresses!  The nightgowns!  The capes and coats and shoes!


Little Sis looked at the pages of Molly look-alike clothes and cried, "Aww!  Why couldn't I be born back in the olden days???"  She didn't mean 1944.  She meant 1991.  She really wants Molly's sweater outfit for herself.

Oh, kiddo.  I still wish I had Samantha's Victorian cape...

Little Sis with Molly, Big Sis with Kit.  More American Girl stuff here...

And one more photo for you.  Poor Mr. B, braving the American Girl store in Kansas City like the wonderful dad that he is...



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Comments

  1. Looking at those images of the catalogs really brings me back... My family couldn't afford one of the dolls, but I used to pour over the catalogs whenever they came in. I was in middle school in the early '90s and still would have loved to have owned a Kirstin doll. Heck any one of them would have been awesome! The clothes... the accessories... the books... the matching little girl outfits! Man, I would have been in heaven. Your sister was brilliant to buy one for herself!

    Am I the only one who thinks it's sad that they've largely replaced the historical dolls with modern ones?

    xoxo

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    1. I prefer the historical dolls. If you're going to pay that much, at least have it be educational! We were very sad when they retired Molly last year. I can't afford to go buying up all the accessories and clothing and stuff. I don't understand how people can afford every stinking doll. Big Sis bought her own Kit Kittridge doll with a year's worth of allowance, birthday, and Christmas money. Little Sis was gifted her Molly doll by her uncle, and now of course, any "new" Molly accessories will have to come via eBay or Etsy or somewhere like that. We also have an Elizabeth doll (the friend of Felicity), which was in a collection f hand-me-downs from friends.

      I really wanted one, but I wasn't good at saving money, and no one in my family was going to get me one. ;)

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  2. AAAAAAAH!!!!! ok these are AMAZING! way better than the newer catalogs! these are simply amazing, like little books!!! WOW oh wow, look at that swedish doll!!! all those accesories!

    and of course, i was WAY TOO OLD for that whole deal, i think i was a teen when they started to become a thing. sigh. i want to be a kid in 1991 too! ha ha ha

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    1. I wanted Kirstin the most, but I wanted to wear the clothes that came with Samantha and Felicity, which would have made this particularly dorky middle-schooler even more of a social pariah... ;)

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  3. I can see how addictive those dolls can become! And omg the choices in clothing! Just really drool-worthy!

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    1. They really are better made than less-expensive dolls, but still so expensive! I told the girls that they should pick out one historical doll each, then concentrate on collecting her particular items, rather than have multiple dolls from different eras. Thought we chose well, until they discontinued Molly. Now, not a single doll from these catalogs is being made anymore. :(

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  4. OMG in this we are kindred spirits. I wanted one. Terribly. In the late 80s. But my parents couldn't afford them so I use to spend hours pouring over the catalogs and daydreaming. I can't wait to buy my daughter one.

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    1. They were pretty spectacular when they first came out! My sister's Samantha doll, books, and clothing are at my grandmother's now. I think she's planning on giving it to her girls when they're older. Her friend at church had Kirstin. I wanted her, too.

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  5. Aren't catalogs bliss? I can only imagine the hours spent over these ones! Your hub at the end made me laugh!

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    1. It was actually his idea to add that picture! It makes him laugh. That's how he feels when we go there. :)

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  6. Too bad we knew nothing of the American Girl dolls back then! My seven-year-old self would have loooooved one in 1991! (although I'm afraid I wouldn't have gotten one after all because of the price)
    I do hope we can get a big one someday- for the present we're happy with our mini Molly. Why would they choose to discontinue those cool historical dolls?!
    Kit and Molly are my favorites too-and also Kirsten. Reading the Kit books at the moment... Hoping to read the Molly books next... I'm still seven at heart anyway!

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    1. I was lamenting to my husband today that I never got to go to Disney World or Land as a kid. "I know you, and... it doesn't matter," he told me. Meaning that I am as much a kid now as I was back then. Probably true! So I know what you mean. :)

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  7. Replies
    1. He insisted I fit it into the post somewhere. It's pretty consistent with his opinion of the whole thing.

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  8. Wow, these look so much better than the new catalogs. so so much better.

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    1. I love the historical dolls. I'm just not into the whole modern doll thing, except perhaps the Girl of the Year. Sigh...

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  9. Thanks for sharing this! Takes me back! I loved the historical dolls the best too. My younger sister saved up and got Felicity. I thought I was too old?! Now I am 37, mom of two beautiful little boys and have managed to save up and buy the original 4 historicals off eBay. I agree that the quality was better when pleasant company was in charge. Those catalogues totally raised the bar. The accessories were amazing!!!
    Thanks again for sharing! Love it!

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    1. Yup! I'm 37, and I thought I was too old then, too. My little sister saved up for a Samantha, which she got just before Felicity came out! Samantha sits at my grandmother's house, waiting for my sister's daughters to get older. I'm so glad you liked the post! I was happy to find those catalogs.

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  10. Thanks for sharing. I am Mom of 5. Could not afford when we had the 1st 4 kids, making up on 5th Child. She has 34 of the Dolls she is 5. Love everything American Girl except the staff. They have a few people who love the company and many that need to move on. But nonetheless this great product and concepts. I put My Stinker in Our local Fashion Show for Charity every year.

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