Collectible dolls from iconic pancake mix!
The Aunt Jemima pancake mix was developed by Chris Rutt and Charles Underwood of the Pearl Milling Company in 1889. Rutt from St. Joseph, Missouri, was the editor of the Saint Joseph Gazette and Underwood was the owner of the milling company. The name of the pancake mix was derived from a vaudeville song, “Old Aunt Jemima” by Billy Kersands.
The first Aunt Jemima rag doll was offered as a premium to customers in 1905.
A few years later the Aunt Jemima family dolls were offered. They were very unattractive dolls with large mouths, missing teeth, and troublesome hair. They are portrayed as poor people with patches on the trousers. Written on the boy shirt I the following; “Aunt Jemima Pancake Flour/Pica ninny Doll/ The Davis Milling Company.”
The company was renamed Aunt Jemima Mills Company in 1914 and from then on many different dolls were designed and each time improvements were made on the appearance of the African-American dolls. The children, Diana and Wade, have cute expressions. Uncle Moses’ teeth were improved and so were the hair styles.
The Quaker Oats Company bought The Aunt Jemima Mills Company in 1926. The Quaker Oats Company does not have a record or premium information, however the Advertising Dolls book by Joleen Robison and Kay Sellers, © 1992, Collector Books, pictures several stuffed dolls of the early 1900s.
It appears it was almost 30 years before another set of Aunt Jemima dolls were offered as premiums. The set of four dolls from the 1950s is entirely different from the older dolls. They are made of oil cloth–type material, a thin vinyl. Three of the character dolls are dark brown and Aunt Jemima is a lighter, softer brown. The features resemble cartoon faces with perfect round eyes and watermelon mouths with the exception of little Diana with her bright red, heart shaped lips. They are all smiling!
Aunt Jemima has a white apron over a red and white checked dress. The apron is embellished with her name in blue cross- stitch. Uncle Nose is right up town with his white shirt and blue tie. In addition, he wears a yellow jacket and carries a black top hat. Wade looks content with a lollipop in one hand and Diana is dressed up with red ribbons in her hair. Both dolls have store-bought shoes. The four dolls were shipped flat and when the consumer or collector received the dolls they had instructions on how to sew and stuff the dolls.
The cloth dolls from the early 1900s are more- scarce than the dolls from the 1950s. On my last search on the internet for values, both sets of dolls were being offered for less than $100. Condition, of course is the determining factor.