Kewpie dolls are based on illustrations by Rose O'Neill that appeared in Ladies' Home Journal in 1909. These illustrations,which incorporated words and pictures with the recurring Kewpie characters, are considered to be early versions of the comic strip medium. The small dolls were extremely popular in the early 1900s. They were first made out of bisque and then celluloid. In 1949, Effanbee created the first hard plastic versions.

Their name, often shortened to "Kewpies", in fact is derived from "cupid", the Roman god. The early dolls, especially signed or bisque, are highly collectible and worth thousands of dollars. The time capsule at the 1939 New York World's Fair contained a Kewpie doll. The term "Kewpie doll" is sometimes mistakenly applied to the troll doll.

kewpie dollsMany other articles were made using their images, like coloring and poem books, cups, plates, curios, etc. The incredible success of these characters made their creator rich and famous. It's a rare example of a woman becoming successful in the media business at such an early date. Kewpies should not be confused with the baby-like Billiken figures that debuted in 1908.

Kewpie value and price guide

What's your 'Kewpie' worth? Here are some recently sold items (UK):

Item Title Date sold Price
German Rare All Bisque Rose O Neill Apr 2019 £ 308,98
Rose O Neill And Various Dolls 12 Apr 2019 £ 273,78
Rose O Neill Thinker Doll Art Metal Feb 2019 £ 293,34
1937 Rose O Neill Hand Written Letter Feb 2019 £ 203,34
R John Wright Limited Edition Hottentot Apr 2019 £ 191,65

Take a look at all sold Kewpie items on eBay for a value indication. If you're not sure what you have, you can post your question below.

Kewpie forum (1 comment)

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Sherry - May 21, 2014

I have an approx sized 2 inch kewpie doll with wings which is made out of bisque and has a home made cloth dress lying on a home made pillow in a sterling silver baby carriage.