Tony Faiella started a family Novelty business which has been passed down through his family generations for over 80 years. Due to its unfortunate closure, James, the great great grandson of Tony now relaunches the ‘Kewpie Doll on a stick’ business that all the fun started with.
James has collaborated, his family history and experience with his partner Jorgie's design and creative experience. It's a match made in Kewpie Doll heaven!
James spent his whole life around the shows, the stores and the family Kewpie Doll production line. Jorgie grew up sewing sparkles onto her dance eisteddfod costumes and intricately painting stage make up, glitter and eyelashes onto herself and others in her dance competition groups. Being taught by her nan to sew on an old 1940’s Singer sewing machine is the perfect cherry on top to their collaboration. Jorgie can also sew the tutus for the Kewpie Dolls!
Between the family history and their creative minds, these two have kickstarted us thinking about our childhood memories, and that nostalgia is priceless. The Original Kewpie Co not only delivers the iconic Australian Kewpie Doll to your door step, but they are giving us the opportunity to share our great memories & experiences of Easter shows and carnivals past now with our own children and grand children. Building and adding to Kewpie Doll history!
Kewpie Dolls are a famous novelty Carnival doll. It’s funny to think that they started out as dolls pictured in a comic strip in vintage women’s magazines back in the 1900’s. The first style of Kewpie was depicted in the early 1900’s Ladies Home Journal and Woman’s Companion, as a symbol of innocence and love. Reminiscent of the Roman God of Love; Cupid. Kewpie was always getting people out of trouble and consistently seen battling injustice or simply making the readers of the magazine laugh. Rose O’Neill’s Kewpie Doll comic strips grew so popular around 1912 that she began to sell paper dolls in their image that she illustrated herself and called “Kewpie Kutouts” which were paper dolls printed on the front and back that were accompanied with stories. Then due to popular demand and increasing popularity of the “Kewpie Kutouts” created by O’Neill, they began to produce the actual dolls.
The first Kewpie Dolls were made from bisque porcelain. The old bisque Kewpie dolls came in various sizes between one and 12 inches, had a red heart on their chest and were sold without any clothing, looking just like the comic character. Sold internationally, the Kewpies became immensely popular over the next two years. The dolls and their images began to feature in advertising and provide a theme for other memorabilia.
After the beginning of World War I the U.S started creating different versions of the Kewpie Doll. Manufacturers in America began changing the material and size of the dolls. Bisque was too delicate, so they began making Kewpies from what was known as "composition material." This consisted of a mixture of different substances, including glue, resin, and wood flour. The newer versions of Kewpie Doll also had hearts on their chests, and 22 inch models were released in the U.S.
Smaller, skinnier versions of the Kewpie doll emerged in the 1920s, and started the trend of giving out Kewpies as carnival pizes. These dolls were made from celluloid with no heart printed on the chest, were around 15cm tall and had iconic gold hair, red lips and big black eyelashes. These dolls were based on the 'Marcella kewpie', a flapper-girl Japanese version of Rose O'Neill's cowlicked, roly-poly original. This is where James' family The Faiellas joined in Kewpie doll history, The Faiellas are famous for starting to decorate and sell this style of Kewpie Doll in Australia. A Japanese style doll that they imported firstly from Japan, then they imported these Japanese style Kewpies from Taiwan when the factories moved there and then later importing from China when the factories moved there. Along the way the Kewpies have had this MADE IN JAPAN, TAIWAN or now CHINA stamped on their backs.
Two and a half years after the Wall Street Crash of October 1929 James' great great grandfather, an Italian immigrant from Sorrento, opened a small Novelty and giftware shop by the name of “The Novelty Supply Store” on the 19th of March, 1932 at 480 Pitt Street Sydney, Australia under the arches of Sydney’s Central Station. James' great grandfather cleverly timed the opening of his family business to coincide with a massive historic event that was to occur in Sydney on that same day. The iconic Sydney Harbour Bridge was having its grand opening and there was an estimated half a million people in the city area to experience the event. Over the first few years, The Novelty Supply Store was quite successful despite being relatively small in size. Its product range, largely imported from Japan, consisted of small novelties and trinkets such as spinning tops, wooden cars, sewing kits, comb sets, and unique inlayed wooden pens. At that time, these were rather unusual items to be imported from Japan but James' grandfather trusted his instincts, the products were selling well.
After the end of World War II, Australia’s economy was prospering and James' grandfather’s business started to expand. Not only did the family run the retail shop in Sydney but also began supplying to customers from the Sydney Royal Easter Show, Capital Shows & Country Shows Australia wide. The Novelty Supply Store started building a strong presence within the carnival scene, known for its supply of toys and wooden pens, bamboo canes, organza and tulle (craft items that were used for the manufacture of Kewpie Dolls)
James' grandmother handcrafted the famous Kewpie Dolls or “dolls on sticks”, dressing them in glitter and tulle tutus and attaching them to bamboo canes, sending them out all over Australia to all the shows country wide. Finding many an Australian bedroom to call their home. Many girls and boys have come home with a Kewpie Doll on a Stick. Some with glitter, some with more glitter, some with fancy tulle tutus and some with trimmings of bows, flowers, crowns and feathers. The Original Kewpie doll is uniquely Australian and it is an Australian tradition to make tulle tutu skirts for this particular style of Kewpie Doll.
During the mid 1960’s the Faiella family remained in the carnival scene, packing and selling Arnotts show bags at various shows while they also had several stalls of their own where they sold Magic show bags, Lavender House bags & Dolls on a stick from The pink Doll House stand. The famous Kewpie Dolls or “dolls on sticks” were the ‘must have’ item at the Sydney Royal Easter Shows for many years. The iconic Kewpie Doll also represented Australia during the closing ceremony entertainment of the 2000 Olympic games in Sydney. And we sadly haven't seen much of her since.
But she is back!!
James and Jorgie have developed some modern ideas to take the family's Kewpies into the future. Mimicking James' Nan’s designs and coming up with new designs of their own.
"Look for her gold shoes" is a new feature of the doll, they wanted a way to make the doll theirs. An identifiable Original Kewpie Co Kewpie Doll. The gold shoes is now the signature of the Original Kewpie Co brand of doll.
The new generation of Kewpie Doll makers have emerged, bringing lots of cute modern ideas along with them. So keep in touch, link and share via social media to keep up to date with the Kewpie Adventures!.
And although Kewpie no longer appears in our magazines in comic strip form to give us a laugh, You never know she may end up there again one day? Maybe the our new modern kewpie should have her own comic strip?
Until then you'll find these cuties dressed up in glitter and tulle ready to play and be sold online and from selected stores and shows.
Start your Kewpie collection all over again for you, your child or grandchild at www.theoriginalkewpieco.com
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Start collecting, sharing and being cute today!