I received my first two Sasha dolls a few years ago for Christmas: Caleb, a dark skinned boy, and Gregor, a tan brunette boy. Since then, I’ve gathered five more (two babies, two girls, and a bald Gregor). Seven Sasha’s sounds like a lot, until you see my mother’s collection. She has, at least, double the amount of dolls I have. Sasha dolls have been a favorite of hers since she was young and found her first one, a Gregor, for under $20.00, at a store that was going out of business. Both collections together make for quite a few Sasha dolls!
Sasha dolls, produced from the 1940’s through 1986 (with a re-launch in the mid 1990’s) are unique looking when compared to other doll lines. Most noticeable are their unique faces. It was important to creator Sasha Morgenthaler that her dolls have a neutral expression. According to reference book “Sasha Dolls: A History“, Sasha, who lived in Switzerland during World War II, Sasha thought that “No grotesque caricature can awaken a child’s true feelings. A piece of wood, barely carved, is far superior to a conventional doll with an exaggerated smile.” It makes sense in the context of the times. Children going through Switzerland during the war may not have wanted a doll that was always smiling, always happy.
Interesting, as well, are that Sasha dolls are asymmetric. Arms and legs are not one uniformed length. Their eyes are also not completely even. She designed her dolls this way, because we ourselves are not symmetrical. This asymmetry also helps the dolls do something not all doll lines can– stand on their head! If strung properly, these boys and girls should be able to stand on their heads without falling. It’s neat to see.
Sasha Morgenthaler, as a person, was kind of incredible. While reading about her in “Sasha Dolls: A History”, it’s clear that she was powerful in spirit. I’m not going to go into her entire history in his post, but I encourage you to read the book mentioned above. Sasha wore many different hats in life, including wife, mother, midwife and artist. At one point during World War II, she even started a woman’s auxiliary group that taught woman how to help the men coming back from the war.
One of Sasha’s dreams was to create an affordable, durable doll. It took many experiments with different materials before she found one that fit her criteria. For that reason, you may see Sasha dolls made of various materials. The early dolls are harder to find, because the material Sasha used was more fragile than the vinyl she eventually created and used for the doll line.
Many different companies made Sasha dolls, including Gotz and Trendon. The history of Sasha doll production is complicated and filled with legal drama. The book, “Sasha Dolls: A History” goes through all of this. The dolls in this post are all from the England base company, Trendon.
Sasha dolls can vary in size. They started at 15″ and grew as the molds outstretched to be 16″ or 17″ tall towards the end of the run. You can see that in the picture below, where Caleb (right) looks smaller than Gregor (left).
For those who like video presentations, below is a video Barbee0913 and I shot talking about Sasha dolls. In the video, my mom shares a few other facts about Sasha and her dolls. There’s also a bunch of great links in the video description to books and websites that will help you learn more about this unique line.