361 Maple Avenue
Elmira New York 14904
“When it comes to whimsy, creativity and decorative fun, Annalee Dolls have been an American favorite for over fifty years”, states their website, www.annalee.com
We’ve been carrying Annalee Dolls practically since the day we opened our doors in 1983! They have brought, and continue to bring, so many smiles. Of particular interest is the large photograph we have of Annalee Thorndike during one of her visits many years ago to The Christmas House. One look at the photo tells the story of where Annalee got her inspiration! Her dolls have that same whimsical elfin face as Annalee. We carry all of the new designs (while supplies last!) each year and have a number of old-favorites still on hand!
The Annalee Story
“Annalee David Thordike was destined for doll making fame almost in spite of herself. She admits she was never much of a student and that the idea of going to college didn’t appeal to her, nor did working at a non-creative job. She came from an artistic family on both sides. Her mother was skilled in several media formats and was an acomplished seamstress. Annalee loved to watch her mother sew and together they made doll clothes. ‘I never played “house” with dolls’, says Annalee, ‘I just made clothes’”
“Annalee began making dolls after graduating from high school in 1933, in order ‘to cough up some money to help out at home’, as she put it. At first, she sold her dolls through the League of New Hampshire craftsmen and circulated a clothes-making brochure. It was the dolls that people were most interested in though, and at the time they were a lot more interested in the dolls than Annalee was.
‘My friends wouldn’t leave me alone’, said Annalee. ‘They kept knocking on my door and saying “I have an idea for a doll”, “I know where you can get skiis for your dolls” They kept placing orders and I was always late filling them. I didn’t market very heavily. Everything went by word of mouth right up until the mid-sixties.’
In 1941, Annalee married Charles ‘Chip’ Thorndike, son of a distinguished Boston surgeon. Chip attended Harvard University. Not unlike Annalee, Chip is a free-spirited individual who preferred to go his own way as a chicken farmer. An avid ‘tinkerer’, Chip invented the flexible wire frame that gives Annalee’s dolls their pose ability, their ‘Mobilitee’.
Annalee and Chip’s original property in Merdith, New Hampshire is now home to Annalee Mobilitee Dolls, but back then, the first sign to grace the Thorndike Farm on Hemlock Drive read ‘Eggs and Used Auto Parts.’ In the early 1950′s, the New England Poultry industry literally “went south,” and it was then that Annalee was forced to ‘really get serious’ about her doll making business. She had hired on her first employees and was now responsible for other people’s paychecks. So, Annalee and her fledgling team cranked up production. Annalee’s youngest son Townsend said of this special time, ‘There were dolls everywhere, even in the bathroom.’ It was at this crucial moment in 1954 that Annlee Mobilitee Dolls was incorporated.
The Thorndikes believe in sharing their success and are well known for their generosity and deep commitment to environmental causes and the community at large. Annalee passed away in April of 2002, yet her legacy lives on. Son Chuck serves as President of Annalee Mobilitee Dolls, Inc. and many of Annalee’s design teams are still with the company. Each year they design hundreds of new products for your gift and decorating pleasure. Annalee’s signature style is widely recognized, and her dolls can be found in small and large stores across America. Her dolls possess a timeless quality that continue to be enjoyed to this day.”
361 Maple Avenue
Elmira New York 14904