Mariquita Perez is a Spanish Symbol of the Era
Probably many people know about the most popular in the 40s and 50s Spanish doll Mariquita Perez. It was invented in 1938 by Leonor Coello. This idea came to her in time for a walk with her daughter, who took a German doll, dressed in the same way as a girl. Passers-by couldn’t take their eyes off this charming couple.
A school friend believed in the project and invested in a new venture. The new doll dressed just like a real girl and had a huge number of accessories necessary for life. Friends ordered a thousand dolls in the workshop of Santiago Molina, the most famous toy manufacturer.
The first batch was released in November 1940 and sold out in 2 months, it cost 85 pesetas, which was very expensive for those postwar times. Only very rich people could buy such a doll. The first shop “Mariquita Perez” with beautifully designed showcases, changed according to the season, and a new collection of clothes opened in Madrid at the same time. Leonor was actively offering a franchise for its products.
Soon it became known outside Spain, in Portugal, Argentina, Venezuela, Cuba. The life of Mariquita was fabulous, she had so many outfits and other things that many girls of those times did not have. A collection of Spanish dresses was released. A huge range of accessories amazed the imagination. There were accessories for all occasions: haircuts, umbrellas, socks, shoes, and sunglasses. Furniture and household utensils, leisure equipment: skis, scooter, ironing board, clothes hangers, breakfast tray. Even a travel kit: suitcases, bags, hat boxes.
In the 40s accessories cost from 2 to 55 pesetas. But the doll’s life would have been boring if she had not had a four-legged friend Ole and little brothers of different ages: from an eight-month-old baby to a boy – cadets. They also had a large wardrobe of clothes and accessories. The babies cried and wrote. The cost of them reached 300 pesetas. The Mariquita was changing too. Her eyelashes became natural, her eyes began to close, there were swivel mechanisms in her hands and feet.
The doll even got her radio show. The children listened to “The Adventures of Mariquita Perez” with pleasure and waited for the continuation of stories about their favorite. Her life was no different from that of her wealthy peers. She went to school, walked in the park with her dog and brothers, went to rest on the sea and in the mountains, went hiking with friends, and even received religious education.
In the seventies there was a rapid growth of industry, new materials appeared, big competitors came to the market. Tastes of children also changed, all this reduced the demand for Mariquita.
In 1994 the factory in Alicante registered the New Mariquita Perez trademark. The modern doll is made of paper-mâché, vinyl, and porcelain. Dresses from the 40s and 50s have been preserved in the wardrobe. The Mariquita doll has become a symbol of the era, it is loved by many generations of Spanish children and adults.
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