Summary

Moulded plaster ventriloquist doll in the form of a girl, with original cardboard box and instruction cards.

This doll was produced by Sterne Doll Company at their factory in Leicester Street, Carlton in 1962. It was produced as part of their toy range based on the ventriloquist doll Gerry Gee, who was featured on Channel Nine's `The Tarax Show'. So successful was the range that a female version, marketed as Gerry Gee's sister Geraldine, was introduced to cater for female viewers. To limit costs, the Gerry Gee Jr mould was used, with make-up and a yellow plaited wig added to feminise the doll.

The original owner was given the doll by her mother in 1962, for her twelfth birthday. At that age, she considered herself too old for a doll so it was relegated to the cupboard, where it sat unplayed with for the next thirty years until sold as a collectible. It was one of many toys and dolls she received during her childhood, which she felt was her mother compensating for her own toy-poor childhood during the 1930s Great Depression.

It originally retailed for 5 pounds, 19 shillings and 6 pence.

Physical Description

Ventriloquist doll in the form of a girl, with moulded plaster head and hands, cloth arms and legs and a wooden body. The mouth has a movable leather hinge that is operated by a metal loop at the back of the doll. She has a yellow mohair wig, tied into plaits with red ribbons, and is wearing a red blouse (decorated with two buttons), a yellow waist sash, red plaid skirt, yellow stocking and red plastic shoes with red laces. It comes with its original box, which consists of a large rectangular cardboard container with a removable lid, Both are coated with green patterned foil paper, while on top of the lid is glued a large paper label, which contains details about the doll and the manufacturer, and a black and white photo of the original Gerry Gee doll and ventriloquist Ron Blaskett. The original price is written on the label in pencil. It also comes with two original booklets, both of which consist of a rectangular piece of card, folded in half to form four pages. One is an instruction booklet instructing children how to operate the Geraldine Gee doll, and how to be a ventriloquist. The other booklet is a birthday voucher, half of which is to be posted into Channel 9, so that the owner and the doll could attend a taping of the Tarax Show during the month of their birthday.

Significance

This doll is significant as a rare surviving example, in excellent condition, of a locally made toy, specifically one related to local television production. It is an important addition to the Museum's L J Sterne collection, which is significant as one of the few surviving collections related to an Australian toy and doll manufacturer, a once thriving industry in Australia. Only the Lindsay Archive at the Powerhouse Museum (documenting a children's fancy dress maker of the 1950s - 1980s) and the Jakas collection at Museum Victoria (documenting a soft toy maker of the 1960s - 1990s) are comparable.

L.J.Sterne Doll Company was one of the many local toy companies which ceased trading after the introduction of tariff reductions in the 1970s. Located in Carlton, it was established in the mid 1940s by by Austrian refugee Leo Sterne. It was soon one of the leading doll and toy manufacturers in Australia. Its peak period of production was during the 1950s and 1960s, when it was contracted to produce a number of TV-related toys, including various Gerry and Geraldine toys, and Humphrey, Fredd and FiFi soft toys. With continuous daily TV advertising, sales of these went through the roof, and Sterne had to employ more staff to cope with the demand. Growth continued to the mid 1970s. when the newly elected Labor Government decreased the tariffs imposed on imported goods, making them cheaper and it more difficult for Australian companies to compete.

This toy is also significant as an example of early Melbourne television related merchandise. Gerry Gee was one of the most popular characters on local television in the 1950s and1960s, so it was not surprising that toys featuring him and his sister Geraldine were some of the first examples of TV spin-off merchandise produced in Australia.

More Information

  • Collection Names

    L.J. Sterne Doll Company

  • Collecting Areas

    Childhood, Information & Communication, Leisure

  • Acquisition Information

    Donation from Mr Michael Reason, 1/1/2010

  • Manufacturer

    Sterne Doll Company, 121-123 Leicester Street, Carlton, Greater Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, 1962

  • Inscriptions

    Printed on white cloth label on doll's blouse: GERRY GEE'S SISTER/ GERALDINE Printed on label on box lid: Geraldine/ Gerry Gee's Sister/ GTV/ CHANNEL 9 (Followed by extensive printed text.) Printed on front of Instruction Booklet: STERNE/ DOLLS/ Introduces you to .../ GERRY GEE/ JUNIOR/ LEARN HOW TO MAKE/ GERRY GEE JUNIOR/ TALK: by/ RON BLASKETT/ OF GTV CHANNEL 9/ MELBOURNE/ Manufactured by/ L. J. STERNE DOLL CO./ 121 - 123 Leicester Street, Carlton, N.3/ Melbourne, Sydney/ Australia/ (Extensive printed text inside.) Printed on front of Birthday Voucher: L. J. STERNE DOLL CO./ 121 - 123 LEICESTER STREET,/ CARLTON, VICTORIA/ Phone: 34-4314/ presents your/ "Gerry Gee Junior"/ Birthday Voucher/ A Birthday you will never forget/ (Extensive printed text inside.)

  • Classification

    Games & toys, Puppets, Ventriloquist

  • Category

    History & Technology

  • Discipline

    History

  • Type of item

    Object

  • Overall Dimensions

    225 mm (Width), 590 mm (Depth), 130 mm (Height)
    Dimensions of box (doll is kept inside it.)

  • References

    Marjory Fainges, `The Encyclopedia of Australian Dolls', Kangaroo Press, 1993 Ron Blaskett, `You, Me, and Gerry Gee', 2001

  • Keywords

    Manufacturing, Puppetry, Television Industry, Television Publicity