One of the bigger secrets in the Fleur collector universe is the so called Volendam Fleur doll. Untill now, no one I know has ever found one in box or in any packaging, so it is still a mystery which doll was sold in the Volendam outfit or if she exists at all.
There is not much information about these dolls online, so I decided to dig deeper into this very interesting subject. As I don't live in the Netherlands, the most investigative work was done by the amazing Patricia Ruiter, who also provided informations and photos and many gorgeous photos of Fleur were also provided by the lovely Angela Mombers.
So let's find out the secret of Volendam!
Volendam is a small traditional fishing village in the netherlands and one of the touristic hotspots. Besides the pitoresque appearance it is famous for it's traditional costumes which are often confused for the traditional dutch costume. It consits of a kraplap, a piece of fabric that is like a bib with a turtle neck that goes under the actual dress, the dress consist of an skirt, a bodice with sleeves and an apron. To complete the outfit, the women wear a lace peaked cap named hul, a red beaded necklace and wooden clogs. For the full describtion of the Volendam traditional costume, please visit this excelent extern blog: folkcostume.
Beeing a touristic hotspot there were (and still are) a lot of small souvenirs shops in Volendam that sold dolls wearing the traditional costume. These dolls were often packed in clear plastic tubes or plastic bags or sold loose. There are souvenir dolls in any size and form. The costumes for the dolls often were handsewn by locals and put on nude dolls, that were provided by different toy makers. This concept goes back to the beginning of the last century. While doing research I have found celluloid souvenirs dolls in handmade Volendam outfits from the 1910s.
Much later, in the 1970s, one of these toy makers, that might have provided dolls to be souvenirs dolls, was Otto Simon, who, as you of course know, created our beloved Fleur dolls.
But before Fleur dolls were even born, in 1975, Otto Simon got the license from Pedigree to produce and sell Sindy dolls for the dutch market.
One of these dolls was Voledam Sindy. This doll however differs a lot from all other Sindy dolls made, because she was not made to be played with. She was made to be a souvenir doll!
I sadly don't own a Volendam Sindy, they are very rare and hart to find. They weren't made for long I suspect. The lovely Patricia Ruiter, a Sindy and Fleur collector from the Netherlands, was so kind to make photos for this blog of her Sindy dolls. She is the lucky owner of two Volendam Sindy dolls, one complete, still sewn into the dress and one that came only with the dress with opened stitches at the back, so we have photos of her body and of the dress.
The doll was sewn into the costume, the cap called hul was glued to her hair and the wooden clogs (made of real wood) were glued to her feet.
The doll's headmold was the same as Martinair Sindy, also a Sindy made by Otto Simon, which was probably also the same facemold as Lovely Lively Sindy from 1971 by Pedigree. She is marked with 033055x at the back of her head. She has silver platinum blonde hair that is shoulder long and rooted sparely with a center parting. The hairfiber is pretty coarse and doesn't age well, it tends to get dry. Her facepaint is very similar if not identical to Martinair Sindy, her pupils are facing upwards, her lips are pink and the lower lip is painted thinner than the mold. Her eyebrows are less curved than Pedogree's Sindy. She has stick in (or spike) lashes like Lovely Lively Sindy from 1971 by Pedigree.
Volendam Sindy's body is exactly the same as the second version of Martinair Sindy and Gauntlet Fleur that was released later, it is the Gauntlet body made of an orange shiny plastic and rubber. She is marked with an E at the back between her shoulders. Her face and hands tend to pale and turn yellow. Click here to find out more about Martinair Sindy and the Gauntlet body!
The costume of Volendam Sindy is the so called "Wedding Guest" costume, a variation of the traditional Volendam costume. Typical for this variation is the striped skirt and an apron, that is made of two different fabrics, a flowery pattern near the belt and black fabric for the lower part. As mentioned above, Volendam Sindy was sewn into her very detailed costume. On her feet Sindy is wearing real wooden clogs, that are glued to her feet. On the head she is wearing the typical dutch pointed cap that is called hul, typically made of lace.
The dress has a bodice made of black felt with sleeves to the ellbows, the neckline is square with an embroidered border with circles and rhombs . The same border is used for the belt of the apron. Under the bodice she wears the kraplap made of cotton with a flower pattern with a white turtleneck. The colorfull striped , floor long skirt is sewn to the bodice, it is made of a thick cotton fabric. The apron is made of a thick cotton fabric with flower print, the same print as the kaplap, and black felt. It is a bit shorter than the skirt.
Here is what Patricia wrote about the dress: "Here you can see the back of the outfit and how it is stitched. Even the apron is stitched onto the dress. The 'bib' (kraplap) is a loose piece of material sewn onto a piece of biasbinding and stitched in place around the neck of the doll. The necklace is made of red beads with one yellow clear bead in the middle and threaded on a bit of wire which is twisted to close. The floral pattern of the bib is the same as the floral pattern on the apron."
"The (cap called) hul is quite big really and fits ok (even on different doll like Fleur). These huls are not always from the same fabric. Another Volendam Sindy I have seen from another collector has a different one (... ) with more of a lacey pattern. The rest of the outfit is exactly the same (as mine)."
Particia wrote about the loose Sindy dress: "You can see that it is wider than on the doll so it would have been sewn on to be able to fit her. It would have been folded over at the back. The snaps have been sewn on later (by previous owner). You can see in photo 3 the small hole where I am pretty sure something went wrong when unpicking the stitching."
Patricia Ruiter, who is very interested in solving doll mysteries, just like me, went to Volendam several times. She brought her Volendam Sindy and showed her to the locals, who work in the still existing souvenirs shops. No one remembered to have ever seen such a Sindy doll. An older woman, who has worked in Volendam already in the 70s and who was one of the seamstresses that has made outfits for souvenirs dolls back than, told her, that the fabrics used for Volendam Sindy's costume were not the same that were used back than. Especially the border didn't seem familiar to her. It is very much possible, that Volendam Sindy was never made or sold in Volendam, but somewhere else in Holland as a dutch souvenir doll. Where has to be found out yet....
In 1978, when Otto Simon lost the license to Sindy, Volendam Sindy dissappeared.
Loose Volendam outffits for dolls
My collector friend Patricia Ruiter, who provided many photos and facts about Volendam, grew up in the Netherlands living near Volendam. She visited the place many times and also was there during her childhood in the 70s and 80s.
She remembers, that in the 80s, after the production of Volendam Sindy has ended, the souvenir shops in Volendam still sold the traditional handmade costumes for 11" dolls (Barbie-, Fleur- and Sindy-sized). They were outside the shops in baskets, each costume in a clear plastic bag consisting of dress, apron, clogs and hul.
Another doll collector , Anita Bigdogbowie, told the exact same thing and she even bought some of these outfits herself back than. She unpacked most of them, but kept one in it's original packaging and she kindly allowed us, to show them here!!!
As you can see, the packed outfit is a version of the Wedding Guest costume. The dress is made of a thick cotton fabric, the bodice is black, the skirt is striped. The kraplap is sewn to the dress and has a blue turtleneck. The border shows a windmil pattern. The kraplap is made of a thinner cotton fabric. The apron is made of the same fabric as the dress, the upper part is a cotton fabric with the same flower pattern as the kraplap and the lower part is the same black thick cotton as the bodice. The dress has no snaps at the back and can be closed with the secure pin.
The hul is made of lace and the clogs are real wooden. There is also a small red necklace.
Patricia was recently able to buy a vintage Volendam outfit for a doll still in it's original packaging. It is for a much bigger doll than Fleur or Barbie, but it has the same flower pattern on the apron and kraplap like the smaller one for 11" dolls. So these outfits were obviously made for several kind of dolls, not only 11" fashion dolls.
The second costume Anita bought back than is a so called "Market Day" costume. This version of the costume does also have a kraplap with flower print and windmilborder, the turtleneck seems to be always blue. The skirt, as opposed to the Wedding-Guest costume, is made of black thick cotton. It is floor long. The apron is made of thinner cotton with blue, white and orange stripes. The belt of the apron can have a border or be plain. The hul is made of lace.
Patricia Ruiter als owns a version of the Market-Day costume and she also remembers, that she saw it sold as a loose outfit outside the souvenirs shops.
Angela Mombers also owns one of the Market-Days Volendam costume variant, worn by a 70s Fleur.
The next photos show an unusual Weding-Guest variation in blue. It is very detailed and shorter, than the usual costume made for 11" dolls. This costume might has been sold on a smaller souvenir doll.
Here is another Volendam outfit made for 11" dolls I found on Worthpoint.com (click here to be forwarded to the source!). It has snaps on the back. It was probably one of the outfits that were made loose for fashiondolls or it might have come on another souvenir doll. It's very detailed and beautiful. The kraplap is supposed to be under the dress, the photographer obviously didn't know that... it should not be on her shoulders.)
The next photos show a little 7" souvenirs doll from Volendam that is wearing the exact same outfit that was also made for 11" dolls sold loose, just smaller. Please note the same flower print on kraplap and apron!
Now that we have talked about Volendam Sindy and got to know the loose Volendam outfits made for dolls we finally come to talk about Fleur!
Several online sources such as www.Fleurdolls.com and long term collectors are convinced, that after breaking up with Pedigree Otto Simon continued the souvenir dolls with Fleur.
The legend tells, that Otto Simon provided the nude Fleur dolls, which were shipped to Volendam, sewn there into the handmade Volendam costumes, put into a packaging (a clear plastic tube or a clear plastic bag) and sold in souvenir shops.
However, Patricia Ruiter, who as said above, lives near Volendam doesn't remember to have ever seen a Fleur doll in the Volendam outfit sold in these shops in her childhood.
She now went back to Volendam several times and talked with many shouvenir shop owners and no one remembers a doll like Fleur.
So here is the question: Was there ever a Volendam Fleur or is it just an internet myth???
Untill now, no one ever saw a boxed or sealed Volendam Fleur, the odds are, that this doll doesn't exist at all. So the following is just speculation:
I believe, that IF there ever was a Volendam Fleur made, it could be the mysterious Gauntlet Fleur (see here more about Gauntlet Fleur), because Volendam Sindy also had the Gauntlet body.
It could also be, that Otto Simon send, what was left to Volendam and not a specific doll. While browsing for research I have found this old listing from Ebay on Worthpoint.com (see photo), and it shows a Fleur doll that is said to be still sewn into a Volendam costume. It is a 70s Fleur doll on a standart 70s body with straight arms (see here overview about Fleur bodies). She is the only hint I have seen till now, that Volendam Fleur might really exist.
Collectors believe, that the costume of Volendam Fleur is a variant of the Wedding-Guest costume, but less detailed than Sindy's. The kraplap is not a separate loose piece of fabric anymore but sewn on the bodice of the dress . There are several color variants of the turtle neck, so far I have seen white, orange, blue, turquoise, green and red. The bodice of the dress is made of a black thick cotton fabric. Around the kraplap there is a border with a windmil pattern, the same border is used for the belt of the apron, that can be tied at the back and s not sewn to the dress. The bodice has sleeves to the ellbows and no snaps at the back. The kraplap and the upper part of the apron are made of the same fabric with flower print. There are many variations of the flower print. The skirt is sewn to the bodice and is made of a thick cotton with colorfull stripes, similar to Sindy's. The skirt is usually nearly floor long, however the length can vary. Also the length of the apron can vary. It is said that Fleur was also wearing a lace hul on her head, that however was not glued on and wooden clogs on her feet.
The next photos show variations of the so called Fleur Volendam costume:
The next doll is a Volendam Sindy owned by Patricia Ruiter wearing the so called Volendam Fleur outfit with blue turtleneck and big flower print of apron and kraplap that is exactly the same as the version above.
Wooden clogs by Fleur and Sindy. It seems to me, that the clogs are identical. However according to Patricia Ruiter, these doll clogs can be found often loose and they often are too small for Fleur or Sindy, because they belong to other, smaller souvenirs dolls.
Comparison between the Volendam Sindy dress (apron removed) and the Fleur Volendam dress. Here you can see, that the bodice is much shorter on the Sindy dress compared to the Fleur dress, the collar is cut out with an emroidered border, while on Fleur's dress the kraplap is sewn onto the bodice.
Fleur and Sindy's dresses from the back. The simplified Fleur dress doesn't have a kraplap on the back (which actually should be). The dresses of Fleur are also noticable shorter than Sindy's dress.
If the Fleur Volendam costume looks oddly familiar to you, it is because it is EXACTLY the same as the loose outfit I showed above, that is still sealed in it's original packaging!
So what does this all mean?
We have proof, that there was a Sindy doll made by Otto Simon and sold as a souvenir doll wearing the Volendam outfit, however she was probably not made and sold in Volendam itself.
We have proof that there were loose Volendam outfits sold for 11" fashion dolls like Sindy, Barbie and Fleur in souvenir shops in Volendam.
Untill now we don't have proof that Volendam Fleur really existed...
Does it mean that there never was a Volendam Fleur? Of course not! It is still possible that these outfits were sold loose AND on dolls like Fleur. We will not know, untill someone finds a Volendam Fleur still in it's original packaging... untill than....everything is possible! We have a Schrödinger's cat situation here!
A special huge THANK YOU goes to the amazing Patricia Ruiter, who provided so many interesting facts and so many great pictures! I hope I did you justice! And also a big THANK YOU to Angela Mombers, for all the beautiful pictures and facts about Volendam Fleur! And a THANK YOU to Anita Bigdogbowie for allowing me to use her photos especially of her sealed Volendam outfit!