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.
Sadly, I don't own any Volendam doll myself, but my amazing Fleur and Sindy friend Patricia Ruiter and my lovely Fleur besty Angela Mombers, both living in the Netherland, provided photos and informations for this blog post, so I can share them here with you!
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 provided dolls to Volendam, 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.
Volendam Sindy was sold in Volendam as a souvenir in a plastic tube or a clear plastic bag in souvenirs shops. The nude doll was send to Volendam where locals handmade the costume. She 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."
In 1978, when Otto Simon lost the license to Sindy, Volendam Sindy dissappeared. But this is not the end for Otto Simon and Volendam...
Several online sources such as www.Fleurdoll.com and long term collectors are convinced, that after breaking up with Pedigree Otto Simom continued the souvenir dolls with Fleur.
It is known, that Otto Simon provided the dolls, the costumes were handsewn by locals in Volendam. The nude dolls were shipped to Volendam, sewn into the dresses, put into a packaging (a clear plastic tube or a clear plastic bag) and sold in souvenirs shops, exactly like with the Sindy dolls before. The shoes and caps however were not glued to the dolls. Also the costume is made less detailed than Sindy's, and while there is only one version of the Sindy Volendam costume that I know of till date, the Fleur costume has many variations and no two look exactly alike.
If you have read my last blog post (here), than you know that I am convinced that Otto Simon send Fleur dolls with the Gauntlet body to Volendam, because Sindy also had the Gauntlet body. However this is just a theory. 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 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 "proof" I have seen till now, that Volendam Fleur really exists.
The costume of Volendam Fleur is also 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 now made of a black thick cotton fabric, but some might also be made of felt. Around the kraplap there is a border with a windmil pattern, the same border is used for the belt of the apron, that now can be tied at the back and s not sewn to the dress. The bodice has sleeves to the ellbows and also has 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. The following photos show several variants of the Fleur Volendam costumes:
Fleur Volendam costume worn by Gauntlet Fleur, doll belongs to Patricia Ruiter. The turtleneck on this variant is red, the kraplap and apron have a big flowery print. The apron is floor long like the dress.
Volendam Fleur costume worn by a 70s Fleur, doll belongs to Angela Mombers. The turtleneck was once blue but faded nearly into white, the apron is shorter than other variants and is only knee long. Note also the piece of flower fabric used fot the apron is much shorter than the version above. The kraplap and apron have a smaller flower print.
Another variation of the Volendam Fleur outfit worn by a 70s Fleur, owned by Angela Mombers. I'm not sure if the flower pattern of apron and kraplap is just faded or if it really was orange.
Another variant of the Fleur costume with blue turtleneck, photos by Angela Mombers, doll sold via Etsy.
The next doll is a Volendam Sindy owned by Patricia Ruiter wearing the Volendam Fleur outfit with blue turtleneck and big flower print of apron and kraplap that is exactly the same as the version above.
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.
Fleur and Sindy hul to compare. There were many variants of the hul, but all were made out of lace.
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.
These are some more variants of the Fleur Volendam outfit I found online, source is Worthpoint.com.
Click the picture to be forwarded to the original source:
Loose Volendam outffits
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 and Fleur 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.
She even remembers how the costumes, that were sold loose, looked like: "I would say that this (photo below) would be one of those loose ones (outfits) you could buy for a fashion doll that I was telling you about. I really don't think Fleur came in this outfit. " That's why I think, that the following costume was not sold on a Fleur doll, but seperately, as Patricia said. It is of course possible, that there were also dolls sold in this costume. I guess we will never know for sure unless we find some packed Volendam Fleur dolls!
This costume is a so called "Market Day" costume. This version of the costume does also have a kraplap with flower print and wind milborder, 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 only one fabric with blue, white and orange stripes. The belt of the apron can have a border or be plain. Also the added huls can vary in size and shape but are always made of lace, see photos.
Angela 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 Fleur costume, so it's probably not for Fleur. This costume might have been sold loose or on another, 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 Fleur, just smaller. Please note the same flower print on kraplap and apron!
Volendam Sindy and Volendam Fleur are two more obscure dolls that not much is known about. With the help of Patricia and Angela I hope I could lighten them up a bit. I think that I will be able to recognize a Volendam Fleur or Sindy outfit now, if I should be so lucky to find one out in the wild. How Volendam Fleur exactly looked like, if she was a specific doll or just left over dolls remains a mystery that still has to be solved!
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!