Volendam Sindy

In about 1975 Otto Simon was granted a licence to produce and market Sindy dolls in the Netherlands. It is believed that these Sindys were used for the Martinair Air Stewardess souvenir Sindy doll, and the much harder to find Sindy dressed in Volendam national dress. The Martinairs are all brunette Sindys,  however Volendam Sindy has striking silvery blonde hair. The Martinair Sindys can be found here Martinair Sindy

Patricia Ruiter from the Netherlands has researched these lovely Sindys for many years, and here is her story of the mysterious Volendam Sindy

The Volendam Sindy is quite a mystery doll. No one really knows much about her except for the fact that she was dressed in one of the Netherlands’ national costumes and was possibly sold in Volendam.

The traditional Volendam costume is often identified as the Dutch national costume even though the Netherlands is made up of twelve provinces and each has it’s own ‘klederdracht’ (costume). Even the various fishing towns and villages situated around the IJsselmeer (IJssel lake), where Volendam also is situated, have their own traditional costume.

The Otto Simon toy company in Almelo, the Netherlands had the licence to sell Sindys in the Netherlands from around 1975 to 1978. Rumour has it, that Otto Simon supplied the dolls, and that they were dressed and sold as high end souvenir dolls in the shops on the dyke in Volendam. 

But this has never been proven, and as the writer of this article, I have only seen three complete Volendam Sindys (one is my own) plus one that I accidentally acquired two years ago only dressed in her dress.

I have taken my complete Volendam Sindy to various souvenir shops in Volendam asking for more information about her, but the people I spoke to and showed her to had never seen or heard of her before. One shop even claimed that her outfit isn’t 100% true to that of Volendam. According to the owner the braid on the apron and around the neckline of the dress plus the floral material used on the apron and ‘kraplap’ (the starched cotton square on the breast) are not true to Volendam.

In that particular shop, upstairs, there used to be a woman who sewed traditional Volendam outfits for dolls, dressed them and these were sold in the shop. These outfits were also sold loose, not only in that shop but also in others on the dyke, similar to the examples shown above.

There is an alternative theory that she was sold alongside the Martinair Air Hostess Sindy as souvenirs by Martinair, either on board the planes or in Dutch airport souvenir shops. Perhaps, both the Martinairs and Volendams were assembled and/or dressed in the same factory. Although the braid on Sindy’s outfit was considered not true to Volendam, I did find the same braid on a vintage 20cm (almost 8 inch) plastic souvenir doll, who has a costume identical to Sindy’s. Unfortunately there was no indication of where she came from, but it did make me wonder if Sindy was made by a firm such as International Souvenirs Industries BV who made a lot of air hostess dolls and souvenirs for the Dutch airline industry.  They used a lot of felt in their souvenir dolls, and Martinair Sindy wears a felt uniform. But I have been unable to prove this idea either.

Therefore the mystery continues as to where she was made, and where and how she was sold.

Now more about the doll herself:

Sindy has an early gauntlet Lovely Lively body. She is flat chested, marked with the letter E between her shoulders on her back, knees click once, head marked 033055X under her hairline. 

She has the spiky stick-in lashes. These are fixed to tape and slotted into her eyelids. She has a high blush to her cheeks and pinkish lip colour. Her skin colour can have a yellow tinge. Her hair is a silvery blonde with a centre parting, and it falls loose just past her shoulders. It’s not really of a good quality.

Her Costume:

As noted above the Volendam Sindy wore a ‘kraplap’ (or ‘kralap’). The kraplap is made of two squares of fabric joined at the shoulder and this square piece of floral material can be seen under the bodice of her dress. In real life this would have been embroidered and closed at the back with three hooks and eyes, and tied with ribbons front to back under the dress. It would have been decorated around the neck with blue ribbon and white lace.

Sindy’s ‘kraplap’ is simply cut and glued to her chest. It is finished around the neck with ecru binding.

 

A ‘kletje’ was worn over the kraplap. That is a black jacket made of a black woollen material with half sleeves. The neckline, the ‘glop’ was square and decorated with ‘laget’ (braid). The authentic ‘laget’ was black and white and had various patterns. 

In Sindy’s case the ‘kletje’ is the bodice of her dress and is attached to her skirt, rather than a separate jacket. The bodice is made of a thin black woollen felt-like material with short sleeves. The braid isn’t black and white but a dark blue colour with an embroidered white circle and red diamond pattern.

The authentic striped skirt is not the same as the one Sindy is wearing although this striped material is used for a lot for the doll outfits. Sindy’s skirt is made of a brightly striped woven woollen material which is attached to the black bodice. Sindy was then hand-stitched into her machine sewn dress.

Over her dress Sindy wears a ‘boezel’, an apron made of the same black thin woollen felt-like material as the bodice. The top edge is decorated with the ‘stikkie’ a band of the same floral material as the kraplap. The waist is gathered and decorated with the same ‘laget’ as the bodice.

The apron is sewn at the back onto the dress.

On her head, Sindy wears a ‘hul’. This is the lace cap which is glued to her hair. In more religious times, the married women had to cover their heads. This was also a sign of subordination to the husband. Volendam had become quite isolated and after 1760 the population was reduced to 500. Only poor Catholic fishers were left and they held on to their dialect, beliefs and traditions. So the high pointed lace cap stayed. It is made of lace and slightly starched. It fits snugly around the head, has a few pleats at the top and fans out in two points.

Around Sindy’s neck she wears one strand of 16 red beads with a small yellow one in the middle. These have been threaded onto thin wire and bent/hooked to close. These are meant to imitate the authentic blood coral beads that the Volendam ladies wore. They are extremely expensive and the necklaces were made of three strands and fastened at the front of the neck with a gold clasp. The Volendammers were very proud people and the women loved their fine necklaces. The young girls had to save every penny they could earn, or sometimes inherit, to be able to afford such a necklace.

On her feet Sindy wears a pair of wooden clogs. These are glued to her feet. The Volendam women wore black clogs during the week. They were called usters and were painted black. They were carved on the top.

And……she wears a pair of white knickers.

In 1978 Otto Simon lost the Pedigree licence and they went on to design and produce the Dutch fashion doll Fleur. Fleur can also be found wearing a Volendam outfit.

There is a lovely blog which considers not only the Volendam Sindy, but also the Volendam Fleur, plus a number of Volendam variation outfits, which you may be interested in reading about https://www.lulemee-art.com/2022/07/05/the-mystery-of-volendam/

We are grateful to Patricia for her comprehensive account of the Volendam Sindy, and the background to her national costume.

Patricia and Our Sindy Museum would be delighted to hear from anyone who can add to her story, or who have a Volendam Sindy of their own that they would be happy to show.