Pleasant Company began in 1986 in Middleton, Wisconsin. The company was founded by Pleasant T. Rowland, a woman who used to be a teacher and a publisher of educational texts. Rowland sold Pleasant Company in 1998 to Mattel. Pleasant Company is now legally called American Girl.
The first catalogue contained only 3 historical dolls, whereas now there are 10 (not counting the new addition of the best friends dolls). Kirsten Larson (1854 pioneer), Samantha Parkington (1904
Victorian orphan), and Molly McIntire (1944 living on the homefront during world war II) were the first historical characters.
Pictures are scanned from the spring 1992 catalog.
Pleasant Company has altered these
collections slightly throughout the years...
Some examples of the changes are that Samantha's hair and eyes are much lighter in the earlier dolls (made in Germany by the Gotz company). Her books have different illustrations than the current books (including the cover art). In 2003, most of the dolls are being made in China. Of course, the differences are much more apparent if you look at the actual dolls. The soft body in the older dolls are white, and the newer ones are flesh colored to match their skin.
Samantha's accessories used to come with a real Indianhead penny, which is worth about 78 cents. Now the accessories come with a reproduction of an Indianhead penny (thanks to Anne Marie for this tidbit).
click here to see the Pleasant Company timeline.