Kirsten Larson was released in 1986 with her darling prairie collection by Pleasant Company. Each of the historical characters had a six-book story and a doll-sized collection with accurate replicas. Kirsten’s Swedish heritage shines throughout her pieces but especially in her Christmas story. Pleasant Company sold the accessory items as individual pieces or sets and also in grouped collections. The Starter Collection included a doll, her accessories, her school story and her Christmas story along with the first three books. This post will focus on Kirsten’s Starter Collection.
I have multiple Kirsten dolls and am using my 1988 Kirsten for this post. If you would like to see all of my Kirsten’s and their differences over time, please visit the post Kirsten Through the Years. Kirsten came wearing her Meet Outfit which included a blue calico dress, white pantalettes with eyelet lace, a red and white striped apron, two blue hair ribbons, striped knee socks and brown boots. Her woven hair ribbons were they same blue as her Meet dress.
Kirsten’s Meet dress is soft blue with small pink flowers. It has a grow stripe which is a sewn, folded band that could be let out as a girl grew. The very first versions of the dress had a paper tag saying Made in West Germany for Pleasant Company 1986, later the tag changed to material but still said the same thing. In the 90’s the tags had a year followed by Pleasant Company and finally ended with an American Girl tag after 2000. Kirsten’s blue dress received a pattern change somewhere between 1990 and 1993.
Kirsten’s socks were originally very thick and thinned in the late 90’s. The stripe became even thinner in the 2000’s, but I don’t have a pair to show at this time. The socks shown are 80’s, early 90’s and lastly late 90’s. Kirsten’s first boots only had two holes with a piece of brown yarn as the tie, in the mid to late 90’s they received more holes and nylon laces. Kirsten’s pantalettes have an elastic waist and eyelet trim around each leg.
Kirsten’s Meet Accessories: The Meet Accessories included a bonnet, spoon bag, spoon, hankie and amber heart necklace. The bonnet is red checked with elastic in the back. The early ones had paper tags that later changed to material tags like the dresses. Kirsten’s apron is red and white striped with a small front pocket and ties around her waist. The pattern stayed the same over the years but there are slight differences if you look closely. Most aprons do not have tags in my experience until after 2000 and were then labeled American Girl.
The spoon bag is separate from the tie, has a heart sewn on it and is embroidered with K. L. 1854 in blue thread. In pioneer days, people didn’t have lots of utensils and sometimes families shared. If you were going to someone’s home to eat, a church picnic or town bizarre you would need to bring your own utensils, hence the spoon bag. Kirsten’s spoon is wooden and has a knob on the end. It has the word FRANCE on the handle. Kirsten’s Hankie is a thick muslin-type fabric and is embroidered around the edges. There is a slight difference from the 80’s to the 90’s. The 90’s muslin is a little thinner but more tightly woven. Kirsten’s Amber Heart Necklace is a charm on a thin brown ribbon. The first ones had a hook closure and it was later changed to a lobster claw clasp in the 90’s.
Kirsten’s School Collection: I adore Kirsten’s school set. That little split-log bench is just too cute! Kirsten’s school bench is a faux log cut in half with four legs inserted in the bottom. It has “bark” on the underside. The bench came with a wooden bucket with metal accents and a ladle with a leather tie.
Kirsten’s school dress has had two different prints over the years. The first print was a tiny division pattern and was later replaced in the 90’s with a tiny flower. This dress also has two grow stripes near the hem. The outfit included a plaid shawl and dark blue woven hair ribbons. The shawl also changed slightly when the dress print did. The shawl laying on top (with more gold) is the earliest version.
Kirsten took her lunch to school in a wooden box called a tine (tee-nah). Traditionally these were carved or wood-burned with designs. American Girl revised the tine with a much thicker version that has an etched design. The lunch came with a woven cloth napkin, a chunk of bread, sausage, cheese wedge and an apple.
Kirsten’s school supplies include a brown calico slate bag, double-sided slate, slate pencil, wiper, ruler, First Reader book and Rewards of Merit. The calico bag has a leather drawstring and a front divided pocket. The pocket is made perfectly to hold the slate pencil and merit cards. The larger open compartment holds the double-sided slate, wiper (small piece of cloth) and Reader. Kirsten’s Child’s First Reader is a small replica of the original.
Kirsten’s Christmas Collection: Kirsten’s Christmas Collection is based on the Swedish tradition of Saint Lucia. I wrote a little about the history and outfit symbolism in the post Doll House Christmas 2019.
The white gown is trimmed with a tiny lace and the woven red sash is sewn onto the back of the gown and ties around the front. The outfit came with red striped socks and two red woven ribbons. The Saint Lucia wreath was sold separately. It’s a plastic ring with faux leaves attached. There are 6 holders to place the 6 wooden candles in. The wooden candles are painted white with red tips.
This is the first version of Kirsten’s Saint Lucia Tray and has flat handles. It was later made with looped handles that arched up like basket handles. The tray is wooden and painted blue. The set included a red and white checkered cloth, two Saint Lucia buns and a sprig of greenery that I don’t own. It also has a small heart-shaped candle holder and wooden candle that is a smaller version of the crown candles.
Lastly there is Kirsten’s Doll Sari. In my opinion she is the sweetest part of the collection. As a child reading the books, I remember being upset that Sari was left behind in storage as the Larson family had to carry their belongings to the farm. My mom and my 7 year old self would have discussions of ways Kirsten could have taken Sari with her. 😉 One idea was to tie Sari to her body so she could still have her hands free to help the family. I just knew I couldn’t leave my doll and felt so upset that Kirsten had to leave sweet Sari behind, but it did make the Christmas story so much better when they were reunited.
Sari is a rag doll and is about 5 inches. She is all one piece with the exception of her dress and shawl. Her hair is braided yarn styled like Kirsten’s. If you have Sari or have seen her on re-sell sites, she may not look just like mine. Each Sari doll’s shawl was made of scrap fabric and varies based on what was available. I have seen at least 10 different shawls on Sari dolls.
I hope you enjoyed looking at Kirsten’s Starter Collection! We will move to her Birthday Collection soon.
5 thoughts on “Kirsten’s Starter Collection”
I did enjoy hearing about Kirsten. The American Girl dolls are after my time so I don’t know too much about them. I only have Addy. I like that Pleasant Company created such wonderful accessories and books for the dolls.
They are really neat pieces! ❤️
I love this site! I am just now as a grandmother getting into the original American Girl dolls, and this page is a treasure trove!
Thank you so much! Have fun collecting!