Schilling Talking Doll
The earliest reference I could find for the Schilling Talking Doll is 1949. They sold for about $12.95 in department stores. The original hang tag said, "She Talks! Laughs! Cries! Gurgles! Sobs! with a real human Voice. Voiced by J.J. Warner Recording Studios of California" I have seen versions where the phonograph system is mounted in the back of the doll and others where the phonograph system is mounted in the doll's stomach.
My sister acquired two of the dolls from eBay. One was in really good shape, whereas the second was pretty torn up and suffering from odor problems - the cloth body and the hard plastic head (that great vomit smell produced by the bacteria working on the plastic). We ended up removing its fibrous stuffing in order to sew up the damaged areas. Access to the interior was achieved by carefully untwisting the wire used to bind the cloth body to the flanged head. Neither doll's records would play. I had to remove the clockworks to investigate.
The Schilling phonograph mechanisms suffer from two problems. One, the o-rings responsible for spinning the phonograph have turned to dust with age. Second, the records are cut from sheet plastic and warp so badly that they jam the needle/sound box/speaker unit. I decided to try flattening the records by pressing them with a warm iron (covering the record so it wouldn't come into direct contact with the iron). Once a record became pliable, I pressed it under as much weight as was available - several large books and a hefty box of laundry detergent. The record took the new set and all that is needed is to replace the drive belts. I am optimistic that the dolls can be returned to working order.
The patents for the phonograph units in these dolls are unusual. The patent number is stamped onto the cover plate of the mechanism and clearly says "1998149". Looking up the patent reveals a sound system that is not driven by a clock spring but rather by a person manually pulling a recording strip past a stylus. The playback depends on pulling the strip at the appropriate rate and at a steady rate. The strip then needs to be reset to its original position before the sound can be played back again. The clockworks in the doll essentially produce the correct speed and steady rate instead of requiring a human hand and the record converts the strip into a loop that can be replayed by resetting the tone arm. Jesse J. Warner authored a second patent (US2598026A) for a sound pickup and speaker for a phonograph record that is not stamped on the plate but was probably "pending" when the doll went into production.
I was looking up Jesse J. Warner the inventor of Schilling phonograph system and found some interesting things: