Identifying, Valuing, and Preserving a Doll Collection

Close-up of dolls in toy box

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From fashionable Barbies to elegant French bisque antiques, dolls play a lovable role in a person's life. It's no wonder, then, that some turn to curating a beautiful doll collection. Whether you are new to doll collecting or have been doll collecting for years, it's valuable to have a good grasp of the basics, which includes identifying the dolls, valuing them, and preserving them properly.

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    Identifying a Doll

    doll marque

    The first step in collecting dolls is identifying each one properly. Examine the doll in good lighting, jotting down the size, material, and physical attributes of the doll, such as the hair, eyes, and clothing. Look closely to see if there are any markings or labels, such as a manufacturer name or symbol or a model number, and match up symbols in an identification guide.

    If there's no mark, identifying the doll might be tricky. If you have an approximate date of manufacture, you might be able to narrow down the company or type of doll. Otherwise, be resigned that the doll will simply be noted as an era and type of doll.

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    Valuing Your Doll

    bye lo Rare Pouting Baby

    Many doll collectors will say that it's not about how much the dolls are worth but about the hunt for a rare doll and enjoying the overall collection. However, it can be beneficial to know the value of each of the dolls for insurance purposes, as well as if you decide to pare down the collection. To determine the value of a doll, consider some key factors:

    • Has the doll been restored or repaired during its lifespan?
    • Is it chipped, dull, or show other signs of wear?
    • Is there a serial number that an appraiser can identify?
    • Is there a manufacturer stamp and year?

    The Internet has made it easier to determine the value of dolls. Look at an auction site, such as eBay, and see what has recently sold and for how much. While this doesn't mean your doll would sell for the same amount, it gives you a ballpark figure.

    If you think a doll is particularly valuable, skip online comparables and head to a professional appraiser. Those that specialize in antique dolls can give you a quote for its value.

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    Protecting and Preserving Your Dolls

    Dolls Displayed In Antique Shop For Sale
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    Not only can a doll collection be valuable but it's also much-loved. Take measures to protect and preserve the dolls so that they will stay in pristine condition.

    • Keep the dolls out of natural and fluorescent light: Natural lights fades doll clothing, as well as some vinyl and cloth dolls. Fluorescent lighting can change the color of some vinyl dolls to a greenish hue. If possible, keep the dolls in a closed cabinet or under incandescent lighting.
    • Keep the area dust- and pet-free. Dust may yellow a doll's clothing and create a layer of dirt. Keeping the pets away decreases the amount of dust in the room and decreases the chances that Fido will think the doll is a chew toy.
    • Don't smoke around the dolls: The odor easily infiltrates the doll's clothing, and it's nearly impossible to remove.
    • Avoid temperature extremes: Super-hot or extra-cold temps can degrade the plastic or crack papier mache. Avoid storing dolls in the attic, garage, basement, or another place in the home that's not temperature-controlled.
    • Keep the dolls out of air-tight plastic: If any moisture happens to be in the plastic before it's sealed, mold can grow. Keep dolls in containers that allow the air to circulate.