Though dolls have always been collectable, vintage dolls are now very fashionable to collect - particularly as many collectors buy dolls from their own childhoods. With this guide, buyers will understand the reasons into the purchasing of vintage dolls, as well as receive guidance on how to check dolls and get the most competitive prices on eBay.
Buying Vintage Dolls
When deciding to buy vintage dolls, buyers should consider the factors that will affect their choice of doll, such as:
* Price - prices vary from doll to doll, because of type, condition and rarity. Many dolls are very valuable because of collector popularity and buyers should set a budget before searching for dolls because of the high prices they may encounter.
* Condition - condition affects the price of collector items, often dramatically, and this is an important factor to consider when looking at dolls.
* Type - there are many 'types' of dolls available, from delicate china and porcelain to the familiar plastic Barbie. Picking a type of doll is a good way to narrow down the wide field of dolls available within the marketplace.
* Brand - brand is important for some dolls, especially if the doll or brand is now defunct or has changed its name. This will affect cost.
Reasons to Collect Vintage Dolls
There is a big market in vintage dolls, possibly because until very recently dolls were made of cloth and tended not to last for very long. Collecting vintage dolls is not only a way to recapture fond childhood memories but also a way to decorate, celebrate history or even customise old dolls with new fashions. This guide is to highlight five reasons to collect vintage dolls:
It sounds simple, but many people gravitate towards the dolls they had as children, either as a way to connect with their own children or simply as a way to relive their past. There is a large boom in the sale of 1950s and 60s dolls due to the resurging popularity of items from that period - including dolls such as Sasha which are valuable in their own right as handmade vintage items, but are more valuable once the value of nostalgic appeal is added.
To decorate a room or fill up an empty space on a shelf, what better way than to buy a pretty, elegant china or porcelain doll, or a bright and cheerful cloth doll? Many buyers display their collection around their houses on shelves, and in glass cases in the case of particularly vulnerable dolls.
Displaying dolls is a wonderful way to give a room some character; however it is advisable to check the Caring for Vintage Dolls section before display, as it essential that dolls be protected from damage whilst on display.
Collecting vintage and antique dolls is a lesson in fashion, and many buyers purchase old dolls for precisely that reason - both the clothing of the doll, and the design of the doll itself is a creation of its time.
Though just buying the accessories can take up a great deal of space, many collect the accessories as well; as they are additions to the doll and add to its value. To use an example - Barbie, modern and vintage, have always come with a large amount of items big and small. These dolls and their accessories were always poster children of fashion, such as the bubble cut Barbie meant to emulate Jackie Kennedy Onassis.
In line with the fashion aspect of buying dolls, many like to collect vintage dolls so they can create vintage outfits for them - both fans of dolls and fans of sewing love creating period-perfect outfits with someone to model them. Many also enjoy collecting the small items to go with costuming, such as buttons and ribbons.
Many sellers have accessories and clothing for sale on eBay - things both handmade by them or original accompanying items of dolls. Large costume collections are favoured by those who collect dolls for fashion purposes.
One of the main reasons why people buy vintage dolls is for collecting purposes. Many vintage dolls are very valuable now, not only due to speculative value but also because of nostalgia.
The collector's market covers almost every single aspect of vintage dolls from the doll themselves to their clothing and accessories. There are many different subsections to this, with buyers collecting items because of:
Collectors may choose dolls by the type of material they were made with - such as cloth, porcelain or composition without usually minding whether the dolls come from the same brand or not. These can lead to incredibly large collections, though they can be less costly than more specific collections due to the wider range available to collectors-by-type.
Buyers may choose dolls according to a common theme or setting, such as Pierrot dolls, or dolls based on Disney characters.
Theme collection is popular amongst collectors of mass-manufactured dolls where there is a huge range to choose from. A great example of this is Barbie, with collectors often focusing on buying items from a particular Barbie 'set', such as all items from Let's Play.
Special ore limited editions are small runs of dolls, often with a new theme or design. They are particularly sought after in any collector's circle, and some make a point of only buying particular limited editions. An example is the now very rare Colour Magic Barbie from 1966, a relatively small run that was only reproduced in 2004 means that this is a very valuable edition of Barbie to own.
Many dolls are manufactured in the rise to fame of a singer or actress or all-around idol, and these dolls are not only prized as historical items and nostalgic pieces but also as merchandise by followers of the celebrity. For example, Marilyn Monroe is a popular doll, with many different iterations right the way up to modern times, allowing for a large collection featuring changes over the decades/
Many collectors of dolls enjoy focusing on a particular period of doll-making history, such as the Bébé dolls of the 1880s. Dolls and their accessories really are products of their times, and the interest is not so much in the dolls themselves as the history they represent.
Many buyers, however, also tend to collect dolls of their childhood, whether that is the 1940s or the 1990s, so in the case most major dolls there are collectors for every period of its history.
These examples of reasons why to buy vintage dolls should help the buyer understand the motivations behind the many people who collect them - whether that is the historical interest, a love for fashion or for pure nostalgic value. Before looking at vintage dolls, buyers should consider what would be their own reasons for collecting dolls, as that will affect not only what type of doll they will find but also the prices they can expect to pay for vintage dolls.
Types of Vintage Dolls
There are many types of vintage dolls (a term which generally refers to any doll made from the 1930s onwards). Buyers should collect dolls that they love, and the main types are:
Dolls made entirely of some form of cloth, usually including stitched faces and wigs, and hand-made clothing. Raggedy Ann and Andy are considered by most to be the original and most definitive vintage cloth doll.
Porcelain dolls are made from delicate, almost translucent porcelain, these dolls are perfect for display.
* Ashton Drake baby dolls
* Leonardo Collection
Miniatures are very small dolls made to go in doll houses, frequently made from wood or hard plastic.
* Sylvanian Families
* Polly Pocket
Vinyl are most mass-produced dolls are made from vinyl mixed with a plasticiser, which makes the dolls far more flexible than vinyl alone.
* Barbie - frequently collected for designer edition, themes, or just vintage value
* Chatty Cathy
* Cabbage Patch Kids - these are a blend, with vinyl heads and fabric bodies
* Sasha dolls
Composition dolls are usually made of a mixture of several compounds, such as sawdust, glue and other materials to give a hard, shiny finish
* Madame Alexander
* Shirley Temple dolls
Identifying Vintage Dolls
Once the buyer has decided on a kind of doll they would like to buy, they need to be able to identify dates, conditions and values as well as many other things that determine that final price of a doll. Even doll experts struggle sometimes, however with some guidance, buyers should be able to make basic judgements about the worth of vintage dolls.
* Marks - markings on a doll - if deliberate - are very important in determining its history. Composition dolls (which were often handmade) carry their manufacturer's names on their bodies, and many doll manufacturers through the ages have developed ways to identify their genuine product. Barbie dolls have a Mattel trademark on their right buttock or the back of their head. Markings like these are a good way to be certain of the authenticity of any doll. There are many forums and websites documenting trademark stamps on dolls, and if unsure buyers should always consult someone with experience.
* Design - doll designs have changed over the ages, with different shapes, sizes and looks coming in and out of vogue. Fortunately, changing times make it very simple to identify the age of a doll. For example, Barbie dolls did not have centred eyes (looking straight ahead) until 1971.
* Details - the amount of detail on a doll can determine a great deal. A well-made doll will have distinct features, good hair stitching and styles. This is particularly the case with hand-made or finished dolls, such as porcelain/china or Sasha dolls which should have detailed, delicate facial features.
* Accessories - the accessories accompanying the doll is a big factor in the final price. To qualify as a 'complete' doll in the eyes of collectors, the doll should have all the items it came with - such as clothes, jewellery or handheld items in the case of dolls like Barbie. Though some spare vintage accessories can be found for sale.
* Popularity - popularity is a big influence on doll costs, and very popular, rare dolls tend to be very costly.
* Condition - condition has a big effect on the price. Buyers should check the photographs and descriptions for damages such as missing parts, cracks or holes. Another aspect to consider is if the doll has come 'pre-loved', a doll that belonged to a child may have slight damage but may not matter to a buyer who likes the doll enough to overlook any slight flaws. MIB (Mint in Box) dolls are the most valuable of any dolls, as they have been untouched and come with the original box.
* Ask Advice - if in doubt about any parts of the doll, it is always best to do more in depth research about dolls or ask for guidance from experienced doll collectors.
Caring for Vintage Dolls
Vintage dolls have only lasted to become vintage with some tender care, and if the buyer continues looking after their dolls they can ensure the dolls last to become antiques. Most of all, the buyer should keep in mind:
* Clean, dry environment are best for dolls - if there is any damp, mould or mites; this may infest the doll or its clothing.
* Do not smoke near the doll - the smell of smoke clings to the doll, and it may yellow the doll or the box it is kept in, destroying its mint value even if it has been left untouched.
* Check before using any caustic cleaners on dolls - depending on materials this may peel off paint, discolour skin tone or even damage the material.
* Storage - if not wanting to display dolls, consider keeping them in an airtight container to keep them safe from mites or environment damage.
* Keep out of direct sunlight - light can fade the dye used in dolls or their clothing.
Finding the perfect vintage doll can be a collector's haven or a trip through memory lane, and with this guide buyers will be able to identify not only the ideal doll but check the quality and price. Remember buyers: a collector's item is only worth what someone is willing to pay.
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