Tips on Listing an Antique Doll in eBay

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There are certain bits of information that collectors look for in Antique Doll listings, this guide will explain what is needed and how to get it. A well presented doll will attract more bidders.

What is the doll made of ? – check my guide on this subject. Head and body may well be made of different materials - list in the category of the material of the head.

IDENTIFYING MARKS – this is very important ; if the doll is a bisque socket head on a composition body check the back of the head and there may also be words stamped on the body so check that (usually around the hip, sometimes the shoulder or even on the soles of the feet). If at all possible take photos of the marks and use in your listing.
It is highly likely that the marks on the back of the head are obscured by the wig – see my guide on how to remove a wig from an antique doll. Do not be tempted just to pull – you risk damaging both the wig and the head.
With a bisque shoulderhead it is likely that there will be a marking under the leather at the bottom edge of the back shoulderplate. Do not pull the leather away from the bisque – it is likely to tear. See my guide on how to remove the leather from the shoulderplate. You may need to clean the glue from the bisque in order to see the marks. Take photographs or a scan if at all possible, otherwise try and make a good copy by hand of the marks. Unless the head is needed off the body (for repairs or packing) you can re-moisten the glue and pull the leather back up tightly and allow to dry. This should leave no visible signs that the leather has been removed.
Check the marks in Reference books for the Maker and other information; the maker will usually be indicated by the full name, initials or a logo, there may well be a mould number or name, DEP stands for deponiert and means registered, there is often a number indicating the height of the doll in centimetres or a size number, in the 1890s it became law that goods exported to the USA had to have the Country of Origin on them and so you find Made in Germany or France or Nippon as well.

LENGTH or height of complete doll (self explanatory).

EYES – sleep eyes or stationary eyes, colour etc.

CONDITION – check closely for any damage, if there is some then take photos and either include in the listing or offer to send to interested bidders.
To check a bisque head; look closely outside all over and remark hairline cracks, cracks, chips and breaks, then light the head from within with a bright torch and check outside if you can see any further cracks or unexplained dark areas which might be areas of restoration (which may be otherwise invisible), then check all over the head, inside and out, with UV light – glue and other synthetic substances are likely to fluoresce and become obvious, ingrained dirt may also be picked up.
If you see a hairline – DO NOT rub dirt or pencil into it to make it visible in a photo – it will be almost impossible to remove.
Check the eyes, the body and any hair, clothes and shoes – note any problems.
DO NOT WASH composition parts or scrub dirty faces unless you really know what you are doing – you could seriously damage the doll. Most parts of antique dolls need specialist cleaning. Most collectors would rather buy an originally dirty doll than a badly cleaned one.

ORIGINALITY IS WORTH MONEY – keep all old clothes, wigs, shoes, broken heads etc. together with the rest of the doll no matter how dirty/smelly/damaged you might think them – a collector will find a doll more valuable if it is original. At the very worst the parts can be noted and photographed before being binned, at the best, they can be cleaned and mended and the doll will be as “new”.

CLOTHES - it is probably best to leave well alone unless you are experienced at cleaning and mending antique textiles, just make sure you list all the clothes that come with the doll including shoes and socks if necessary and include a photograph, preferably of the doll wearing the clothes as well as off the doll if there are many layers. I find it can be economical to lay the clothes out and place the doll on top for the photo of the doll body.

PHOTOGRAPHS – take lots ! In particular you will need photos of: Face, back of head including marks, unclothed body (if possible) and any damage. A good photograph makes a huge difference to a doll listing, but one good one of each point is best rather than half a dozen of the doll from slightly different angles. Make sure they are in focus and not over or under lit – daylight is often best. If you cannot focus close up then take the best quality photo from further away where it is in focus – it is then possible to blow up (or zoom in to) the image for close up detail.

HISTORY – Any history of the doll; who owned it, where did it come from etc. A photograph of the doll with its first owner always adds value to a doll.

GOOD POINTS – is there anything especially nice you notice about the doll (colour of eyes, sweet expression, beautiful clothes etc.), if so mention it.

I think that’s about it – you should have all the information needed. Remember to write your listing using paragraphs and line breaks to make it easy to read and offer to send more photos to interested buyers. If you have missed something you will probably be asked for the information, or you may well be given more information by more knowledgeable eBayers, in which case you can revise or add to the listing.

Please contact me for more information or to let me know if you think I've missed something.

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