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Collecting Dolls As A Hobby

Updated on August 14, 2015


A little girl and her baby doll. Both are contemporary dolls.
A little girl and her baby doll. Both are contemporary dolls. | Source

Doll Collection

Dolls sitting on a shelf.
Dolls sitting on a shelf. | Source
Barbie doll in a beach setting.
Barbie doll in a beach setting. | Source

Why People Collect Dolls

It is for the love of dolls that many people collect them. Another primary reason is that dolls are a good investment.

A young child may start collecting dolls and never stop as they live into their adult lives. Others may start collecting dolls when they are adults. Children, women, and men are collectors of dolls.

Dolls may have sentimental or memory value. There are dolls which are popularized after celebrities and athletes. Fashions or just pretty clothing on a doll may be a factor in collecting.

People will collect dolls for love, nostalgia, money, and as many reasons as there are collectors.

This hobby is worldwide and has existed for thousands of years. The earliest dolls were found in Africa, Egypt, Rome, and Greece.

Doll Chat How to Tell your Friends and Others About Collecting Toys

Where to Find Dolls

One can shop anywhere for dolls. Knowing what type of doll you would like to collect will help to narrow the field. There are so many dolls you will be overwhelmed. Your research and decision of which doll to collect will be very helpful.

Purchases can be made at:

  1. Department and Hobby Stores
  2. Toy stores, Specialty doll stores
  3. Online
  4. Private owners
  5. Garage, carport, and yard sales
  6. Flea markets and swap meets
  7. Antique and Collectible shops

Collectible Dolls

Start at the beginning. Parents often times start our collections from the time of birth. As the years pass a child may start collecting dolls on their own.

After reaching adulthood one may continue to collect dolls as a hobby or package the collected dolls and set aside for their children.

Collect the dolls which appeal to you. The reason for saying this is that not all dolls will be financially valuable or worth saving as an investment. That said, if you are interested in collecting for investment much research before making a purchase.

There are times when a contemporary doll will be more valuable than an antique, vintage, or collectible doll.

Collect dolls according to the manufacturer, historical significance, the doll's cuteness or beauty, celebrity, popular athletes, movie and television celebrities, metal, novelties, reborn and much more.

The value on these dolls is its value to you. Financially some of these may be a great investment with the passage of the years and the buyers who are willing to pay the asking price.

Toy Collecting Tips from the Toy Hunter

4 Doll Collecting Tips

  1. Know what you want to collect...pick and choose carefully.
  2. Do not rush; take time. This helps to avoid mistakes.
  3. Maintain an inventory in order not to duplicate.
  4. Relax and enjoy each doll as you add it to your collection.

16th Blue Book: Dolls and Values

The Value of Dolls

A rare doll has value because there are limited quantities. The value system will also include desirability, originality, and condition.

A financially valuable collection may be of antique dolls, highly sought after dolls, dolls which are difficult to locate, limited doll production, unusual or unique dolls.

Rare dolls appear to be housed in museums or in private collections.

The value of many dolls seems to rest on the perceived value of the buyer. However, there is also certification of authenticity, historical significance, and some dolls are more valued if left in its original container.

The 16th Blue Book: Dolls and Values by Jan Foulke helps collectors and dealers to have general dollar value information for the current market of dolls from modern to antique.

Drusila Talks About How to Display Your Dolls

Doll Displays

Dolls can be placed in a separate room or decorating any room in your living area.

  1. Regular shelving or floating shelves on walls are excellent.
  2. The dolls can be placed into glass cabinets, glass doll holders, or left in their original box to help keep them dust free.
  3. The display can show the doll in its setting or standing alone to be admired.
  4. Serious doll collectors leave dolls in their original boxes as often times this form of displayed storage adds investment value to the doll.

Wooden and Rag doll Examples

One type of wooden dolls utilized as marionette puppets.
One type of wooden dolls utilized as marionette puppets. | Source
The popular rag doll. One of the more famous is Raggedy Ann.
The popular rag doll. One of the more famous is Raggedy Ann. | Source

Types of dolls

Collectors gather all types of dolls. Here is a list of the most popular types.

  1. Antique
  2. Celebrity
  3. Collectible
  4. Baby
  5. Children
  6. Ethnic
  7. Paper
  8. Fashion
  9. Vintage
  10. Metal
  11. Puppets
  12. Mechanical
  13. Rag
  14. Wood
  15. Straw

Antique and Vintage Dolls

An antique doll.
An antique doll. | Source
A porcelain vintage doll.
A porcelain vintage doll. | Source

Antique or Vintage Dolls

Antique usually refers to the age of the doll. U. S. governemtn standards require 100 years of existence. However, age is not always indicative of being an antique. Other factors such as quality, manufacturer, origin, materials used in construction, fabrics and notions, its significance, and market demand will have its influences.

Antique dolls are beautiful. Their faces may be made of cloth, porcelain, and china. Antique dolls are usually before the 18th century.

Beware of purchasing an antique doll unless you know exactly what you are purchasing. Much research, knowledge will need to be done on your part. Be certain that you are purchasing from a reputable seller. These dolls are considered high end and demand high prices. These dolls should be flawless.

A word which is used interchangeable with antique is vintage. These two words are often times used interchangeably and causes much confusion. The definitions of these two terms also cause confusion. Generally speaking, vintage refers to items that are 50 years old, but once again a 50-year old doll could be an antique.

Knowledge will be the turnkey for deciding if a doll is an antique or vintage. Financial value is determined by the perceived value.

American Native Indian Doll


Historical Doll Collection

Historical dolls are for avid history buffs. One can specialize in collecting American history dolls, such as Dolly Madison, George Washington, Teddy Roosevelt, and more. Or one may collect famous historical figures from around the world.

Another twist on this collecting is well suited for the fashion artist and crafts person who may wish to make their own dolls (especially rag dolls). Or there may be an interest in stitching the period clothing of historical times.

Fashion and Theater Dolls

Mannequins or fashion dolls are popular in displaying clothing and accessories.
Mannequins or fashion dolls are popular in displaying clothing and accessories. | Source
Harlequin theater doll.
Harlequin theater doll. | Source

Fashion and Theater Costuming Dolls

In America one of the top fashion dolls is the Barbie Collection. Collecting dolls from around the world and the United States from different years of history will also reveal fashion trends.

Fashion designers and home sewers enjoy making clothing for these dolls for illustrative purposes or for memories of a special occasion.

Fashion history is modeled by dolls. These fashion trends represent the history of fashion throughout the years.

There are many dolls which are excellent for costuming. Costumes are inspired by movies, theater, television, special holidays, and events.

Matryoshka Russian Dolls

A hollow collection of dolls which fit into each other forming one doll.
A hollow collection of dolls which fit into each other forming one doll. | Source

Worldwide Cultural or Ethnic Dolls

Do you travel? Collecting cultural or ethnic dolls from around the world would be a personal travelogue representing the countries you have visited.

Not able to travel? One can still collect these dolls by ordering from other countries on or off the Internet. Attending doll shows is also helpful.

Robot or Mechanical Toys

Robots are excellent mechanical dolls for boys or men to collect.
Robots are excellent mechanical dolls for boys or men to collect. | Source

Paper, Specialty or Novice, and Metal Dolls

Paper dolls make for a collection which does not require a lot of storage space. Decide on what you would like to collect. Paper dolls are available worldwide. Collect the categories which you love.

Specialty and novice dolls represent special holidays, political figures, graduations, athletes, celebrities, and vocations.

Metal dolls are collected by people who enjoy metal art.

Robot Rock - Collection of Tin Toys


Real baby lookalikes are a new trend of collecting among women. Reborn dolls look, feel, and smell like human babies.
Real baby lookalikes are a new trend of collecting among women. Reborn dolls look, feel, and smell like human babies. | Source

Therapeutic Living Dolls

Dolls represent people and so these small representations are able to fill an emotional need. Collecting baby dolls because of the loss of a child or no longer working with children offer comfort to many women.

Reborn baby dolls are used commonly with female Alzheimer's patients to help relieve them of their agitation and distress. These dolls are particularly effective for homemakers whose priority was raising a family.

Anderson Cooper - Reborn Dolls (Lifelike Dolls)

Doll Collectors

Are you a doll collector?

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