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How to Get Started Collecting Dolls

Updated on December 21, 2012
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Laura likes retro, vintage, old things. Choosing to preserve or repurpose is her dilemma - can't change your mind once started.


Rag dolls, plastic dolls, porcelain dolls... there are dolls made out of so many different materials. Then there are Barbie dolls and baby dolls and show dolls who are dressed up but never played with. Then there are dolls by brand, some doll collections are all about the company who makes the doll. Most doll collections are vintage dolls. An older doll, not so easily found has more commercial value.The easiest thing about doll collecting is to decide which dolls to collect. You just collect the dolls you want to keep. The dolls which have personal appeal to you.

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Where to Find Dolls

Retail stores are not the best, or the only source, for finding the dolls you want to collect.

Look online at sites from other doll collectors. Online auctions and shops like eBay.

Garage sales, thrift stores, flea markets, antique stores, doll shops and doll hospitals. Go to craft shows. Look at museums too.

Talk to friends and family, ask around.


Identifying and Valuing a Doll

The first value to put on a doll is your own personal value of the doll. It's sentimental value to you.

Beyond the personal value you can find the commercial value with guides written by doll collectors who evaluate the worth of the dolls based on their re-sale value, their rarity and the condition they are in.

Search online auctions, retail shops and sites from doll appraisers for the market value of your doll. See what people are currently paying for the same doll you have, in the same condition as your doll.

There are guide books written and updated each year which will give you a price guide based on the value doll collectors put on each doll. This is only an estimate really. The value of a doll can go up or down depending on what someone is actually willing to pay versus what the book says the doll is worth.

Also, a doll may be worth more to you, personally. Someone may offer to pay a price from the guide book or the selling price on eBay but that may not be how you feel about it yourself.

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Protect, Repair and Preserve your Dolls

If you collect dolls you will need to know about doll repair, doll preservation and doll conservation. Light, dryness, humidity and storage and display of the dolls are important for maintaining them. Even if your dolls are displayed behind glass and never touched they will still need to be taken out and given a light cleaning now and then.

Avoid natural or fluorescent light. Natural light will fade the dolls clothes. Fluorescent light can change the colour of the doll hair and/ or skin.

Avoid extremes of hot and cold temperatures. Most dolls are made of materials which can degrade in the heat or begin to crack in the cold or even cooler temperatures.

It's good to keep the dolls in glass cabinets but not in air-tight plastic. Any least moisture inside the plastic will cause mould and mildew to grow.

If you use paper or cardboard to store the dolls make sure it is acid-free, just like they use for scrapbook making.

Keep pets, bugs, dust away from the dolls. Not smoking either. Those should be pretty obvious really.


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