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Finding the Value of Old Dolls

A lot of people write on here wondering about the value of their old dolls, so I wanted to post a small guide that may or may not prove helpful.
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  1. The first step is to surrender the fantasy that your porcelain doll is worth a lot of money, unless you have a truly rare (as in, not part of a 'collector series' that some mass production enterprising doll company churned out in the 80s) or antique (as in, older than 1917). 'Vintage' dolls manufactured anywhere from 90 to 40 years ago probably do have some monetary value, but really only if they are in their boxes and in impeccable condition. And probably not as much value as you might want.

    For another view on the 'value' of porcelain dolls, especially those from collectors' series of more recent vintage (40 years old and newer), we can look to the wise words in doll reference.com:

    "Modern porcelain collector dolls sold from about the 1980s to present, were meant to appeal to adult doll collectors, not children. The theory was; buy it, keep it in the box or debox, but keep it unplayed with, after some time passes, you'll be able to sell it for more money than your original purchase and make a profit. Dolls were easily found in department stores, grocery store toy aisles, card shops, toy stores and on TV from QVC etc. The quantities sold of each collector doll could be large, it's the sheer quantity of all available porcelain collector dolls today, that is determining the current value, as they flood the market place, online and elsewhere..... Sad to say, but these dolls are now available in such large quantities they have little to no value today."

  2. Notate any and all markings, on the clothes, or on the dolls themselves. If you can find absolutely nothing on the doll itself to identify its designer, manufacturer, etc, it will be virtually impossible to learn its vintage.

    For decades, doll manufacturers used some very specific glyphs and symbols as 'signatures' that kind of look like Satanic amulet markings to identify their creations. These marks usually appear on the back of the dolls head, on the back, under arms, bottoms of the feet, but could really be anywhere.

    Some links that identify these marks are here:

    Also learn to distinguish what materials your dolls are made out of. Dolls can be made out of bisque, celluloid, china, hard plastic, cloth, composition, wax, metal, or wood. Knowing the materials can give a hint as to the doll's ages. For instance, bisque was mainly used in the 1800's, and if you have a celluloid doll you know it cannot be older than 1940, which is when the material was outlawed.

  3. Consult various websites regarding the value of your dolls. Dollreference.com is a great reference. You can find anything about materials, marks, vintages, factories, etc on this site. Dollprice.com is another great site that lets you search an extensive database of dolls, by age, materials, quality, etc.

  4. Check with eBay to see the real-time price where things are selling, and for how much. This is a great how-to from doll reference.com:

    "with the name, maker or type of doll, use the below link to; Ebay Advanced Search - Find Items - Doll Sold Listings. Fill in the details on the form on the page link, check the Completed Auctions Only box and you will see recently
    sold doll prices which are shown in green and that's as current a doll value, as you can get.

  5. Some final thoughts regarding 'value' in the marketplace:

    First of all there is the issue of actual intrinsic value to consider. Under these circumstances, most certainly any doll manufactured from the 70s and older that happens to be in impeccable condition should have some intrinsic value.

    The second issue, however, is what the marketplace will bear. Who is buying these dolls? How much are they willing to pay for them? If something theoretically is worth $1000 but nobody wants to buy it, is it really worth that? These are some of the contradictions of capitalism that have been around since the days of the tulip frenzy of the 1600s and that continue on through today with the overvalued and essentially worthless tech startups of Silicon Valley. Anybody remember the Beanie Baby craze of the 90s? Or the yearly bloodletting at Black Friday as folks mow each other down to get the newest Hatchling or whatever other commodified abomination is trending that Christmas season? Well, next time any of these 'phenoms' involves porcelain dolls, (and the commodity fetish marketplace is so fickle that, really, you never know) then all of you, dear friends, wanting to extract monetary value from your pretty dolls will be laughing all the way to the bank.

Source: Dollreference.com

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By 0 found this helpful
February 19, 2018

I stumbled across your website and found it so interesting that I dug this doll out of a dark closet! She probably has no value, but for giggles, perhaps you can give me some info on her. The mark is U 39 and as far as I can tell she is made of hard plastic, the eyes open and close. Thank you for your time.

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February 21, 20180 found this helpful
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These were called "bed pillow or boudoir dolls" and were very popular in the 70-80's.

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  • The dolls were mostly the same with different hair colors and hair styles but mainly the "Southern Belle" style.
  • The dolls were usually very cheap but looked very nice when dressed in their ball gowns.
  • The dresses were usually crochet but other materials and lace were also used. The skirt was always very full and would be placed on a young girl's bed or dressing table.
  • In later years, Barbie dolls were used and these are usually worth more money but there is still a chance your doll could sell for $30-50 dollars.
  • The best sites to sell dolls are eBay and Etsy but many times more money can be realized if sold on a local Craigslist as there is no shipping involved and the interested person can see the doll before buying.
  • There were also a lot of smaller dolls made in the same fashion and these are still popular.
  • you can check out some of the similar dolls presently listed on eBay.
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  • www.ebay.com/.../sis.html?_nkw=Vintage%20Bed%20Pillow...
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By 0 found this helpful
June 15, 2018

Can anyone help me with the identification of this doll? She is not jointed, about 10.5" tall, and has sleepy eyes.

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June 15, 20180 found this helpful

Dollreference.com has a forum. I would upload the picture there. dollreference.com/

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June 16, 20180 found this helpful

When I first saw her face, I thought maybe she was a 1950s Uneeda, but I don't think those markings match.

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She has such unusual features with the tight red hair, sleepy eyes, narrow face, and thin eye brows, I thought she would be an easy ID.

Please let us know what the experts say! I am curious as she is unique (at least to me) and her smalls size makes me think she was an early "fashion" doll.

In the mean time, if you had any idea of the year she is from, you could sit down with Google images and type in Sears Toy Catalog and the decade, and take a long walk down doll memory lane! It is so much fun to do that even when you aren't trying to learn more about one item!!

Good luck in your search!!!

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