A Beginners Guide To Antique Dolls

Three Dolls Lying on Bed

Collecting antique dolls is a very special kind of passion for some people. Antique dolls are usually over 80 years old and made with brilliant artistry and skill. If you’re a beginner to antiquing, here’s a great guide to help you navigate the world of antique toy dolls!

Knowing Your Dolls

Antique toy dolls were made from pretty cool materials back in the day. Unlike today’s plastic Barbie, the old dolls made around the 1920s and before used natural material and were quite beautiful. Here are the most common types of antique doll materials.

Wooden Dolls

As one of the oldest kinds of dolls, wooden antique dolls date back to the 1700s. It’s impossible to find wooden dolls that have immaculate finishing and durability as the antique ones.

Wax Dolls

Wax was also a material used in the same era and was a very popular material to make toy dolls from – however, this fad didn’t remain for long, and there’s a high chance wax dolls are easy to find.

Celluloid Dolls

These synthetic plastic dolls were the first of their kind, using a combination of wood products, camphor and cellulose nitrate. These were more durable than the other materials that the dolls were made from.

Kewple Dolls

These dolls are popular for their wide-eyed look and were quite a valuable collectible in the early 1900s. Delicate and beautiful, these dolls were quite pricey back in the days, too!

Half Dolls

The dolls were more decorative than entertaining. These beautiful dolls were famous in the 1900s for being used as tea cozies and dressing table décor. After all, they didn’t have legs or a whole torso!

Antique Bisque Dolls

These were the most sought after antique toy dolls. These bisque dolls were extremely popular with the French and Germans for their soft, cherub-ish features. With matte skin and realistic features, they were— and still are— worth quite a lot!

Porcelain Dolls

Known as the most popular antique doll, these real-life looking dolls were extremely popular back in the days for how stunning they were. Even now, collectors pay quite a sum to procure one for their own collection!

Finding Out the Value of the Dolls

When it comes to antique doll collecting, it’s important to know the value of your doll. A certain antique doll may become popular and be quite expensive for now, but in a few years, its price will drop and it’ll be replaced by another antique.

Identify the Doll

The first way to determine the value of your dolls is to identify it. Is it a Porcelain doll? Is it a bisque German doll? Is it a wooden doll? 

When you identify the doll, you’re able to trace it back to its year of origin, its price, its value and its popularity back in the day.

Look At Price Guides

There are many reliable price guides out there for antique dolls. Before you settle on your purchasing, remember to check online resources, books, statistics and also auctions. They’re also telling about authenticity.

Many people can be defrauded – for example, a porcelain doll will cost you anywhere between $1,500 and $2,500; anything less and it’s a reproduction!

Consider the Age of the Dolls

The age of your doll will also determine its value – the older the doll, the more expensive it may be. Age greatly varies and is an important variable that helps to determine the value of the dolls.

For example, dolls that are centuries old may be more expensive than dolls that date back to the 1850’s or early 1900’s.

Look For Signs of Quality or Lack of It

Antiques aren’t in their original shape but do retain almost all the features. It’s natural for antique toy dolls, too, to show signs of wear and tear – however, it shouldn’t compromise on the overall quality of the doll.

Look For Original Appearance

Antique dolls have a certain appearance, which was attained by using artistry from that era. For example, when buying a porcelain doll, make sure the eyes and teeth are firmly in their place, the skin still has a smooth appearance and it has its original hair and clothing.

Look For Signs of Repairs

Signs of repair like dried glue, a new coat of paint, hairline cracks and new attachments or adjustments can actually devalue the doll. So before going ahead with the purchase, be careful to look for signs of repair and damage.

Look For Discoloration

Many old dolls like those made from vinyl, don’t fare well over time. When stored in warm places or in an attic without proper care, the dolls will lose color and also quality, deteriorating their value. So before going ahead with your purchase, look for these signs and ask your seller pertinent questions.

Look For Replaced Parts

A quick way to judge the value of an antique toy doll is to look for signs of replacement. Replaced limbs, hair, clothes and other things can affect the value of the doll because the replacement isn’t made from original material and has telltale signs.

Ask About the Manufacturer

Another way to gauge the quality of the antique doll is to know about its manufacturers. Various pieces of literature out there pertaining to antique dolls and their origin and sources, like the internet, books and other antiquarians, are of great help.

Look For an Identity

Antique dolls have identities, for example, “French celluloid tourist doll 1930s”. A valuable doll will have an identity – however, do make note that not all dolls have an identity, like dolls from Asia. This should help you discern the value of the doll of your choice.

Do you want to learn more about the world of antique toy dolls?Check out more blogs on The Treasure Seeker to learn more about the passion of antiquing – a community to gather antiquarians from all over to unite in their love for the old!