When talking about collectible dolls, we usually refer to them in three eras, there are the antique dolls and we have the modern dolls. In between these two broad categories is are the vintage dolls.
While there is significant overlap between all these categories, it is still important to be able to demarcate and spot distinction between them since a doll’s price is usually (but not always) a function of its age.
A little history
Generally, dolls that were made prior to the year 1920 are considered by most collectors as Antique dolls. These dolls vary largely in the materials they were made from and also in how they were manufactured among other features. The material used in making a doll is the most obvious indication of its age in most cases.
Wooden dolls are perhaps the oldest type of dolls. Some of them date back to as far as the 16th century. These types of dolls are very rare. In fact, it is almost impossible to find wood dolls made earlier than the 1700s. Wax dolls appeared around this period as well. Wooden and wax dolls from the 1700s can be considered truly antique dolls but these types are generally uncommon.
Celluloid dolls came around after that, but they did not attain widespread usage till a century later. They became popular in the 1870s and quickly replaced the fragile porcelain which was the popular dolls of the day. Composition dolls appeared shortly after that and shared the market with vinyl dolls. Hard plastic did not become a popular material for making dolls till the 1900s.
Popular antique doll types
Kewpie dolls: these wide-eyed dolls were quite popular in the 1900s and remain popular items among antique doll collectors today fetching a valuable sum as well.
Half dolls: when Half dolls came around in the early 1900s, these legless cuties were meant to be beautiful décor items for tea cozies, and dressing tables rather than as playthings. Half dolls are also quite popular in the antique doll market and can be quite valuable as well depending on its manufacturer.
Antique bisque dolls are also popular collectible dolls as well. They vary in type and design from different popular manufacturers notably Armand Marseille, Jumeau among others. They are quite sought after in the antique doll market and can fetch quite a sum as well. Porcelain or china dolls are also popular collectible dolls also.
Bisque and porcelain dolls are the most common and sought-after antique dolls in the market. This isn’t to say other types of antique dolls aren’t valuable as well. in fact, finding a valuable antique doll is more about being able to accurately identify the doll and confirm that it really is an antique doll more than the material it is made from.
Finding such a doll in perfect condition and being able to keep it so is another challenge Understanding how this works is one of the major things a collector has to learn especially when dealing with antique dolls.