While most people see dolls as nothing more than toys, these items are highly collectible. There are doll enthusiasts all over the world willing to pay top dollar to get some of the more unique, classic pieces.
With the development of the Internet, the whole doll market changed.
Back in the day, you could buy these products in either department stores or specialized shops. There were also conventions where you could find some more intriguing pieces. Today, all of that can easily be bought online, with a click of a mouse.
With all that being said, what are the factors affecting the price of a doll? Where are the best places to buy them? What are the things you need to consider during a purchase?
All of these questions will be answered in the following article so make sure to read on!
Factors determining the price of a doll
Before we go any deeper in doll classification, we have to consider factors affecting their price.
There are so many things to bear in mind during a purchase and for newbies, it can seem a handful. Keep in mind that ultimately, the price of a doll is affected by the market: if people want to buy something, it will drive the value up and vice versa.
Here are the other factors you need to consider:
Contrary popular opinion, older dolls don’t necessarily have to be more expensive than newer ones. Among other, if an older doll was created by an obscure artist, it won’t be as expensive as some classic piece. Also, there are certain new dolls which are quite popular and can reach really high prices.
- Damage and imperfections
Damage and various imperfections can significantly affect the price of a doll. Damage is something that is common (especially for older models) so you will have to check the piece thoroughly. Unfortunately, in certain cases, the damage may not be obvious and you might get stuck with an item that is subpar but paid at a high cost. Keep in mind that to some collectors, this damage may not matter. However, the doll should still come at a lower cost. In certain cases, the imperfections may be so interesting that they actually increase the price of an item.
- Intricate details
Needless to say, these dolls became special because of their intricate details. Almost all of them will have some specific features making them unique. When it comes to details, you shouldn’t only asses their presence but how well they’re done. Stitching, hairline, expression, veining can all be signs of quality or lack thereof. Details are what sets real artist from a beginner.
While the dolls themselves are always awesome, some of them become popular due to their accessories. Keep in mind that things such as outfit are also small pieces of art; they can fetch a high price in certain circles. So, make sure to ask about accessories and all the minor items that go with a doll.
- Current popularity
Lastly, as I previously mentioned, you need to assess the current market popularity of a product. Sometimes, it is much better to wait a while with a purchase and get a product when it becomes more affordable. But, always remember that certain models are always in trend.
Terms used to describe the dolls
When selling a doll, people usually add certain industry terms to quickly describe a product. Here are some of the most common terms you might see when considering a purchase:
- Contemporary – Dolls still in production
- Antique – Doll made before 1930
- Modern – Doll that is less than 25 years’ old
- Collectible – Collectible is a very loose term in the world of dolls. Basically, there are lots of items that have a collector value driving its price up. Generally, it is used for dolls that are between 25 and 75 years old. Still, be very cautious of this term and make sure to get additional information about a model.
- One of a Kind or OOAK – As the name says, these dolls are unique, there will never be something similar to them, and logically, they are usually very popular among collectors
- Reproduction – The polar opposite of OOAK, these products are made by using a mold. In some cases, these replicas will be based on popular dolls
- Restoration dolls – Dolls which had lots of repairs
- Reborn dolls – Dolls made to look like real children
Common materials used for dolls
Like with most products, materials used for dolls changed and evolved over the years.
In a way, given that dolls were present since the primitive societies, you can observe the progress of civilization based on materials used for dolls.
- Wood – Wood is probably the first material used for dolls. It was common for primitive societies and these dolls were connected to shamanistic and religious rituals
- Stone – Similar to wooden ones, stone dolls were used for various rituals
- Bisque – These items were made from fine porcelain and were popular in Germany and France during the 19th century
- Metal – Metal dolls are a very interesting phenomenon. First appearing during the 1880s in US and Germany, these items were either fully made of metal or they just had a metal head. Various substances were used for them and they were the best representation of an increasingly industrialized society
- Cloth – Different types of cloth and cotton materials were used during the history. These items were primarily used as children’s’ toys and you can even find some types of cloth dolls today
- Mix – Dolls can also be made by using a mixture of materials. These babies, also known as composition dolls, were originally made by substances such as sawdust, paper, glue etc. Nowadays, you can still find dolls that use various materials such as silicone and vinyl
- Hard plastic – Made during the 1940s and 1950s, artists used hard plastic to give dolls better, more realistic features
- Silicone – Silicone babies are really popular nowadays. This material is really great and responsive allowing artists to add various details to a doll. Furthermore, these babies can last much longer than some other classic counterparts
The material can also be an important factor. Usually, it is used to determine when was a doll created. Normally, you can find some wooden pieces in museums all over the world and they are regarded as priceless.
Today, modern dolls are made from silicone, vinyl as well as their mixture. They can go from $30, $40 up to several thousand dollars.
Be careful when assessing the price of a doll based on the material. In some cases, people will make a doll by using a retro material such as porcelain. Then, they will claim it is much older than it actually is. If you wish to purchase such a classic piece, make sure to ask an expert for his opinion beforehand.
Dolls that people collect nowadays
As previously mentioned, “collectible” is a term that is often tossed around in the doll world. However, there are certain brands and product lines that have a distinct advantage over the others. Here are some of the items that people collect nowadays:
- Barbie dolls
Barbie dolls have always been synonymous with collectible dolls. A great thing about these products is that they come in various themes and with various playsets. It is something that collectors highly appreciate as there will always be something unique to acquire.
- Paradise Galleries
The company known as Paradise Galleries employs proficient reborn baby doll artists. They are creating their own babies that are meant to resemble real children. There are various subcategories to choose from their collection and they will all be worth your time and money.
- Lee Middleton
This is another recognizable brand from newborn babies’ niche. The items are made in limited numbers making them highly collectible. Furthermore, none of the dolls are replicas.
- Madame Alexander
When it comes to more expensive dolls, Madame Alexander takes the cake. Vintage dolls are especially expensive but with various themes from movies, series, and cartoons, these babies are very popular among all doll collectors.
- Robert Tonner
Taking inspiration from fashion and popular culture, Robert Tonner has some amazing pieces. These dolls are extremely popular among both younger and older collectors and they rarely lose value due to trends or temporary fashion.
Tips for making a purchase
Based on a type, materials, and quality of a doll, the price can vary a lot.
Doll market is somewhat known for negotiations. This came from fan conventions where people could negotiate the price. Although we’re living in a digital age where the majority of purchases are done online, both collectors and artists are often prepared to negotiate.
If we consider the fact that some of the most popular pieces are often sold through auctions, it is really hard to determine prices from time to time. Still, certain precautionary measures are required:
- Learn more beforehand
First and foremost, you have to determine the authenticity of a doll. Unfortunately, when it comes to online purchases, this cannot be done until the doll reaches your address. The best alternative is to read carefully the specification and see if everything matches. This is especially important for classic and collectible dolls. While lower price isn’t always a bad sign, it can indicate there is something fishy going on.
- Learn more about the seller
There are lots of different sites selling dolls online. Some of them are great while others may use shady tactics. Ideally, you should read online reviews before making a purchase. Check specialized blogs and see what other bloggers and companies are saying about them. If they have a good reputation, you can rest assured that your purchase will be safe. Even in the case of a dispute, you will likely get your money back.
- Safety measures
Even if both doll and company are legit, there is a chance your data will be exploited. Read company’s policy beforehand; see if they have buyer’s protection. Everything should be done through legitimate channels and your transaction has to be safe at all times.
With these tips and tricks, you can make your first online doll purchase.
No matter what, don’t be hasty; even though these dolls are great, they are usually not flying off the shelves. Use this post as a reference point, do your research and make sure that you’re fully protected.