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How to Identify A Doll in 5 Steps

Identifying a doll may sometimes be quite tricky, but it’s a thing every doll collector must learn to deal with it. Sometimes all you need is a magnifying lens and a good doll identification guide. On other occasions, you might need more than that to accurately identify the doll. Here are some important guidelines you will find valuable in identifying a doll.

how to identify a doll

Examine carefully

Sometimes you might be lucky to identify a doll based on visual examination alone. First examine the doll thoroughly. Get somewhere with good lighting and check the doll. Note its size, the material it the body, hair, eyes, and clothes are made of should also be noted.

Look out for markings on the doll. Most dolls have marks at the back of their head, or on the feet or torso, this could be letters, symbols or numbers. It could also be in form of labels either on the clothing or body of the doll. All of these will be important in identifying the doll.

Find the Manufacturer

Your job is half done if you are able to find markings that point to the doll’s manufacturer. Companies like Madame, Mattel, Ideal. Alexander and other modern doll manufacturers usually their dolls with their name either solely or in addition to other symbols.

Some Antique dolls like Armand Marseille usually bear distinctive marks at the back of their heads. This isn’t always the case though. Another common practice in the past if for dolls to bear the mark of their country of origin. This is common in older dolls made after 1890/91.

If you are unable to identify the symbol on the doll, you can get doll reference books and check them to identify the marks. Most reference books will have an appendix where the marks are listed in numerical or alphabetical order. The mold number is also another important marking, especially useful for identifying antique dolls.

No marks?

A doll with no marks is a bigger challenge to figure out. You will need to search for books and try to identify the doll visually. Having an idea of when your doll was manufactured might help you narrow down your search. You can search online also. Doll Shops United, eBay, Doll. Reference.com, Etsy and Antique Doll Content are great places to check.

Once you are able to get your doll manufacturer, you can check reference books as well as online sources for photos that will help you find the doll.

Lucky find

If you are lucky, the markings on the doll tell you all that you need to know about the doll. For example, a doll with the marking AM 390 is simply Armand Marseille Mold #390. It’s that simple and straightforward. Both in most cases, you will need to compare your doll with the picture online as well as other characteristics based on your examination.

If after all these, you are still unable to identify a doll then getting it to an appraisal on doll shows or at a doll shop is your final option. This might require you to pay some fees in some cases.

Hard nuts

No matter how hard you try, some dolls can’t simply be identified. Dolls without any marks at all or cheap tourist dolls and supermarket line dolls are particularly hard to identify. With some dolls, you simply won’t be able to go beyond the year and the type of doll. While this might be frustrating, there simply anything else you can do unless you can find a researcher who has found it earlier in its original packing that contains other details.


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