What dolls are the most valuable?
Doll collecting is one of the oldest hobbies in the world. People have been collecting dolls for hundreds and hundreds of years. Until recently we could not claim a great knowledge of dolls. We were fortunate enough to meet a lifetime collector who wanted to liquidate her entire collection of dolls. She was very knowledgeable and we were lucky to learn a lot from her.
There are a lot of good resources for dolls on the internet but there are also a lot of ones that do not contain enough information. We figured as we like to do here at Collectibles NJ we would put together a quick basic list of what dolls are the most valuable. We can only offer experience on what we have dealt with but we will focus mostly on 1930s to modern. This is not meant to be comprehensive so if something is omitted please let us know.
Identify a collectible doll: Most dolls will have a makers marking or number on them under the hair on the back of the neck or at the small of the backs. These numbers are widely data-based online. Most vintage clothing will be tagged with the brand of the dolls it goes to.
Determine condition of a collectible doll- Condition on dolls is paramount to their value. Here some factors to observe when evaluating collectible dolls. This is important when trying to determine what dolls are the most valuable. In box obviously gets the biggest bang for your buck just like most collectibles.
- Frizzy or cut hair
- Discolorations on the skin
- Tightness of limbs,
- Color of eyes/pupils
- Working or non working
- Cracks or breaks in the doll or its finish
1920s-1950s Composition dolls
Some doll brands and manufacturers in this period to look for are
- Madame Alexander
Composition doll definition as per Wikipedia – composition doll is a doll made partially or wholly out of composition, a composite material composed of sawdust, glue, and other materials such as cornstarch, resin and wood flour. The first composition dolls were made in the 19th century. They were marketed as unbreakable, compared to earlier more fragile dolls which is why there are a lot of them still around.
The more valuable dolls are ones with bisque heads and real hair. Dolls from popular character runs such as Shirley Temple, Patsy Mae, Judy Garland and similar celebrity or movie recreations. These are original period dolls which were created when this movies first came out. Dolls earlier than this are often tough to find in decent condition. Composition dolls were created to be more durable than earlier dolls so many can be found to day in higher end condition making condition heavily paramount to the value of all but the rarest of dolls. This is when the first nursing and wetting dolls were being manufactured so those are always good to look out for as they are very popular with collectors. Some keys to knowing a doll is composition, most have molded hair (the higher end ones have real hair/ wigs). The face will have a certain high gloss to it. They look distinctively different from celluloid of later plastic or celluloid dolls.
Fun fact: German made bisque dolls on average will bring in some of the highest prices from this era
Some brands and manufacturers to look for
- Madame Alexander
- Kathe Kruse
- Patti Playpal
- Barbie & Midge
This is a prolific era for dolls. Some of the most popular brands in history were launched in this era. Barbie the worlds most popular doll took this era by storm. Ideal Patti Playpal G-35 series is one of the most desirable dolls in history. They fetch easily and quickly up to $200-$300. Many of the other ideal baby dolls from this era also have solid collectible value. This includes baby sue, Betsy Wetsy, Pebbles Flintstones, saucy walkers and more. Many of the bigger dolls are the better ones but small popular models such as the iconic Tiny Thumbelina doll were the first to feature things like talking dolls and mechanical movements in dolls. Shirley Temple remains a doll with solid value. The ST-12 and ST-15 are the most common and come in many different variants. A lot of dolls were produced in this period so they are slightly less rare than earlier counterparts from the same companies. Outfits in good condition from the above dolls also hold a good value.
Fun fact* Dolls marked Made in Occupied Germany are above average in value
Some brands and manufacturers to look out for
- American Girl
- Madame Alexander
The most valuable dolls vary pretty greatly in this era as many many more were being produced at this time. Barbie from the 70s and 80s has decent value that drops off with exception of the Bob Mackie’s and other really short run variants. Pink box babies have a bulk value only in most cases. The American Girl from the 80s is EASILY the high end doll of the time. Clothing and accessories for these dolls is exceptional ranging into the hundreds of dollars for rare or retired dolls and accessories. Madame Alexander is highly dependent on which dolls they are since many were mass produced and shilled through QVC and the like resulting in an abundance of supply but a lack of demand for some of these items.
We always are interested in purchasing collections of vintage and antique dolls. Please email us at CONTACT COLLECTIBLES NJ
You can also leave a comment on this page with your details and your information will not be made public. What dolls are the most valuable? We can answer this and other questions you may have so get in touch today. We often reply in less than a couple hours. I will leave you off with some highlights from our doll collection