Whether you have a beloved family heirloom that is missing a finger, a fabulous yard sale treasure that needs new hair, or a Tiny Betty from your collection which fell and broke her leg, finding the right antique doll parts to bring them back to life isn't always as difficult as it may seem.
Doll Hospital or Home Repair
One of the first things a doll owner must decide upon when their antique doll starts to show signs of needing a repair is whether they can make the repair themselves, afford to have it repaired by a professional, or be better off in gifting it to a new owner. For a true doll lover, the third option is often the hardest to consider, making finding replacement doll parts all the more important. Many serious collectors buy replacements parts ahead of sending their dolls to a 'doll hospital' to cut down on some of the extraneous costs, though professional restorers do have access to a large inventory of replacement pieces and will be able to either order or custom build whatever part you need.
Keep All Parts of Your Damaged Dolls
If the damage occurred a long time ago, chances are that you don't have the broken, torn, or unattached pieces in your care; but, if the damage was done more recently, then you should collect as many of the removed or broken parts as possible. Whether you decided to complete a home repair or send it off to be serviced, having the original pieces can save you a lot of money. Even if the pieces can't be fully restored themselves, professionals can incorporate them into a custom build for your broken doll.
Locating Antique Doll Parts
However, if you're someone committed to repairing your antique doll on your own, the hardest part may not even be the repair process itself, but rather in finding the right pieces to match your broken or missing ones. Here are a few immediate steps to take that can help you get started in your search:
- Call the original doll manufacturer and see if they're still in business. Even if they don't have the doll part you need, they may be able to help you find another place to pick one up from.
- Check with any local doll hospitals; if they have the piece you need for the repair, they may sell it to you.
- Online auctions and antique malls such as eBay and Ruby Lane often have listings of parts for antique dolls, though scouring through their catalogs can be a time-consuming process.
Reproduction Parts and Professionals for Antique Dolls
If you've exhausted all of the other avenues at your disposal to find an authentic replacement piece for your antique doll, then investing in a reproduction part is your next best option. While these pieces being modernly constructed does take some of the appeal out of the antique's historic charm and can depreciate its value, sometimes it's the only option for doll owners to take.
The Doll Fixer
The Doll Fixer is one such repair shop that specializes in antique and vintage dolls. Based in Northern California, this business can do an extensive number of services including restringing dolls, repairing broken pieces, and reattaching broken or unattached pieces. However, craftsmen at this shop aren't equipped to work on porcelain or china doll repairs.
The Professional Doll Repair & Clothing Team
The team at the Professional Doll Repair & Clothing company have experience in completing museum quality doll restoration, which involves repairing the dolls back to their original state. They work on all kinds of dolls including "bisque, china, composition, hard plastic, and vinyl," and their prices vary depending on the extent of the damage needing to be repaired.
Porcelain Doll Restoration Experts
Led by porcelain restoration expert, Luba Sokolina, the restoration team at the Luel Restoration Studio specializes in high-quality, invisible porcelain repairs. Spanning porcelain dolls, plates, vases, and figurines, this restoration studio performs incredible work on all sorts of antique porcelain goods.
Antique Dolls Need a Little TLC, Too
While preventative care is incredibly important for all antiques, making sure to properly clean and store your antique dolls can mean the difference between having to complete extensive repairs or mild at-home mending on them in the near future. However, you can rest assured that no repair is too daunting for the restoration experts who will help bring you doll back to life, although the costs to do so might hurt your wallet.