When it comes to determining an antique doll value, accurate identification of the doll is essential.
Proper Identification is the First Step to Doll Value
Certain antique dolls such as a Rosie O'Neil kewpie doll or a French bisque Poupee by Jumeau are easier to identify than others. For example, the kewpie may have "O'Neill" clearly marked on the bottom of its feet or the French Poupee may have tick marks and the blue Jumeau stamp on its back. In these instances the dolls are easy to identify making it somewhat simpler to determine their values although many additional factors need to be considered.
However, when an antique doll is unmarked, or only has a simple mark such as a number or letter, the first step to determining its value is properly identifying the doll. Searching through doll reference books and price guides is often the best way to identify an antique doll. There are many reference books that provide lists of doll marks to help identify the doll maker. These reference works are very useful if the doll has a mold mark or a simple mark.
Several additional methods to use to identify an antique doll include:
- Taking it to an antique appraiser specializing in antique dolls
- Sending images to an online doll appraiser
- Taking it to an antique doll show
- Taking it to an antique dealer specializing in antique dolls
Antique Doll Value
Once an antique doll is properly identified, a popular method of finding its value is using a current antique doll price guide. Price guides provide the current market value of the doll and are usually given in price ranges. The following doll value and identification guides are only a sampling of the books available from Amazon:
- "Doll Values Antique to Modern" by Linda Edward
- "200 Years of Dolls: Identification and Price Guide" by Dawn Herlocher
- "Warman's Dolls Field Guide: Values And Identification" by Dawn Herlocher
- "The Official Price Guide to Dolls" by Denise Van Patrten
- "Blue Book Dolls and Values, 16th Edition" by Jan Foulke
- "American Character Dolls (Identification & Value Guide)" by Judith Izen
- "Collector's Encyclopedia of American Composition Dolls 1800 -1950" by Ursela R. Mertz
- "Collecting Antique Dolls: Fashion Dolls, Automata, Doll Curiosities, Exclusive Dolls" by Joachim Richter, Lydia Richter and Carolyn Cook
- "Antique Trader's Doll Makers and Marks: A Guide to Identification" by Dawn Herlocher
- "The Ultimate Doll Book" by Carolyn Goodfellow
- "Jan Foulke's Guide to Dolls: A Definitive Identification and Price Guide" by Howard and Jan Foulke
Another method of determining the current market value of an antique doll is finding the selling price for a similar doll at an auction such as:
- Theriault's Auction Company specializes in antique and collectible dolls and toys. In 2009, the highest price ever paid for an antique doll was sold at a Theriault's auction. The doll made in Paris in 1915 and designed by sculptor Albert Marque closed at $263,000.
- Frasher's Doll Auctions
- McMasters Harris Auction Company specializing in dolls and toys
Factors Affecting Doll Value
The value of an antique doll is based on a number of different factors. These factors include:
- The demand for the doll
- The doll's age
- Doll quality
- Artist talent and workmanship
- Visual appeal
- Doll style
- Body type
- Clothing and accessories such as hats, shoes and parasols
- Whether or not the doll is completely original
- Whether or not the doll has been repaired or restored and the type of repair or restoration
Resources for Antique Doll Collectors
- The National Antique Doll Dealers Association, NADDA, was founded in 1986 as an organization for doll dealers to establish a feeling of confidence and trust with doll collectors and the general public. The organization put together a code of ethics dealers follow.
- The United Federation of Doll Clubs is an international organization dedicated to doll collecting.
- Antique Dolls Collectors Online Advisors
- Antique Doll Collector Magazine
- The Doll Show lists shows throughout the country
- Antique Victorian Porcelain Doll Heads
Even when all the factors used in determining an antique doll value are considered, the value still fluctuates based on the current doll market and the principles of supply and demand.