Thursday, January 17, 2013

Doll Collecting by Blake Hygate

Doll collecting is a hobby that has grown in popularity. Doll collecting basics includes identifying dolls and their values, how to protect and preserve dolls, how to photograph your dolls and how to sell your dolls for the best prices.

Antique dolls are those created before 1930. This would include bisque, china, papier mâché, wood and wax dolls. Early dolls were produced in 1850 by individual English craftsmen. The dolls were made by carving the wood, handpainting their features, and clothing the dolls. In excellent conditions, these dolls referred to as "Queen Anne" dolls can be quite valuable. An early 19th century doll in excellent condition is valued at $1,500. A late 17th century Queen Anne doll in excellent condition is valued at over $20,000; these are very rare, with less than 30 reported.

Following the Queen Anne dolls in succession were the papier mâché dolls. Made in the early 19th century and continuing through the early 20th century, the dolls were made in the United States, Germany and France. They cost less to manufacture than the Queen Anne dolls because molds could be used. The German doll making industry became a leader in doll production. The American doll making industry was represented from 1840 to 1874 by Ludwig Greiner of Philadelphia. The traditional papier mâché doll has molded hair painted black, limbs made of wood, handpainted eyes, with a child's body. Glass eyes are available on a few dolls. Papier mâché dolls in excellent condition are an extreme rarity. A small, marked post-1872 Grenier can fetch $500 while an extraordinary German "milliners" doll could be valued over $2,000.

The next generation of dolls was the wax dolls. Again, the earliest wax dolls were manufactured by England craftsmen around 1840.They were created by home-based businesses by pouring liquid into molds and then setting the hair and glass eyes in the head. The bodies were made of stuffed cloth while the limbs were made of wax. Wax has proven to provide a realistic media for doll heads because wax can imitate skin better than wood or papier mâché. Wax dolls from the mid-19th century England can range in value from $1000 to $2000.

The typical antique doll is the china doll and parians. The china doll, popular from 1840 to 1880, featured fashionably dressed ladies with glazed porcelain head with identifiable hairstyles. For example, the Dolly Madison doll had all over curls and a ribbon. The parian dolls had head made of unglazed porcelain. A widespread doll such as the 1860s Highland Mary is valued at $300. A china doll with an elaborate hairstyle and ornamentation can be valued at several thousand and may be considered rare.

German and French bisque dolls were formed from the 1840s until after World War I. Fashion dolls depicted ladies dressed in gorgeous reproductions of current fashions. Jurneau, Rohmer, Simone and Huret were the leading manufacturers. Prices vary for fashion dolls; approximately $2,000 is the value for an unmarked fashion doll and $20,000 and up or more for Hurets and rare examples in their original outfits.

Doll collecting is an enjoyable hobby for all. Research must be done in order to recognize valuable dolls. Care must be taken to maintain and preserve the condition of the doll and protect your investment.
Blake Hygate owns a website dedicated to Antique Toys and Vintage Toys.

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