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Introduction to Doll Collecting: Deciding Which Dolls to Collect

Wednesday, July 15, 2009 @ 01:07 PM Karen Hood
by Denise Van Patten
If you are new to dolls, you might like to start a collection, but don’t know where to begin. If so, one of the first decisions you must make are which dolls to collect. There are many varieties of dolls, as well as different periods of doll production that can be considered. Here are some questions you might consider as you decide which dolls to collect.

1. Antique, Vintage or Modern?

Many collectors, especially beginning collectors, will collect a broad range of dolls. There is nothing wrong with collecting dolls of many types at the start and narrowing down your collection after you know more about dolls. That said, it would be very difficult to collect all types of antique, vintage and modern dolls. Even if you are going to collect a wide variety of dolls, you should consider limiting your collection to one broad era of doll manufacture. Antique dolls are dolls that are made, roughly, until about 1930. Vintage dolls are considered dolls made, roughly, from 1930 through the 1970s. Modern dolls are considered those dolls made from 1980 through today.

2. Do You Want to Collect Dolls From A Narrower Time Period?

Perhaps you already know that your heart lies with dolls from the 1960s (when you were a child) or from the Victorian era. Or, perhaps you know that only the latest modern dolls from artists of the past 10 years are what interests you most. If so, you can collect dolls from the decade or era that you love most.

3. Do You Want to Collect Only Dolls Made of One Material?

Many collectors collect dolls made of one type of material, such as china, cloth, celluloid, porcelain or vinyl. You can also decide to do this, and you can further collect dolls of one material from one era–for instance, antique bisque dolls from the late 1800s.

4. Do You Want To Collect Dolls Based on a Theme?

Some collectors collect dolls based around a theme, whenever they were made or whatever material they are made from. For instance, Gone With the Wind dolls, Military Dolls, National Costume dolls, or Fashion Dolls. If you have another strong carry-over interest in another area of collecting, this might be the way you’ll enjoy doll collecting the most.

5. Do You Want to Collect Variations of One Doll?

Some collectors only collect Barbie dolls (there are thousands of variations) or Shirley Temple dolls (focusing on different sizes and original costumes) or Jumeau antique bisque dolls. This is also a good way to focus a collection and eventually build a world-class one with a wide variety of styles and rarities.

6. Do You Want To Collect One Type of Doll?

Collecting a type of doll is a good way to narrow the focus of your collection. This is the way that many veteran doll collectors collect dolls. Examples of collecting dolls by type include collecting character dolls, dollhouse dolls, all-bisque dolls, French antique dolls, or modern ball-jointed dolls.

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