A Collection of Antique Dolls

One of the things I like about the antique business is that I am always learning something new.  Recently while attending the Big Shanty Auction I was able to bid on and win a collection of antique dolls. Now prior to the auction I did not know much about dolls, and honestly I still don’t, but I decided to buy them anyway and here’s why. While I didn’t follow my own advice for previewing items before an auction starts, I was fortunate enough to be sitting on the front row when the collection came up for bid. For whatever reason, the dolls were auctioned later in the evening. This is great for  buyers (and not so good for sellers), because the crowd gets smaller so there are fewer people bidding. As the evening progresses and people begin to leave, you can usually find yourself a seat closer to the front of the room. Not only can you see what is being auctioned better, you can also make eye contact with the auctioneer (so he doesn’t miss your bid and it helps you establish a rapport).

Look at these beauties. They were just piled on top of each other.



When they brought the dolls up for auction, they were all spread out on a sofa and they simply rolled the sofa to the front of the auction house. I could see that almost all of the dolls had tags on them. As the auctioneer began his spiel, his “helper” interrupted and explained that the dolls had come from a collector who had lived at Country Club of the South. I knew this was an exclusive gated  community with very, very expensive homes. He also read off the price tags that the owner had put on her dolls. They ranged from $50 to $450. The tags also listed the type of dolls they were. This was a huge help for me since I don’t really know much about antique dolls and I knew I would have had a hard time identifying them otherwise.

The dolls were being sold as a lot and not individually. That was a good thing too. The prices are usually a lot higher if they are sold individually. I knew I would probably get a few duds (and I did) but I also thought there were some definite winners in the lot (and there were). I actually got in a bidding war with someone. I didn’t even look to see who it was. I wanted the dolls and I just kept bidding. Fortunately, the other person finally stopped bidding and I “won” the dolls for $180 (plus a 10 percent auction fee and sales tax).

I was so excited to get the dolls home and start researching them. About half of them had tags on them so they were pretty easy to research. I joined a couple of antique doll groups on Facebook and they were a tremendous help in identifying several of them. Most dolls have some kind of mark on it to help identify the maker but a few of the really old ones did not. For these I was able to post a photo in one of these Facebook groups and the members were a tremendous help.

There were still a few that I wasn’t able to identify. For the ones that were easily identifiable, I listed them on ebay. I took most of the rest of them to my antique booth. There are a couple that still need to go to my booth. And I decided to keep one of them.

Here are some close ups. This first one is a boudoir doll. It was popular in the 1930s and was usually owned by women rather than girls. It was used as a bed decoration. She is a very unique doll.


This next one is a wax over composite. She has a lot of “cracks” on her face but she can be mended by warming her up and letting the wax re-settle. I did not try this. She had on a beautiful outfit.




This next doll is an antique German Baby Bye Lo doll. She is considered rare because of her brown eyes.



These are Emma Clear George and Martha Washington dolls. They would have been worth more if they came with their clothes.


This beauty was hard to identify. Her tag said she was an antique pink luster doll but I found out she was actually a reproduction doll made in the 1940s. Still a beautiful doll.


This one was a true pink luster doll and had exquisite details on her dress.



And lovely petticoats and pantaloons.


This cutie was made in the fifties.


This one is an Armand Marseille. I sold her for a good price on ebay but before I could ship her, my dog knocked her on the floor and her head cracked. Yes my dog broke a 150 year old doll Ugh! So frustrating. I had to refund the money. The lady wanted her so bad too. She asked me to send photos of the damage but I couldn’t. It cracked the back of her head which was covered with hair. You couldn’t see the damage, you could only hear and feel the broken pieces rubbing together. I sold her for a much lower price in my antique booth with an “as is” sticker.


Here are a few more dolls from the collection.




This one looks old but was actually made in the seventies. You really have to look closely for identifying marks.


And finally this is the one I decided to keep. She is a 1940s mannequin/fashion doll. She is approximately 12 inches tall and was used by girls in the forties as a mannequin to help them learn how to sew. Since I enjoy sewing, I decided to keep her. She looks very elegant.



Now that I have sold most of the dolls from this collection, I have learned to keep an eye out for antique dolls. There are tons of newer dolls made to look like the old ones and I avoid those completely because they have very little value. Also, if I can’t find an identifying mark on it, I don’t buy it. I just don’t know enough about dolls to make it worth the risk….unless it is obvious that it is very old and it is also very cheap.

Do any of you collect antique dolls? What are your favorite kinds?

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  1. Thank you for sharing your collection at Vintage Charm!

  2. anne rohr says:

    I have some dolls that I should show you. Maybe they have some value.

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