Antique dolls are those items we all know are highly valuable. They’re purchased and acquired by collectors around the world and never cease to be one of those highly interesting and highly valued antique items. The older the doll is, the more valuable it is as well.
However, if someone famous owned a doll, or if it was made in Europe, you can expect to pay thousands of dollars for such a doll. Some antique dolls are even sold for 30,000 USD in mint condition. A doll’s value is also determined by its rarity, condition, ownership, and of course, its potential historical significance. If you’re embarking on this journey, we highly recommend you seek expert advice and educate yourself about these dolls as much as possible, so you can have the best experience and avoid getting scammed.
Antique dolls have been considered unappealing and somewhat creepy for a long time. Sure, they’ve been portrayed as such throughout the movie and TV show industry, but in reality, they’re simply dolls children used to play with or used as learning tools. Their outdated appearance is probably what throws people off, but nowadays we see a surge in antique doll collecting and people seeking the rarest, most scarce versions of these dolls.
After all, they’re worth a lot of money. So, if this is a journey you’d like to embark on, you’re in the right place. In the following paragraphs, we’ll take a look at the most valuable dolls out there, tips to utilize in the identification of these dolls, and other important information. Therefore, without any further ado, let’s get started!
Antique Dolls Value
Insight and Overview
Antique dolls are treasured possessions that have captured the imaginations of collectors and enthusiasts for generations. These dolls can range in value from a few hundred dollars to thousands of dollars, depending on their age, rarity, condition, and historical significance. Here’s everything you need to know about identification factors that might help you determine a doll’s value, rarity, as well as price;
- Age – One of the most important factors in determining the value of an antique doll is its age. Dolls that were made in the 18th and 19th centuries are the most valuable because they are the rarest and were often crafted by hand. These dolls are often made of porcelain or bisque, which was a popular material at the time.
In the 20th century, dolls made of composition or hard plastic became more common, and while they can still be valuable, they generally don’t command the same high prices as their older counterparts. Such dolls were often made in France and Germany, but they’re nowadays quite rare and highly valuable.
- Rarity – Another important factor that affects the value of an antique doll is its scarcity. Some dolls were produced in limited quantities, making them more valuable to collectors. For example, some dolls were only produced for a short period of time or were made exclusively for a certain region or market, like in Europe or China. Additionally, dolls that were made by particularly skilled or famous doll artisans or doll-making firms/companies can also command higher prices due to their rarity and historical significance.
- Condition – The condition of an antique doll is also a significant factor in determining its value. Dolls that are in excellent condition, with no damage or restoration, sporting their original wigs and outfits, are the most valuable. This is because these dolls are rare and are often the most sought-after by collectors. Dolls that have been repaired or restored can still be valuable, but their value will be lower than those in their original condition. Also, if a doll has been restored or fixed, it is often sold with a disclaimer about its new condition.
- Historical Importance – Historical significance is also a key factor in determining the value of an antique doll. Some dolls have a particular historical significance, such as those that were made to commemorate a specific event or period in history. For example, dolls that were made to commemorate the coronation of Queen Victoria or Queen Elizabeth, or those that were made during wartime to boost morale, can be particularly valuable to collectors.
- Doll Ownership – Finally, the provenance of an antique doll can also affect its value. Provenance refers to the history of ownership and the documentation that accompanies an antique doll. If an antique doll has a known and well-documented history of ownership, it can increase its value. This is because collectors value the provenance of an antique doll, as it helps to authenticate the doll and provide a glimpse into its history and significance.
Antique Doll Origin and Manufacturer’s Mark
In addition to these factors, there are also various types of antique dolls that are particularly valuable to collectors. For example, French bisque dolls from the late 19th century are highly sought-after due to their exquisite craftsmanship and lifelike features. German bisque dolls from the same period are also popular, particularly those made by firms such as Kestner, Heubach, Kammer & Reinhardt, and Simon & Halbig. American dolls, such as those made by the Ideal Novelty and Toy Company or the Madame Alexander Doll Company, are also highly valued by collectors.
Determining the origin, or the manufacturer of an antique doll can be the most important information you can get, in terms of setting the value/price of the doll. For example;
- If able, take a look at the doll’s back of the head or neck; if it was made by a major or known manufacturer, or if it has a unique origin, all of the information should be found on the back of the head or neck of an antique doll.
- Check the doll for another origin/maker information; for example, the information is sometimes placed at the bottom of the feet, shoulders, or even on the doll’s clothing. Check all of these if there’s no info on the back of the head/neck. Sometimes the manufacturer’s mark is placed under the doll’s wig as well.
- The manufacturer information is generally featured on all antique dolls made after the 1890s. That is known because of the McKinley Tariff Act of 1890, which stated that all goods imported from outside the USA must contain the mark of origin (country, manufacturer), which makes identification of the origin and age of these dolls a bit easier.
- If you’re having trouble identifying the origin, age, or type of your antique doll, we recommend you take it to an expert appraisal. You can also take a photo of the doll and send it to online appraisal websites that can do the job completely remotely.
In recent years, the market for antique dolls has grown significantly, with many new collectors entering the market. This has resulted in increased demand for rare and valuable dolls and has driven up prices for these items. However, it’s important to note that not all antique dolls are valuable and that their value can vary widely depending on a number of factors. It’s also important to be cautious when buying and selling antique dolls, as there are many fakes and reproductions on the market that can be difficult to distinguish from the real thing.
The Most Valuable Antique Dolls
Antique Kestner Made in Germany 164 Bisque Doll Twins
One of the rarest versions of the popular Kestner antique dolls are these Twin Dolls from the late 19th century. These bisque dolls are exceptionally beautiful, made, and painted with such precision and care, just like all of the Kestner dolls. They feature a full outfit, including hats, dresses, jackets, and boots. The outfits are highly detailed, handcrafted, and feature intricate patterns and flowers/pearls.
Kestner dolls are known for having so-called sleepy eyes, full eyebrows, and tiny nose/lips. The round, blushed face and short curly hair make them really come to life. If you’re looking to buy these dolls, you can expect to pay around 750 USD, while at auctions the price can go up to 1,500 USD (depending on the condition of the dolls).
Antique French Bisque Poupee In Costume Bru Doll
These antique dolls were made by the French Bru Company, which was the first doll manufacturer in 1866 Paris. In 1883, the company name was changed to Bru Jne. & Cie., which is the brand name marked on the doll as well. This doll is a wooden bisque, made in the pre-1900s. It is a fashion-type doll made for girls. Even after more than a century, the doll looks exquisite; the body is still sturdy and the outfit looks as lovely as the day it was made.
The doll’s make-up and face color did not fade and remained untouched. The doll doesn’t have any damage, nor was it restored or repaired. In such a condition, this doll costs around 4,500 USD. The value is justified by the doll’s rarity, its rare size, and overall condition. These dolls, or rather similar ones, are sold for a little less, but if mint condition you can expect to pay several thousand dollars.
Antique Portrait Jumeau Poupee Doll
This incredibly rare antique doll originates from France and was made in the period between 1978 and 1882. There are only 25 of these dolls in the world, and because of their rarity, it is highly sought-after and valued at around 29,000 USD. The doll truly encapsulates 19th-century French tradition and culture, which gives this doll cultural significance. The doll has a palest bisque head, a wooden body with carved joints, and a highly detailed garment.
One particular doll is being sold in its excellent, mint condition, which of course increases the value that much higher. We’re not sure our readers would be buying this doll, but we simply had to include it since it is one of the most valuable antique dolls one can come across. And, if you’re interested in purchasing such a doll, we recommend you check it out on the Ruby Lane website for antique items; it is reliable, safe, and known for selling high-end, mint-condition antique items.
Other Antique Dolls and Their Value
There are thousands of antique dolls available for purchase on online marketplaces. It can seem impossible to cover all of them, but we’ve gathered a short list of these dolls and their value for our dedicated and interested readers;
- French Bisque Gaultier Poupee – made in the 1880s, these French dolls encapsulated the 19th-century French tradition. The doll is wearing a regional outfit, an original costume made of lace and blue wool. There is also the gold-plated cross, which definitely increases the market value of this doll. Speaking of market value, this doll is sold at auctions for around 2,500 USD.
- German Bisque Kestner – made in 1900, this German bisque doll is surely one-of-a-kind item collectors go crazy about. The doll is highly detailed, made to have a bisque socket head with an intricate facial structure and a mouth that opens (you can even see four porcelain teeth peeking out). It is a large doll, with an original body and wooden joints. The collector demand for this doll is high, which puts it in the 1000 USD price range.
- French Fashion Poupee Doll – made in 1975, this French doll is a must-have for every respectable antique doll collector. Unfortunately, French fashion dolls come without a manufacturer’s mark, but they’re still highly valued because of their age and the craftsmanship put into making them. The doll is a small poupee, with a particularly sturdy body and a wonderful, highly accessorized outfit. After all, it is a so-called fashion doll, so it does look similar to contemporary fashion dolls. The doll is sold for around 3000 USD at auctions.
If you’re a beginner at antique doll collecting and pricing, this article was a good start to your journey. There are many antique dolls out there, and knowing what to look for or how much it is usually priced can help you greatly in purchasing what you really want. However, knowing the history of these dolls and vintage/antique doll manufacturers, local and foreign, can help you immensely as well. If you’re lucky enough to own such a doll yourself, and you’re looking to sell it, knowing this information can also help you when it comes to operating in the current marketplace and attracting potential buyers. Whatever you’re looking to get out of this journey, we wish you the best of luck, and may you have fun!