Forgotten Dolls

an encyclopedia of dolls and doll collecting

Collecting dolls

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collecting dolls
Why collect dolls?

Chances are you played with dolls when you were a kid. Kids and dolls have come a long way since that time!

While no one knows when dolls were first invented, but there is evidence that they have been around since 3000 BCE or even earlier. The earliest known dolls were made of clay; any fabric used has long since deteriorated. If a child died during this time, a doll was frequently included as part of their grave goods.

To this day dolls are widely collected by both children and adults. For most doll collectors, it usually starts with the find of a doll remembered from childhood. Next thing you know, there's a house full of dolls and their accessories.

The problem with this is that once word of your collection gets around, all your friends and family will bring you dolls items "because I just thought of you". Not all dolls are alike, though. While many collectors do collect several types of doll, they tend to specialize in a particular type of doll. Some may collect only vintage or modern fashion dolls, others love baby dolls, while others prefer unique art dolls.

If Barbie is so popular, why do we have to buy her friends?

Doll materials and terms

Doll collecting tips and FAQ

Can you help me identify my doll?

Maybe. If you could send some photos and info about the doll, I will see what I can dig up. If there are any markings (usually on the back of the head), any dates, any other info you have about the doll such as the height of the doll, articulation, sleep eyes or not, and whether the hair is rooted or a wig, that might help narrow it down.

Where can I find the original outfit and accessories for my doll?

Try any of the following for vintage dolls, clothing, and accessories:

Some dolls will prove easier to redress in the original outfit than others. I would suggest taking her measurements, then finding someone who makes clothes for a doll with a similar body style. For those who can sew, if the fit is close enough, a few adjustments may get clothes to fit properly.

Note: If the doll is handmade, any handmade outfit of appropriate size, age, and material will work.

My doll needs repairs. Do you know of any reputable doll hospitals?

No. Sadly, the owners of most doll hospitals are of an age where they are closing up shop and retiring. I don't know of any within the US which are still in business. If you hear of one, I would suggest calling them for information and prices. Depending on the doll and type of repair needed, you may also be able to do some repairs yourself.

Buying and selling dolls

When buying and selling dolls, clothing, and accessories, bear in mind these three factors:

Doll collecting terms

Celebrate World Doll Day

World Doll Day

World Doll Day was founded 14 June 1986 by dollmaker Mildred Seeley to spread a message of happiness and love to all who collect dolls.

The day is celebrated on the second Saturday of June with the gift of a doll to a special someone (child or someone young at heart). The day is not owned by any company, club or person and no fees, permission or obligations are required.

Many doll collectors' clubs and organizations arrange a local exhibit, doll sale or doll show, or seminar for their group on this day as part of the festivities.

About the logo

The logo was created by artist Boots Tyner and represents a child with a German bisque doll -- her gift on this day that celebrates dolls. The logo was designed for free use to promote this special day and may be reproduced.

Classic American Doll stamps

Classic American Doll stamps

LtoR: Alabama Baby & Martha Chase; Columbian Doll; Raggedy Ann; Martha Chase; American Child.
LtoR: Baby Coos; Plains Indian; Izannah Walker; Babyland Rag; Scootles.
LtoR: Ludwig Greiner; Betsy McCall; Skippy; Maggie Mix-up; Albert Schoenhut.

In the late 1980s, a sheet of stamps featuring classic American dolls was first conceived by stamp designer Derry Noyes. It took ten years (until 1997) to decide which dolls best exemplified American dollmaking. The final list of dolls was shown when the stamps were issued on 28 July 1997, which included:

Once the dolls had been gathered from museums across the country, photos of the chosen dolls were taken by photographer Sally Andersen-Bruce. The end result is a sheet of 15 stamps, with each stamp having a postage value of 32 cents.

Stamp merchandise

Quite a few First Day postal covers were produced to commemorate these stamps, including several by artist Fred Collins.

Classic American Doll stamps

Alabama Baby Doll First Day Cover

Classic American Doll stamps

Babyland Rag Doll First Day Cover

Classic American Doll stamps

Columbian Doll First Day Cover

Classic American Doll stamps

Izannah Walker Doll First Day Cover

Classic American Doll stamps

Martha Chase Doll First Day Cover

In addition, a reproduction of each doll was produced by Collectible Concepts in conjunction with the stamp sheet release. Each doll included a special sheet explaining that particular dollmaker's contribution to their craft.

Further reading

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