Antique Dolls can be very valuable depending on age, condition, brand and beauty. If you want to find the value of your antique or vintage doll collection please contact us. We buy Antique Dolls! If you would like to sell beautiful dolls that are in very good condition Contact Gannon's Antiques & Art!
The first dolls were all home-made from whatever local materials were available. Many were made from wood or cloth. Later, they were manufactured from porcelain / bisque. They were very breakable and rather expensive. Unlike today, many little girls had only one doll which was treasured for years and then passed down to another family member. Times were rough. The only mode of transportation was horse and wagon. It is surprising any porcelain antique dolls survived until today! Later, composition dolls were manufactured. These play things were more durable but prone to cracking due to weather and temperature. Hard plastic dolls were the next evolution. Then rubber dolls were invented. They were as durable as the hard plastic and much more comfortable to hold.
Some of the most collectible French brands are Jumeau and Bru. They were know for their excellent quality and artistry. The clothing was exceptional and tended to reflect the Paris fashion at the time. Many accessories were also made for these dolls including hats, purses, shoes and even jewelry. Jumeau started manufacturing in the 1840s and Bru began in the 1860s.
Germany ruled the world of doll making in the late 1800s. One very collectible brand is Kestner. Kestner dolls were made in a variety of materials including porcelain, composition, and kid leather bodies. Another popular brand of antique German dolls is Armand Marseille which was known for making over 1000 porcelain heads a day! Simon & Halbig and Kammer & Reinhardt started the character doll market which focused on making dolls look like actual babies and less idealized. Heubach continued in the character doll market and is known for their pouty faced antique dolls.
Most antique dolls have some identifying marks. The most common place to find these is on the back of the head or on the neck. Usually there will be a manufacturer's name, or logo, and the mold number. This information will allow you to research the maker and gain valuable knowledge. Typically the finer the doll, the more valuable. Check the type of construction. Porcelain tends to be more costly than composition which could be more valuable than rubber. Please keep in mind that these are just rules of thumb and there will be exceptions. A doll that has more joints than a stiffer one tends to be more desirable. Also, are the clothing and hair original? This matters a lot to the antique doll collector. Check the face. Antique dolls with open mouths, teeth showing and sleep eyes that open and shut are more sought after than ones that only have a hand painted face. Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, is condition. However great the doll you are looking at may be, if it is in poor condition the value will decrease greatly. Think of the doll as it would have been when newly made. This is the most desired condition. Each imperfection from that point decreases the value. I often hear beginning collectors say, "Well, it's over 100 years old". That does not matter. There are still plenty of antique dolls on the market that are in very good condition which is what the serious collectors are looking for.