10 Doll Collecting Myths

By Denise Van Patten

1. Myth: All Barbie dolls with 1966 stamped on their behind are very valuable.


Most Barbie dolls with “1966” stamped on their behinds were actually made much later than that, are very common, and aren’t worth very much if anything. The “1966” mark refers to the patent date for the doll, barbienot the date of issue. Many millions of dolls made as late as the 1990s and 2000s have 1966 as part of their mark.2. Myth: All doll collectors are old, and like your favorite eccentric grandma.

2. Myth: All doll collectors are old, and like your favorite eccentric grandma.


People of all ages collect dolls, and some of the biggest collectors are smart, busy career women. Some are teenagers. Some are grandmas and aunts, but they are the type with a passion, and they often travel far and wide and have many interesting and far-flung interests. Its true that many women don’t discover doll collecting until their 30s, which is a very common decade to discover collectibles based, at least partially, on playthings of youth.

3. Myth: All doll collectors are women


Not true! Although women greatly outnumber men as doll collectors, more and more men are starting to let their interest in dolls show—as antiques, as objects of history, as beautiful sculpture and as representations of the costuming arts. I know many men, both straight and gay, that are avid doll collectors. I’d even call my husband a doll collector—a bit by default, but we buy dolls at auctions together and he knows quite a bit about dolls, and has even guided some of our purchases.

4. Myth: Antique and Vintage doll collecting is just for the rich.


There are many, many fantastic antique and vintage dolls that cost under $100, and many that cost under $300. Sure, some types of dolls (French Bebes) can be pricey, but you can build a great collection of antique or vintage dolls for what you’d spend on a modern doll collection. And, if you are interested in more expensive antique or vintage dolls and have patience, you can wait and instead of buying 10 $50 modern dolls, you can wait and buy 1 $500 antique or vintage doll later.

5. Myth: All dolls on eBay are junk or fraudulent, so eBay prices are very low.


If its a rare or hot doll, its going to sell for a good price on eBay. eBay has lowered prices for many common dolls and many dolls in fair or poor condition, but this doesn’t mean all dolls on eBay are junk. You can find great bargains on eBay today because of the imbalance between buyers and sellers (more sellers than buyers). Also, there are hundreds of well known doll sellers on eBay who would never defraud anyone. If you ignore eBay, you ignore a large part of the doll market.

6. Myth: All collectible dolls increase in value.


Actually, most collectible dolls don’t increase in value, and they certainly don’t within a few years of purchase. Sure, there are many exceptions to this–many relatively recent Himstedt, Kish, Tonner and other modern dolls do sell for more than retail a few years after issue. But, most don’t. That leads to one of the greatest truths about doll collecting: buy what you love, and buy to enjoy your dolls. Perhaps your dolls will increase in value over time, but perhaps they won’t.

7. Myth: Dolls should be purchased for investment.


Dolls should be purchased to play with, enjoy and love. Don’t buy dolls, especially modern dolls to stuff in a closet in boxes as an investment. Many people did that with 1970s Madame Alexander dolls and 1990s Barbie dolls, and those dolls today mostly sell for at or below retail. Buy what you want to enjoy, look at and take out of the box, and if investment follows, great. However, if you are buying very expensive antique dolls, investment is important and should be part of the equation.

8. Myth: If its an old doll, its valuable.


Many old dolls are not that valuable, especially those that are in poor condition. A doll with a ratty wig, a battered body, and no original clothing is generally not worth much unless very old or very rare. And, there are many composition, bisque and cloth bodies that are still very plentiful today (or for which demand is not great) and their prices are not high. This can be a boon for collectors who want to collect older dolls on a budget (see above) or those that like to fix up dolls.

9. Myth: If it’s a new doll, its worthless.


This is mostly a myth cherished by serious antique doll collectors. If they haven’t explored modern, newer dolls, they might have no idea what they are missing. Some of the sculpture and costuming that you can find on modern artist and even some modern manufactured dolls rivals the sculpture, art and costuming of some vintage and even some antique dolls. Sometimes, they can even surpass it.

10. Myth: Dolls are creepy!


We can thank the myth that dolls are creepy on Chucky and similar characters from other Hollywood movies. I’m always amused by people who can’t stand to be in doll stores because of “all the eyes staring at them.” Dolls generally aren’t creepy—unless you watch too many horror movies, or you’re looking at Living Dead dolls!



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