If you look at the comments on this site and on my Facebook page, you will see that the number one question I get asked is “How much is my doll worth?”
For several years I have been doing my best to research the values of dolls that people ask about (no, I don’t know them off the top of my head!) but I no longer have the time to do it. So, in this post I give the step by step instructions, so you can do your own appraisals.
The only way to know the monetary value of a doll, or any object for that matter, is to find out what similar ones have sold for recently. And the best place to find out what a vintage item has sold for recently is on eBay.
Step 1: You need to identify your doll before you can look it up. If you already know who your doll is, proceed to Step 2. If you don’t know who she is, check the back of the head, or her back, to see if there is a manufacturer’s mark. In this site’s Main Index, you will find the most common doll manufacturers listed. If your doll is unmarked, or just marked with numbers, post a photo on my Facebook page and I will try to help you identify her.
Step 2: Once you know who she is, or some more information about her, you can proceed to find her value. Start in the Dolls section of eBay, where most vintage dolls will be listed. There are a few dolls which might be listed in a different section, for example an advertising doll such as Swiss Miss or Tony the Tiger might be located in the Collectibles: Advertising section instead. If you’re not sure, you can always start on the
eBay home page.
Step 3: If you’re starting on the Dolls page, you’ll see a menu on the left side of the screen, with categories such as Antique, Art Dolls, Baby Dolls, Barbie, etc. If you know the manufacturer of your doll, such as Ideal, Effanbee, or Madame Alexander, click where it says “By Brand, Company or Character” and on the next page there will be a menu to select from. If the manufacturer can’t be determined, but you know what material the doll is made from, select “By Material” instead, and on the next page you can choose from Composition, Vinyl, Hard Plastic, etc. If you select “By Type” you will find categories such as Kewpies, Trolls, Nesting Dolls and Celebrity Dolls.
Step 4: Once you are in the right category, use the search box at the top of the page to enter your doll’s name, or the name of the manufacturer if there isn’t a separate category for them. If you don’t know her name or who made her, you can enter some descriptive terms, but try to keep it as general as possible to start with. If you enter “14 inch vinyl girl doll blonde hair blue eyes pink dress white shoes” you won’t get any results because that’s too specific. You can always narrow it down later if you get too many results.
Step 5: Once you click on the “Search” button, the page of results you get will be of dolls that are currently for sale. Ignore these! The asking price for a doll has nothing whatsoever to do with its actual value. A doll is worth only what someone is willing to pay for it. And the way to find out what someone is willing to pay is to look at ones that have actually sold. On the left hand side of the screen (you might have to scroll down a little) under “Show Only,” click on “Sold listings” to get those results.
Step 6: If you get some results on the Sold Listings page, the next step is to compare those dolls with your doll. To get an accurate value, look for dolls that are in similar condition to yours. When you click on a Sold listing, you’ll get a page trying to show you things that are currently available for sale. Look for the link near the top of the page where it says “See original listing” in tiny print. There can be a huge difference in value between a doll in mint condition, and one that has been played with. Read the descriptions and look at the pictures. Whether a doll has its original clothing or not can also affect the value. If you got no results under “Sold Listings” go to the next step.
Step 7: If you got no results under “Sold Listings,” go back and select “Completed Listings” instead. This will show you items that have sold as well as items that did not sell. While there can be many reasons an item didn’t sell (seller has too many negative feedbacks, listing doesn’t give enough information, etc) the most common reason a doll doesn’t sell is because the price is too high. So that will tell you something as well. For example, if you find a Completed (but not Sold) Listing, for a doll offered at $50, in similar condition to your doll, you can be pretty certain yours is worth less than $50.
Additional tips: Many dolls were made in multiple sizes, and the size can greatly affect the value. For example, a 26″ composition Shirley Temple doll is worth a lot more than an 18″ one, because the 18″ size is much more common. Life size baby dolls tend to be worth more than smaller ones. Original clothing can sometimes be worth more than the doll itself. If you can’t find any sold examples of your exact doll, try to find something similar, made in the same time period. If you have a lot of dolls to research, it might be worth investing in a subscription to Worthopedia, a site that compiles sold listings of all types of antiques and collectibles from the past several years, from eBay as well as live auctions and other sites. If you have a doll that is less common, you are more likely to find sold examples there.
I hope this helps you to figure out a value for your doll. Leave a comment if you have a question about the process.
Copyright 2014 by Zendelle Bouchard