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Collecting Dolls As A Hobby

Tricia Deed is a freelance writer of arts and crafts. She enjoys bringing an array of different projects to your attention.


A little girl and her baby doll. Both are contemporary dolls.

A little girl and her baby doll. Both are contemporary dolls.

Why People Collect Dolls

It is for the love of dolls that many people collect them. Another primary reason is that dolls are a good investment.

A young child may start collecting dolls and never stop as they live into their adult lives. Others may start collecting dolls when they are adults. Children, women, and men are collectors of dolls.

Dolls may have sentimental or memory value. There are dolls which are popularized after celebrities and athletes. Fashions or just pretty clothing on a doll may be a factor in collecting.

People will collect dolls for love, nostalgia, money, and as many reasons as there are collectors.

This hobby is worldwide and has existed for thousands of years. The earliest dolls were found in Africa, Egypt, Rome, and Greece.

Antique Porcelain Doll

A porcelain baroque doll.

A porcelain baroque doll.

Collectible Dolls

Start at the beginning. Parents often start our collections from the time of birth. As the years pass a child may start collecting dolls on their own.

After reaching adulthood one may continue to collect dolls as a hobby or package the collected dolls and set aside for their children.

Collect dolls which appeal to you. The reason for saying this is that not all dolls will be financially valuable or worth saving as an investment. That said, if you are interested in collecting for investment much research before making a purchase.

There are times when a contemporary doll will be more valuable than an antique, vintage, or collectible doll.

Collect according to the manufacturer, historical significance, the doll's cuteness or beauty, celebrity, popular athletes, movie and television celebrities, metal, novelties, reborn and much more.

The value of your collection is subjective. Financially some of these may be a great investment and buyers may pay the asking price.

Where to Find Dolls

One can shop anywhere for dolls. Knowing what type of doll you would like to collect will help to narrow the field. There are so many you will be overwhelmed. Research before making a decision.

Purchases can be made at:

  1. Department and Hobby Stores
  2. Toy stores
  3. Specialty doll stores
  4. Online
  5. Private owners
  6. Garage, carport, and yard sales
  7. Flea markets and swap meets
  8. Antique and Collectible shops

Heartfelt Value

This doll is so "realistic in appearance" and adorable that a person cannot help loving her with all their heart. This value is an emotional attachment.

This doll is so "realistic in appearance" and adorable that a person cannot help loving her with all their heart. This value is an emotional attachment.

The Value of Dolls

A rare doll has value because there are limited quantities. The value system will also include desirability, originality, and condition.

A financially valuable collection may be of antique dolls, highly sought after dolls, dolls which are difficult to locate, limited production, and unusual or unique dolls.

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Rare dolls appear to be housed in museums or in private collections.

The value of many dolls seems to rest on the perceived value of the buyer. However, there is also certification of authenticity, historical significance, and some dolls are more valued if left in its original container.

Collecting tips:

  1. Know what you want to collect...pick and choose carefully.
  2. Do not rush; take time. This helps to avoid mistakes.
  3. Maintain an inventory in order not to duplicate.
  4. Relax and enjoy each doll as you add it to your collection.

Display Dolls on Shelves or in Glass Cabinets

Wooden dolls displayed on shelving.

Wooden dolls displayed on shelving.

Doll Displays

Dolls can be placed in a separate room and placed on display year-round or decorate any room in your living area with your doll collection.

  1. Regular shelving or floating shelves on walls are excellent.
  2. Display in glass cabinets, portable doll holders, or left in their original box to help keep them dust free.
  3. The display can show the doll in its setting or standing alone to be admired.
  4. Serious collectors leave dolls in their original boxes as often times this form of displayed storage adds investment value to the doll.

Vintage Doll Collection

A beautiful collection of vintage type dolls.

A beautiful collection of vintage type dolls.

Antique or Vintage Dolls

Antique usually refers to the age of the doll. U. S. government standards require 100 years of existence. Vintage refers to 50 years of age, but a 50-year old doll can also be an antique. Age is not always indicative of being an antique. Factors such as quality, manufacturer, origin, materials used in construction, fabrics and notions, its significance, and market demand will have its influences.

Antique dolls are usually before the 18th century and are beautiful. Their faces may be made of cloth, porcelain, or china.

Know exactly what you are purchasing. Much research and knowledge will be necessary to avoid costly errors. Collectibles are high end and demand high prices for no flaws and excellent condition. Financial value may also be determined by the perceived value. Are you working with a reputable seller?

American Native Indian Doll

A stuffed American Indian doll.

A stuffed American Indian doll.

Historical Doll Collection

Historical dolls are for avid history buffs. One can specialize in collecting American history dolls, such as Dolly Madison, George Washington, Teddy Roosevelt, and more. Or one may collect famous historical figures from around the world.

Another twist on this collecting is well suited for the fashion artist and crafts person who may wish to make their own dolls (especially rag dolls). Or there may be an interest in stitching the period clothing of historical times.

American Barbie Doll

Barbie dolls are popular fashion dolls for young girls in America.

Barbie dolls are popular fashion dolls for young girls in America.

Fashion and Theater Costuming Dolls

In America one of the top fashion dolls is the Barbie Collection. Collecting dolls from around the world and the United States from different years of history will also reveal fashion trends.

Fashion designers and home sewers enjoy making clothing for these dolls for illustrative purposes or for memories of a special occasion.

Fashion history is modeled by dolls. These fashion trends represent the history of fashion throughout the years.

There are many dolls which are excellent for costuming which has been inspired by movies, theater, television, special holidays, and events.

Matryoshka Russian Dolls

A hollow collection of dolls which fit into each other forming one doll.

A hollow collection of dolls which fit into each other forming one doll.

Worldwide Cultural or Ethnic Dolls

Do you travel? Collecting cultural or ethnic dolls from around the world would be a personal travelogue representing the countries you have visited.

Not able to travel? One can still collect these dolls by ordering from other countries on or off the Internet. Attending doll shows is also helpful.

Robot or Mechanical Toys

Star War dolls are popular as game pieces for boys.

Star War dolls are popular as game pieces for boys.

Paper, Specialty or Novice, and Metal Dolls

Paper dolls make for a collection which does not require a lot of storage space. Decide on what you would like to collect. Paper dolls are available worldwide. Collect the categories which you love.

Specialty and novice dolls represent special holidays, political figures, graduations, athletes, celebrities, and vocations.

Metal dolls are collected by people who enjoy metal art.

The Fascinating World of Doll Collecting/Ruby Lane Doll Shop

Doll Collectors


Edna Straney from Oneonta New York on June 21, 2020:

Thanks! Nice to read ! I am a doll collector as well. The collection evolves as I do.

Tricia Deed (author) from Orlando, Florida on June 02, 2017:


How interesting. Porcelain dolls are beautiful. It matters not if they are contemporary, vintage, or antique. An all boy collection is quite unique.

Susan Sears on June 01, 2017:

I have a collection of "Boy" Porcelain dolls. It started out with my son buying me a porcelain doll that looked like him and eventually turned into about 30 dolls. I have all sons, so the boy theme stuck.

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