A dollhouse is not just a toy that brings joy to a little girl, passed down from mother to daughter through families for decades. Some dollhouses are highly collectible items, and mint-condition antique versions have been known to take prices at auction in the ten-thousand dollar range. In order to determine if your family heirloom is valuable, you should take it to a licensed appraiser. But before you do that, there are a few things you should look for to determine if having the dollhouse appraised is worth the money you'll spend for the certificate of authenticity.
Contact doll or dollhouse appraisers. Go to the phone book and find several appraisers in your area to ask what types of signifiers you should be looking for in your dollhouse before bringing it in for a formal appraisal. A licensed appraiser will have unique insights and helpful advice on what makes a dollhouse valuable.
Arm yourself with resources. There are many books on dollhouse collecting which can guide you through examining your dollhouse and determining value.
Examine the dollhouse and answer questions an appraiser might ask:
Is the dollhouse in good or mint condition? Keep in mind that even if a dollhouse is well-loved and worn (or in bad condition), it might still fetch a high price at auction or value from an appraiser if it is particularly rare.
What style is the dollhouse? Victorian, Georgian, Colonial, Arts and Crafts, and Deco are particularly collectible.
How detailed is the dollhouse? If the dollhouse is particularly exquisite in construction and appointments it could be valuable. The material that the dollhouse is crafted out of is important, too. According to Helaine Fendelman of Country Living, most 19th- and 20th-century dollhouses are crafted out of paper lithographed onto wood. Dollhouses that are made out of wood could be older and more valuable. Also, if your dollhouse has been lovingly restored at some point in its history, that could affect its value.
Research the history of the dollhouse. If it is a family heirloom, talk to the other owners of the dollhouse to see if you can identify the year it first came into the family or where it was purchased (or in some cases, who made it and for whom). These are important facts you'll want to tell the appraiser.
If the dollhouse was purchased from an antique store, private seller or other reputable dealer, contact them directly for detailed information on the dollhouse's origin, if they haven't provided you with that documentation already.
Consult collectible publications and websites to see if there are examples similar to your dollhouse that have already been appraised or sold at auction. The popularity of an identical or closely similar item can be a clue to unraveling the mystery of your dollhouse's value.
Take the dollhouse to the appraiser. Review the information you've compiled about the dollhouse with him and ask him to certify its authenticity.