Fair market value is what someone is willing to pay for a collectible and what you are willing to accept as the collectible's worth. It is not the same as "book worth." Book worth found in price guides is usually what the doll sold for when it was first manufactured. To determine the fair market value of a doll collection, you must determine the worth of each doll and add it all up.
Determine the doll's condition. Condition is very important when determining fair market value. The better the condition, the greater the worth. Locate a photo of the doll in mint condition and compare it to your doll. Photos can be found on websites by collectors. Make sure your doll has all the clothing and accessories. Make note of any flaws.
Determine the grade of each dool. The Collectible Doll Authority (CDA) can determine a grade for each doll in your collection. Fill out all the information you can about each doll in the application and the CDA will determine a grade. Use the grade when comparing fair market value of the dolls. The grade will give you a clearer idea of the doll's condition.
Determine book value of each doll. Some collections, like Barbie or Madame Alexander, have their own books written by appraisers or collectors. There is even a "Blue Book for Dolls." Book value of the doll is not the same as fair market value, but most dealers will buy a doll for 40 to 60 percent of the book value. Those numbers will give you an idea of market value.
Go to eBay or other auction sites. Search for each doll in the collection. Determine the average price that the dolls are selling for on the sites. Look at both open and closed auctions. Closed auctions will tell you exactly what a doll is selling for at. That is the fair market value. Open auctions will show you how many people are bidding on a doll. The more popular a doll, the higher the fair market value. Value goes up when people want the doll.
Take the doll collection to an appraiser. Appraisers can inspect the doll and give you the fair market value based on the doll's condition and popularity. Some appraisers will let you send them photos and information on the doll through their online site. That is helpful when appraisers are hard to find where you live. See Resources for a link to information on online appraisers.
Sometimes eBay prices are lower than fair market value because the sellers know you can't see the doll. The seller knows you won't pay more for a doll you don't know for sure is in the condition they claim.
Fair market value can change from year to year. A doll that is worth dollars one year might be worth only pennies the next. That's because fair market value depends on the popularity of the doll and whether people want it for their collections. If popularity falls, so does the fair market value.