The condition of antique dolls is one of the key factors of worth, regardless of age. The exception to this would be a rare doll—something from antiquity or considered limited edition. In general, condition is what determines current market values. Dolls that are not in their original condition, with original boxes or clothes, will be valued significantly less than a doll in original, mint condition.
Examine your doll to see if it is an antique. Antique dolls were made by doll artisans—those who were well-known doll craftsmen—and can be more valuable than dolls that were mass-produced. A unique doll that is one of a kind is considered rare and more valuable than something that was mass-produced.
Find out if your doll was made by a particular artist. Doll makers of the past marked their dolls with the company or name of the artist who worked on that particular doll. Look up the mold number, which is located on the neck or lower back. Mold numbers enable a collector or antique doll dealer to identify the doll by a date by cross-referencing with guide books or magazines that list doll mold numbers with dates of production.
Study reference books that are up to date, along with current antique doll magazines, which are good resources for both amateur and seasoned antique doll collectors. Choose reading materials that also have pictures, history and information that will help in determining the value of your particular antique doll. Choose magazines that also have information on current auction values, and listings of professional antique dealers who specialize in evaluating and appraising antique dolls.
Check out doll sites with auction listings for dolls, such as Doll Reference. Auction sites are a good way to see what is selling and what antique dolls may be worth. Look at the top bids for antique dolls. Click on the links at Doll Reference to visit online auction sites, or online stores run by professional antique doll or toy dealers, to see what the price range is for their dolls being sold. Sometimes doll prices may not reflect current market values.
Bring your doll to an antiques dealer who is an expert on antique dolls and is affiliated with an organization for antique dolls. Some dealers may charge for an appraisal; find out their prices before beginning the appraisal.
Linda Stamberger began writing professionally in 1994, as an entertainment reporter for "Good Times Magazine." She has written online copy for The Volusia Community website and is the author of "Antiquing in Florida." Stamberger studied creative writing at Southampton College, where she won a partial writing scholarship.