There is a niche of people who have devoted their lives to collecting valuable, old dolls. Although most of these collectors do it for the joy the dolls bring them, there are those that buy dolls as an investment. Regardless of your motives, learning to spot a valuable doll or to appraise one of your own is an important part of doll collecting and selling.
Read some of the many resources on doll value such as "Blue Book Dolls and Values" or "Doll Values Antique to Modern." Don’t skip the prefaces. In many of these books, valuable information is contained therein. These books will help you determine your doll’s worth.
Identify the doll you are trying to appraise by comparing it to the pictures of dolls in the doll value books and websites. Its country of origin, what accessories and clothes it had when brand new, and the age of the doll are all important parts of finding its value. Knowing its blue book value is a great starting point.
Familiarize yourself with the going rates for certain styles or eras of dolls. Go to shows, talk to other collectors, and read all you can find on the subject.
Determine what the doll’s original outfit was and make sure it is wearing the same clothes. If they have been repaired, check that the thread or replacement buttons are of the same era. Repairs will devalue the doll, but if they are done with the same materials and style of the time period, it will keep the devaluation to a minimum.
Examine the condition of the doll’s hair. Make sure it hasn’t been cut or colored. Compare it to your resource guide to make sure the hair is in the original style.
Check the doll’s face for chips, fading, and discoloring. Each mar will decrease the mint value. How much it decreases is dependent upon the severity of the damage.
Move all parts of the doll to see if they are in working order. Focus on the neck, arms and legs. The joints should still move freely. The doll should still bend or twist if it did originally.
Take your doll (or its picture) to a reputable dealer that offers appraising services. Try to appraise your doll on your own first and then get a professional to do it and see how close you are.