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Doll Collecting

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There are hundreds of different types of dolls for all kinds of people. Doll collectors can have fun, learn about the world and make friends by exploring the diverse world of dolls.

Collecting dolls is a popular hobby. According to the National Antique Doll Dealers Association, doll collecting is the second most popular hobby in the United States.

That doesn't surprise doll collectors. Dolls make people feel good, says Margaret Matsui. She's the owner of a doll store. Doll collecting combines the fun of dolls with the chance to form social connections.

"[Collecting] is a great way to meet new people and bond with a family member or friend," she says. "There are a vast number of doll types to choose from, and you aren't limited to just one."

Collecting dolls isn't just fun -- it can also be very educational. Collecting provides "a constant opportunity to learn," says collector Linda Edward. She is also the owner of the Doll Museum in Newport, Rhode Island. "Dolls, being the beautiful pieces of art that they are, aesthetically enrich our lives as well."

Collectors collect all types of dolls, from antique dolls to ethic dolls to fashion dolls. The cost of these dolls can vary as widely as the types of dolls available.

"There is a level of price for every collector's pocketbook and area of interest," Edward says. "As a kid, I wanted to collect antique dolls, but thought it must be a hobby for millionaires. Happily, I discovered that this is not so. Wonderful dolls are available in every price range."

People of all ages collect dolls. Although women outnumber men as doll collectors, an increasing number of men are becoming interested in dolls as antiques and works of art.

Dolls can be viewed at museums throughout the world. "I would say the majority of collectors look at our collections as only being ours on a temporary basis -- that we are really just keeping them 'in trust' for future generations of collectors," Edward says.

Debra Gulea has connections with a lot of doll collectors. She has owned a doll store since 1995. She also sells dolls online. "I exclusively purchase antique dolls through my store," she says. "Collectors who are downsizing their collections bring dolls in to sell to me, as well as people who inherit dolls but do not wish to keep them. Most collectors purchase dolls from doll shops, like mine, from dealers at doll shows, through websites or through online auctions."

A growing number of people are collecting dolls and redesigning them, Matsui says. This includes repainting faces, re-rooting hair and designing one-of-a-kind fashions.

Matsui says that there is a lot of attention on fashion dolls these days.

"While baby dolls will always be loved and adored, adult fashion dolls such as Barbie, Tyler and Fashion Royalty are ruling the doll market today."

Many doll collectors are older adults. This means there are declining numbers of collectors, says Wheeler. In light of that trend, seasoned doll collectors are introducing younger people to this hobby to spark their interest. National organizations are also focusing on encouraging children to collect dolls.

Getting Started

If you're interested in doll collecting, you might want to decide to focus on a certain kind of doll. Maybe you already know what kind you're interested in, but if you don't, it's easy to do some research.

"The Internet, of course, is your most valuable resource," Matsui says. "Learn as much as you can about the dolls you like before you start making large purchases. Find out which dolls are the hardest to find, which are the most sought after and what the average price is. Join an Internet chat group. It's a great place to ask questions and to meet fellow collectors."

Matsui also suggests building a relationship with a doll store. This can help you obtain limited edition dolls and getting important information.

What do you need to start? There aren't a lot of requirements for this hobby.

"One must only have interest and drive and passion," says Mary Wheeler. She's a doll collector who manages a collection in a museum. "The nice thing about this hobby is that it can co-exist with all the business of everyday life and provide great pleasure.

"If one decides to join a doll club -- and I encourage this for the benefits of learning and friendships -- there are a few very simple requirements to meet. The process of joining is almost absent of obstacles. After all, doll clubs want members and want to see the hobby thrive."

Dolls can be found in a wide range of places.

"It's called the never-ending quest," says Edward. "Dolls can be bought for collection at yard sales, flea markets, antique shows, doll auctions, doll shops, via mail-order doll business, over the Internet and at the local toy or discount store."

Doll collectors spend time studying to know dolls and whether a doll is a good buy for the price or not. Wheeler suggests putting yourself on budget with a specific amount of money with which to purchase dolls. Some people decide on the number of dolls they will buy in a calendar year


The United Federation of Doll Clubs Inc
An international group of doll clubs
10900 North Pomona Ave.
Kansas City , MO   64153


My Favourite Doll Inc.
For the latest on vintage Barbies

Toy and Miniature Museum of Kansas City
Take a virtual tour of a doll museum

The Playmakers
For news on collectible dolls and other timeless toys

The Doll Museum
Have a look at antique and modern porcelain, cloth and bisque dolls

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