Perhaps you're a big doll fan. Maybe you're looking for a new hobby and snowboarding is just too yuppie. Or it could be that you enjoy taking care of things, but your pets and plants keep dying on you. Whatever your crazy reason is, if starting a doll collection is what you want to do, we've got your covered. And since the dolls in the market today - like Baby Burps-A-Lot and Tracy Talks-Too-Much - make us cringe, our plan is to get you well acquainted with the world of antique doll collecting.

Antique doll collecting is actually the second largest collection hobby in the United States (after stamp collecting). It is a fun and rewarding experience, but it can also be confusing and expensive. Don't dive into the challenge without reading up on it first because there are arcane terms to learn and shrewd little old women to do business with. We'll help you deal with both obstacles. You're on your own with your pediophobia (the fear of dolls).


We know that you want something with hair and eyes that calls you "Mamma," but we suggest that you get a little more specific than that. Believe it or not, antique doll collecting branches out to at least a few dozen different genres. If you'd prefer to not go broke and crazy, our advice is that you pick one type of doll stick with it for a while to see if you even enjoy collecting dolls. You've got plenty of time and opportunity to branch out later.

Here are just some of your choices:

Doll genres
Dolls from specific doll companies

Doll genres

  • Artist Dolls. Typically, artist dolls are one of a kind finds, produced by the hand of a professional doll artist.

  • Baby Dolls. These dolls are made to look like real babies. They're often the same size as a two-month-old baby.

  • Cloth Dolls. Raggedy Ann and Andy are not as worthless as they look. Cloth dolls like the Raggedys and Madeleine are favorites of many doll enthusiasts.

  • Ethnic Dolls. As their category implies, ethnic dolls come in all shapes and sizes. There are African wooden dolls, Asian porcelain dolls, European all-bisque dolls. It's a small world after all.

  • Fashion Dolls. Fashion dolls are mass-produced and usually collected for their wide range of clothes and accessories. In other words: Barbie.

  • Fifties Dolls. Doll companies that were popular in the fifties, like Vogue and Madame Alexander produced dolls that are still widely collected today.

  • Miniature Dolls. To qualify to be a miniature doll, a doll has to be less than six inches tall. Some extend only a couple of centimeters (you can get a doll for your doll!).

  • Sixties and Seventies Dolls. This genre includes dolls that were big in the sixties and seventies, like Tammy, Dawn, and Chatty Cathy.

  • Wooden Dolls. Wooden dolls are generally foreign and very old. They are meticulously carved from wood and adorned with clothes and wigs.

Dolls produced by specific doll companies

After you have chosen a doll, thoroughly educate yourself on it. The links above will start you off on your path, but do some more detailed research on the history, availability, and prices of your type of doll before moving onto the next step. An extensive knowledge on your type of doll will bolster your pathetic haggling attempts. At the very least, it'll keep you from getting bamboozled.

Another thing to keep in mind before you begin your collection is that doll collecting can get indecently expensive; dolls can (and often do) cost up to several thousand dollars each. Even a "cheap" doll can put you out of a few hundred bucks. We don't want you to have to choose between completing your doll collection and making rent, so make sure that the type of the doll you want to collect doesn't clash with your financial situation. There's no point in collecting herds of dolls if you're all just going to end up homeless together.

Some doll enthusiasts choose to collect ragged, damaged, and half-naked dolls (a.k.a. "affordable" dolls) with the intention of fixing them up and knitting them cute little clothes. That's a whole other hobby right there, and we recommend it as an alternative to anybody with student loans.