The past 30 years have seen tremendous changes in the collectible doll industry. Until that time, collectors only had antique dolls, or newer children’s dolls to add to their collections. As there were relatively few “new collectibles” to purchase, the market on these “played with dolls” and antiques was vibrant and exciting.
There were many doll shows scattered all over the country, and a visit to one would find three types of dolls available, antique dolls, rescued discarded play dolls, and booths featuring doll makers wares. Doll makers were many, with their work ranging from dreadful to stunning.
Flea markets also found doll sellers, usually of the “discarded child doll type”, and many collectors searched regularly for collectible dolls. At the time, dolls being grabbed up were from the Chatty Cathy family, Chrissie and Velvet family, Patti Playpal types , Vogue, and of course Barbie.
With the emergence of the “Ashton Drake Gallery” dolls, followed by many mass produced porcelain dolls by many other companies, all offering limited editions, artist renderings and much media advertising, many collectors changed direction and began to purchase these new dolls.
This new collector market was huge for a number of years. People scrambled to complete sets of dolls and to find dolls by certain doll artists. The market on older vinyl “designed for play dolls” softened considerably during this period.
Home based porcelain doll studios, where you could take classes teaching you how to make your own dolls, also became very popular during this time.
A quarter of a century later, many dolls that were so popular, have now come onto the secondary market. Due to the market being so flooded at the time of production, and so many collectors jumping onto the bandwagon, the secondary market is now flooded with these dolls. The value on many has plummeted as a result, particularly Ashton Drake Dolls. Other collectible porcelain dolls that were mass produced are for the most part worth only a fraction of what was paid for them initially. The biggest reason for this is the fact that these dolls are still being produced, the quality has improved a great deal, and the prices have gone down. What reason would anyone have for purchasing an older one!
The market on genuine antique dolls continues to be strong, and investments made seem to be sound. As the years pass, it is harder and harder to find antique dolls unless they are coming directly from another collector’s private collection. This keeps the prices high. Unlike modern dolls, there are only so many antiques to go around!