Adults love to collect dolls for many reasons.
|Publication: Flagler Palm Coast News-Tribune
Date Published: 1/31/2006
Dolls are not just for kids!
By Carla Brooke
The United Federation of Doll Clubs says, “Doll collecting is one of the three largest hobby groups in the world, vying with stamps and miniatures for first place. The study of dolls is truly the study of mankind. Few artifacts reflect our history as accurately as those of dolls. From food to fashion, dolls and their accessories provide a fascinating window to the past and provide a record for the future.” Valerie Ottley, a local Palm Coast collector agrees with that statement and said, “Through the world of doll collecting you journey from the past, through the present and into the future. You become one with your dolls. This journey lets you run free in a world of true happiness with no sense of worry.”
The value of childhood play has long been understood and accepted by society. Child psychologists tell us of the importance of play in the development of imagination and creativity through role-play and a child’s exploration of a world they will one day play a part in. Let’s consider the value of play in adult life. While contending with the day to day of “real life,” play can become an important survival skill keeping us balanced as well as recharging our creativity. This is a “Secret of success” in life realized by doll collectors.
Chances are, if you ask any group of doll collectors why they started the hobby, you will get a variety of reasons as diverse as the people themselves. Ottley said, “My collection always lets me be that child again and again and as an adult you can afford the dolls that you like.” For many people collecting is a form of nostalgia, which is tangible evidence of fond childhood memories. Often there remains an abiding love of dolls that has never been extinguished and it is suddenly rekindled with the discovery of a beloved childhood doll which was tucked away and half forgotten. Many love to reminisce about the dolls of their childhood. A glimpse through holiday catalogs rekindles a rush of memories with a thrill to learn of several companies offering reproductions of the very dolls they had once played with. For others looking through a family album and finding a picture taken holding a long absent doll sparks the desire to replace it. Sometimes this happens when a new baby is born or when the last child leaves home. In any case, once that longing has begun, only finding that doll and holding it again will suffice. The hunt begins. Other collectors enter the hobby as crafters, who enjoy doll making; many enjoy sewing and designing clothes for the many varieties of dolls in their collections.
When an antique or vintage doll is inherited, the recipient is eager to learn more about the little treasure that has stood the test of time. By researching the doll’s history, much is learned about the lifestyle of a little girl who loved her doll. Generations are bridged and family bonds are strengthened.
Ottley passed her love of dolls to her daughter. She said, “With the love I’ve always had for dolls my daughter Kaisha saw the happiness it brought me and the many lovely people we have met through the years due to the love of dolls. As a young lady with her own career, Kaisha has formed a greater love for Lorna Miller Sands and Lee Middleton baby dolls. When I display my dolls at doll shows in New York, Kaisha has become my helper at the table and is very informative of the collection. It’s a mother, daughter thing that we love and do together.”
Dolls are also recognized for their beauty and valued as works of art and are displayed with pride in curio cabinets or glass cases. These are artifacts from a more genteel time never to come again.
Still other people find dolls a lucrative investment, squirreling them away with the hope of cashing in on them as their value goes up. These dolls are often brought out when their owners have company over, so the owners can show off their latest acquisitions.
For Ottley the doll could be one she wanted as a child and is affordable now. “It could be a doll that I might have had or lost years ago. With modern dolls I still love Barbies, but they have to be a true collector’s item, which are limited or the reproductions (old faces 1959-1970’s). I collect modern dolls from the Robert Tonner’s, Madame Alexander’s (Alex and Cissy Coquette) and Genes all 8” to 16”. I love their outfits, facial expressions and they all have a flavor of the 40’s, 50’s, 60’s, 70’s and present day’s look with lovely accessories. They are dolls that express the beauty of being a lady and yes, I have some males with great outfits too. With vintage and modern day dolls, they just light up your display cabinets and your soul. You never have a bad day or experience with your dolls. It’s good therapy for those who collect dolls, cars and other collectibles.”
Whatever the reason, the first step to collecting anything, especially dolls it to learn as much as you can about the antique or collectable dolls available, so your collection will be wonderful to see and share with others. The hobby is so large, that if you are new to it, it can see overwhelming. There are so many types of dolls to collect; antique dolls, American Girls and vintage dolls. Collect what you like and both your interest and collection will grow. Define your goals. Are you looking for a small collection of rare dolls or simply one pleasing to look at? Is the collection an investment or hobby? Beware of overpricing. This goes along with educating and doing the research. Save yourself time, money and heartache. Know what you are buying and it’s value. Ask questions at the local doll shop, get appraisals, inquire about the dolls you have and those you want. Many doll collectors and dealers enjoy talking about dolls. A good doll collection has a variety of sizes, styles, ethnicities and values. Remember, dolls of today are the antiques of the future.