Tips on Starting Your Doll Collection
On a whim you pick up a doll, because you think it’s pretty. Then, later, you pick up another of that kind, and after a few months pass, another, until you have a shelf full of dolls and possibly a few in boxes next to the shelf. You, my friend, have just started a collection. For doll collectors, these kinds of things sneak up on us! We’ll start by collecting one kind of doll (ie: Barbie), then we jet off on another tangent (ie: Japanese fashion dolls), and then another (ie: BJD’s), until we have more subsections in our doll collection than a library has in their non-fiction aisles.
My own doll collection includes:
-vintage (restored) Barbie’s
-Skippers (entire line)
-Madame Alexanders (and within that it seems Bride MA’s)
-Ball Jointed Dolls of both ABS and resin
-Big Eyed Dolls (ie: La Dee Da, Little Miss No Name)
-My own re-roots
-Jem and the Holograms (vintage)
-Barbie and her Bands (Rockers, Beat, Sensations, etc)
-Gene and various Tonner dolls
On top of my other collections (My Little Pony, Doctor Who, C3P0, cool artwork), it’s hard to keep everything straight, not to mention tidy! I’m a lost cause and am, metaphorically, drowning in my various collections. (Don’t get the wrong idea, I don’t mind drowning in dolls. However, if I can save another collector from the same fate, it is my duty to help!)
We were all ‘entry level’ collectors sometime in our lives, right? For me, it wasn’t until I was in my mid teens that I truly decided what I wanted to collect. This post is for those who have just started collecting. For you, I’ve put together a few tips on nurturing your doll collection.
Starting and Nurturing Your Doll Collection
Don’t Feel Like You Need Everything: With doll collecting, new collectors can easily become overwhelmed by the sheer number of options! Think about it, just walking down the Barbie aisle at TRU would make a new, hungry Barbie collector feel the need to buy. In some cases, if you really love the doll, that’s totally fine. Sometimes, however, it’s fueled by feeling that you need to ‘catch up’ to those who have collected longer. That is not fine. That is a very easy way to waste money that you should be spending on a doll you love! Three pieces you love always trump 100 pieces you ‘kind of like’.
Know What You Have: Look at your collection. I don’t mean quick glances occasionally. I mean really *look* at it.
This will help you in two ways:
1: Knowing what pieces you have means you won’t accidentally buy the same doll or type of doll over and over and over again.
2: Having an inventory (in your head or on paper) will also, most importantly, help you find a focus!
Find Your Focus: I decided in my teens that my collecting focus was Skipper dolls (and Barbie’s bands to a lesser extent). The majority of my doll collection to that point *was* Skipper. (See how really looking at your collection works?) But the real reason I decided upon Skipper was that she’d always been my favorite doll. I loved her look, the variety of outfits, and her size. The fact that I owned plenty of her already was a plus!
Having a focus helped me so much forever after because I knew what I was looking for. I wasn’t looking for everything. I had goal pieces (even if they were as simple as ‘any Skipper doll’)! To others, having a focus made my collection look far more streamline. Instead of saying ‘I collect dolls’, and have them think of a bed with dolls all around the rim, I could specify it more. ‘I collect Skipper dolls’ makes them pause a little before jumping to conclusions and might even make them curious enough to ask more questions.
Something to think about, too, as you find the focus of your collection is to think about not just the dolls, but everything that goes with them. For example, not only do I collect Skipper dolls, but I decided that I wanted to collect outfits and other items with the Skipper logo/image (ie: cases, wallets, puzzles, anything really!). Think about the superlatives that go with your collection and decide (you can always change your mind later) if you want to collect those, in addition to your dolls.
Display With Care: I’m guilty of not doing this. My 100 plus Skippers are shoulder to shoulder, stand over stand in one skinny glass Ikea case when they should be spread out into two or three cases! Even worse, the poor dolls in the back are on the same level as the dolls in the front, so you can’t always see them well. (We’re not even going to go into the Monster High shelves!) My cases are a very poor example of display with care!
While we can’t all pull a Steve Sansweet, who houses his collectables like a museum, we can still make our collection look great by choosing to not shove 20 dolls on a shelf designed for 15. Another great way to make your collection look great is to use risers so your dolls will stand at different heights and be seen by all. By properly displaying them, those that see your collection will see the beauty that you see in your dolls. Or at the very least they’ll understand that it’s important to you, so they shouldn’t complain.
Doll collecting is a hobby that takes time to cultivate and grow. Don’t feel you need to rush into a collection. (My Madame Alexander collection is up to four and I’ve been collecting for at least 3 years. However small it is, I can honestly say I love all my pieces in it!)
Doll collecting is also a hobby that links together so many different people and tradition. No matter how different two collectors lives are, they can easily find common ground discussing their passion for dolls and that is what I really love about the hobby!
Did I miss something? Have a question? Share it below with a comment! And as always, thanks for stopping by!