Skip to main content

Doll Collecting 101: Why do people collect dolls?

  Photo of doll from the Czech Republic, Wikipedia

Why collect dolls?

Why do people collect dolls? You might as well ask why people collect baseball cards or art -- the answers would be similar. 

According to Wikipedia, "Dolls have been around since the dawn of human civilization, and have been fashioned from a vast array of materials, ranging from stone, clay, wood, bone, cloth and paper, to porcelain, china, rubber and plastic."  With such a wide variety of dolls to chose from representing every era of human history, collectors find many reasons to chose doll collecting as a hobby.

Doll nostalgia

From talking to other collectors through the years, the most common reason people collect dolls appears to be nostalgia. A lot of women gravitate to the more vintage dolls they had as children. Frequently a mother or grandmother will begin collecting dolls to have a hobby to share with a child. Men and women both enjoy historic dolls as well as dolls that represent the fashions of a particular era. Some people collect infant and newborn dolls because of their resemblance to real babies.

Celebrity dolls

Some people collect celebrity dolls because of a fascination with pop culture. Dolls have been made of U.S. Presidents, supermodels, movie stars, singers, athletes and many other celebrity figures. After the death of a celebrity, any dolls with their name and likeness will usually skyrocket in price. Princess Diana dolls went for hundreds of dollars right after her death, and I saw Farrah Fawcett dolls going for between $50 and $100 on Ebay following her death in June 2009, and celebrity dolls like Elvis Presley, Princess Diana and Audrey Hepburn remain perennial favorites.

Doll investment

Many collectors consider dolls an investment and hope that as time passes, the value of the dolls they purchase will go up. Wikipedia states, "Nineteenth-century bisque dolls made by French manufacturers such as Bru and Jumeau may be worth almost $22,000 today."

Doll Collecting 101

I became a doll collector when I decided to try to replace my original collection of Barbie dolls, stolen from my mother's attic shortly after she died. After debating the wisdom of trying to reacquire the dolls of my youth, I plunged in and joined the frenzy that defined Barbie doll collecting in the late 1990's.

It was no simple matter of walking into a store and walking out with a vintage doll, however, as my first few attempts at buying replacements for my old dolls proved. With each foray into the Barbie collecting fray, I became more convinced that I was an uneducated novitiate, and simply not a equipped to deal with the local dealers and flee-market salesmen, not to mention the host of sellers available through the Internet, classifieds, and doll shows. After making a few purchases and later finding I had been the victim of hidden flaws or unstated problems, I knew it was time to join the ranks of the few, the proud, the educated. I needed a course in Doll Collecting 101.

If you collect dolls, feel free to share some of the reasons you collect dolls in the Comments section below. I will be passing along collecting tips in future Doll Collecting 101 articles, as well as reviewing dolls, outfits, books and events, so be sure and Subscribe so you don't miss a thing!


If you live in Nashville, you might be interested in this event to learn more about Barbie doll collecting: Barbie doll through the decades - celebrating Barbie's 50th anniversary in Nashville

 For More Information:

Also see:


  • The Collectors Hub 5 years ago

    Nice intro to Doll Collecting! Our customers will find your series very helpful.

  • MT Hare 1 year ago

    Doll collecting became my serious passion when my 40 yr collection was stolen while church members were in my home to 'help' my spouse with our children when I was in hospital treatment for stage 3 breast cancer. The collection included dolls passed down thru 4 generations of my family, 40 yrs of birthday & Christmas dolls from my deceased parents & both sets of their parents, the doll trousseaus handmade by great aunts & jewellery collected from around the world by my maternal grandparents. I've been able to 'replace' a few of the dolls in the last few yrs, but nothing can replace the love, history & faith that was stolen from our family that day. My sincere sympathy for the loss of your collection.

  • Anonymous 1 year ago

    Why do I collect dolls? When I was a child, my parents didn't have a lot of money to throw away on dolls. I had a Ginny and a Jill, both with fabulous wardrobes and some furniture. That was a lot, considering the sacrifices they made so that I could have those dolls and their accoutrements. More affluent relatives showered me with the dollies I loved, but they were passed on to younger sisters, much younger cousins, and I never saw any of them again (although I still have my Ginny and Jill).

    My first purchase was a Deluxe Reading Sweet Ann, 30 inches tall. I have since added Tyler Wentworth, Kitty Collier, Toni, Shirley Temple, a 20-inch Miss Revlon, Saucy Walker, Patti and Penny Playpal, Princess Diana by the Franklin Mint (what a clothes horse SHE is!), several porcelains, and an artist doll made in the image of my four year old daughter (who is now 25). I have a couple Barbies, a Ken, a number of knock-off American Girl-types (I like the ones with slender feet and defined ankles, and not the Mattel-owned ones that were started by Pleasant Company. All in all, I have replaced the dolls of my childhood and a couple by Robert Tonner, a favorite doll artist of mine.

  • mysistersgift 1 year ago

    i actually started collecting dolls a few months ago. I received an American Girl Doll of my choice for Christmas and i have been hooked ever since. I tell myself that my granddaughter will enjoy them too. I have purchased a few dolls on ebay that i had when i was a child. It really does not matter to me what the doll is as long as it is affordable. Simply put they bring a smile to my face whenever i look at them.

  • sheila 10 months ago

    i feel good about cute dolls. i write for children, i understand them well, so i like to live in that world sometimes. this is 5 percent of my life. the rest i need to work hard on my professional life. so i like to go back home and have a bit of cute stuff around!