I am not complaining that I am on the list that says I appraise dolls, but as my readers know, I do not like dolls, and for some reason I have a reputation for appraising dolls.
I don’t have a natural affinity to the form at all.
I have a reason.
When I was very young, I found that a doll of mine glowed in a drawer where I had stuffed her because I did not want her on my bed, and she glows in my dreams to this day.
So you could say I am allergic to dolls.
But there’s Murphy’s Law. If you hide from something you fear, it comes to bite you.
Proof? I received a photo of a hyper realistic-looking baby doll from P.M.
This is a Susan Krey doll, and Ms. Krey is a good artist who has a formal training in art from the Royal Academy in England. She taught art in Australia and has designed dolls in the U.S. for more than 30 years.
This involves a knowledge of sculpting, because she must make a clay maquette and create porcelain head and finish it with wax, from which she further sculpts the face. So her dolls are beautiful if you like realistic children in miniature. But for my liking, they’re too realistic.
She writes on her website that she paints the head “and puts the eyes in place, and then waits until the doll speaks to her.”
I find that rather frightening to imagine.
That brings me to the market for dolls from those ladies who collected dolls in the 1980-90s, of which I have seen more than enough trailers and houses filled with such dolls.
The market today for dolls of the era 1980-1990 and even into the early 2000s is rather dire, because that craze for doll collecting for “limited editions” is gone.
And in this pandemic market, it is really gone, but there are a few collectors who will pay $1,000 for such vintage.
However, the common market will pay about $25 for such a doll, and yet the division between those few ladies who want a Susan Krey doll and those who just kind of like the doll for their grandkids is vast.
So we have a split between $1,000 and $25 in this market.
The answer is – if you want to sell — you must choose the market in which you advertise. Of course, if you want to insure the doll, you go to the highest market and pay that higher premium for insurance and hope that the insurance company does not question your comparable sales if you lose that doll.
Doll folk always ask me,”What is the doll worth?”
That is impossible to determine, especially in the 1990s-era dolls, because we have this wide divergence in the market for that vintage today. If you find someone who wants that particular doll, then you are in the $1,000 range, and if you do not, you are in the “OK, I would like the doll for my grandbaby”: the $25 range. So as an appraiser, I look at the market.
I would say that the very best way to sell a doll is at a doll show in those big convention centers when we can do that again; a few of them are very good. Susan Quinlan Doll Museum has had, in the pre-pandemic past, a list of great doll shows. You would take the doll to the show and ask who might buy. And that is the very best way to get a doll sold.
Online, you will have lots of “I might take it for my grandchild” buyers — and it is rare that someone will pay you a bunch. You are looking for the few older ladies who want that particular doll, and they are few and far between.
This doll from P.M. glowed for me.
In other words, it’s spooky to see a baby doll so realistic, after just having my first grandchild, and then to have it shown large and come up on the computer screen.
Wow, that is why I have an allergy to dolls in general.
The sculptors are so good, and that is scary for this appraiser!
Dr. Elizabeth Stewart’s “Ask the Gold Digger” column appears Mondays in the News-Press Life section.
Written after her father’s COVID-19 diagnosis, Dr. Stewart’s book “My Darlin’ Quarantine: Intimate Connections Created in Chaos” is a humorous collection of five “what-if” short stories that end in personal triumphs over present-day constrictions. It’s available at Chaucer’s in Santa Barbara.