Speaking of Dolls: The up side of a down economy is low prices

Prices from doll shows, Internet sales, individual sales and auctions from the past 60 days.  Prices will vary from region to region based on economic conditions and interests.

1. 24-inch Heinrich Handwerck, redressed and rewigged — $275

2. 18-inch Simon Halbig 550, redressed — $250

3. 30-inch Schoenau Hoffmeister, no clothes or wig — $300

4. 7-inch all bisque French Mignonnette, all original — $3,000

5. 12-inch Armand Marseille Dream Baby, redressed — $125

6. 23-inch French Jullien, original dress and shoes — $3,300

7. 9-inch all bisque glass eyed German child, swivel head, jt.  shoulders and hips, nude — $1,100

8. 9-inch Simon Halbig 1078, five piece papier mache body — $125

9. 14-inch Hertel Schwab 151 baby, composition body — $135

10. 18-inch Mary Todd Lincoln hairstyle china, replaced early body — $700

When you listen to the news, watch it on television or read the newspaper, you wonder if there is a “silver lining” anywhere. Well, if you are a collector and have some savings set aside, now is a good time for buying.

With travel down, those antique malls along the Interstates are experiencing less traffic. This also affects small shops in towns that often depend on travelers for much of their business. Unfortunately, there is still rent to pay so dealers are willing to negotiate. Bargains can be found on everything from furniture to fine china. And bargains can also be found on vintage and antique dolls.

As with all consumer goods, doll prices are based on supply and demand. The Internet has increased our available supply of vintage and antique dolls but the economy has decreased the demand. House payment, car payments, food and family necessities take priority. Personal hobbies are forced to take a backseat unless you are one of those lucky collectors or dealers who have put aside some “doll money.”

Based on the doll shows I have attended in the past two months and the sales I have seen on eBay, this is a great time to buy some very nice German and French “dolly face” dolls.

These were the dolls that were produced in the greatest numbers during the late 1800s–1920s.

Examples include such dolls as the Armand Marseille 390 and 1894 mold, Heinrich Handwerck 69-119, Simon Halbig 1078 and 1079, Kestner 164, 167, 168, Huebach Koppelsdorf 250 and 275, SFBJ and Unis France 60 and 301 and German babies can be found for less than $400 in sizes 18 inches to 28 inches and smaller sizes can be found for less than $200.

The dolly face examples on leather bodies can be found at even lower prices often because of the fragile nature of the leather body.

If you are a beginning collector, there are some treasures available or if you are a dealer, I have seen some great bargains. Traditionally, the dolly face German and French dolls are the favorites – especially with beginning collectors – and there will always be a market for them.

Unlike the dolly face doll, the prices of some dolls have remained more solid, but even those prices are more negotiable now than this time last year. The prices of quality all bisque, German characters, French and German closed mouth dolls and French Fashions remain strong. Condition is important. The people who buy these dolls are advanced collectors and want perfection and are still willing to pay for it.

The prices for parians and chinas with decorations and rare hairstyles have actually increased over the past year thanks to more exposure through new publications, magazine articles and programs. These overlooked beauties have not seen this type of attention since the 1950s.

Take the time to attend a doll show or auction or take a look at the Internet. You might be surprised at what your dollars will buy.

Sherry Minton has served as president of three clubs belonging to the United Federation of Doll Clubs, Inc. She is a senior member of the American Society of Appraisers with a Designated Specialty in Dolls and Toys. Minton can be contacted at dollypictures@aol.com