People sitting on stools staring at the blinking machines in front of them, groups standing around tables tossing dice and people staring at screens with numbers flashing across them – this is what greeted us as we entered the Bally Hotel/Casino in Las Vegas but this is not where we stopped. We walked through the smoky casino and entered a world of dolls.
The 59th United Federation of Doll Clubs, Inc. convention was held in Las Vegas from July 27-Aug. 2. Attending were more than 1,700 eager collectors ready to absorb as much doll knowledge and buy as many dolls as they could in a short period of time. The casinos were an interesting backdrop for the convention but it was the dolls that stole the show.
Seminars including Schmitt dolls, Kestner dolls, snow babies, doll artists, restoration, doll bodies, sewing for dolls, paper dolls, celluloid dolls, parian dolls, Door of Hope dolls and others were filled immediately with collectors eager to find out more from experts in the doll world. Workshops were also available for those who love to create for their dolls. Workshops offering everything from French hand sewing to creating shoes, hats and other accessories were popular options for convention attendees.
Meal events with noted speakers and wonderful souvenirs suited the modern and antique collectors. Some of the popular choices were the events focusing on the dolls from the Annalee Company, Tonner, Vogue, Kish, Kathe Kruse, and Maggie Iacono.
Programs conducted by noted doll personalities and authors focused on French Fashions, the Simon Halbig firm, early wooden dolls, parians, the 1959 Barbie and too many more to list. Round table discussions have also become quite popular with groups gathering to discuss all facets of collecting.
And what does all of this education lead up to? More educated and informed buyers who are searching for the best example for the best price in a setting with thousands of dolls to choose from. My husband and I are co-chairmen of the antique competitive room at the National Convention. We have seen some of the finest dolls in the world entered into competition and we are seeing more collectors who are taking their hobby very seriously. Gone are the days when dolls were collected just to sit on the shelf and look pretty. Today’s collectors research doll companies, they study the various doll models and, with prices soaring on hard to find examples, they also study the people they are buying from. They want to love and enjoy their dolls but they also want the dolls to be a good investment for the future.
The sales room at National is something to see! One hundred and thirteen of the most outstanding dealers and collectors in the world come to National each year to bring their best. Anything you are looking for can be found as long as it is quality. There is no junk available. This is the show to find the perfect Bru or the perfect number one Barbie or the perfect artist doll or the perfect accessory. Prices tend to be a little higher than you might find at a doll show or auction but you are seeing things that are not usually available in those venues.
On Thursday, the sales room was open to the public. In spite of temperatures well over 100, heavy traffic, and difficult parking conditions at the casino, the sales room was well attended. All of the dealers I spoke to did well during the event. Our conclusion: Unlike the casino, good dolls are – and continue to be – a sure bet!
Next year, the United Federation of Doll Clubs, Inc. Convention will be held in Atlanta, Ga., July 7-13.