Help me price these dolls
November 12, 2010 9:31 AM   Subscribe

My grandparents were avid doll collectors. I have acquired some of their collection. I am at a loss as to how much one particular set of dolls is worth.

I am a librarian and have exhausted all of the resources at my 18-branch system and I have attempted my searches using MEL, a system that searches all participating Michigan libraries for items. I have also tried or Antiques database to no avail.

I spoke with a woman at Danbury Mint today who told me that this set of dolls is called "World's Bride Dolls" and was purchased by my Grandpa for $661.50. He received the dolls between 1986 and 1988. There are 21. They are porcelain with dresses that depict the traditional wedding attire of the given country. (Or what Danbury Mint decided was traditional for that country in '86). They are about 10" tall.

Basically, I am interested in selling them and I want to get a good price for them if they are worth it.

This is Hannah of Israel. Her stand is marked with permanent marker in my grandfather's handwriting, "Israel Aug 24 '87 Hannah".

All the dolls are in their original boxes and their original shipping boxes. All are likewise marked on their stands with their names and the date of acquisition. Some (Isabella of Mexico) have an added cardboard support in their boxes.

So, I'm guessing it's a long shot but I am looking for advice.

1.) Any doll experts out there know what these might be worth today?

2.) Should I try to sell them on eBay?

3.) If so, what would be a good starting price? (Or BIN).

4.) Since there are 21 of them, how on earth would I ship them?
posted by morganannie to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (11 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Forgot to mention...I don't have any paperwork for the dolls but each shipping box has a label like this that has a CERT number on it. The lady from Danbury Mint told me this would be the certification # for the owner.
posted by morganannie at 9:33 AM on November 12, 2010

What they fetch on eBay is what they're worth. I'd stick them on at a low start, they will find their value.
posted by fire&wings at 9:36 AM on November 12, 2010

I'd start buying random cheap stuff on eBay to build up your feedback if you don't have any. Buyers don't want to buy from someone without experience.

I'd then start selling some low items so that you get some experience selling/listing/mailing/shipping/etc.


I'd add alerts for the dolls to your eBay account so that you can see what they tend to go for. Learn the market before you list so that you know what is normal.
posted by k8t at 9:46 AM on November 12, 2010

I don't know anything about dolls, but if I were in your place I'd join some doll collecting forums online and start talking to the people there. The interwebs have a ton of forums for all sorts of things and that seems to be where I find the most knowledge available for free.
posted by TooFewShoes at 9:56 AM on November 12, 2010

I have a 100% rating on eBay both as a seller and a buyer. Lots of great feedback.

I don't really want to start the bidding low because there is probably a threshold of "No that is not enough so I'd rather just keep them in my basement" to me.

Joining forums is a good idea. If there is a less time consuming way to find out though, I'd love to hear it.
posted by morganannie at 10:02 AM on November 12, 2010

And I've added an alert on eBay. But doing an archival eBay search has turned up nothing.
posted by morganannie at 10:03 AM on November 12, 2010

I'm a toy collector (not dolls), and I was faced with a similar situation when my Grandmother died.

I have to tell you that I don't think you're going to get much for them without finding a very specialized buyer. I did a very basic closed items search on eBay, and didn't find any from this particular set (I'm sure you've done this already), but other "brides" sets ("of America") are going for under $10 each. I also think it might be an issue, although not a big one, that the stands aren't mint. It feels like right now the only Danbury dolls that are going for any kind of good price at all are those connected to the Royal (Windsor) Family (Diana and Sarah F).

Krause publications might have a Danbury collector's pricing guide, but if you haven't turned it up already they probably don't.

You could try contacting someone like Martin Marshall or another appraiser recommended by the NADDA or the The United Federation of Doll Clubs, but you'll want someone who specializes in Danbury. A professional appraiser with a specialty in Dolls may also be able to point you toward a public auction that will be marketed and geared specifically to doll collectors - that is, honestly, your best bet on price if they're worth anything at all.

My gut tells me, though, that you're not going to get even the original purchase price for them. With the economy as it is, and these being Danbury (ie: mass market) I just don't think they'll have much value. I'd be pleased to be wrong, however.
posted by anastasiav at 10:15 AM on November 12, 2010

My mom also has some doll collections but not in this style or area -- so I can't offer suggestions on value but I would say watch out on what you do for storage. Mice, as it turns out, don't mind eating doll parts (fingers, toes, noses) and other vermin also enjoy munching on the cardboard and the fibers. If you are planning to store these dolls and believe them to have value, store them carefully as the value is drastically decreased if there is damage to to the boxes or the dolls themselves. Exposure to sunlight is also a danger.

Also if there are any doll shows, you might attend and talk to vendors who have dolls of a similar style or era.
posted by countrymod at 10:16 AM on November 12, 2010

Just ran "Danbury Bride Doll" through Terapeak, which records the past 3 months of ebay sales (it requires a paid membership).

Unfortunately, except for the Princess Di dolls, almost all the Danbury Bride dolls sold for $5 - $10 a piece. A couple of outliers sold in the $15-$20 range, but there were pages and pages of them price in the $5-$10 range that got no bids at all.

And -- not to dump on you! -- from a collector's stand point, it's definitely a minus that the bases have been written on.
posted by the bricabrac man at 10:56 AM on November 12, 2010

The people on the Ebay doll forum are very helpful with advice.
posted by cass at 8:28 AM on November 15, 2010

Thanks everyone! Great advice all around.
posted by morganannie at 7:48 AM on November 17, 2010

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