A Week of Doll Hunting

DSCN2737As people who read this blog will know I’ve been away from home for ten days or so visiting my sister. One of the things that we both love to do when we get some free time is to visit markets, antique and second-hand shops in hopes of finding items to add to our collections. My sister is a collector of stuff. She collects toys and teddies but also household items and anything else that takes her fancy. She is likely to come home with anything from a tea-cup to a typewriter. I stick to dolls because although I always see lots of other stuff I’d love to own I have neither the money or the space to collect anything else. Most of the time we buy things on eBay but it is a lot more fun to hunt up  a new treasure yourself I think.

Our travels this  past week and a bit took us to Sunday markets, antique shops, second-hand shops and tip(recycle) shops. During our first Sunday outing we visited a market at Sorell near Hobart and the historic town of Richmond. My sister found an antique teddy that she fell in love with in Richmond, the older and scruffier they are the more she likes them, but at first the dolls were thin on the ground. All I saw that day were a few down at heel Barbies with frizzy hair and no clothes and two beautiful Pedigree Walkers which I didn’t have a hope of affording.

Later that week we visited Ross and Campbelltown where neither of us found anything we wanted but we enjoyed a lovely sunny autumn day. We didn’t come home empty-handed as there is a sweet shop in Campbelltown where you can buy all kinds of imported goodies. We also visited a very interesting book shop.

Our next outing was to the Hobart suburb of Glenorchy. A secondhand shop that my sister likes proved to be lucky for me. Near the front of the store were several old dolls. We stopped to examine them and found that one was made of the rubbery type of vinyl that was used in the late 50s and early 60s, the doll had moulded hair and apart from a slight chew on top of her head was in fairly good condition. She was only $5 so naturally I bought her as I don’t have a doll of this type in my collection.

Old vinyl doll
Old vinyl doll

Meanwhile my sister was looking at one of the other dolls and told me that it was marked “Made in England” so we knew that she was also an old doll. She had what appeared to be her original outfit on including the shoes so she was a great find for $10. The third one that I bought was unmarked but to me her face looked like a Pedigree vinyl doll. Those dolls are often unmarked and I have several with similar faces. I’m a sucker for English dolls especially anything I suspect is a Pedigree so another $10 was outlayed to buy her. The cashier told me that one of the owners of the shop was a doll collector so I will certainly be checking that shop out again. All the dolls are dirty so this week they will have a good clean and I’ll be able to show you before and after pictures.

Our last outing of the week was to Evandale Market near Launceston and later in the morning the South Esk Market in the Launceston suburb of Invermay. We had to get up with the birds for those two because Launceston is a one and a half hour drive from Oatlands and Evandale especially, gets very busy and hard to find a park at.

I usually have lousy luck at markets so having already found dolls earlier in the week I was not really hoping for more but one stall holder had another doll which looked to be a 1960s one. She was just $10 as well so I decided to get her. I also bought two Barbies. I bought a lot of my early Barbies from stalls like this but in recent years I haven’t bothered as they are usually over priced for what they are and  I’m not a big fan of recent play line Barbies. My sister pointed these two out to me though. About 90% of doll stuff she spots is something I want so I took a closer look. One doll had the Fashion Fever body with the later legs which always look odd to me. She was blonde with the Lea face but different from Mel. The other was a brunette swap head Fashionista, she had a nick on her knee but it wasn’t too bad. The dolls were $4 each and I decided that they would clean up OK so I got them.

Now I’m back at home broke but looking forward to cleaning up my new dolls and somehow squeezing them on to the shelves.

The Barbies have already had their hair done and been redressed. So here they are.

image swap head fashionista
Swappin Heads brunette Fashionista
All she needed was a quick tidy up and a new outfit and Vanessa was good to go.
All she needed was a quick tidy up and a new outfit and Vanessa was good to go.
I was quite taken with this doll who has the Lea face.
I was quite taken with this doll who has the Lea face.
and here she is tidied up and wearing a new outfit.
and here she is, now named Diana, tidied up and wearing a new outfit.



  1. This is pretty much my dream – going to a second hand shop and actually finding some dolls *sigh* they all seem to end up on eBay …. congrats on yours though! Do you know who your Lea is? Just in case not, she’s an Island Princess Maiden (she didn’t get a name in this wave) – I really like her high forehead and low-key makeup. I do like your Sporty swappin styles Fashionista as well, she’s probably my favourite, after first wave Summer and of course, Raquelle. Great finds, enjoy 🙂


    • Thanks for the info. I hadn’t looked them up yet although I was sure the Lea was a later wave as her legs were different from the earlier waves. I really liked her when I saw her, market stall Barbies are usually a sad lot these days so she was a find for what I paid for her. I was pretty pleased with the Fashionista too. The friend dolls tend to be nicer than the Barbies these days don’t they?


  2. Finding things not a worry here , but on e-bay affording them is hit and miss..I did find a lovely fluffy friend of skipper but didn’t want to spend the $80 they asked.. maybe some books instead. Vintage books/magazines are great at swap meets. I had a random question, is Mattel making their Kens with a lighter plastic..have a 1990s one marked Hong Kong that feels as light as post 2000. Also do you have any trouble locating vintage (doll)clothing?


    • I believe Mattel is using a lighter plastic for Ken and for some Barbies as well. I’ve noticed the difference in the weight too. The last few dolls in the Denim Basics series are noticeably lighter than their predecessors and I think this is due to a different plastic. Vintage clothing is harder to come by here, smaller population base, very few doll shows in Tasmania and this sort of thing rarely shows up at Op Shops. Most of mine comes from ebay or some Australian Facebook doll sites I’ve found. I used to buy more from overseas but the postage is often expensive so that has be be factored into the cost. That’s why whenever I get a vintage outfit I’ve been after I get excited. For Sindy I have a very specific goal to collect the outfits prior to 1967 with Barbie it tends to be ones I wanted as a child which of course are the Pre Mod era. I get lucky sometimes like with my recent Skipper outfit purchase. In Australia and not too expensive. I don’t expect to get them for small change though.


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