March Tip Of The Month: Keep a Record

Cataloguing your Collection

I had an anxious time during the recent bushfires worrying about my dolls. I have been saying for some time that I really should do something about insurance as Naomi and I now have several expensive dolls and she has teddy bears as well. Even though many individual dolls are not worth much as they came from markets and garage sales and nearly all have been played with they represent many years of collecting and over time thousands of dollars.

Of course, money isn’t everything. I could buy more Sindy dolls but none of them would be the one that I was given when I was seven. So this month’s tip is about keeping records.

My childhood Sindy doll
My childhood Sindy wearing “Country Walk” with “Ringo”

If you have more than a few dolls you really ought to think about keeping some kind of record of them.


Well, there are several reasons why this is a good idea.

  • Insurance: If you have a large collection or valuable dolls you may wish to list them separately on your home contents policy.
  • Theft: If your dolls are stolen a clear description of them may help you recover them.
  • Replacement: It will help to identify dolls if you are trying to replace your collection
  • Value: If you or a family member needs to sell the collection in the future good records may make it easier to sell at auction or online. It may also persuade your doll hating relatives that they are worthy of more than being thrown in the rubbish.
  • Reference: I simply cannot remember the details of every doll I own; a written record is good for personal use. Especially if you write a doll blog.
Naomi’s Baby Ada , a replacement doll.


Again, there are several ways you can do this.

Many collectors use specialised software to create a database. All you have to do is load the information you have. Any kind of record keeping task like this is going to take forever and unless you really enjoy inputting data it is going to be boring but at least with specialised software, you won’t have to reinvent the wheel.

Alternatively, you can create your own records either on a computer, perhaps as a spreadsheet or a searchable database if you know how to do that. Or you can go old school and use a notebook or even a card file. It doesn’t matter as long as it works for you.

If you already have a huge collection like me it’s going to take some time to set it up no matter how you choose to do it so if you are a new collector the sooner you begin the better. Once you have recorded all the dolls you have it will simply be a matter of adding a new entry whenever you get another doll and deleting the ones that are moving on of course.


This can be as simple as the type of doll but I’d recommend adding a few more details. For example:

  • Material – eg. Hard plastic, vinyl, cloth etc.
  • Size
  • Brand
  • Year of manufacture
  • Clothing – original or not
  • Identifying Details – you may like to write a short description of the appearance of the doll including any doll marks. This would also be a place where you could identify damage such as cracks, green ear etc. or anything that would help you establish the identity of the doll if it was stolen. This is very handy when you are writing a sales blurb too.
  • Photograph – I would recommend including photos in your records if you can as a visual reminder. Try to include photos of any doll marks and other identifying marks and a close up of the face.
Compositon Shirley Temple doll by Ideal c 1930s.
Composition Shirley Temple doll by Ideal c 1930s.


Do it now because you just never know.

I will keep you posted on this subject in the future as we attempt to record our collections. It won’t be easy but it ought to be done.


Here are a couple of software packages that collectors use. I have not tried either so this is not a recommendation. If anyone has used them please let us know what you think.

Many of you will be familiar with Shelly and her YouTube Channel 1,000 Splendid Dolls. Shelly catalogs everything. I am in awe of her organisational skills. Most of us would not have the time or the passion to do what she does. Luckily, as she shares her knowledge on her YouTube Channel and Flickr account, we don’t have to look far for help.



  1. This is an excellent idea. Many of my dolls are now hybrids, as I have rebodied so many onto articulated bodies. I know this will reduce their value considerably – probably render most of them worthless! However, I am struggling with an incurable and progressive illness that has progressed to leaving me almost housebound. I worry all the time what will happen to my dolls when I’m gone – even as my husband and I transform our loft bedroom into a giant doll city! As my life nears its end, nothing gives me more pleasure than playing with my dolls and hopefully I will have a few years left with them.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. A very good idea. I need to update. I wish wendydirks many pleasant years of enjoying her collection. We all need to live ” in the moment” as much as possible to enjoy what blessings we have to the fullest.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I think it’s also a very good idea to give a copy of your data to someone else you trust in the event yours is destroyed. This way you can still access your records if you can’t get to your own for some reason. Don’t forget to send on your updated copies as you go or a valuable doll may not be on their list. They could also be kept in the cloud. I think this is what Vanda and I will have to do once we have listed ours. You just never do really know. Hard drives die, files can get deleted and paper copies lost or damaged.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I’ve cataloged my collections from the moment I started collecting. It’s so easy to forget details after a while. I also carry a copy on my iPad when I go to doll shows/sales so I can check if I have/need certain parts of outfits, etc.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. I enjoy watching a thousand splendid dolls and have been able to identify some of my thrifted dolls through her meticulous catalogue 🙂 I agree, being organised and keeping a record is very important especially if you have many dolls. I don’t have too many to keep track of for the time being!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I will be bagging and binning this year so I can revise a trust next year, Even though a ;large part of my dolls are rescues/Franken dollies that also makes them Ooak (One od a kind).My daughters unsuccessful hair-cut(s) or lips repaint or someone else’s become art. In family research we were encouraged to “Back-up our back-up”. Keep copies for you, and at liest two for out-of-town and out of state/immediate area family/friends/contacts.I am tagging dolls by what few details I have, when we do our trust I will specify how the “collection” might be managed. I have donated, re-homed, and given away, but keep the “well loved” ones close to me. I Hope to photo document what I can, but Pinterest is as far as I’ve gotten so far so will read/use all your ideas!

    Liked by 1 person

    • It sounds like you are already well on the way Laurel with your tagging. I have done swing tags for Naomi’s fashion dolls that are here and may do the same for the rest later. If we ever displayed them publicly it would cut down on handling. Family history is a good comparison too as far as keeping back ups go. A back up at home is handy if you lose your computer data but not a lot of use in the event of fire or flood. I really need to get on and start doing some of these things myself.


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