Re-Homing Dolls

A recent visitor to the blog asked me what he could do with his daughters collection of dolls that nobody in the family is interested in keeping. This is a situation that many of us find ourselves in when we have to downsize our own collections but I imagine that it is even harder if you are not a doll person and have no idea where to begin. For example, when clearing out the estate of a parent or sibling, or a child who has left home and no longer wants her dolls?

Photo by Magda Ehlers on

Many people would just throw dolls in the trash and think no more about it , but for others it’s not that easy. What about if you don’t care about the dolls but you don’t want to disrespect the memory of their former owner? Or what about if you know the dolls are old or were expensive when they were bought? Are they worth anything?

I don’t know anything about the dolls that this particular reader asked me about except that they have been displayed under glass and are in good condition so I suggested that if he wants to sell them he should start with finding out what they are. Then there are the usual methods of online selling.

Alternatively I suggested donating them to a Thrift Store or to an aged care home as I’ve heard that some use dolls for therapy. Of course this would depend if the dolls were suitable for that purpose.

As the gentleman asked his questions on the About page I thought I’d reproduce it here where you can all read it. I hope that some of you may have some more specific ideas of organisations in the USA that might take the dolls. I think that he’d just like them to be treated with some respect.

Hey Taz, thanks for reading by story. Came to visit when it occurred to me you certainly know something I need to learn. Four 18 years we bought our daughter a doll at Christmas and on other occasions. They were displayed (still are) in a beautiful curved glass display case. I am not a doll person but I know they were really expensive and most are quite beautiful. My wife, daughter and granddaughter have no interest in them,. What does someone do with things like that? I cannot bring myself to throw them away and the only two people who took any interest just want their heads for some kind of Nuevo art. Can’t imagine. Their costumes are so elaborate. Thanks and thanks for reading.

This was my reply.

Hi Nat, that’s a sad situation. It would be a terrible waste to throw them away or dismantle them. However, as they sound as if they are in good condition doll collectors may be interested if you want to sell them. You will find a huge section on eBay devoted to dolls and most of the other online sales sites have them too. Here are a few things that may help you decide if you want to go ahead with that. Collectors want to know things like the age of the doll and the make. If these are vinyl or hard plastic dolls with their original outfits they might have markings under their clothes or maybe you still have the paper tags that they often come with. There is a helpful group on Facebook called Let’s ID our dolls, it’s not a buy and sell but is US based and has knowledgeable members who can help with ID’s if you are not sure.

One type of doll that doesn’t sell so well is modern porcelain dolls, At least they are not worth so much , but some people buy them for their elaborate outfits.
If the whole selling thing sounds like a lot of trouble you could donate them to a Thrift store instead or alternatively I’ve heard that some aged care homes give their residents dolls as therapy. If they are not breakable dolls that sounds like a nice option.
I can understand that it would be sad to see these dolls that are a reminder of your daughters childhood end up being unloved and unwanted so I hope that I’ve given you some ideas. If you check back on the comments of this thread some of our readers might have some more specific suggestions for you as I’m in Australia and don’t know the organisations as well. I know that at least one reader regularly donates dolls so I’ll ask her to comment and maybe get in touch with you. Good luck.

Laurel, you’re up. I know you do a lot of donating. Any of you in the USA who have any suggestions please comment also.

*Note the photos in this post are for illustration only and nothing to do with Nat’s daughter’s dolls.



  1. I would have them valued by a proper valuer of collectable goods perhaps more than one to get an idea of the value before doing anything else. They may fetch something at a good auction site either online or in real life. The true value of these dolls should be discovered before anything else is done. Are they insured? The insurance people might know as they are often trained as many people have valuable things in their homes.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Whew, caught on I hardly sleep..There are a LOT of variables in a situation like this..and Social distances even complicates things..Is this a mixed collection?, Different sizes ,different materials, different manufacturers. A very popular size is in fact 1:6 Barbie and friends size.Plus Mattel dolls are easier (for me) to identify.Do they still have boxes? I have in fact donated several used but good as new Barbies w/ their boxes in the past. Things are getting trickier though.I have donated to a local thrifts store and got a receipt for an aprox value of my donation.(for taxes). Now that I am retired,our taxes are different.BUT credit or not it is ALWAYS preferable not to send these treasures to a landfill.I have given scads of dolls away to family friends and even a little girl at church to help her mum keep her quiet. I know someone who decorates her home for Christmas and does tours, and I gave her several porcelain dolls for display.But it all comes down to practicality too.The size of your collection is a Big consideration. If you lived locally I might be able to talk you through it but..W/O pics or list..I don’t know where to start. If I don’t get my collection bagged tagged and listed/documented somewhat identified there will be a truck -load going to a local Salvation army or Goodwill store.They are selling them by lots on E-bay these days, probably making a fortune. I can also sell them at a Swap-meet when things open up, and I always sell out on dolls when I have yard sales.But you might as well get some value out if you can..So first things first ,start taking of your display will get anyone started to help you take that next step.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. If he thinks he has dolls that re valuable, he could try having them looked at by a representative from an auction house. they will determine if there is enough value there to hold an auction, or include them in an auction they are planning. He will lose some money in the commission of the auction house, but he’ll get more than if he donates them,and won’t have the fuss of selling them individually.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.