To Cull or Not


As I’ve been putting out dolls I’ve come to fear that there may never have enough room for all of them to be on display. I don’t mind so much about the modern Barbies.The ones that I photograph and play with most often are not display dolls; they live in plastic drawers or crates when not in use. There are just too many which is the reason I can’t answer when people ask me how many dolls I have. I don’t know.

I dislike the idea of the larger dolls having to stay in storage though. It makes me feel that if I can’t see them maybe there is no point in having them. I know a lot of people rotate their displays but I don’t want to to do that. My favourites have to be where I can see them all the time. But how would I decide what goes and what stays?

It goes without saying that all my childhood dolls would stay. Nor would I part with the vintage celluloid and hard plastic dolls. I’m also very attached to the 1960s vinyl dolls that remind me of my childhood.

A group of 14 inch vinyl dolls made by or for British doll companies.

That means that the candidates for getting culled would come from the modern vinyl, porcelain and cloth dolls. But there is a problem with that too. Some of those dolls were given to me and I would not want to hurt the giver’s feelings by getting rid of those dolls. Some were the childhood dolls of those people others were given to me for birthday or Christmas presents.

That leaves dolls I’ve bought myself in my early collecting years but even those have their stories. Valerie, Jacqui and Jill were bought at an Op Shop in Brighton when I first decided I was seriously going to collect dolls. I went out that day with the intention of buying dolls and bought the three of them together. I fixed their hair and made their outfits. There is nothing special about them, except to me. Molly, the cloth doll I bought at the Ulverstone Doll Show when David and I were on holidays before we moved over here. She sits in a Peacock chair with her very own teddy that I made for her. I have given away quite a lot of the other cloth dolls I had to people who had grandkids or did Family Day Care. The ones I kept are my favourites.

There are a couple of modern vinyl babies I could live without. I’d want to dress them first but I’d give them away to good homes. Finally, the category that always comes to mind when I’m thinking of culling dolls. Dolls with white hair. As you may remember from previous posts I just don’t like white haired dolls and never have. I can’t explain it. I just don’t like them. I have given most of the ones I had away but there may be one or two left. If I had dolls with pink or blue hair they would be on the list too.

So as you can see it is a dilemma and one that I will most likely solve by not getting rid of any. What I probably will do is not buy as many in future and concentrate on dressing and accessorising the ones I have.

8 comments

  1. I can totally identify with your comments. Even when we want to cull our doll collections, it seems like we can find reasons why we need to keep each doll. I also have some dolls that I am willing to donate, but I need to make them clothes. Like you, part of the answer for me is to not buy more dolls or at least not buy many. That has actually worked out quite well for me. I look around at the dolls I already have and ask myself why I need another doll. So I really think before I buy. Maybe we have to get more creative with the way we display our dolls and decide if all our dolls have to be in one room or if we want to also have small groupings in other rooms. My pet peeve is people who ask how many dolls a person has. It’s really not about the number; it’s whether or not we are comfortable with the amount of dolls we have.

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    • It is funny that people ask how many dolls we have. I suppose if they are not doll people they don’t know what else to ask to sound interested. I can have a very few dolls in my bedroom but we have other collections that need space in the rest of the house.

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  2. if it’s a problem of display space, I’d be inclined to have a rotation system going on one shelf, and leave certain dolls out for a month, before popping them in a box, and putting different ones on display.
    I didn’t begin collecting dolls until about 14 years ago, spurred on by my daughter, I began with Asian BJDs. Have half a dozen, but only 2 of them on display since I’ve become interested in modern vinyl dolls.
    I do think that when you’ve got too many dolls on shelves, you don’t have time to pick them up and give them the attention they deserve . . . and they all deserve to be admired individually from time to time ^^

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    • I can see your point but I don’t think rotation would work for me. I may try it with the cloth and porcelain dolls but even finding a safe place for the storage boxes is difficult. I don’t want to put them anywhere damp of course.

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  3. I understand how difficult it is to make these decisions. I have several dolls from childhood that I would never dream of culling. But with my illness, I simply cannot play with all my dolls anymore and I realised that I had to keep the modern fashion dolls down to a certain number. I told myself that when I buy a doll now, I have to get rid of one. I have given the extras away up until now but I have decided that I’m going to try selling some. I just don’t have room either! So I feel your pain.

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    • I think I will be slowing down on buying any more, at least until I do cull some. I’m happy to keep the majority of the modern fashion dolls in crates and get them out to play with but the vintage ones I like on display so you can see their outfits and accessories.

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  4. Why we love or care for these lovely bits of time,money,beauty,and artistry is in our own hearts and minds. I am trying to make it easier for others to pass on my legacy when I pass. I’m sorry if that seems morbid. My sister had dolls she had molded, fired,and created by her own talent, a sweet Kewpie she made for me, I have two rag dolls hand made by other sisters.They are my favorites,my keep till I die dolls. Every other doll, dollhouse, book, etc.. fits into the framework of those keepsakes. It’s easier to part with dolls I can’t remember, why I bought for other than it came w/ a lot or was on a list ..Those dolls that I still like and love are hard to part with. I try to find them a place for with me, and for my family to send them,when I am gone. Just as a passed sister’s family had to do.

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    • That does not sound morbid to me at all. It’s a subject I may deal with in a future post. I don’t have children so although I know if I pass first Naomi will care for the dolls while she lives in the long term I don’t want them to end up uncared for at an Op Shop or in the rubbish. We need to plan for these things.

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