Fortunately for doll collectors, and others wanting to know more about these tried and true playthings, About.com's doll collecting guide Denise Van Patten has taken a lot of the guesswork out of the process with her new book on the topic. The Official Price Guide to Dolls (House of Collectibles, 2005) covers antique, vintage and modern dolls including hard to find antique wax and wooden dolls, ever-popular porcelains, and vintage dolls from the '40s, '50s and '60s many of use remember and still love.
With listings divided into three secions - Antique Dolls: 1800-1925; Vintage Dolls: 1925-1980; and Modern Dolls: 1980-present - this guide is easy to navigate. Van Patten also explains the difference between a hot collectible doll in the current marketplace in contrast with those that are common and inexpensive, which comes in handy for both collectors and sellers looking to replenish their inventories.
Official Price Guide to Dolls is also the only guide with detailed information on the Internet doll market and the impact of Internet doll collecting on market values, according to a House of Collectibles press release. And it's no wonder. With her vast experience serving as About.com's doll guide, Van Patten has a unique perspective on the topic derived by interacting with other collectors who also seek and sell dolls in the online marketplace.
This book goes beyond providing values, however. It also includes information on how to grade the condition of antique and vintage dolls along with information on restoration and conservation. With an explanation of mold marks and guide to markings commonly found on antique dolls, and an extensive bibliography categorized by doll types for further reading on the topic, some of the most valuable information for those doing research is found in the numerous appendices. But even the values shown in the book are realistic and up to date, which isn't always the case with collectibles reference guides.
Even with 850 black and white photos, and a 16-page color insert of rare dolls, however, more identifying photos for the beginning collector would have made this guide infallible. Of course, when that's the only critism of a value guide, it still makes an excellent grade.
All in all, the Official Price Guide to Dolls proves to be a valuable resource for both seasoned collectors and neophytes alike. This reasonably priced guide to doll values will pay for itself many times over and become a staple in many reference libraries, including my own. In fact, I used it to help my mother value some of the antique and vintage dolls she owned for many years.