Beginning Paper Doll Collectors
Judy M. Johnson
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article first appeared in the Paperdoll
Narrow what you
Define a parameter on what
kinds of paper dolls you want to collect such as: childhood paper dolls,
fashion history, politics, comics, ballet, opera, fashion design, babies,
celebrities (movies, politics, royalty), children, men, storybook
characters, military, antique, magazine pages, artist prints, and original
art, to name a few.
Some collectors like paper
toys such as: furniture, doll houses, vehicles, animals, jumping jacks,
villages, stage sets, etc. And there are odd places to find PDs: on fabric,
wrapping paper, greeting cards, unexpected publications, stickers, wood, or
rubber stamps. The possibilities are as limitless as creators' imaginations.
Choose a subject or two that
you really love, and try to stick with that to control your spending.
However, your collection will expand nearly on its own accord once you get
started. We caution you when buying from general antique dealers who do not
specialize in paper, as they often have inflated ideas of the value of
fairly contemporary PDs. And some unscrupulous ones pawn off reproductions
as true antiques. If the price seems too high, it probably is. Educate
yourself first, meanwhile shop garage sales for some real bargains.
New paper dolls from publishers like
B. Shackman, Paper Studio Press and Dover may not seem very collectible now, but
even within the last 20 years, some have greatly increased in value. Those that have
been discontinued or had small production runs are likely to be more valuable
because of their comparative scarcity.
Some major paper doll publishers
have gone out of business or stopped publishing paper dollincluding Green Tiger
Press, Hobby House, Athena, Evergreen, Archie Comics (Katy Keene) and many
others. So their publications become desirable as soon as they are no longer on
Magazine paper dollscan net you at
least the cost of the magazine within a couple years of their publication
because of their inaccessibility after a short time. Take them out or not?
Purists like to collect the whole magazine, but 99% of collectors have space as
a major consideration and carefully remove them with a sharp blade or neat
tearing out, so they can put them in binder sleeves for easy viewing and
To Cut or Not to
Those who really like to play with
their PDs and want to see what costumes look like on the dolls do like to cut
them. In fact, if you love cut dolls for this reason, you can build a collection
of older pds more cheaply than others who want perfection, as cut dolls sell for
a great deal less than uncut. As for today's PDs, you can solve this by buying
two-one to keep and one to cut. Many people do this.
I have spoken with editors of the
major doll publications and they pretty much expect people to make one playable
copy (not multiples due to copyright issues) of paper dolls published in their
Magazines and Reference
For a wealth of information about
vintage, collectible paper dolls, the Paperdoll Review MagazinePaperdoll Review Magazine is tops! For a sample issue,
send $7 plus $3 shipping to Paperdoll Review, PO Box 14, Kingfield, ME 04947. A
recommended reference book is Tomart's Price Guide to Saalfield and Merrill
Paper Dolls, available from paperdollreview.com.
Collecting Artist Paper
As a working PD artist, I urge you
to consider collecting contemporary artists' work. Much of the work we do is
printed in limited quantities in black and white or color laser copies and
become collectible within a few years. Also, if you follow an artist's career
and support them as a fan, you feel part of the joy as they move up the ladder
of success and you can say, "I knew her/him when." These artists may
be the Queen Holdens of tomorrow. OPDAG's Paper Doll Studio is a great place to see work
by artists of today. For a sample issue, send $8 plus $3 shipping to OPDAG (The
Original Paper Doll Artists Guild), P.O. Box 14, Kingfield, ME 04947.
For new and reproduction paper
dolls, visit paperdollreview.com, eBay.com, and Amazon.com. For
vintage paper dolls, check out eBay.com. Many artists over self-published paper
dolls on Etsy.com. Also check out Judy Johnson's papergoodies.com for a
huge offering of vintage reprints.
It's fun to gather a collection,
organize it, show it to visitors, and share with other collectors via newsletters,
mail, round-robins, and at parties and conventions. There are a lot of really nice
people who are willing to share their knowledge on their favorite subjects, and
others who have duplicates that they want to trade or sell. Networking is one of the
best parts of having a specific collection like paper dolls. It can take you around
the world with the people you meet by mail, internet or at gatherings. Good luck and
Judy Johnson is a founding member
of the Original Paper Doll Artists Guild, writes for several national magazines
and is a paper doll artist whose books have been published by Dover and B.
Shackman. She is also the primary artist for Magicloth Paper Dolls. For a
catalog of her paper dolls and paper goodies, send $3 to: Judy's Place, P.O. Box
216, Skandia, MI 49885, or visit her papergoodies website.