So-called 'serious' collectors look for 'mint' dolls and if possible, those that are NRFB, letters that stand for 'Never Removed from Box'. Vintage dolls never removed from their original packaging often are 'new' in appearance, although the tissue paper used to protect them can damage and discolour them, especially if they are hard plastic or vinyl. In particular, the pretty pink tissue paper that was the trademark of Madame Alexander had a negative effect on dolls that never saw the light of day.
Collectors like myself who have little money for luxuries seldom can afford vintage NRFB dolls. Instead, we restore dolls that the serious collectors would reject outright. Many doll collectors collect the damaged or well-worn dolls initially and then sell them, upgrading their collection to 'mint' dolls. Having my own doll business for a brief time gave me the opportunity to find both the 'mint' vintage dolls and the damaged or well-worn dolls. I have to confess, however, that I still love the dolls that I restored myself and never would consider selling them. I do love the mint dolls but often the restored doll will be displayed next to her more valuable sister.
This post features dolls by the American firm of Vogue. Vogue made a number of baby dolls, girl dolls and fashion dolls throughout the 20th century. Most famous perhaps of these were Ginny and Ginnette. The little girl doll Ginny outlasted the baby doll Ginnette for some reason. Ginnette was my first doll. I remember that, as a child of three, my baby sister somehow got hold of my Ginnette and sucked her painted hair from her head. I have been unable to find that first Ginnette. My mother has been less careful with dolls that were damaged, whatever their personal history. My favourite childhood doll Clara likewise has vanished in the mists.
None of the dolls displayed in the first two photographs are from my own childhood, but they are examples of a 'mint' doll and a 'restored' doll. In the first photograph, a mint 'Princess' Ginny is displayed on the far left. A restored Ginny is displayed on the far right. Although the Princess is mint, I added the garland of flowers. The Ginny on the right is a classic walker, which means that she has a mechanism that makes her head turn from side to side whenever her legs are moved. She is a 'bent-knee' doll from the early 1950s, which means that her legs are jointed, allowing her to be posed in a seated position in a fairly natural fashion. When I bought her, she was very dirty, naked and almost entirely bald, with only a few strands of red hair. I gave her a blonde mohair wig from the same period and one of the most beautiful unmarked Ginny frocks I ever saw. It may be handmade, but it was made from a Vogue pattern. Her socks and shoes are Vogue. The shoes are marked.