Flea markets and thrift stores are full of old dolls - some cute, some charming, and some just plain creepy. The thing is, a few of those vintage dolls are worth money. Know what to look for as you stroll the aisles at shops or look through the boxes in your attic. That Barbie you loved so much might actually be worth a fortune today.
Original 1959 Barbie
Pretty much always topping the list of most valuable vintage dolls, the original 1959 Barbie is a collector's item everyone wants. Her iconic black and white-striped swimsuit and 1950s ponytail make her a classic choice, and if you can find her in good condition, she's worth a lot. One original Barbie sold on eBay in 2022 for just under $6,000.
For a Barbie to be the most valuable, she should be in like-new condition (even in the original box if possible).
Pre-1982 Cabbage Patch Kids
If you grew up in the 1980s (or your parents did), you're probably familiar with the wild popularity of Cabbage Patch Kids. Most vintage Cabbage Patch Kids sell for around $50, but they are worth more if they're in excellent condition or are among the first made. The original dolls made by Xavier Roberts prior to 1982 are worth the most. One Montreal Expos Cabbage Patch Kid from that era sold for more than $5,300.
Original American Girl Dolls
American Girl dolls are still incredibly popular (and let's face it, pricey), but the vintage versions from the 1980s can be worth an amazing amount of money. If you have one of the original dolls made by Pleasant Company (the original name of American Girl), it could be worth hundreds or thousands of dollars in good condition. One signed Samantha doll from 1987 sold for almost $4,500.
The most valuable American Girl dolls have their original box, clothing, and accessories and are in mint condition. If you have one that's signed by creator Pleasant Rowland, it's worth the most.
1972 Kenner Blythe Dolls
A 1970s icon, the Blythe doll featured a Barbie-sized body with a large head and moveable eyes and limbs. The 1972 version (the only year the doll was sold in the US) is worth the most, especially if it's in good condition. They are highly collectible, with one featuring working eyes selling for over $2,000.
1950s Madame Alexander Cissy Dolls
Madame Alexander dolls aren't always extremely valuable, but the ones from the 1950s are often worth a lot if they're in good shape. The Cissy doll, which was a fashion doll of the late 1950s, is among the most collectible. Many sell for hundreds of dollars if they're in good shape with their original clothing and accessories. One in great condition sold for almost $900 in 2022.
1980s Strawberry Shortcake and Friends
Strawberry Shortcake was an icon of the 1980s, and some of the dolls are super valuable as more than just nostalgic (and sweet-smelling) reminders. For example, Banana Twirl sold for almost $1,000 in brand new condition. The key to finding one that's worth money is looking for a rare "friend" doll that might not have been made in as large of quantities as Strawberry Shortcake herself.
1983 Rainbow Brite
With her colorful clothing and star cheek mark, Rainbow Brite captured the imagination of kids in the 1980s. If you can find her still in the original box, you may have a treasure on your hands. A Rainbow Brite with a sealed original box sold for almost $400, and they regularly sell in that range.
Factors Affecting Vintage Doll Values
How much a vintage doll is worth depends on a lot of factors, but you can make a pretty good guess if you consider the following:
- Condition - Dolls that are new in the box or in pristine condition are worth the most. If they were played with (and most were), they aren't worth as much.
- Charm - Don't underestimate the value of nostalgia. If people have good memories of a doll or it's iconic for its era, it's worth more.
- Rarity - Rare dolls, such as lesser-known sidekicks of main dolls or dolls from the first year or two of production, are the most valuable. Artist signatures can also contribute to rarity.
To figure out how much your vintage doll might be worth, look up the sold prices of the same doll in similar condition on auction sites. Remember that a seller can ask anything for a vintage doll, but the price someone paid for one can give you a good sense of value.
Vintage Dolls Worth Money Have More Than Sentimental Value
Vintage dolls are highly collectible because they represent a piece of childhood joy, but the most valuable examples were never really touched by kids. If it's a doll you remember or you've heard people talk about and it's still in its box, it could have more than sentimental value.