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American Girl Doll collections can fetch thousands. How to know what yours is worth

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If you think the millennial generation isn’t saving objects, collecting vintage pieces or displaying antiques, maybe you should think again. I have been evaluating the collections of 20- and 30-year-old collectors for a long, long time. They are seasoned collectors that know a lot about the market for a special, historic collectible called American Girl Dolls.

American Girl Dolls were produced by the Pleasant Company prior to the company being acquired by Mattel, Inc, and came onto the scene in 1986. The first three dolls — Molly McIntire, Kirsten Larson and Samantha Parkington — captured the background of historical figures in the form of 9-year-old girls living at specific times in American history. The dolls are robustly traded online, at American Girl Doll events and on social media sites. The dolls’ collectors are very active on Instagram, showing off their varied customization of the figural dolls, fashion outfits and books.

The values for American Girl Dolls vary based on several factors including condition of the doll body, hair, outfits and accessories, as well as the type of doll and the popularity of the doll’s character and story. Some of the doll characters were featured in television and full-length feature movies, making those particular American Girl Doll characters better known and more valuable than other dolls.

Some dolls have since been discontinued making those particular dolls somewhat rare and typically more pricey and more desirable with collectors. To recognize the American Girl Dolls, collectors have to learn the background of each doll.

Molly, Kirsten, and Samantha are arguably the most valuable of the dolls.

The Molly McIntire doll represents a 9-year-old girl living during World War II, circa 1941-45. Like all American Girl Dolls, Molly has books and accessories based on her story, including eyeglasses, skirt, blouse, sweater, socks and shoes. Molly, like other American Girl Dolls, has additional accessories called “Meet accessories” including a purse, wartime steel penny from 1943, and a picture of her father inside of a locket. A fine example of the Molly McIntire doll is valued in a range between $1,000 to $10,000 in fine condition. Molly is the topic of a line of American Girl Doll books. The character was also featured in the American Girl television movie, “Molly: An American Girl on the Home Front,” which debuted in 2006.

The Kirsten Larson doll is a Swedish immigrant living in the 1850s as a pioneer family member in the Minnesota territory. Kirsten has traditional period boots and braided hair looped and tied with ribbons. Based on the related book, “Meet Kirsten Larson,” the character comes with a wooden spoon and a heart-shaped amber necklace typical of the girl’s native Scandinavia homeland. In very good condition, Kirsten dolls are actively traded online.

The Samantha Parkington doll was in production from 1986-1991. Samantha was an orphan who lived in the late 19th or early 20th century. Her accessories that impact the doll’s value include a Victorian dress, stockings and shoes, and a large hair bow.

When collecting American Girl Dolls, look for historical figure dolls in original condition with styled hair, original outfits and character accessories, when available. If you think your favorite millennial isn’t into collecting, then ask them if they have an American Girl Doll from childhood. Odds are, they do.

Lori Verderame is an author and award-winning TV personality who appears on History channel’s “The Curse of Oak Island.” With a Ph.D. from Penn State University and experience appraising 20,000 antiques every year from audience members, Dr. Lori presents antique appraisal events nationwide. Visit www.DrLoriV.com or call (888) 431-1010.
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