Good Life

More do’s and don’ts for your collecting

Recently, an audience member at one of my public appraisal programs asked me to appraise a plastic Shirley Temple doll. He had brought the doll to an event dedicated to learning about the environment.

In the spirit of the event, I wore green and discussed the ultimate recyclables — antiques.

Although the cute Shirley Temple doll won’t be traded for enough cash to buy a new hybrid car, that doll prompted a warm and hearty laugh. At the expense of the doll’s good-natured owner, everyone on hand roared with laughter when I pointed out that the owner didn’t really strike me as the doll-collecting type. Something tells me he’d be more comfortable collecting sports collectibles, classic cars, or antique tools.

All the same, his doll inspired these tips:

u Don’t primp Shirley

We all like to primp ourselves up by combing and brushing our hair and applying makeup, etc. That’s fine for us and for the real Shirley Temple, but that’s not the case for your favorite antique or vintage doll.

Unlike the rest of us who have real hair, brushing a doll’s hair will not stimulate or distribute the hair’s natural oils. Every time you brush a doll’s wig, you put stress on the wig and may damage the strands. It is fine to style occasionally, but don’t do too much primping with antique dolls.

When it comes to value, a doll’s original wig and its period hairstyle helps retain value. Makeup will make me look better, but it will never help increase a doll’s value on the secondary market.

Don’t apply makeup to a doll’s face. And, remind your granddaughter to put away that nail polish — she’s not giving your favorite childhood doll a manicure either.

u Let’s hear it for the boys

And, here’s one for the guys out there, like my friend with the Shirley Temple doll.

If you collect sports memorabilia such as signed baseballs and you want to display them, it’s a good idea to handle them while wearing gloves until you house them in plexi boxes or other display cases.

I prefer the cubed plexi cases to the round cases that hug the baseball itself.

To protect the object, you need a pocket of air around that baseball. That air pocket will prevent abrasions that can damage the signatures.

It’s a good storage solution for the long term or at least until your favorite player gets inducted into the hall of fame.

Also, keep your piece of sports history out of direct light to prevent fading. Remember these tips, and you’ll enjoy your antiques and collectibles for years to come.

As seen on Comedy Central, Comcast CN8 TV, and the Fine Living Network, Dr. Lori is an antiques appraiser, author, and museum curator with a doctorate in art history. Visit or call 888-431-1010.