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Preserving And Caring For Antique Dolls

Jun 27, 2008
Dolls are one of the most popular collector's items. Over the years, dolls have been created using a variety of materials, some of which are more delicate than others. Improper storage can mean a significant decrease in value for a particular collection.

Antique dolls made of wax were one of the first types produced. Originating in England at the beginning of the 19th Century, these dolls were quite realistic in appearance. The head was sculpted in clay and a plaster mold was created from the prototype. The wax was then poured into the mold and the remaining details and clothing were finalized by other workers. By the time a wax doll was finished, it had been subject to the fine-tunings of about twenty people.

Bisque and porcelain are also popular components of antique dolls. Both porcelain and wax dolls can be damaged by sunlight so experts often advise to store them in a cool location, away from direct light. They are also highly susceptible to temperature changes, especially dampness. Excess humidity can result in mold and mildew and therefore easily ruin the value of an antique.

Dolls should be kept in proper cases, preferably made of glass, to protect from dirt and smoke. Over time, cigarette smoke can discolour clothing, so great care should be taken to prevent his from occurring. While many plastic cases are available on the market, some forms of plastic degrade over time. It is best to store plastic dolls in boxes that offer ventilation.

To clean antique dolls, simple dusting is advised. Dolls were not always created with water-safe materials and can be destroyed simply by coming in contact with liquid. In the 19th Century, doll hair was often made of mohair, set in a sugar solution that can be instantly broken down with water.

Clothing is an important feature of antique dolls and whenever possible, original clothing should be left intact. If new outfit is being created for a doll, it is crucial to save (and properly protect) the clothing being replaced.

When cracks or other damage occurs that is not easily repairable, a conservator should be consulted. Never try to patch up a nick with paint, as there are over 100 shades of white and proper matching of any color is near-impossible.

Sometimes even a damaged antique is more valuable in its original state than it is following repair. Although conservators are highly trained in the restoration of antiques, many collectors admire the wear-and-tear that has accumulated on a particular piece over time. Minor imperfections are all part of an antique's history.
About the Author
Victor Epand is an expert consultant for pottery, antiques, and figurines. When shopping for pottery, antiques and figurines, we recommend these online stores for pottery, antique dolls, and figurines.
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