German Fancy-Hair China Doll, ca. 1880
It belonged to my great-grandmother's sister, and it's been in the family ever since, passed on from her to my grandmother to me. The family came from Germany, so that's why I think it has German origins.
Okay. Well, you are right, the doll was made in Germany, about 1880.
When we evaluate dolls, we often use different criteria. One criteria is rarity. And the rarity of a china doll like this is how fancy the hairstyle is. And when you look at this doll, you certainly can see it has a very fancy hairstyle. Another is condition. And your doll is in absolutely amazing condition-- no damage, no chips, no cracks. The other thing is authenticity.
Is this doll what it's supposed to be?
Yes, the arms go with the head, the head goes with the body, and it has all of its original clothes. And what's wonderful about your doll is you have the picture of your great-aunt holding the doll, which is really a very delightful thing to have. Your doll is what we call a china doll. Now, china is differentiated from other materials in it has this high glaze on top of white porcelain. Dolls like this sometimes came with blonde hair, they sometimes came with kind of tinted, pink skin. But this is the classic style. And I'm going to turn it around so we can see the back. Then you see there's not only curls and twists, but there's also a band that goes across here. Often this band was painted in gold or a color, and if that had happened, it's called a decorated china. Another great feature, this doll has very unusual arms and hands. Often they are not this large and exaggerated, but they are correct. The picture even, the doll is almost in the same condition, the same outfit, everything that it's wearing now. The doll market has slumped a little bit, but on today's retail market, this doll would probably sell between $1,800 and $2,200.
Oh, my gosh. (laughs) That's...
A few years ago it would have sold for more.
Okay, don't tell me that. (laughs)
Executive producer Marsha Bemko shares her tips for getting the most out of ANTIQUES ROADSHOW.
Value can change: The value of an item is dependent upon many things, including the condition of the object itself, trends in the market for that kind of object, and the location where the item will be sold. These are just some of the reasons why the answer to the question "What's it worth?" is so often "It depends."
Note the date: Take note of the date the appraisal was recorded. This information appears in the upper left corner of the page, with the label "Appraised On." Values change over time according to market forces, so the current value of the item could be higher, lower, or the same as when our expert first appraised it.
Context is key: Listen carefully. Most of our experts will give appraisal values in context. For example, you'll often hear them say what an item is worth "at auction," or "retail," or "for insurance purposes" (replacement value). Retail prices are different from wholesale prices. Often an auctioneer will talk about what she knows best: the auction market. A shop owner will usually talk about what he knows best: the retail price he'd place on the object in his shop. And though there are no hard and fast rules, an object's auction price can often be half its retail value; yet for other objects, an auction price could be higher than retail. As a rule, however, retail and insurance/replacement values are about the same.
Verbal approximations: The values given by the experts on ANTIQUES ROADSHOW are considered "verbal approximations of value." Technically, an "appraisal" is a legal document, generally for insurance purposes, written by a qualified expert and paid for by the owner of the item. An appraisal usually involves an extensive amount of research to establish authenticity, provenance, composition, method of construction, and other important attributes of a particular object.
Opinion of value: As with all appraisals, the verbal approximations of value given at ROADSHOW events are our experts' opinions formed from their knowledge of antiques and collectibles, market trends, and other factors. Although our valuations are based on research and experience, opinions can, and sometimes do, vary among experts.
Appraiser affiliations: Finally, the affiliation of the appraiser may have changed since the appraisal was recorded. To see current contact information for an appraiser in the ROADSHOW Archive, click on the link below the appraiser's picture. Our Appraiser Index also contains a complete list of active ROADSHOW appraisers and their contact details and biographies.