Since I'm scouring the depths of eBay every other day searching for more to add to my collection, I stumble upon a lot of tricky listings. Dolls listed as vintage that are really cheap knock-offs, dolls appraised at a high value when in reality, they are worth less than it cost to list them, and dolls that are advertised as "One of a kind" are floating all around the country. I have shopped around in many places, and I have researched doll collecting in just about every corner of the internet. Whether you do it for aesthetics or for value, the last thing you want to do is be ripped off.
If you find a doll you like, try to get as much information as possible - the name of the artist, the doll's name, the store it was originally purchased from, how much it cost when first purchased, what year it was produced, and what condition it is in. Make sure that you research the information that you are given thoroughly. You can usually carry out your investigations via Google, but if not, try asking friends and family, or even searching eBay for the same item (don't forget to search overseas!). Some sellers may have more information on it than you were given.
Always remember to shop around. You may find that the $80 doll you've had your eye on is on sale at your local variety store for $10. Many dolls, unless they are retired from production, are much cheaper to buy direct from the company or store.
Don't be afraid to buy from overseas sellers, providing that they have a high percentage of good feedback. You can often pick up cheaper dolls from the US. Just remember that postage will be steep, and it will need to be insured. To avoid being bitten by this, make sure you calculate the final cost before you buy, and compare it with alternatives. Some sellers will offer the item cheaper, but may charge you more in postage.
Know your inches - centimetres ratio. Many dolls, especially those from overseas, are advertised in inches. 26 inches may not seem so big, but it's a good 65cm. A measuring tape is always good, especially if you keep them in a display case, but if not, 1 inch is equal to about 2.5 cm.
Always get your dolls insured and sent via Registered Post. There is nothing worse than receiving a broken doll, or no doll at all because it has been lost in the mail. Insurance and Registered Post is usually only a couple of extra dollars, and is definitely worth it for peace of mind.
Try to do your own rough estimate of how much it will cost to post, as well. The Australia Post website has a good postage calculator, and this way you will know what to expect. If you don't know how much your doll weighs, take a wild guess. I usually start at about 3KG for medium sized porcelain dolls of 16''-20''(40-50cm) and work my way up or down, until I reach the price I've been quoted. For instance, if you're quoted $40 for a 3KG doll from Brisbane to Sydney, I would start asking questions as to why it's so expensive, since Australia Post quotes $10.85.
I recently paid $40 to have two 18''(45cm) dolls posted to me from Sydney(which I paid in good faith and ignorance), only to find upon receiving them that they cost less than half that to post. I was not happy, and needless to say, I'll never do business with that seller again. It pays to do your research.
Some vintage dolls can be found at garage sales or thrift stores, if you know what you're looking for. You may have to put a little time, money and effort in, but it will be worth it to have them restored to their original glory. There are some people online who will evaluate the worth of a doll just from a photo and description, and it would be well worth your time seeking these people out. Some can even evaluate the cost of repairs to damaged dolls, regardless of their material. All of these services can be found via a Google search with the right terms. Ask around, and find some valuable contacts. You will need them if you are really serious about doll collecting. Also check your local Yellow Pages for local Doll Hospitals to carry out the repairs, unless you plan to do them all yourself. Make sure they know what they're doing and have a background in working on the kind of doll you're leaving in their hands.
Don't be sucked in instantly by claims of "vintage" dolls on eBay. Just because it looks old and tatty, doesn't mean it's worth buying at the price advertised. Many dolls passed off as "vintage" are really cheap dolls from Hong Kong, mass produced in the 1990's. Remember your research.
Contemporary dolls (1980's - Now)(Porcelain Tips Only):
Try to stay away from cheap dolls with damaged parts, unless the damage is minimal, or you plan to replace the part. Bisque porcelain is very expensive to repair, and more often than not you're better off finding new parts, or a new doll altogether.
Beware of the "Dolls of the World" collection often seen on eBay. These dolls are cheap and poorly constructed, and they look it - they were sold as part of a newsagency collection along with country-specific booklets some years ago. I owned some of these dolls, and they fell apart quite easily. In my opinion, they are not worth more than $1 each and your collection could probably do without them. You're generally better off buying something from Homeart or a variety store, but it's entirely up to you.
If you're after a nice collection that's easy on your wallet, try Homeart dolls, but make sure you're not paying more than $100 for any of them (including postage, too). No Homeart doll has ever cost that much at any time I have walked into their stores over the last two years, even before they were marked down. They're made in China from cheap materials, and will never be worth as much as designer dolls of the same size. Check the price of Homeart dolls at your local store before buying them online; most locations will have their doll collections on clearance during the year, and you'll be able to pick them up for a good price.
Some dolls are offered as bulk-buy lots. Make sure that you add up the cost of the dolls with the postage (most will be pick-up only), and average it out against the number of dolls in the collection to make sure they work out at being a good price. The lower the price per doll, the better. You'll want to ensure that all of the dolls are in reasonable condition as well, there's no point in paying $300 for 10 dolls if half of them are broken.
Selling your item(s)(General):
As a seller, it's your duty to advertise your item honestly. Find out everything you can, and include it in your auction listing. Be clear, concise, and thorough in your description. Omitting details may lead to conflict between you and your buyer, which can result in bad feedback. At the same time, a lack of information may cause your item to remain unsold. Photos are a necessity; ensure that they are detailed and clear, showing as much of the item as possible. Please do not take photos with your mobile phone camera, unless it is at least 2.0 megapixels. Good lighting is also a must - if nobody can see the item properly, how can they know what they're buying? If the item is damaged or stained, a good idea is to take photos of these imperfections so that buyers can see for themselves.
Get a good idea of the costs of shipping for your item before you start sending people quotes, or somebody may end up with the short end of the stick. (usually the seller)
Make sure your advertised price is one you're happy with receiving for your item. Buyers often don't care if the seller gets ripped off, so you'll want to know that your asking price is fair on you, first and foremost. But remember that it still has to be fair on your potential buyers as well, so once again, do your research, and be prepared to reach a compromise.
Finally, please try to spell correctly, especially key terms. If you're not sure, please use a dictionary, or look it up on the internet. Misspelled words can have a negative effect on your listing and your professionalism. Key terms spelled incorrectly can leave your item unfound in general searches. If you want your item to reach the maximum audience, spelling helps a lot.