Antique dolls are some of the most popular collectibles. Their long history means that there are countless different dolls in different styles. Therefore, it’s no surprise that people like to amass extensive collections of them.
However, just like any old item, dolls can get damaged. Also, some antique dolls might already be sold as damaged items. Thankfully for collectors, antique doll repairs are common, and many places offer this service.
Do you have a damaged doll and want to repair it yourself? Perhaps you’re looking for a professional repair service for your valuable antique dolls? In any case, you’re in luck!
In this article, we’ll examine what you need to know before attempting an antique doll repair by yourself, as well as which steps you need to follow. We’ll also provide you with some of the best doll hospitals in case you require professional help.
Keep on reading to learn more about antique doll repairs!
Things You Need to Know Before Repair
Before doing anything to a vintage doll, you must understand the different types of antique doll repairs:
You can usually repair dolls that have minor damage by yourself. Small repairs like this include gluing a broken leg, sewing a piece of clothing, or fixing a damaged wig. You still need to be careful not to ruin the doll any other way.
Conservation (or preservation) is often the solution for preventing damage from spreading to the whole doll. Conservation can include treating insect infestation, eye setting, or removing a doll from a damaging environment. You should always look to preserve a doll before you choose to restore it to its original condition.
Restoration is the process of reinstating a doll to its original condition. This includes any small or large repairs it needs. You can replace broken limbs, wigs, or pieces of clothing with authentic materials or close replicas. This process can be complicated, so it’s best to let a professional take care of it.
You also need to understand that you should not do anything that can’t be undone to a doll, as it can affect its value significantly. Doll collectors and enthusiasts prefer their dolls to be as authentic as possible. If you do any modifications or repairs that alter the original state of the doll, it can depreciate drastically.
Some repairs might even reduce your doll’s value by up to 50%. So, if you have an old doll that only has little damage, it might be best to keep it in its damaged state, as it will probably be more valuable than a repaired one,
On the other hand, if your damaged doll has sentimental value to you or a loved one, and you don’t plan to sell it, you should try to repair it. But, you should still consider professional help from a doll doctor or a doll hospital, as the restoration process can be cumbersome.
How to Repair Antique Dolls by Myself?
If you’ve come across an old doll that you want to repair yourself, there are specific instructions you must follow to protect the doll’s value.
Before you begin, assess the damage of the doll and if you’ll need to take it apart completely. If so, write down everything you do so you can retrace your steps easily during reassembly.
Also, make sure you wear protective gloves when repairing antique dolls. Gloves will prevent any hand residue from sticking on the doll and attracting things such as molds or insects. It’ll also protect you from unknown substances like pesticides that might be applied to dolls.
You should use a wet hand cloth to remove any excess dirt when cleaning old dolls. Ideally, you want to avoid using soap as it can damage the doll’s paint or glue or even the doll’s hair or eyes. If you still need to use soap, choose a mild one and be careful while rubbing it so you don’t cause any additional damage.
A doll’s wig might also need some care if it’s matted or tangled. The wig’s material is critical and will dictate what you need to do to take care of it. For human hair doll wigs, you can use regular shampoo and conditioner to clean and soften the hair so you can comb it afterward.
Mohair wigs are comparatively much more fragile, and you must be more careful with them. You can use some baby shampoo or mild soap to clean it and a pin comb to untangle and restyle it.
Also, when washing a doll wig, take extra care not to wet the wig cap. If that happens, you should immediately put it back on the doll, as it tends to shrink.
A doll’s clothing is another crucial factor in its value. Collectors prefer to own dolls with their original outfits or similar ones from the same era. However, maintaining this clothing in good condition is not always easy, as the fabrics are usually frail and can be damaged throughout the years.
It’s always best to try and clean an antique doll’s original garments rather than replace them. If they are extremely worn out, then you can consider new clothes. However, make sure not to throw away any piece of doll clothing or doll accessories. Some original clothing for specific dolls can fetch a lot of money online, even if it’s in bad shape.
5 Best Doll Hospitals
If you have an antique doll with very high monetary or sentimental value, you should consult a professional doll restoration service. Before contacting them, you should do thorough research to find the most information you can about your doll. You can use this website to learn more about all the different types of dolls.
Once you find all your doll’s details, you should contact a professional doll hospital to learn more about their services. You’ll need to describe your doll and its damage, as well as provide photos of it to help them assess it.
Then you can ask what kind of repairs they do and ensure that they can repair the specific type of doll you have. Ideally, you also want to see a sample of their work and ask if the repair comes with a warranty.
Finally, you should get an approximate price for the repair. Remember that professional restoration can cost up to $1,000, so you should only choose it for valuable dolls.
Some popular doll hospitals with decades of experience with antique dolls are:
Dolls by Diane
Dolls by Diane has been in business for over 35 years. It undertakes all sorts of repairs for different dolls, including vintage composition dolls, bisque or porcelain dolls, and hard plastic or vinyl dolls. However, it doesn’t repair Barbie dolls or action figures. It also offers a doll cleaning service.
The experienced staff will examine your doll for free and inform you of the cost of any repairs or replacements. The repair process should take between two to three weeks.
Forget Me Not Dolls
Forget Me Not Dolls is one of the most popular doll hospitals in Oklahoma City. It takes care of any repairs or restorations of dolls, doll clothes and accessories, and even teddy bears.
Their website also has helpful articles about why you should consider professional repair service rather than doing it yourself. If you insist on doing it yourself, though, they also offer doll repair seminars, where you can learn from their expertise and restore your dolls without ruining them.
Sowatzka’s Dolls is a family business located in Lake Tomahawk, Wisconsin. The business was started in 1975, but the owner, Gary Sowatzka, began to make and repair dolls around 1985.
Nowadays, Gary and his wife Louise have become doll restoration experts with over 20 years of experience. You can contact them to get a free estimate of your doll’s damage and the repair cost. Don’t forget to include pictures to aid the process.
T.L.C. Doll Hospital
The T.L.C. Doll Hospital operates in Denver, Colorado, offering several different services, including doll repairs. They can repair and restore all types of dolls to their original condition.
They also sell dolls, as well as doll accessories and replacement parts. Another service they offer is music box repairs. So, if you have a doll or a stuffed animal with a broken music box inside, this place is for you.
Not Just Dolls
Not Just Dolls has provided its services in the Dallas Ft Worth Area for more than 25 years. They undertake all types of repairs on modern as well as antique and vintage dolls. They also offer doll appraisal services and can craft custom dolls that look like your child.
On their website, you can find a detailed price guide for all their different services. Remember that this is just an approximation, and you should contact them and provide photos of your doll to get a complete price quote.
While doll repairs might seem like the perfect way to revive a damaged antique doll, you need to consider that it can significantly depreciate its value. Nevertheless, if you want to proceed with it, you can do it yourself or contact one of the numerous doll repair services available.
Also, remember to be honest about any repairs or modifications you make to an old doll. Even the most minor things, such as changing a piece of clothing or restyling the hair, can significantly affect the doll’s value.
In any case, go out there and look for some antique dolls. You never know what hidden treasures you might find!