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Cheat-sheet For the Doll Dummy

Posted by L Abbott on January 15, 2011 at 11:25 AM


When I first started collecting dolls I just bought what I liked, and what was available. What I didn't know was-- I didn't know squat about dolls. I thought I had a good collection until I hit the internet.


I went to the doll boards on eBay thinkin' I was all that, posting my dolls like they would be impressed. Oh looking back now is painful! There is no shame in being a doll dummy, well almost no shame. Don't go in there clueless like I did. I was the queen of the doll dummy's.


How could this be? I've been dealing in antiques from the time I was twelve! Well it's easy really. My choices in buying was limited, and I picked up what I liked and didn't really care what they were worth. Not to mention the field of doll collecting is massive!!

You have collectors that are prolific in one kind of doll, and most collecting for years and years. Until you real dive into collecting them it's really is hard to imagine just how many dolls were made, and by how many companies from all around the world!


You have your Barbie collectors. There are number one Barbies, two's, three's. There are so much to know, you have no idea! Then they know the clothes, what store sold them, what year it came out just at a glance. It's mind boggling when you find a collector like that, so much information inside their heads.


You have your bisque collectors. French, German the list goes on. They know just by a letter who that doll is. Open mouth, closed mouth, Bebe, Santa. Still floundering on this one.


You have Ginny collectors, Story book (NASB) Hard plastic, vinyl, composition, china, celluloid. The list just goes on and on. In the long run if you want to know everything about dolls get ready for years of study. If you get there let me know, because I'm far from it.


We'll just start with the basics, This will help you start out on your journey to doll collecting, and not look like the idiot I did when I got to the boards.


First lets start with the lingo, and abbreviations.



LAL-Look a like

MIB-Mint in the box

MIP-mint in package

IB-in the box

MNB-mint no box

NM-near mint

HTF-hard to find

A/O- All original

BIN-buy it now

BJ-ball jointed

BN-bent knee, used to describe a doll with bent knees usually a "baby doll"

bkw-bent knee walker (commonly used for Vogue Ginny)

NFRB-never removed from box

OOAK-One of a kind

Toddler doll," meaning that she has the chubby figure and adorable face of a toddler

BEBE-Term used to describe French dolls representing small children.

composition- A mixture of wood pulp, sawdust, glue that is used to make dolls

celluloid - first plastic used to make dolls 1920's-1940's thin and fragile

china-Glazed porcelain used for making dolls heads, very popular in the mid 1800s.

CLOSED MOUTH: Doll sculpted so that the mouth is closed with no teeth showing

CHARACTER DOLL: Doll made to look like a living child or adult, also used for dolls who look like someone famous

CRAZING: Little crisis-cross cracks that sometimes form, with age, over the surface of a composition or china doll.

FLANGE NECK: A doll head where the edge of the neck flares out for attachment to a cloth doll body

FLIRTY EYES: Doll eyes that can move from side to side

FASHION DOLL: A French or German lady doll made, generally, with a bisque head, and dressed in fashions of the day. Also used for modern day dolls that are made to display clothing, such as Revlon, usually feet that fits high heels

GOOGLY EYES: Big, round, side-glancing eyes, very popular on dolls from 1910s through the 1920s

HARD PLASTIC (HP): Type of durable, very hard plastic used to make dolls in the 1940s and 1950s.

MOHAIR: Hair of the angora goat, used for antique doll wigs. Very desirable; very soft and natural looking wigs are made of mohair.

NASB; Nancy Ann Story Book

OPEN MOUTH: Mouth molded open to, generally, reveal teeth inside. Can also reveal tongues

OPEN HEAD: Doll head with the crown cut out so that eyes can be inserted; crown opening is usually covered with a "pate" so that the wig can be put on the doll

PORTRAIT DOLL: Term used for dolls late 1800s and early 1900s bisque dolls representing a person (early character)

POUPEÉ: Term used for French fashion dolls; also means "doll" in French

R&B; Arranbee dolls

SLEEP EYES: Dolls eyes that are open when the doll is upright, but close when the doll is put prone

VINYL: Plastic developed in the late 1940s that is the dominant type of plastic used to make dolls since the 1960s; can be hard or soft

MAMA doll: A doll with box that cries MaMa when moved around

SWIVEL HEAD: A socket head using separate shoulder plates

Reborn-the doll has been altered to look like a new born usually by a reborn artist.

Rooted hair: The hair is rooted to the scalp with holes going into the head.

  Rooted hair is used by vinyl dolls.

Pate: a cardboard type material used to attach wig to doll

Jointed: Bends at the joints.


When looking at dolls the next thing you have to know is marks. This is also a learning process, and I suggest you go to my link page to find out dolls and their marks. I have excellent sites listed there. You can find most doll marks around the hair line of the doll at the back of their heads, some on their backs. With some dolls you have to take into count numbers on legs, some even on their feet. Now lets continue to what they are made of...


Categories: Don't be a Doll Dummy