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"I Had Such a Wonderful Trip, 'Dolling'!"

Many collectors love dolls, and souvenir dolls from one's travels are often a wonderful reminder of a fabulous journey.  Since travel for leisure became fashionable in the Victorian Age, mementoes of a trip often were in doll form.

These travel dolls collected either formally or informally could range in price from a few cents to a high cost.  The Victorians realized there was a market for these dolls dressed in native costumes and began creating affordable, small dolls that were meant for mass consumption and could easily be carried in a suitcase. As travel options improved, by rail, ship, automobile, and aircraft, the interest and market for national costumed dolls expanded in the twentieth century.

With the exception of Madame Alexander Dolls and Ginny Dolls, travel dolls were cheaply made and rarely marked as to the manufacturer or designer.  These dolls were not marketed for repeat consumer business and merely existed as tourist trinkets.

Travel dolls can be of any soft or hard material: plastic, china, wood, straw, clay, porcelain, papier-mache, cloth, metal, shell, reed, bone, ivory, seed, twig, or fur.  Usually, they are dressed in authentic or stereotypical costumes that mirror the culture.  They can be male, or female, and of any age from infant to elderly. Dolls prior to 1970 are usually composite in nature, and have more detailed facial and body features.

Since most of these travel dolls were intended to be displayed and not for play purposes, they have survived the tribulations of a well-worn toy and tend to be in very good condition.  As they were mass produced for the tourist industry, travel dolls are not rare and therefore not a lucrative investment. Most unmarked travel dolls will auction for $10 -$30 on a good market. Marked dolls such as Lenci from Italy, Skookums from the U.S., Peggy Nisbett, Klumpen, Roldan from Spain, and oyster paste, gofun, Japanese dolls, will command a higher price.
Nora Wellings, Maria Helena Caecas, and Les Poupes Cadette dolls are often sold at auction for $200.00 each. These particular dolls exhibit exceptional detail and craftsmanship with substantial fabrics.  Alfredo Zellini dolls are often valued above $2,000.00 at auction because of their intricate workmanship and their ability to walk while held by hand.

For the budget-minded collector, travel dolls provide a variety of opportunities to garner an interesting hobby.  Focusing on one country only, displaying as many different costumes as possible; focusing on a particular area, such as Europe or Asia; focusing on a particular size, gender or age; or just collecting as many different countries as possible, can provide hours of involved geographical learning, fun and entertainment.
(Sources available upon request)

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