One of the most frequent questions we receive is how do I sell a collection? Sometimes it is due to the death of a collector and sometimes people choose to stop collecting for various reasons.


Determining Current Market Value


One of the first things you want to do is determine what the current prices are for the items you are interested in selling. Books are not a good source of current values as they are often out-of-date. The best place to research prices is eBay. Collector reference books can be useful for identifying the items you are selling if they are no longer in their original boxes. You can do a search of sold auctions on eBay to see what items are recently being sold for to determine the current market value.


It can be depressing to see how much the values have gone down. Dolls that originally sold for $50 in the 1990's might only be worth $5-$10 now. Please be aware that condition greatly impacts the price. You have to find an item in similar condition to what you are offering so comparing a Mint condition Ponytail Barbie to one with green ear is not going to be appropriate as is comparing prices for NRFB dolls to those being sold out of the box. Box condition is also very important to many collectors.


Once you have determined the prices, it is time to decide how much investment of your time you want to make and ask yourself some questions.

  • Do you have a list of the items and their condition?
  • Do you have photos?
  • Are you wanting to sell it as one collection or items individually?
  • Do you want to find a local buyer or are you willing to ship purchases?

If you have a list, you could do a online search for local clubs and dealers and offer to send it to them. We welcome those contacts and you can use the Contact Us link to let us know you have a collection for sale.  Many would like to see photos, especially for vintage items, so it is good to have them available.

If you are working with a dealer, please keep in mind they will need to pay less than the market value so they can make a profit when they sell the items. They typically will pay about 50% less than a collector who is not looking to resell the items. Some dealers also offer auctions where you can consign your items and they take a percentage of the sale price. Vintage items are more likely to be of interest to an auctioneer. Sandi Holder at The Doll Attic offers auctions of vintage items.

It is more difficult to find someone to buy a large collection  and often selling individually or in small lots will make for easier sales.


Local Sales


There also may be doll shows in your area. You can check online at sites like Doll Show USA and see if any are coming to the area and either rent a table for sales or contact them to see if any dealers participating are interested in making a purchase. If you have only a few dolls, you might be able to bring them to a show and ask a dealer if they are interested. Some choose to sell at local fairgrounds but prices tend to be lower than those you would receive at a show specifically for collectors. You can also check to see if there is a doll convention coming to your area. Most have salesroom opportunities and some offer room sales options as well. You can find details on the location of the Barbie convention here.


Online Resources


Craig's List can also be used for local sales. You can list online for free. Just make sure you meet anyone in a safe place such as a mall or other public site.


If you decide to sell online, the biggest auction site is eBay. There are costs for selling on eBay.  You can get some free listings each month but you have to pay a final value fee for any items you sell. You also have to pay fees to accept payments thru PayPal. It is not inexpensive but in our experience you get the widest audience of collectors and the highest prices thru the site. You also need to take time to understand the polices of both eBay and PayPal so that you don't end up with bad feedback and disputes. It is very important that you list in detail the condition of your items and take plenty of photos if you are going to sell online. You will also need to do research on shipping companies and find boxes and packing material.


There are some independent bulletin boards aimed at doll collectors that allow you to sell items. Some may require references before you can register to sell items. Sites like Barbie Collector have a forum which allow you to trade if you are a registered member.


Charity


Some sellers determine that the prices are not enough to warrant their time and effort. In that case, you could make a donation to charity. Many charities would be thrilled to get a donation of dolls and accessories. Our club regularly donates to local charities. If you qualify, you may be able to get a tax credit. If you would like to donate some items to our club for distribution to local charities, please use the Contact Us form. We accept any items in good condition and will clean items if needed.