How would you sell a Barbie doll collection?

I am a collector. I always have been. When I was a boy, my parents gave me one closet in the trailer house to have as my very own. They called it the “rat’s nest” because I’d fill it up with all the sorts of things a boy might collect: bugs and twigs and baseball cards and comic books, among other things.

As an adult, I’ve remained a collector. It’s both a joy and curse. I love collecting, but I recognize that it’s a drain on my finances and a source of Stuff. (I have a finished post about how to build a collection without breaking the bank, but I’ve never seen fit to publish it. It seems wrong to encourage this sort of hobby.)

That said, the other side of collecting seems like a great topic for Get Rich Slowly. How do you sell a collection? How do you get rid of it? That’s what Jenny wants to know. Here’s her question:

I inherited a large collection of Barbie dolls from my grandmother — more than 300 dolls! They’re stored at my mother’s house about five hours away, but there’s a good chance she will be moving in the next year or two and I need to figure out what to do with them. I’ll probably end up keeping a few for the memories, but I’d like to sell and put the money towards our savings for a down payment on a house. I just don’t even know how to begin to tackling such a project.

Some dolls were originally bought for around $50 and others for only about $10. There are a few that were over $100, but not too many. My grandmother kept copious notes of all these dolls she loved collecting. I’m wondering if you or any of your readers might have some suggestions for how to go about trying to get these dolls appraised and sold? Thanks for any help you can offer!

Selling a collection can be tricky. Collections are rarely worth as much as the owner believes.

Several times a year, a GRS reader will e-mail me for advice on selling his comic book collection. (I’m using “his” here instead of something gender-neutral because these messages are always from men.) “What’s the best way to get top dollar for my collection?” folks want to know. What follows is my advice for selling comics; I suspect much of it is applicable to selling other collectibles. (And I warned Jenny in advance that my advice would be comic-centric.)

How to Sell a Collection

First, it’s important to realize that price guides are mostly meaningless. I’ve never understood where these prices come from. All that matters is what somebody is willing to pay for your collectible. Don’t latch onto prices in books. That’s a sure path to heartbreak.

Second, the market is saturated with comic books from the past twenty years. They’re worth almost nothing. Obviously there are exceptions, but in general, your “Death of Superman” issue is only going to fetch a buck or two. It’s basic supply and demand. There’s a huge supply and no demand. The only comics that are worth anything are those for which there’s a large demand but a small supply. That usually means older material — especially from the 1960s and 1970s.

The same holds true for other collectibles. Your copy of Fleetwood Mac’s “Rumors” on vinyl isn’t worth much because there were a gazillion albums sold. It’s very common. But your early U2 singles might fetch a pretty penny.

Third, condition matters. Your Star Wars figures aren’t worth much if they’re beat up and used; to fetch top dollar, they have to be “mint in box”. In the world of comics, “near mint” means “almost without flaw”. Most “near mint” comics I see for sale are actually just average copies — probably “very good”. A comic that sells for $10 in “near mint” condition might sell for $2 or $3 in “very good” condition.

Fourth, everyone wants three things when selling a collection:

  1. They want to do it quickly.
  2. They want to do it with little effort.
  3. They want to get top dollar.

Well, you can only have two of those things. (And often you can only have one.) If you want to sell quickly and without effort, you’re not going to get much money. If you want to sell quickly and get top dollar, it’s going to take immense effort. If you want to get top dollar with minimal effort, it’s going to take you forever.

If you want to get top dollar, you’re going to have to “piece out” the collection. That is, you’re going to have to sell each comic book separately. If you have copies of Green Lantern #1, #2, and #4 in Good condition, you might get $500 for the lot. But if you sold them separately, you could probably get $750. It’s just going to take more time and effort to do this.

If you want to sell quickly, then sell the entire collection at once. You’ll get much less money this way, but the process will be easier and quicker.

Finally, note that it’s completely irrelevant how much was originally paid for a collection (or any individual piece of it). This is an example of sunk costs. Whether Jenny’s grandmother paid $10 or $100 for a particular doll, all that matters is how much the doll will sell for now. It’s best to ignore sunk costs when selling a collection. Focus on what someone will pay, not what was paid in the past.

Selling Barbie Dolls

With that general advice out of the way, I have a few thoughts about Jenny’s specific circumstances. (But only a few.)

I do think it make sense to get an appraisal on a collection this large. Unfortunately, outside of Antiques Roadshow, I don’t know how this is done. If I were in her position, I’d ask around to friends and family to see if anyone knew about antiques. They might be able to provide some sort of lead to an appraiser.

Really, though, I’m not sure an appraisal matters all that much. From my (limited) experience, appraisal values are often high. They’re for insurance purposes, right? So, they tend to come in high. If Jenny wants to sell these dolls, the appraisal values are irrelevant. What matters is what other Barbie doll collectors will pay for them.

To that end, her best bet it to simply sell the dolls in the open market. There are many ways to do this, but I think the best way to maximize her profit is to use eBay (or a similar service). eBay puts the items at auction so that others are competing to buy them, which generally results in the best price.

If she’s looking to get the money quickly, she should sell the dolls as entire collection. By doing so, though, she won’t get as much as she could. On the other hand, Jenny could maximize her income by selling each doll individually. This takes a lot more work, but pays off in the long run.

Another option is to pay somebody else to conduct the auction. There are all sorts of eBay stores that will sell the dolls individually (or in small lots), thus earning as much as possible. The downside? They take a substantial piece of the action.

That’s a lot of typing for very little actionable advice. It’s mostly theory. But surely some of you have sold a collection — or know somebody who has. What about it? If you had a collection of 300+ Barbie dolls, how would you sell them? Where would you go to get them appraised? How would you get the most money for them? What advice can you offer Jenny?

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There are 103 comments to "How would you sell a Barbie doll collection?".

  1. jennypenny says 23 September 2011 at 04:23

    You should try and generate some buzz first to help with an eventual sale. Get a local paper to do a human interest story on your inheritance and feature the dolls. Then try and get bigger outlets to pick up the story. Contact museums that feature barbie and get their opinions. You might find that you get some offers before you are even ready to sell. Word of mouth can be very helpful in this kind of niche market.

    • lisa says 23 September 2011 at 08:00

      I wouldn’t want them featured in the paper , unless unless you want robbed. People will break in to steal somethingthat will get them $10 now.

    • E. Murphy says 23 September 2011 at 08:33

      I have no expertise in this matter, but I’m not sure how generating local interest will help her in an international auction (ebay.)

      She might get someone to buy it locally but would that be the best price?

      Although if she just wants it done quickly, that might help.

    • Annemarie says 23 September 2011 at 09:13

      This can be a great idea. Barbies don’t turn a quick profit for your average thief, but it would be really, really interesting to a features editor.

    • SWJenn says 23 September 2011 at 10:16

      Actually, there are very avid Barbie collectors and clubs – I’d do some google searching and make contact there. Find out if they have bulletin boards or social network groups you could advertise the sale in – especially if you’d rather sell them all at once. That’s where your ‘supercollectors’ are going to be.

  2. kim says 23 September 2011 at 04:45

    I found a collection of Barbies at a garage sale a couple of years ago, purchased them for $5 or less each and sold most of them on ebay for a significant profit. I still have some left that wouldn’t sell. I’m not a collector at all, but the Barbies I bought I had played with as a child and knew some of their value, and their accessories were complete, which is a big deal. My experience was that the Barbies from the 70’s and 80’s sold with the highest profit, and the Barbies I had from the late 80’s on didn’t have as much value ( close to no value). Mattel changed the way the barbies were made, and the quality of the doll hair around that time. Some silkstone Barbies also sell well. Ebay was definitely worth my time in this case.

    • saletia wilford says 23 September 2011 at 05:17

      I like your idea and I have alot of barbies that i need to sell and this works out good for me. But can we get more money for the barbies?. And were can I get a good deal other than ebay?. Because my grandmother give me a barbie and it does not move it’s just there and i think it could be alot of money.

  3. saletia wilford says 23 September 2011 at 05:07

    This a good blog I learned alot of things from this blog.I read the book why smart people make big money mistakes and how to correct them. This is a good book to read and I would like anybody I know to read this.And i have alot of barbies to sell myself so thanks for the help.

  4. SB @ One Cent At A Time says 23 September 2011 at 05:14

    If you are not looking for a hefty profit out of those, why not donate to an autism center or schools for children with special needs? Sometimes money can’t buy you that happiness that you’ll get seeing these kids playing with the dolls.

    Even if you can’t donate the full collection I would say, sell individually on eBay and the items didn’t sell, donate to charity. Keep one with you as a loving memory.

    • Annemarie says 23 September 2011 at 09:14

      A toy museum might be interested too.

    • Rosa says 23 September 2011 at 12:50

      Older barbies are going to make a collector a lot happier than a kid – they are hard to dress compared to newer dolls, and the plastic gets fragile with age.

    • Jane says 23 September 2011 at 13:22

      I agree with Rosa here, but I still think the sentiment is a nice one. You could conversely take part of the profits and buy some new barbies to donate.

  5. Jeff says 23 September 2011 at 05:20

    If you know the specifics of each Barbie research them on eBay. Don’t look at what people are asking for them look for what people are actually paying and this should give you a rough guide at what they are worth.

    To do that make sure you click the completed listings box when you do your search and sold items will show up with a green price. With something as popular as Barbie there should be plenty of information on eBay to get an estimate on the value of your collection.

  6. Alison says 23 September 2011 at 05:42

    Doll collecting is a huge hobby worldwide. Find some doll collecting clubs near your home or the dolls’ home and start meeting the folks who are looking to buy.

  7. Amber says 23 September 2011 at 05:48

    Can we consider Grandma’s feelings here for one minute? Did she really bequeth these dolls to you so you can turn right around and sell them, or did she give them to you as a gift of her treasures? I recognize that 300 in-box dolls is overwhelming and a space concern, but tread lightly with her feelings regarding the dolls and the gift. Sounds like she is still very much with us, and she may not be on board with your decision.

    • victoria says 23 September 2011 at 06:01

      I didn’t get the sense that Grandma was still alive — I interpreted that to say that she had inherited when Grandma died and the mother (who’s currently holding the dolls) wants to move to a smaller place. If she is alive I totally agree with you; finding a safe storage place might be worthwhile.

    • LauraElle says 23 September 2011 at 06:31

      Really? I got the impression Grandma had passed away and her collection is languishing at Mom’s.

    • getagrip says 23 September 2011 at 07:29

      As mentioned above, she’s gone. I think keeping a few of them as memotos is much better way of being remembered than feeling like you’re grandparent stuck with 300 pieces of burdensome stuff whenever you look at them. What if they were bottlecaps, or spoons, or thimbles, or beer cans?

      Maybe if I gave a collection to one of my future grandkids I *would* be most happy if they kept them all and enjoyed them as I did. But I’d rather they kept a few, sold the rest and got some money for their future, and thought kindly of me when looking at those few than stuffing them all in some storage space and getting a sinking pit in their stomach whenever they thought about them.

      • Amber says 23 September 2011 at 09:47

        OK I misread the post thinking these were sitting at Grandma’s house still but she gave them away because she had to move in the next year or two. Since they are at Mom’s I agree it is OK to figure out how to unburden the collection.

      • tjdebtfree says 25 September 2011 at 11:43

        “I think keeping a few of them as memotos is much better way of being remembered than feeling like you’re grandparent stuck with 300 pieces of burdensome stuff whenever you look at them. What if they were bottlecaps, or spoons, or thimbles, or beer cans? ?

        getagrip // so laughing OUT LOUD right now! I inherited said spoons, thimbles, teacups, brass figurines, and creepy China/porcelain dolls – I hate dolls – I told my grandmother when she was alive that I didn’t want them – she didn’t care – she was a hoarder and this was one of her many collections left to me … this post is timely for me because I have been “trying” to declutter my garage and am overwhelmed trying to decide how to dispose of all this STUFF – I am so glad this post came up!

    • Jenny says 23 September 2011 at 10:30
      This is a good point and yes, Grandma is still very alive. I took possession of these Barbies about 9 years ago and because I had an easy/safe place to store them at Mom’s house, I specifically wanted to wait to make a decision of what to do with them so that Grandma would know I valued them. If I had unlimited space in my home, there’s a good chance I would hang onto them much longer. But, at this point, I need to figure out a plan as they are very space consuming(all are still in their original boxes) and I can’t store them once Mom moves. Grandma has always said that she didn’t want these to be a burden for me and she hoped they would be useful (meaning, she always expected me to sell them at some point). I think she is pleased that I have held onto them this long and is happy that she will see them being of monetary value to me as well.
      • 29 and holding says 23 September 2011 at 15:30

        My now-reformed-Barbie-collecting friend managed to find a local auctioneer that holds a toy auction a couple of times a year. eBay is a great option, but it was too time-consuming for her. The key was she had to let go emotionally, and be happy with the money she got out of it. She was pretty happy with the results, and used the money as a down payment on a much needed new car.

      • AC says 24 September 2011 at 07:03

        You should atleast ask her if this is okay and agree on 10% of the profit for your time. If she refuses any money send her a very nice gift with some of the money on Christmas.

      • thedollladyofsandiego says 11 April 2014 at 10:50

        you mentioned “My grandmother kept copious notes of all these dolls she loved collecting.” and since Grandmother is still alive, why don’t you find out from her which ones were her favorites and why? Perhaps that will have an impact on your decisions. Possibly even consider keeping just a few.

        Being collector myself, I have some dolls in my collection that I just normally gravitate to and cherish more. As a doll collector, whom ever is going to get the doll, the most important thing, is that we want the the dolls to be loved and appreciated as much as we do. We do realize that may mean none of our family members will share our passion for the dolls but it’s more important (as least to me and other 24 members of my local doll club I belong to ) that the next person will cherish and enjoy the collection. If these boxed Barbies are just going to become “storage” material, (not judging – it is what it is) that is not what want for my collection. They are better off going to someone who shares and appreciates them. In my city there are at least 3 Barbie doll clubs I can think of that your chances would be good to find someone who would offer you a fair price. Otherwise, selling them on Ebay or one of the other sites is a good option. You can also check with The United Federation of Doll Clubs site to see if you have any doll clubs in your area or find some local doll shows to connect with vendors who specialize in selling to doll collectors. Because they are wholesale, you won’t get full value but if you are in a hurry to move them, that might be an option. Also, some of the members of the doll clubs are wholesale vendors so you have a couple of different ways to reach them. or are good sites to find listings of doll shows. Best of luck to you!

  8. CandiR says 23 September 2011 at 06:02

    First, if space and money are an issue, photograph the entire collection and keep a couple of very favorite pieces. 300 dolls, with boxes, and accessories is an awful lot of stuff. Unless you L O V E them (And I mean LOVE), then you should feel free to do with them what you will.

    Local to me, there’s a place called Wex Rex in Framingham MA, they’ve been on antiques roadshow (although I didn’t have luck finding a web site), and they might be a resource in finding appraisers local to you. If Grandma had indeed kept good notes, these are provenance and will increase the value of the collection.

    You might also try googling “barbie collectibles” as well as researching prices on eBay.

    • CandiR says 23 September 2011 at 06:03

      oops, that’s Rex Wex, not Wex Rex–my bad

      Rex Wex Collectibles Records
      1650 Concord Street, Framingham, MA 01701

  9. Nick says 23 September 2011 at 06:03

    Whenever you sell something large and/or expensive, you want to open up a market to as many potential buyers as possible. This creates a large pool of buyers and (hopefully) brings in the highest qualified buyer. This is why people list their homes on the MLS, take out an ad in the newspaper, and hold open houses.

    In modern times, the best thing for a seller is to get that buzz online. This post will be seen by thousands of readers and I’d be willing to bet that there are plenty of folks interested in buying a barbie collection, or know someone who is.

    Another possibility would be to call the local news station and tell them about this collection to see if they’d like to pick up the story. Again, it would increase the pool of potential buyers. Good luck selling!

    • Ru says 24 September 2011 at 05:57

      Online buzz is very important. A good way to generate it would be to shoot videos of the dolls on Youtube, say 1 video for each era of doll, tag them extensively and link them to blog posts and posts on doll message boards. You want to create an online web that links back to the dolls and your plan to sell them.

      I feel for you though- now is not a good time to be selling a collection! A lot of people are in financial trouble or are moving to smaller homes to save money, so there are less casual collectors around looking to buy. Hardcore collectors will buy whatever the economic weather, but the pool of collectors is reduced at the moment.

  10. Frugal Barb says 23 September 2011 at 06:09

    I’m not so sure grandma’s still “with” the OP. “Inherited” generally implies death of the original owner. If that weren’t the case, I’m sure she would have asked grandma already.

    And, on Barbie’s… Unless these are all very old dolls, I too worry that they may not have too much value, especially if they were collected later. The newer dolls can be found sold in bulk bags of 10 at the local Goodwill Thrift stores. yeah, they’re usually without clothes or accessories, but they’re totally disposable.

  11. ccherry says 23 September 2011 at 06:27

    If someone came to my small museum with this situation here is the direction I would send her.

    Go to the source, or at least the highest density of Barbie people

    Want an honest appraisal of this or any collection or single item for insurance, sales or another purpose and don’t know where to turn? American society of appraisers can help you find someone that can assist you with almost any topic you can think of

    Many communities have a doll/toy museum. These professionals know the major collector groups in the areas they interpret and can usually let you know when/where meetings etc are.

    • Laura says 23 September 2011 at 06:41

      ccherry’s advice is sound – if your collection is specialized (e.g., Barbies), go where the fan base is because that’s who is most likely to pay the best. E-Bay is where dealers pick up collectibles for a low price to sell to collectors, so I would use it as a second resort.

      For something more generalized (e.g., a comics collection that doesn’t have stand-out pieces, a generic assortment of dolls, etc.), someone in another GRS thread (sorry, forget which one) suggested renting a flea market space and spending a weekend or two selling directly – I haven’t tried this but it’s apparently generally cheaper than E-Bay fees. (Anyone with experience, feel free to amend this statement.)

  12. Ren says 23 September 2011 at 06:29

    J.D. I’d love to see your article on builing a collection without breaking the bank. Even though my wife and I are living quite financially resposible I still collect vinyl. I always find it fascinating hearing another collectors experience.

  13. Shelley C says 23 September 2011 at 06:36

    Contact Antiques Roadshow and ask them for referrals for appraisers of dolls. We did that to find an appraiser for an unusual item we had.

  14. partgypsy says 23 September 2011 at 06:47

    My mother had a valuable coin to sell. The coin dealer she went to gave offered her 2K which she knew was low but she found out about a coin show going on that weekend. She went there the last day. First person she showed it to told her he didn’t deal with that level, but to go to so and so. She went there, and he paid her 35K (cashiers check) for the coin because he had a buyer looking for that coin. But the dealer was very honest and told her the best way to get top dollar (possibly 50K) was to put it at an auction, which is advertised ahead of time because there will even be remote buyers bidding.

    • cc says 23 September 2011 at 07:52

      on the flip side, i just sold some gold coins for my husband (at his request, lol). i took them to a reputable coin dealer and they paid 90% of the listed values i found online. couldn’t be happier with the transaction.

  15. partgypsy says 23 September 2011 at 06:49

    I also agree. It’s not worth it to have them appraised. It costs money and you may be sitting on dolls just because they appraised for so and so but no one is willing to pay that price. I like the idea of the barbie convention and also ebay.

  16. NewGrayMare says 23 September 2011 at 07:05

    I sell My Little Ponies online. My personal collection is around 300 strong; but, there are another 500 laying around, waiting to be sold. I have been selling these online for the past decade. I would sell Barbies the same way I sell ponies. All of these tips are geared at getting the highest profit. They’re time and labor intensive, but you’ll make the most.

    1) Find an ID site. Just do a google search for Barbie ID and the general year of the doll if she’s not MIB and readily identifiable.

    2) Search completed auctions on eBay for that specific doll. Study the auction that sold for the most. How was it worded? What types of pictures did they have? How much did they charge for shipping? Most importantly, how much did it sell for? Then, look at other auctions for the same item that didn’t sell for as much and pick the mean price. That’s what you can expect for your doll, but don’t be surprised if you get less.

    3) Find a Barbie forum online. You’ll easily make some new friends and they’ll most likely be able to help you. Many online forums offer trading and selling for free. This is your best bet for getting the maximum profit for the dolls and the easiest transactions. Notice how I said maximum profit and not maximum price? They’ll sell for a higher price on eBay, but you’re going to easily loose 30% of your sale to eBay and PayPal fees, more if it’s an international transaction. If you sell the doll for less on the forum, you’ll only have the PayPal fees and end up keeping more of the money.

    The other benefit of visiting the doll forum is local meetups. You could possibly attend a local meetup and sell the dolls there. Yes, there is the gigantic Barbie convention, but you’re going to shell out literally hundreds to have a booth there and would start out at a loss.

    4) What doesn’t sell on the forum, group into lots and sell on eBay. List the unsold dolls at least twice or even a third time if you feel like it.

    5) Donate any left overs to charity. Children’s hospitals love getting toys for their play rooms. Children Services also accepts donations.

    With a collection of 300 dolls, I’d expect at least a solid month’s work to get rid of them all.

    Other avenues for selling the dolls include a local Toy Show (Columbus Ohio has two every year), flea markets, and craft bazaars.

    I hope this helps you out somewhat! Oh, a word of caution… After putting all this effort into the Barbies, you may find that you fall in love with them and want to start your own collection;)

    • KDH says 23 September 2011 at 14:07

      I’m also a serious toy collector (Breyer horses) and agree with a lot of this advice. Making contact with the specific collecting community is going to be very helpful–similar situations happen regularly with model horses and experienced collectors are very happy to help with identification, values, and selling recommendations.

      Another thing to consider is seeing if any Barbie collectors would be interested in selling your collection on consignment. Then you can be confident that each piece is being correctly identified and sold in the best manner but it really decreases the work you have to do. I’m going to guess that in a collection of that size there are some gems that deserve extra attention and advertising and a group of easily found dolls that would probably be best sold as a lot. In pursuing this route, absolutely check references on the people you are considering for consignment, and have a written agreement/contract in place.

  17. Tanya says 23 September 2011 at 07:19

    I’ll tell you how NOT to sell them. I inherited a collection of kewpie dolls from my grandmother. I had no interest in keeping them. I sold one to a friend, and put the rest on consignment at another friend’s booth at a local antiques/thrift store. The store moved and, in all the chaos, I never got paid for the dolls that were sold. It wasn’t a huge amount of money that I would have made but still, the point was to sell them and get SOME compensation. Actually, twice I have put things on consignment with local antique stores and never gotten paid for the items that sold. I am done doing that.

  18. Barbara says 23 September 2011 at 07:23

    There are different kind of appraisals, each of which gives a different value. Which kind of appraisal you need depends on the purpose. The 3 appraisal types that I know of are:
    Insurance Replacement Appraisal
    Fair Market Appraisal
    Tax Donation Appraisal

    • babysteps says 23 September 2011 at 12:09

      There may even be a fourth type – we had some jewelry appraised at “estate value” – basically, what would a wholesaler or jeweler pay for the piece if they were going to turn around and sell if for “fair market value”. “estate value” seemed similar to “wholesale value” as far as I could tell.

      For many items with liquid markets, seems like the eBay sale price would be somewhere between “wholesale” and “fair market” (retail) value – the bigger the demand, the closer to “fair market” you would expect to get.

  19. Evangeline says 23 September 2011 at 07:31

    Something is only worth what people are willing to pay. A simple internet search or trip to the library may be just the thing to help you determine how much something is worth. This is important because even the nicest buyer will try to lowball what they are willing to pay you. A very distinguished gentleman offered me $425 for 80 half-dollars. I respectfully declined, did a little homework and sold them for well over $2,000. Take your time and your homework.

  20. CNM says 23 September 2011 at 07:39

    My grandmother is an avid doll collector. She frequents doll shows, which are usually at area convention centers. Doll collectors display and sell dolls and doll accessories there. You might be able to rent a booth for your Barbies and sell them directly to other doll lovers. Check your local listings and doll collecting clubs.

  21. Tyler Karaszewski says 23 September 2011 at 07:42

    “I’m using ‘his’ here instead of something gender-neutral”

    Funny that you point this out explicitly here when normally you just use ‘her’ as if it were gender-neutral.

    • J.D. says 23 September 2011 at 07:45

      Sometimes you’re not as perceptive as you think you are, Tyler. 🙂

      I alternate between “his” and “her”. I try not to use one more than the other. I do agree that it’s odd that I pointed it out in this case (not sure why I did, or why I left it in though multiple edits) but normally, I try to use a random gender…

      • NooraK says 23 September 2011 at 08:17

        Well, if we want to get technical “he” is the grammatically correct form to use when gender is unknowns.

        • El Nerdo says 23 September 2011 at 12:43

          @ Noorak: “he” was perfectly acceptable until society changed and made it unacceptable; I use “they”

          @JD – Ha ha, you trickster, in Spanish the gender of the possessive is determined by the object, not the person– suya, suyo, mía, mío, etc. But yeah “su” happens to be gender neutral, “nuestro/nuestra” isn’t. Don’t worry too much about the grammar, it will give you a headache though. But if you like to suffer, check this (you will suffer, guaranteed):

          And I thought you’d be on a plane by now? When are you traveling?

      • Tyler Karaszewski says 23 September 2011 at 08:25

        If you wish:

        • J.D. says 23 September 2011 at 08:55

          If I were writing in Spanish, I could just use “su” and be done with it!

        • Tyler Karaszewski says 23 September 2011 at 10:20

 is available (it is probably not a very good translation though).

      • Becka says 23 September 2011 at 08:51

        I want to hug you for this comment, JD, particularly the first part of it. 🙂

  22. lisa says 23 September 2011 at 08:11

    here is another online site to check out:

    Check out some online barbie sites & are any in boxes yet or havethere original boxes? They sell lots higher. I read about a Barbie being sold for $2,000 , but can’t remember the site. i think it was some of very first years doll.

    some from even 1996 collectors editions are worth $70 & were originally $10.Check google searches

  23. Clara says 23 September 2011 at 08:18

    You should watch Cash & Cari on HGTV – similar to antiques roadshow, she prices collections for re-sale and gives a lot of tips. However, she goes further and often sells things on consignment or holds estate sales. It seems like she could be helpful, especially if you are in the midwest. Her site is

  24. Katy+@+The+Non-Consumer+Advocate says 23 September 2011 at 08:25

    To know how much things are selling for on eBay, do a “Completed Listings” search, which is under “Advanced Search.” It will tell you precisely how much your item has recently sold for.

    Don’t over think how to do this, just get going. List them a few at a time at first to learn how to sell, and you might surprise yourself with how fun it is to watch your listings getting bid on.

    Good luck!

    Katy Wolk-Stanley
    “Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without”

  25. kgiax says 23 September 2011 at 08:26

    I’d be pretty interested in reading JD’s unpublished article as well. I’ve been working on a classic video game collection myself (currently getting NES and GameBoy games), and I like to think I’ve been doing so reasonably and responsibly. If I were tolerant to writing at all, I’d probably put what I’ve learned into an article or something myself.

  26. El Nerdo says 23 September 2011 at 10:02

    I lack the fetishist gene. 🙁

  27. happygal says 23 September 2011 at 10:17

    Since you have such a large collection of MIB dolls, you may want to contact one of the large auction houses, such as Christie’s or Sotheby’s for advice. You may be able to photograph some of the dolls and the papers your grandmother left and send them to the appropriate person at these houses without having to go there. I had them appraise an item that was a gift to my husband several years ago. They may have a doll collector among their clients.

    As other posters have mentioned, I would suggest you keep a few favorites. Take pictures of the dolls in groups for your scrapbook. Then consider whatever financial gain you get from the others as a very nice gift from your grandmother. Good luck to you!

  28. Marsha says 23 September 2011 at 10:36

    JD, I’d love to read your unpublished article on collecting without breaking the bank. Maybe publish it with a disclaimer that collecting is not generally a frugal activity?

    I think collecting is a genetic characteristic that you’re either born with or not. If I let it, my collecting tendency would overwhelm me. I only let myself collect one type of item at a time (or even a sub-type if it’s a large category), I have a strict upper limit on how much I will spend, and once a collection reaches its predetermined size, I institute a one-in-one-out rule. I’d love to read what your strategies are.

  29. Amy says 23 September 2011 at 10:50

    J.D. – I, too, would be interested to read your collecting article. Collecting does bring some people joy, and I doubt people are going to stop collecting altogether if you never post your article out of fear that it will encourage it.

    As for selling a collection – recently my parents asked me to sell an old china set for them. I would imagine the process is similar. This is what I did:

    – Research the items. Take photographs of each item, note its condition, and look up any official information you can find about it.
    – Get a quote or two from places you might sell to. For the china I used I also considered getting quotes from consignment shops.
    – Do some ‘completed listings’ on eBay to see what things ACTUALLY sold and the details of those listings – how they listed, how much they sold for, if they had a reserve, how many photos, etc.
    – Create eBay listings for the items. If you’re worried you won’t get as much money as your quotes, set a reserve price for the amount you would get if you went with the above quoted figures. Tip: for rare items, create 10 day auctions and start them on a Thursday evening. Auctions that end on Sunday evenings tend to do better, and the longer your listing is up, the more chance it has being seen by people who want your item. Advertise your link(s), especially if there’s a niche market someplace who has a presence online.
    – If the ebay bidding hits your reserve, then great! If not, you can either try again and re-list, or go with the previous quotes.

  30. Randy says 23 September 2011 at 11:53

    Put them on E-harmony, and see if they get matched up with 300 Kens?

    • El Nerdo says 23 September 2011 at 12:49

      teh win

  31. Jeff - Digital Nomad Journey says 23 September 2011 at 12:18

    Absolutely I’d sell a collection. Though not worth as much potentially as your Barbie doll collection, I’ve sold comics, garbage pail kids, etc.

    And of course, there is always eBay…..

  32. Vinlandi says 23 September 2011 at 16:53

    I’d wait until the economy recovers and people are spendthrift again.

  33. AnnW says 23 September 2011 at 17:32

    I would contact Adamstown Auction in Pennsylvania. He deals in collectible toys and runs top notch auctions. You could also advertise in the most well known antiques newspapers. The original boxes are key to the price of these Barbies. Good luck. Ann

  34. Jaime says 23 September 2011 at 18:14

    Why not just donate them? If you’re not going to get top dollar for them, why not donate them to a charity or to several charities if they won’t take all the dolls at once.

    You’ll get a tax write off that way. You could try Goodwill, Salvation Army, and any children charities.

  35. Amanda says 23 September 2011 at 19:39

    Try something other than eBay. Rarely get top dollar there.

  36. Shawn G says 23 September 2011 at 19:49

    I had a friend inherit a model train collection. After doing research on various forums, she sold them individually on ebay and made a substantial amount of money.

  37. Amanda says 24 September 2011 at 06:48

    My best advice is to take your time. Research each one thoroughly, collect its paperwork in a separate folder (assuming your grandmother did not keep her records perfectly), and immerse yourself in the Barbie collectors’ world for a time to find out a) who is buying and b) who is selling. Most of them you will probably be able to price and sell effectively on eBay or another such site. If there are any truly exceptional ones in the lot, I would suggest going a little further and finding a reputable dealer who will consign them for you – perhaps an auction house. If they’re really, really nice you might even be able to interest an organization like Skinner or Sotheby’s in the highest-end pieces.

    As an alternative – if you are not attached to getting cash for them, and if you are feeling sentimental about your grandmother’s legacy – you might consider doing some research to find an appropriate museum collection to donate them to. There are a few toy/doll museums out there, and as above, if any of them are truly remarkable pieces a place as high up as the Smithsonian might be interested. Before doing that, understand that there will be paperwork involved, and that the majority of museums will require you to have your own appraisal done before donating. You might also have to have your own accountant work up tax-deduction language if the museum is a smaller one. But the pros of this approach are that the dolls will be preserved in a public place and if you wish, attached to your grandmother’s name as her legacy. It seems clear to me that she cared for these dolls a great deal.

  38. Leslie Lawson says 24 September 2011 at 07:46

    The Doll Museum in Bellevue, Washington might be able to give some suggestions. Website here:

  39. Laurie M says 24 September 2011 at 09:23

    The Children’s Museum in Indianapolis just had a Barbie exhibit since Barbie (as I imagine you know already) just turned 50. There are events taking place worldwide. You might find useful info at and Good luck!

  40. DeeBee says 24 September 2011 at 11:10

    I would recommend Happily Ever After in Philadelphia. They sell vintage dolls and collectibles. The owner, Ed, is very nice.

    I do not know if they purchase collections or not, but they could probably advise you how to proceed.

    Good luck.


  41. Carl+Creasman says 25 September 2011 at 10:19

    Excellent advice and concepts. I agree completely and it matches my personal experience.

    At one time (early 2000s), I had a 90% complete collection of Sports Illustrated magazines from the mid-1960s till 2000s. My parents got an “appraisal” that was very unrealistic. When I made initial attempts to sell them, I found I could only get very small amounts per issue, as a group. I soon realized that people will pay for what they are passionate about, so I went through the entire set and re-organized them by themes or people. All of the “Ali” covers were together; all of the Green Bay Packers were together, and so forth.

    Then, I took the very slow approach of selling them through ebay, which at the time, was a very efficient system of auction without having to go to a real auction house.

    When it was over, I only had random magazines left that I sold in lots, and as before, I only got pennies on the lots, but I did get rid of them.

    In the end, I got more than enough to buy our first flat screen TV and I was very happy. But, selling it that way took me over a year, so just get ready for the slow move, just as the article suggested.

  42. G. M. N. says 25 September 2011 at 10:23

    Thanks to everyone for your comments. I have marked several options to check into. I have a very large Star Trek collection (dolls & books) and there is no interest in them in Mid-Missouri.

    I used a consignment auction that sold online and got a fairly good deal on all my husband’s toy tractors & farm equipment. They do not do Star Trek but advised me to go to some conventions to see what they go for.

    When selling, the better your knowledge, the better the sale. Of course, that is also true when buying, ain’t it????

  43. Roxanne says 25 September 2011 at 21:17


    Sorry, I sent a reply e-mail, but have now found the comment section.

    No I do not have a collection or any experience, but sometimes the manufacturer could buy the product back or has information that might be useful.

    Jenny should find out from Barbie (or whoever makes them) what they would pay to buy-back the doll (s) (if they do that) and keep this information as a guide.

    It is possible that there are Barbie clubs and conventions and this might also lead to more income for the items individually or the collection.

    Just an idea

  44. Jan says 26 September 2011 at 07:06

    I am a daughter of a collecter. I would suggest that even though it’s difficult to store all of the dolls that you save them for your(future)children. I did this with some of my mom’s “collections.” My daughter adores the collections because they were grandma’s. Perhaps determine a manageable number of them to keep and donate the rest to Goodwill. They’ll probably put them on an auction.

  45. Shari says 26 September 2011 at 11:04

    I have sold a very large collection of model horses (700+ of them) so I do have some experience with selling collections. You could probably find a value guide for Barbies–they exist for just about anything. That would give you an approximate value for them (although sometimes these prices are a bit inflated). I know I got LOTS more for my collection by selling it in pieces than I would have by selling it as a whole. I used ebay and a site called the Model Horse Sales Pages, which is strictly for model horse sales. Perhaps something like that exists for Barbies? I don’t use ebay anymore if I can help it because their policies over the past few years greatly favor buyers, and sellers can get left with no money and no item fairly easily. Finding the collectors is the main thing. It took me a long time to sell it off piece by piece, but I just stuck away all the money I got into a special account and used it for “extras” that we wouldn’t have been able to afford on our paychecks. Now I have a lot less clutter in my house, and I used the money for things I can really enjoy for a long time.

  46. Rita says 27 September 2011 at 12:58

    I collect books and my husband has a very impressive vinyl record collection. You definitely need to sell the collection in pieces or in small lots in order to maximize your profit. This takes more time, but is well worth it. Maybe it would be beneficial to open a separate savings account and have all sale proceeds go into that account?

    You can sell the items on ebay individually or in small lots, but there may be other sites out there that allow you to list your collectibles for sale. For instance, I have purchased some of my collectible books from sellers on and Perhaps there is a similar site for collectible dolls. If not, many hobbyist sites allow you to list items for sale in the forums.

    Like JD said, it all comes down to how much time you are willing to invest in this project 🙂 If it were me, I would sell on Ebay.

    Best of luck to you!

    • almost there says 28 September 2011 at 20:32

      My father recently passed away and I am trying to sell his jazz record collection for my mom on ebay. Listing for 2 bucks a record and I have spent more money than I have earned as most do not sell. 12 years ago when I joined ebay I wanted to sell them but he didn’t want to even though he hadn’t listened to them for decades. A buyer told me that he liked the 1955 near mint record he paid two dollars for but I find that people interested in old technology like records are dying off.

  47. rachael says 31 October 2013 at 17:06

    Google appraisers in your vacinity

  48. Jacquie says 21 May 2014 at 09:27

    I have an extremely large collection of Barbie and Family doll clothing. I have one Flock haired Ken, one Midge (the American Girl Midge), two Skippers, one Tutti, two Francies, and five Barbies. I have the original dream house and the Austin Healey sports car. Anyway, I have very few things left from my childhood, so most of it has been acquired from Ebay. I have some of the nicest/rarest outfits in my collection and I know that I have spent a small fortune, however, I have not calculated a value.

    The best way to sell a collection of this type would, unfortunately, be piece by piece in order to obtain the best prices. Very few people are willing to fork out $30K to $60K (or any large sum of money) in one pop.

  49. Debra says 24 November 2014 at 20:32

    I just inherited 1200 dolls!!! Aaaahhhhh!!!! Thanks so much for this blog. I am reading EVERY post!

  50. Donna says 19 January 2015 at 21:35

    I am looking for a collector or auction house in Oregon. I have lots of porcelain, barbies and antique dolls to sell. All brand new in there box. Any advise. Thanks

  51. baba Byrd says 02 April 2015 at 13:17

    Is there a place
    I can send a picture of my doll
    Collection to, to
    Find out about,how
    Much my collection is worth .. And
    How to find inter
    -ested buyers (I’d like the to stay

  52. shelley miller says 30 July 2015 at 07:51

    Have huge doll collection trying to sell. Can you assist? Tried ebay, facebook and craiglist…

  53. Megan says 09 August 2015 at 16:57

    Glad I came across this post, I have 50 or more Barbie dolls including the original one from ’59, anyone have suggestions on buyers in FL?

  54. Denise Famiglietti says 24 August 2015 at 07:26

    I am looking to sell a Barbie collection I have all the holiday barbies since 1985. They are all in the original box and have never been opened. I live in ct

  55. bobby kelly says 02 September 2015 at 10:58

    I like to thank for all the info i have read,im asking now about a michael jackson doll 1985 music much will it be worth later on down the years.thank u

  56. tonya says 18 November 2015 at 21:08

    i would love to buy the barbies. i would give my grandaughters some and give a few to little girls in our area for Christmas

    • Debra Carpenter says 22 April 2016 at 09:13

      Hi Tonya,

      I know your comment was posted quite a while ago, but I just saw it. Are you still interested in buying a collection of Barbie Dolls? My husband and I are downsizing our home and will not have room to store them. They are in mint condition.

      Thank you😊

      • Phylis says 15 June 2016 at 13:29

        Do you still have the Barbie collection to sell?

        • Linda says 15 July 2016 at 12:22

          My mother who has passed away, collected Barbies since the 80s. Holiday Barbies, Bob Mackie’s collection, College cheerleaders, Special store collections, on and on. Next week my sister an I are organizing to sell. Anyone interested in all, or part?

        • Brandi says 28 July 2016 at 22:56

          I’ve got quite a lot of collector Barbies that I’d be willing to part with. From the 80s and 90s.

        • adi says 30 July 2016 at 11:18

          i have an outrageous babie collection that i inherited and would like to get rid of most of it. eveything from barbies (in the boxes) ranging from 1959-2000(+). also many larger barbie items like the 1961 dreamhouse w/accessoies, the 1984 townhouse (in box) w/ accessories, the ski lodge (in box), the original huge motorhome, the farrarri (in box), the bubblin jacuzzi (in box), and so many more. i also have boxes and boxes of clothes, shoes, any and every accessoy you could imagine. and tons of barbies not in the original boxes but in excellent condition. i have the first skipper, ken,midge,allan all in the original boxes. holiday babies, pocelain barbies, collectors barbies. if anybody is interested i can be reached at 951 three50 six two 00. im living in the city of banning in southern ca.

  57. Lillie G. says 21 June 2016 at 11:00

    I don’t have dolls but I have my own collection. I’ m in FL & I have a large collection of Walt Disney World cast member items it is overwelming because it is such a verity. I have cast member only pins, buttons, medallions, lithographs, pictures, watches, Eayes &Ears in color from 1989 to 2003, videos never open and more. I have to downsize and other reasons to find a buyer for my collection. Anyone have help for me?
    God Bless

  58. Jean Madsen Munro says 03 August 2016 at 16:24

    For Adi, I’ve also had Barbies to sell. Unless you need the money right away, the best bet is to sell them on eBay or another on-line auction. I have sold some and bought some. J.D. Roth, is right about selling in small lots or single ones. It takes time to do pictures and write a short blurb on them. However, it will reap you more cash for sure. The best time to sell most anything on eBay is September – March. People have got their kids in school, winters comming on and people get cash for Christmas, so they jump at the chance to find a bargain. There’s a
    site that you might want to look at: Fashion Doll Guide; A Guide To Vintage Barbie Dolls, Clothing, Accessories and other Fashion Dolls. It has the best information on Barbie dolls and is easy to manage as you flip between the pages. Heck, it’s so good that you will want to
    save the best of them for yourself. I still go it when I find a rare
    Barbie to sell. If you need help I would be happy to coach you for free. I’ve been where you are and no it can be overwhelming. But if your selling that much and want the cash then it means you have to work for it. I can certainly help you and before you know it you’ll be collecting money and making many people happy. I don’t idea how we can email each other but if you can find a way, I will help with it. I live in Alberta, Canada but with facebook and or email I’m sure I can help you.

  59. Valerie Rich says 22 August 2016 at 14:43

    I have close to 400 Barbie’s and thankfully I have the space to store them, because the Barbie market has plummeted over the past 2 years. The problem is the market is saturated with them. There are thousands of listings on E-Bay at any given time, and the interest level is very low. Even the rare and higher end Barbies aren’t selling like they did a couple of years ago. The so-called “collectable” Barbies are the worst of all, because almost all of them are still in the box, therefore the rarity will never increase, at least not in the forseeable future. That’s why I’m glad I have the room to store them. They will eventually go up in value, but I’m sure I’ll be old and grey by then.

  60. Larryge says 24 August 2016 at 12:53

    I have been collecting ball-point pens with advertising or logos from all over the country and also a few foreign countries. I have 1,700 of them….all different. I am getting on in years and would like to sell them. Anyone interested?

  61. Brandi Larson says 04 September 2016 at 20:40

    I have a collection id like to sell. Any ideas where i would be able to sell them quick?

  62. Dora says 19 October 2016 at 04:16

    I want to know where I can go to sell all of my collection toys from McDonald’s since the 90s toys from garzilla Jurassic park toys story and many others . P!ease help me.

  63. Denise says 27 October 2016 at 07:47

    I have Barbie dolls sor sale, if you’re still looking.

  64. chris g says 21 February 2017 at 15:51

    I have a foreign doll collection from the early 50’s. My two Uncles were in the military and they bought me dolls from each country they visited. I am in the process of purging and moving and would like to sell them. Help!

  65. toriw says 30 November 2017 at 10:41

    Another good way to get what your collection is worth is to donate. It’s much easier than dealing with the hassle of selling. I would look into They are an IRS 501(c)3 non profit organization that with your donation would help others in need.

  66. Gan Buckley says 05 January 2020 at 15:26

    Anyone remember Xena, Warrior Princess? I have a room full of memorabilia, props from the show, weapons (swords, knives, 2 chakram, Gabrielle’s staff), complete sets of comics and trading cards, autographed & numbered plaques, photographs, and so much more. The collection filled a 10×12 r00m, and also included every Xena & Hercules action figure, stored in the closet. This is actually a “museum” 0f 20 years collecting.
    I would like to sell everything. I was told by an online auction dealer to store everything for a few years, and hope that the show returns as a cult favorite. This might make the collection more valuable.

    Well, I guess I will leave it all to my grandchildren. I am 71 years old and don’t have the ability to sell this collection without help.

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