So how many dolls do you HAVE?

My husband loves to bring people into my doll room. He leads them up our stairs and into our third bedroom, where my “happy place” resides. He positions himself ahead of our guests so that when they enter the room he has a spectator’s view of their facial expressions. And he is seldom disappointed by their “shock and awe.”

After the guest picks his/her jaw off the floor, the most frequent question is, “How many dolls do you have?” which my husband, who has gleefully counted them, is more than happy to answer.

Such people are usually not doll collectors themselves, as nearly all members of the collecting community know that, once you pass a certain number of dolls in your collection, you’d better stop counting. It’s just best for everyone concerned not to be able to answer that question.

It’s true that most collectors I know have more dolls in their collections than they’d care to admit to. But reducing our collections to the number of units they contain trivializes the heart and soul that go into most of these collections. I started amassing my own collection more than two decades ago, and many of my older dolls represent precious time spent with my mother as we traveled to various doll conventions throughout the country. They represent Christmas gifts, birthday gifts, and “just because” gifts. Many of my pieces are one-of-a-kind (OOAK) dolls painted by extremely talented portrait artists. Many pieces of clothing were sewn by hand, their seamstresses achieving beautifully executed miniature-scaled couture. Others are dolls that I pursued for years before finally being able to acquire second-hand. I know the names that each artist represented in my collection gave to their creations.

My collection reflects my own creativity as well. I do not sew for or paint dolls, but I take great joy in mixing and matching their fashions, posing them, and photographing them. I do not excel in any of these things, but I enjoy it, and spending an hour with “my girls” at the end of a long day of work and motherhood is more effective therapy than that provided by the priciest shrink.

Yes, the number of my dolls can be visually overwhelming. But keep in mind that you are looking at much more than a collection of vinyl playthings. You are looking at unique pieces of art that represent the fruit of the creative endeavors of hundreds of talented people. So you will never hear me apologize for proudly displaying them—although I do reserve the right not to count them.

19 thoughts on “So how many dolls do you HAVE?

  1. I must be in the minority – I’m a collector that actually does count the number of dolls I have. I don’t even know why I do – there certainly isn’t a number where I’ll tell myself I have too many – I never ever feel I have too many, and always want more.

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  2. I have never counted mine. To me, amount isn’t the reason I collect. I collect because I love them. Each and every one of them. Why else would I save and save to buy, but to love the piece of art I have obtained. People collect many things. Signs. Cars. Pets. Masterpieces by the Masters!, coke bottles. Pennies. You name it. Some call it hoarding. But is it. I can still walk a path in my house. I can still sit on any of my couches, any of my beds, any of my chairs. My art is tucked nicely away, in a cabinet, on a choice chair, on a cute little bench or even in its own little home on a shelf in the closet. That is not hoarding. it is cherishing. It gives me pleasure. Sometimes it give me angst when I realize that I have gone overboard. But we still eat, pay our bills, play. So for those of you who don’t understand, just shake your head, smile in pain and move on. It doesn’t hurt us to see your faces, just understand….and move on.

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  3. “How many dolls do you have?” Ah, that is the question that should never be asked….my husband also enjoys gleefully counting my dolls. It’s almost as if putting a number on it and quantifying the collection is justification for the commentary that inevitably follows. I do wonder, what number really is too many to the counters? Or is it all relative to the usual reaction many adults have about adult doll collectors??

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    1. I suspect that, to the “haters,” the number that would be too many is “one.” After all, we demonize what we do not understand. I think that explains Chucky in a nutshell.

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        1. Yes, she’s lovely. I bought her when she came out. I love the Cinderella sculpt. I used to have a lot of American Models, but I sold most of them because I was running out of space. I kept Belle and the African-American basic. I love the face sculpt on her as well.

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