No doll collection is complete without a few African American dolls, a variety in many styles but from a distinct and beautiful cultural heritage. Perhaps you’re familiar with the Breath of Life Babies or the Lee Middleton collection, so amazingly lifelike. Or, you might prefer the frilly and more ornamental Fay Zah Spanos Collection. At the other end of the spectrum are porcelain items – beautiful figures frozen in time. Porcelain dolls have long been the treasure of collectors.
Whether you’re looking for an African American doll to give as gift, or adding to your own collection, you’ll probably have a difficult time choosing from the many pieces available. The search, however, will be half the fun.
African American dolls were once much harder to find, but entrepreneurs and gifted artists have discovered that there is now a steady demand for these collectibles, both in people of African American heritage and in doll collectors in general. Now the only ones difficult to find are the limited editions and retired pieces.
Breath of Life Babies by Reva Schick are probably among the most realistic dolls of any kind. Made from a special material that looks and feels like real skin, they make you look twice. Add perfect skin tone, and lifelike facial expressions and poses, and you have something as close as you can get to a real live baby without having to deal with diapers! “Baby Ariana” is a perfect example: lying on her back on a pink blanket. She plays with one wagging foot while looking curiously up at you. Among the pictures of African American dolls on any internet site, she looks like a real baby.
Porcelain dolls, of course, are less realistic, but perhaps leave more room for artistic creativity. They are stylized ideal figures, perfect in every detail. “Yasmine” a limited edition item from the Florence Maranuk collection, stands tall and straight in a flowing gown. Her face is perfect and delicate and she looks as though she’s surrounded by a pink halo—an African American Cinderella. She is almost three feet tall, and posable. Another unique porcelain collector piece from Florence Maranuk, is “Peaceful Dreams,” a pair of African American infants sleeping in a heap of lace.
You can spend a lot or a little and still have a wonderful collection. Browsing the internet, you’ll find dolls for $25 or even less, and accessories galore to go with them. Dolls from some of the well respected and limited edition lines will cost more. A Lee Middleton doll, for example, will probably cost you around $113.00 and Breath of Life Babies slightly more.
Porcelain dolls cost anywhere from $60 to well over $200 depending on how extravagant you’re feeling. There are other lines to choose from as well, of course, including the Someone to Care For line designed to brighten the days of seniors suffering from dementia.
Like so many collectibles, they are best sought out on the internet. Surfing allows you to visit many sites in a short space of time, and search engines help you find the specific thing that’s right for you.
Secondary market sites like eBay are great places to look for a rare or limited edition African American doll for that special gap in your collection of as a gift for the collector of hard-to-get rare things. Doll collecting has never been so easy.