American Girl dolls were a cultural phenomenon that took the world by storm in the 1980s and 90s and compelled children everywhere to indulge in the pleasure of owning one themselves. Now, over three decades after they were first introduced on store shelves, some of these classic dolls may actually be worth more than just their sentimental value.
According to Today, some of these vintage dolls collecting dust in attics or basements could fetch up to hundreds or even thousands of dollars if the right buyer comes across them on eBay. In fact, they're worth even more if the doll is still in its original packaging.
"Some of the discontinued dolls from the 90s can sell for thousands of dollars," vintage lifestyle expert Bob Richter told Today. "That said, original packaging and condition are everything. What might sell for over $2,000 if it's in good condition with original packaging might only sell for $100 if it's in fair condition without packaging."
Any children from the 80s and 90s will instantly recognize these iconic dolls, especially the original girls who were among those to be first released from the Pleasant Company in 1986: Samantha Parkington, a Victorian orphan from 1904, Kirsten Larson, a Minnesota Pioneer who grew up in 1854, and Molly McIntire, a young girl raised during the Second World War.
Of course, these three were only the first of many 18 inch dolls to come out of this popular line. Each "girl" came complete with accessories and elaborate backstories about their specific lives growing up during various and influential times in American history. Many of the dolls have since been discontinued, like Felicity Merriman, who grew up in Virginia in 1774 just before the start of the Revolutionary War. She was first introduced in 1991 and was eventually phased out of the American Girl doll collection by 2002.
In addition to the original three dolls, retired dolls are selling for quite a lot of money on eBay. Collectors have been flocking to the online auction site in search of some of the rarest American Girl dolls available on the market today, as well as one of the first dolls ever released for purchase, and these buyers are willing to spend some serious cash to get what they want.
"An original Samantha doll made by the Pleasant Company commands $4,000 in excellent condition with outfits and 'meet' [original] accessories," antique appraiser Dr. Lori Verderame told Today.
While buyers are certainly eager to grab up any valuable American Girl dolls they happen to come across, Verderame also said such factors as the doll's age, included accessories and physical condition play a huge part in how much someone is willing to spend on it. She added that the interest in these dolls has seen a recent increase, thus creating such high demand.
"American girl dolls reference particular eras in history and that drives the market," Verderame said. "Collectors also look for dolls that parallel their own history, look like themselves, and are character dolls that come from the same lineage or location."
Although Verderame likens the demand to a need to connect with history, lifestyle expert Richter admitted he believes it all has to do with nostalgia, as many of the people who are collecting them now are the ones who played with them at the peak of their popularity in the 80s and 90s. Some millennials may also appreciate the dolls' nostalgia and seek out owning a vintage one for themselves.
Whatever the reason for the increase in popularity, it could prove to be in someone's best interest to pull those old dolls from their place in storage and see what their special childhood toy is going for on eBay these days.
"The cool thing is that many of the young women who collected these dolls were pretty serious about it and they likely saved the packaging, so there might actually be a lot of cash in the attic or basement," Richter said.
With how much some of these dolls are now selling for, a quick inventory of those old childhood mementos could very well turn out to be worth a lot more than just a trip down memory lane.