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Dolls come and go from the Annalee Dolls lines every year. Each and every doll is important and cherished and loved. But how dolls come and go — and how many are made — is of great importance to collectors. And some dolls just become the holy grail for Annalee lovers. Die-hard collectors tend to look for dolls where few are made, such as those in our Exclusives line. There are, however, dolls that are rarer than most. In fact, they are truly one-of-a-kind. They are called prototypes.
A prototype doll is a first, or preliminary model, of a design from which a final design is developed and then made. Prototypes are extremely rare, because there is generally only one made.
And who wouldn’t want to have their very own one-of-a-kind Annalee doll?
Nested away in the creative hub at Annalee headquarters, the design elves snip and sew and fashion the many creations of Annalee. Each doll, before it ever comes to life in felt, begins with an idea. The idea is translated into a sketch. This design will go through revisions and a parts and materials process. Patterns are made. Fabrics are sourced. Accessories are purchased. Then a doll is created as an expression of the original idea. This is a prototype. The prototype may have imperfections. The design may be tweaked or totally revamped. It may even be discarded. After being reviewed by all the elves, and deemed to be a good design, the prototype is used as the guide for creating the final doll. Without the prototype, there is no Annalee doll.
Once a doll is put into production, its prototype is generally placed away for safe keeping. Prototypes aren’t “sold” like dolls in regular production. Through the years many have been given to museums, sold at auctions, or have simply found a home at Annalee headquarters. Occasionally, the elves will auction prototypes to collectors hungry for something truly unique from Annalee. But for the most part, very few people have access to a prototype Annalee doll. All of these reasons make prototype dolls extremely rare and extremely collectible.
Through the years, prototypes have proved to be some of the most collectible and valuable Annalee dolls ever made. A great example is the prototype of a 1993 18-inch Halloween Clown. When it first came up for auction it sold for a whopping $2,600. Two other examples include a plush 18-inch P.J. Kid, which sold for $875, and a 10-inch Cooking Bear, which sold for $900. While values vary by doll and can change through the years, the demand for unique prototypes still makes them treasures any Annalee collector would love to own.
Today our Exclusive designs are numbered to indicate the quantity made. The same goes with our prototypes. To distinguish them from production dolls, and make them more collectible, they are listed with a Number 0 when made. Zero may be defined as “nothing” to some, but for Annalee collectors a Number 0 could prove to be something very, very special.
We have some very exciting news! Annalee is going to return to an old tradition and auction prototypes for some of the most unique and rare designs crafted over the last 5 years. These auctions will take place on Annalee.com and will allow collectors to bid over a 1-week period. All designs will be individually auctioned. Bids must be placed in $5 increments. The highest bidders will receive an email at the close of the auction to pay their total prior to prototypes being shipped.
Want to own a piece of Annalee history? Check the calendar below for items being auctioned. View ongoing and upcoming auctions.