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Collecting Annalee dolls is a pleasant hobby for most people. But for many collectors, owning special, rare, or one-of-a-kind designs has become a passion and a determined obsession. That’s why Annalee and her team started the Annalee Doll Society Auction in the early 1980s. The annual auction let eager collectors find and purchase that elusive design they couldn’t live without. Today, we occasionally hold Annalee auctions online, but not much else has changed.
Next to Annalee herself, the leading authority on Annalee dolls during the 1980s and ’90s was auctioneer Wayne Mock. A familiar sight to anyone who attended the Doll Society auctions, Wayne would auction off thousands of Annalee dolls in a series of festive and fun auctions under a massive tent at Annalee headquarters.
Chip Thorndike, Annalee’s husband, interviewed Wayne Mock about his experience auctioning Annalee dolls. What follows is an edited version of that 1992 interview.
Why do people love collecting Annalee dolls?
I think one of the most important things is Annalee herself, and those who have come and understand her relationship with the dolls. There is a lot of her personality in every one of those dolls. There is something different about them that other dolls do not have and that is because each one kind of has a little personal touch, or a little story behind it, or a little piece of history, or something exciting. They come from a person’s life and the things that have made Annalee “Annalee.”
TIP FROM THE ELVES: Want to know more Annalee history? Don’t miss Behind the Smile: The Story of Annalee Thorndike.
What makes an Annalee auction special?
I have never before been involved in the sale of collectibles where people are so religiously tied to the possibility of their dolls. They love these things. I don’t see that feeling in most other types of collectibles.
How do Annalee dolls compare with other antiques and collectibles?
I have never seen a collecting area where people are so enthusiastic. In terms of prices and the excitement that has been generated over collecting these dolls, they are rivaling dolls that were made over 100 years ago. In June 1991 we established the price of $3,800, which was the highest price ever paid for an Annalee doll, and I don’t think it’s the ceiling. [Note: An auction price of $6,200 was reached in 1995.] With the exception of the very, very rare ones, which bring thousands of dollars, it is rare that a doll will go over $1,500 or $2,000. We have sold many in the past five or six years in excess of $1,000 to $3,000. To take something like a prototype or a brand new edition, and sell it consistently for $500 to $1,500 is, I think, phenomenal. I don’t know of anything else in the doll world that rivals this kind of enthusiasm continually. Fads come and go. They last a year or two. But this whole phenomenon is just increasing in leaps and bounds. So, the assumption is that Annalee dolls are reaching that level where the very, very rare ones are just going to continue to grow and more and more people are going to become involved in collecting them. Then it will continue to just grow and grow and grow. I don’t know any other area that I have seen in my 20 years in the antique business which can compare with it.
Annalee Dolls is proud to return to a tradition of auctions this summer. We have one-of-a-kind prototypes from coveted limited edition designs released over the last five years. Check out the schedule below so you don’t miss the opportunity to place a pid on a piece of Annalee history. 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.