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Annalee collectors come from all over the world and have different tastes in the dolls they collect. But most die-hard collectors have one thing in common: They have a favorite design. Everyone seems to have one particular doll that is No. 1 on their list. Sometimes that favorite design is easily found. Other times, it becomes a quest.
Bryan Horton is more than just an Annalee collector. Bryan is considered the biggest collector of Annalee dolls in the world. He has an almost unbelievable 15,000 dolls (and growing) in his collection. One of those dolls, however, is the holy grail of his vast treasure chest of Annalee delights.
Bryan was just 11 years old when he started collecting Annalee dolls. His mother gave him a 7-inch Vacationer Traveler Mouse as a gift in 1977. From that moment on he was hooked on Annalee dolls. Throughout the next few years more dolls would come into his burgeoning collection. But it was a coming across a larger design — the 29-inch Dragon with Bushbeater Boy — that grabbed his attention and set him on his quest. Bryan enjoyed playing the game Dungeons and Dragons and collecting Krystonia dragon and wizard figurines. The desire to get that Annalee dragon was strong.
“I had to have that dragon,” Bryan said. “But despite how much I bugged my parents, their answer was always ‘no’.” But his perseverance paid off, well, sort of. One day his parents changed their minds and they set off to purchase the dragon. “I couldn’t wait to get there,” Bryan said. “So imagine my disappointment when we arrived at the store only to learn that another collector had just bought it. I was not a happy camper.”
Bryan wouldn’t come across another Annalee Dragon until six years later, in 1987, while attending the summer auction of the Annalee Doll Society in Meredith, NH. “My whole family made the trip. We all had quite a surprise when the Dragon appeared at the auction,” Bryan said. “It was just like the one I wanted so badly. My dad realized that this was the one piece he would never live down.”
Even though Bryan had been saving his money to purchase designs at the auction, he knew he was in trouble when the price just kept getting higher. Much to his disbelief, the Dragon sold for $1,050. The price was out of his, and his father’s, reach. “My dad apologized for days after that,” Bryan remembers.
Throughout the course of the next seven years, Bryan had every major Annalee collector and dealer searching for a Dragon. Only 85 copies of that design were originally made according to the Annalee Price Guide. He knew he might never find another one. But Bryan never gave up. Finally in October 1994, a dealer who was selling an entire collection had a copy of the Dragon.
“I just had one question,” Bryan said. “How much? Well, let’s just say it was a lot of money for one Dragon.” Bryan made the decision to sell some of his other Annalee dolls to raise the cash to purchase the Dragon. But he achieved his goal and added the Dragon to his collection — where it proudly remains today.
But that didn’t stop Bryan. As the ultimate collector, he would continue searching for additional Dragons to add to his collection. Today he proudly owns seven Dragons. For Bryan, the quest will never end.
Check out our Collector Resources to help you track your designs and, perhaps, find your favorite design.