The Most Expensive Shirley Temple Dolls: A Collector‘s Guide to Iconic Treasures

Shirley Temple, the dimpled darling of Hollywood‘s golden age, captured hearts on the silver screen and sparked a craze for dolls bearing her likeness that endures to this day. Shirley Temple dolls, first produced by the Ideal Toy Company in the 1930s, are considered the quintessential American celebrity doll. Coveted by collectors worldwide, they represent not just the cherished childhood memories of generations, but also serve as a hopeful reminder of how Shirley Temple‘s films uplifted a nation‘s spirits during the dark days of the Great Depression.

For devoted collectors, Shirley Temple dolls are more than mere playthings; they are historical artifacts and valuable investments. Rare and pristine examples have sold for staggering sums at auction houses like Theriault‘s and Withington‘s, fetching prices that far exceed initial estimates. Join us as we embark on a fascinating journey into the world of the most expensive Shirley Temple dolls ever sold, exploring their unique features, storied provenance, and enduring appeal.

The Allure of Shirley Temple Dolls: A Brief History

Shirley Temple‘s meteoric rise to stardom began in 1934 when she signed with Fox Film Corporation at the tender age of five. Her infectious charm, unparalleled dancing skills, and adorable singing voice made her an instant sensation. As America grappled with the hardships of the Great Depression, Shirley Temple‘s films offered a much-needed escape and a beacon of hope.

Recognizing the immense popularity of their little star, 20th Century Fox partnered with the Ideal Toy Company to produce the first Shirley Temple dolls in 1934. These composition dolls, featuring Shirley‘s signature curls and dimpled smile, were an immediate hit, selling for $3.00 to $7.00 each – a substantial sum during the Depression era.

Over the years, Ideal released various iterations of the Shirley Temple doll, ranging in size from 13 to 27 inches and crafted from materials like composition, rubber, vinyl, and porcelain. Each new version aimed to capture Shirley‘s likeness more accurately, with some dolls even sporting replicas of iconic costumes from her films.

While the Shirley Temple craze peaked in the late 1930s, the dolls experienced a resurgence in popularity during the 1950s and 1970s, driven by nostalgia for the golden age of Hollywood. Today, Shirley Temple dolls are highly sought-after collectibles, prized for their historical significance, craftsmanship, and undeniable charm.

Top 10 Most Expensive Shirley Temple Dolls Sold at Auction

The value of a Shirley Temple doll is influenced by several key factors, including rarity, age, condition, and the presence of original clothing and accessories. The most coveted dolls are those produced in the 1930s, particularly composition dolls featuring intricate facial details, rare outfits, and limited edition markings. Here are the 10 most expensive Shirley Temple dolls ever sold at auction:

  1. 21" Composition Ideal Doll (1930s) – $1,900
  2. 18" Composition "Stowaway" Costume Doll – $1,700
  3. 27" Composition Baby Doll (1934) – $1,495
  4. 16" Composition "Cowboy" Doll – $1,400
  5. 20" Composition Doll with Celluloid Pin – $1,150
  6. 16" Make-Up Doll with Peach Organdy Dress – $1,100
  7. 26" Composition Doll with Tartan Skirt – $1,100
  8. 18" Composition Dimity Dress Doll – $1,100
  9. 17" "Baby Take a Bow" Composition Doll – $1,000
  10. 11" 1930s Composition Doll – $1,000

These exceptional dolls showcase the incredible craftsmanship, attention to detail, and historical significance that make Shirley Temple dolls so desirable to collectors. From the rare 21" composition doll that sold for nearly $2,000 to the adorable 11" doll that fetched $1,000, each of these treasures tells a story and represents a piece of Hollywood history.

Notable Rare Shirley Temple Dolls

In addition to the top 10 most expensive dolls, there are several other rare and notable Shirley Temple dolls that collectors should be aware of:

  • "Brighteyes" Doll: This 22" composition doll, produced in 1936, features a unique eye mechanism that allows the doll to "wink" when tilted.
  • "Curly Top" Doll: Released in 1935, this 18" doll is dressed in a replica of Shirley‘s iconic polka dot dress from the film "Curly Top."
  • "Suzannah of the Mounties" Doll: This rare 15" composition doll from 1939 sports a Canadian Mountie-inspired outfit, complete with a red jacket and hat.

These dolls, while not necessarily the most expensive, are highly sought-after by collectors due to their unique features and ties to specific Shirley Temple films.

Shirley Temple Doll Collector‘s Buying Guide

For those looking to start or expand their Shirley Temple doll collection, it‘s essential to approach the process with knowledge and caution. Here are some key tips to keep in mind:

  1. Research and educate yourself on the various types of Shirley Temple dolls, their historical context, and the factors that influence their value.

  2. Examine the doll‘s condition carefully. Look for signs of damage, repairs, or missing parts. Original composition dolls may show some crazing, but excessive cracks or chips can significantly impact value.

  3. Verify authenticity by studying the doll‘s markings, features, and construction. Familiarize yourself with the characteristics of genuine Ideal Shirley Temple dolls to avoid falling victim to counterfeits.

  4. Consider the doll‘s clothing and accessories. Original outfits, shoes, and accessories can greatly enhance a doll‘s value, especially if they are in excellent condition.

  5. Be prepared to invest. Rare and high-quality Shirley Temple dolls can command prices in the hundreds or even thousands of dollars. Set a budget and be patient in your search for the right doll at a fair price.

When purchasing a Shirley Temple doll, it‘s best to buy from reputable dealers, auction houses, or established collectors. Websites like eBay and Etsy can be good sources, but be sure to thoroughly vet the seller and carefully examine photos and descriptions before making a purchase.

Selling Your Shirley Temple Doll: Tips and Strategies

For collectors looking to sell their Shirley Temple dolls, the key to success lies in proper pricing, effective marketing, and secure shipping. Here are some tips to help you get the best price for your doll:

  1. Research recent sales of similar dolls to determine a fair market value. Consider factors like condition, rarity, and included accessories when setting your price.

  2. Provide detailed photos and descriptions that accurately represent your doll‘s condition and features. Be transparent about any flaws or repairs.

  3. Choose the right platform for your sale. Online marketplaces like eBay and Etsy can reach a wide audience, while specialty doll auction houses may be better suited for rare or high-value items.

  4. Engage with potential buyers and answer questions promptly and honestly. Building trust and rapport can lead to a smoother transaction.

  5. When shipping your doll, use ample padding and a sturdy box to prevent damage in transit. Consider insuring your package and requiring a signature upon delivery for added peace of mind.

By following these guidelines, you can ensure that your Shirley Temple doll finds its way to an appreciative new owner while fetching the best possible price.

The Enduring Legacy of Shirley Temple Dolls

Nearly a century after their initial release, Shirley Temple dolls continue to captivate collectors and fans alike. These cherished toys remain a tangible connection to a bygone era, evoking memories of childhood innocence and the indomitable spirit that Shirley Temple embodied both on and off the screen.

As time passes and original Shirley Temple dolls become increasingly scarce, their value and historical significance only continue to grow. For collectors, owning a piece of this enduring legacy is a source of great pride and joy. Whether displayed on a shelf or carefully stored away for future generations, Shirley Temple dolls serve as a reminder of the power of hope, optimism, and the indelible impact of a little girl with a big smile and an even bigger heart.

In the world of collectible dolls, Shirley Temple reigns supreme as an icon of American popular culture and a beloved symbol of a more innocent time. As the market for these dolls continues to thrive, it‘s clear that the love for Shirley Temple and the dolls that bear her likeness will endure for generations to come, ensuring that her legacy shines as brightly as her famous curls and infectious smile.

How useful was this post?

Click on a star to rate it!

Average rating 0 / 5. Vote count: 0

No votes so far! Be the first to rate this post.