Life Like Dolls: The Collector Doll Phenomenon and the Lives of the Women who Love Them

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Psychology Press, 2004 - Social Science - 284 pages
Since the 1980s there has been a growing billion dollar business producing porcelain collectible dolls. Avertised in Sunday newspapers and mailbox fliers, even Marie Osmond, an avid collector herself, is now promoting her own line of dolls on the Home Shopping Network and sales are soaring. With average price tags of $100 -- and $500 or more for a handcrafted or limited edition doll -- these dolls strike a chord in the hearts of middle-aged and older women, their core buyers, some of whom create "nurseries" devoted to collections that number in the hundreds.

Each doll has its own name, identity and "adoption certificate," like Shawna, "who has just learned to stack blocks all by herself," and Bobby, whose "brown, handset eyes shine with mischief and little-boy plans." Exploring the nexus of emotions, consumption and commodification they represent, A. F. Robertson tracks the rise of the porcelain collectible market; interviews the women themselves; and visits their clubs, fairs and homes to understand what makes the dolls so irresistible.

Lifelike but freakish; novelties that profess to be antiques; pricey kitsch: These dolls are the product of powerful emotions and big business. Life Like Dolls pursues why middle-class, educated women obsessively collect these dolls and what this phenomenon says about our culture.
 

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Contents

Introduction
1
Elderly woman nursing a doll
3
The Commodity
21
Advertisement for Caroline Georgetown Collection
30
Marketplace doll stall Richelieu France November 1995
51
Certificates of authenticity for two collector dolls
56
The Collection Just Grows and Grows
61
At Debbies housedolls everywhere you look
73
Two American Girl play dolls and the collector doll Gwendolyn
154
Rose Vanilla without her bonnet
177
Rosie age 3 grooming Barbie
178
Forever Young
189
Rosie nursing doll
195
The Lenox Christening Doll
203
Sarah with her MyTwinn and MyTwinns own lookalike doll
210
Innocence and Fear
221

Evas dollsat home
74
Waiting for you to take her home
96
Gkerf
117
More Than Real
151
Appendices
231
Bibliography
267
Copyright

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About the author (2004)

A. F. Robertson is Professor of Anthropology at the University of California, Santa Barbara. He is the author of seven books including Greed and Beyond the Family.

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