Shirley Temple was an iconic child actress who charmed audiences with her talent and charisma during the 1930s. She became a symbol of hope and joy during the Great Depression and was one of the most popular movie stars during this time. In some parts of the world she is still a household name.
Shirley Temple dolls were created to capitalize on her popularity and became one of the most successful and enduring toy lines in history. Today, Shirley Temple dolls remain a beloved collector’s item. While those in average condition will fetch tens or perhaps hundreds of dollars if rare, limited editions and dolls in excellent conditions can fetch high prices at auction. All those on our “most expensive” list today are valued at $1,000 and over!
Today, we will explore the world of the most expensive Shirley Temple dolls, including their history, features, and values. We will also provide a top 10 list of the most expensive Shirley Temple dolls ever sold, and a buying and selling guide for collectible dolls.
Most Expensive Shirley Temple Doll: Round-Up List
Here we have some of the most expensive Shirley Temple dolls sold in recent years along with their auction record value, helping to give you an idea of which editions to look out for…
- Shirley Temple 21″ Composition 1930’s Ideal Doll: $1,900
- Shirley Temple 18” Composition Sleep Cello Eyes Ideal Doll: $1,700
- 3Shirley Temple 27″ 1934 Ideal Composition Baby Doll: $1,495
- 16″ Ideal Composition Shirley Temple “Cowboy Doll”: $1,400
- Shirley Temple 20” Doll With Celluloid Pin Bank: $1,150
- 16” Shirley Temple Make-Up Doll, Peach Organdy Dress: $1,100
- 26” Shirley Temple Tartan Skirt Doll: $1,100
- Shirley Temple 18” Composition Dimity Dress Doll: $1,100
- Shirley Temple 17” “Baby Take a Bow” Doll: $1,000
- 11” Shirley Temple 1930s Composition Doll: $1,000
Shirley Temple Dolls: A Brief History
Shirley Temple dolls were first introduced in 1934 by the Ideal Toy Company in response to the huge demand for toys and memorabilia related to the child star. The dolls quickly became a sensation, and over the years, various versions and special editions were produced.
The original Shirley Temple doll was 18 inches tall, had a composition head and limbs, and was dressed in a red and white polka dot dress. The key defining features of Shirley Temple, including her signature curly hair and dimpled smile, were styled with care.
In the following years, Ideal Toy Company released various editions of the Shirley Temple doll, including the 13-inch vinyl version, the 16-inch composition and vinyl version, and the 27-inch composition and vinyl version. The dolls were popular during the 1930s and 1940s, but their popularity declined in the 1950s as other dolls and toys entered the market.
In the 1970s, Shirley Temple dolls experienced a resurgence in popularity due to nostalgia for the 1930s and 1940s. Ideal Toy Company began producing new editions of the dolls, and other toy manufacturers, such as Danbury Mint, also released Shirley Temple dolls. Today, Shirley Temple dolls remain popular among collectors and fans of vintage toys and movie memorabilia.
Identification Features of Shirley Temple Dolls
Shirley Temple dolls are known for their lifelike appearance and attention to detail. The original dolls were made from composite, a mixture of sawdust and glue, and featured glass eyes and real human hair. Later editions were made of vinyl or plastic, and some featured rooted hair or wigs. The iconic blonde ringlets and cute appearance are also giveaway features.
The dolls were dressed in outfits that were replicas of the costumes Shirley Temple wore in her movies, such as the iconic polka dot dress from “Stand Up and Cheer!” and the sailor outfit from “Captain January.” The outfits were often made of high-quality materials, such as silk or organdy, and were hand-sewn.
Shirley Temple dolls were also known for their accessories, such as hats, purses, and shoes. Many of the dolls were sold with a trunk or carrying case that could be used to store the doll and her accessories.
Value of Shirley Temple Dolls
What Makes Shirley Temple Dolls So Valuable?
Shirley Temple dolls are highly sought after by collectors for a number of reasons. Firstly, they were produced during the Great Depression, when many families could not afford to buy toys for their children. Shirley Temple dolls were seen as a luxury item and were often given as gifts to little girls who dreamed of owning a doll which looked like the famous child star.
These character dolls were produced in limited quantities and were often sold out soon after they hit the shelves. This rarity factor makes them more valuable to collectors, as they become harder to find over time.
Shirley Temple dolls were designed to be incredibly lifelike and featured realistic facial features, hair, and clothing. This attention to detail makes them highly collectible as they are thought of as works of art in their own right.
Finally, the fact that Shirley Temple dolls have remained popular for almost a century is a testament to their enduring appeal. Many collectors are drawn to these dolls because of their nostalgic value.
The value of Shirley Temple dolls varies depending on several factors including the edition, condition, and rarity of the doll. Some of the most expensive Shirley Temple dolls are those that are in excellent condition with their original clothing and accessories. Other factors that can affect the value of a Shirley Temple doll include the color of the hair, the quality of the clothing, and the presence of any unique features or markings.
Top 10 Most Expensive Shirley Temple Dolls
Now that we have explored the history, features, and values of Shirley Temple dolls, let’s take a look at some of the most expensive Shirley Temple dolls sold in recent years starting with the least to most expensive…
10. 11” Shirley Temple 1930s Composition Doll
The smallest doll on our list today, this 11” Shirley Temple doll with a charming white and blue stripe dress sold for $1,000 in 2009!
While this rare edition showed some signs of a flattened wig, its original with a gift card and overall excellent condition raised the price. An original mohair wig, clothing in top condition and original underwear are guaranteed to raise a Shirley Temple doll’s value.
9. Shirley Temple 17” “Baby Take a Bow” Doll
A stunning, mint condition edition of the Shirley Temple doll in her “Baby Take a Bow” costume. This doll was produced by Ideal, with a composition jointed body and sleep eyes. The mohair wig is original, and all the detailing around the eyelashes and mouth are incredibly well-preserved. In 2010, this doll sold for $1,000!
Other features such as a tagged pink organdie dress, original cotton underwear and leatherette shoes, as well as the original box added to the expense of this doll.
8. Shirley Temple 18” Composition Dimity Dress Doll
Another Ideal doll made in the 1930s with the original wig and NRA tagged orange patterned dimity dress. While this doll was not in perfect condition with some crazing, wear and soiling, it sold for $1,100 in 2007!
Original features including “World’s Darling” underwear and pin, and ivory-colored oilcloth shows, as well as details like the white organdie collar and cuffs on the dress are sure to increase the value of Shirley Temple dolls.
7. 26” Shirley Temple Tartan Skirt Doll
This rarely found composition doll features a red tartan skirt and belted jacket outfit. The original blonde wig is present, and even though this doll was not sold in the best condition with crazing, a sunken eye, tattered clothes and worn shoes, it sold for $1,100 in 2022!
6. 16” Shirley Temple Make-Up Doll, Peach Organdy Dress
This rare so-called “make-up” doll stands at 16” tall with a socket head, jointed composition body, flirty and sleep eyes, and intense detailing in the face. It sold for $1,100 in 2013! The original mohair wig and “leaf print dress” patterned in peach and ivory, original cotton underwear, silk hair ribbon and leatherette shoes combined to raise the value of this doll.
Make-up dolls were produced in the 1930s and are hard to find today. Rarity and overall great condition will greatly up-value a collectible doll.
5. Shirley Temple 20” Doll With Celluloid Pin Bank
A rare and little-known edition of a Shirley Temple doll, complete with its original Bullocks Store box and red corduroy dress sold for $1,150 in 2004!
The excellent condition and original tagged outfit, along with the addition of a celluloid pin bank ensured a high price for this item.
4. 16″ Ideal Composition Shirley Temple “Cowboy Doll”
Another Shirley Temple doll decked in a classic outfit, this cowboy doll was produced to celebrate the Texas Centennial. With the detailed original outfit including a Texas ranger costume with a plaid shirt, leather chaps, a satin bandana and oil cloth coots, this doll was sold for $1,400 in 2020!
This doll was sold in mint condition with the original mohair wig and working sleep eyes. The only details which devalued it were the missing hat, replaced gun, and slight damage to the original box.
3. Shirley Temple 27″ 1934 Ideal Composition Baby Doll
This large, rare, baby Shirley Temple doll is a really rare find. At 27” tall with the Shirley Temple mark on the back of the head, flirty eyes and a cute bonnet and booties, this doll fetched $1,495 at auction in 2023!
Although the seller was unsure whether the outfit was original, and some crazing and marks of wear and tear were present, this item shows how rarity can raise the price of collectible dolls significantly.
2. Shirley Temple 18” Composition Sleep Cello Eyes Ideal Doll
Another limited edition doll that is hard to find, this 18” composition doll with sleep cello eyes, jointed limbs and Shirley Temple’s iconic blue and gold rayon Chinese pajama costume from “Stowaway” (the 1936 movie) sold for $1,700 in 2023! This eclipsed the estimated price of only $50-$100.
The back of this doll’s head is marked with the official “Shirley Temple Ideal” stamp. While there are some minor damages such as chips and clouded eyes, the original clothing and wig, and general excellent condition raised the price of this doll.
1. Shirley Temple 21″ Composition 1930’s Ideal Doll
Even though this rare Shirley Temple doll was not in mint condition with loss of color to the eyes and the absence of some components, it sold for an impressive $1,900 in 2007, smashing the estimated price range of $400-$450!
The reason for the high value was the presence of almost all original components including the wig, NRA tagged white and blue dress, and “World’s Darling” underwear.
Collectible Doll Buying and Selling Guide
Some recommended online platforms for buying or selling collectible dolls include:
- Collector’s Weekly – Keep an eye on Collector’s Weekly for useful antique and collectible doll listings across different auction sites. Sellers and doll enthusiasts share their stories and rare finds on this site.
- eBay – The Ideal Shirley Temple Dolls & Doll Playsets section of eBay is a great place to get a gauge for the right price of your item. Filter the search results by material, condition, time period manufactured, keywords, and more.
- Etsy – Etsy is an excellent place to find vintage Shirley Temple dolls in a range of styles, sold by independent sellers.
- Do your research! Before buying a collectible doll, it’s important to research its history, rarity, and value. You can find information about the doll through books, online resources, and collectors’ clubs.
- Check the condition. The condition of the doll is important in determining its value. Look for dolls that are in good condition with minimal wear and tear, and avoid dolls with missing parts, stains, and discoloration.
- Authentication. It’s important to make sure that the doll is authentic and not a replica or counterfeit. Look for trademarks, manufacturer marks, and other identifying features that indicate the doll is genuine.
- Check the price. The price of the doll should be reasonable and in line with its rarity and condition. Be wary of prices that seem too high or too low.
- Choose the seller carefully. Make sure to buy from reputable sellers who have a history of selling collectible dolls. Avoid buying from individuals who are not well-known in the collector community.
- Do your research! Exactly as with buying a collectible doll, it’s important to research its history, rarity, and value before selling it. This will help you determine a fair price and market it appropriately.
- Appraise the condition accurately. The condition of the doll is important in determining its value. Make sure the doll is clean and in good condition before listing it for sale. If it has any damage then be transparent about this and be sure to include detailed photos of the damage. Rare dolls can still sell for a lot even when there is damage present.
- Market effectively. To sell a collectible doll, you need to market it effectively. Consider listing it on online auction sites, collector forums, and (as a last resort) social media. Make sure to include clear pictures and a detailed description of the doll.
- Check the price. Set a fair price for the doll based on its rarity, condition, and market demand. Consider consulting with other collectors or experts to determine a fair price.
- Appropriate shipping. When shipping a collectible doll, make sure to pack it securely to avoid damage during transit. Use a reputable shipping service and make sure to insure the package.