Dolls have been made by people all over the world for thousands of years. In some ancient cultures, they have been used for religious or cultural purposes, while in others they have always been engaging toys for children to play with and seek comfort from.
It wasn’t until the 19th century that dolls were manufactured and widely distributed, particularly in France and Germany. This drove the early collectible doll market as high-quality manufactured dolls were seen as decorative items rather than toys. Early collectible dolls typically had heads and limbs made from porcelain or bisque and cloth bodies. By the early 20th century, plastic dolls were launched onto the market by big companies, often depicting famous figures such as Shirley Temple dolls made by Ideal.
The Alexander Doll Company was founded by Beatrice Alexander Behrman – more famously known as Madame Alexander. Her vision was to help children learn about and understand the lives of other people from around the world and through history.
Madame Alexander dolls are an iconic part of the first half of 20th-century American manufacturing. Intended as toys or decorative items, they quickly became collectible and are some of the most sought-after collectible dolls on the vintage market today.
We have provided a list of the most valuable Madame Alexander dolls, along with some auction records, a price guide, and a buying and selling guide. Whether you have inherited a Madame Alexander doll or found one at a yard sale, we aim to help you determine the value and learn a little more about those models worth thousands of dollars.
Madame Alexander Dolls: Background
One of the most famous doll-making companies of the 20th century is, of course, the Alexander Doll Company. Beatrice Alexander Behrman, A.K.A. Madame Alexander, established the company along with her sisters in 1923. Her first experience in doll-making was crafting Red Cross Nurse clothing for dolls to aid her father in his doll hospital business during World War I.
Beatrice Alexander’s motivation for developing a doll manufacturing company was to help children to empathize with other people from all over the world and throughout history, people they may not have the chance to meet themselves. She wanted to contribute to good parenting for both boys and girls and believed that producing a wide range of interesting, international characters would help to achieve this.
Madame Alexander dolls started out as cloth dolls. The company soon began producing porcelain dolls featuring famous literary characters such as the Three Little Pigs and the March sisters from the popular novel Little Women. One of their most famous doll commissions was that of Scarlett O’Hara, the protagonist of Gone With the Wind. Madame Alexander produced this doll before the release of the film – luckily for the filmmakers and for Madame Alexander doll sales, the star of Gone With The Wind, Vivien Leigh, happened to look like the Scarlett O’Hara doll!
In the following years, the Alexander Doll Company were most famous for producing dolls based directly on real people. Some of their most famous subjects of the time included Judy Garland, Jane Withers, and Geraldine Farrar. In 1935 the Alexander Doll Company began producing dolls in the form of the Dionne Quintuplets. These are now some of the rarest and most highly sought after collectible dolls when found in a full set!
Madame Alexander switched to creating dolls from hard plastic in the 1940s which was more durable and lead to less breakages. The Alexander Doll Company were in fact the first company to introduce rooted doll hair and eyes which could open and shut. In the 1950s the dolls were made from vinyl, complete with synthetic hair.
Other notable developments in the Madame Alexander series were a commission for dolls representing the British Royal family for the 1953 coronation of Queen Elizabeth II, Alexander-kins baby dolls, Cissy fashion dolls, Disney characters in the 1950s and 60s, First Lady dolls, and international dolls.
Madame Alexander dolls are still being made now even though the company was sold in 1988. The line is now run by Kahn Lucas, the clothing company. To honour Madame Alexander, the company made a doll in her image in 2013.
Round-Up List: Most Valuable Madame Alexander Dolls
Here we have assembled some of the most valuable Madame Alexander dolls on the collectible doll market today. The oldest, rarest, and best condition dolls, as well as compete sets of doll series can fetch thousands of dollars!
1. 1953 Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II
Dolls commissioned to mark the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in mint condition are rare and can reach thousands of dollars at auction. Some of these include:
- Estrella Doll – one sold for $5,100 in 2022!
- Queen Elizabeth in Coronation Dress Sash Fur Cape – one doll in its original 1953 outfit sold for $1595 in 2022!
2. Cissy Dolls
Cissy dolls were among the most iconic series produced by the Alexander Doll Company between 1955 and 1958. By many they are considered to be the first ever fashion dolls produced in the US. Some notable and highly valuable Cissy dolls include:
- Cissy Forever Darling Bride, 1954 – this has to be an auction record doll which sold for $17,000 in 2020!
- Librarian Cissy Doll 1958 – a mint condition doll sold for $4449 in 2022!
- Fragile & Flowery Cissy Doll – one sold for $5000 in 2022!
- 1957 Queen with Royal Trousseau – sold for $2300 in 2018!
3. 1950s Fashion Dolls
There were a great many dolls released in the 1950s. Those which are limited editions and in mint condition can fetch a very high price. Some key models include:
- 1951 Fashion of a Century Doll – this doll in mint condition, in the original box sold for $25,000!
- 1955 Lucille Ball Bride Doll – one doll with minor damage and a taped original box sold for $5000 in 2022!
4. 21” Composition Dolls 1942-1946
These early edition dolls are remarkable for their attention to detail and representation of well-known historical characters. Some very valuable examples include:
- The Portrait Series, for example the Marie Antoinette Doll which sold for $20,000 at a Theriault’s auction!
- A set of 3 Portrait Series dolls including Lady Windermere, Royal Wedding Bride and a Scarlett O’Hara sold for $8000 at a recent auction!
- Degas Ballerina Doll, 1946 – sold for $8500 in 2019!
5. Disney Series
The first generation of Disney films were, and still are, well-loved around the world, leading to countless examples of merchandise and limited edition dolls and figures. Madame Alexander produced many of these which were times to release with anticipated films. Some of these include:
- 1938 Marionettes from “Snow White” – a set of these complete with the stage sold for $3500 in 2019!
- 1933 The Three Pigs – a complete set sold for $2600 in 2019!
6. Literary Characters
Over time, the Alexander Doll Company released countless characters from literature. If you can find complete sets of these, or individual dolls in mint condition with their original packaging and clothing, you may be onto a winner. Some notable examples include:
- 1933 Little Women Sisters – a complete set sold for $6250 in 2019!
- 1940 Scarlett O’Hara Doll – one Scarlett O’Hara doll with a rare yellow chiffon gown was sold for $2200 in 2019!
- 1946 Rebecca from the novel by Daphne Du Maurier – one doll sold for $1800 in 2019!
7. Real Life Characters
Famous figures and celebrities were honored when Madame Alexander fashioned dolls in their image. Some of the oldest and rarest dolls will fetch a high price at auction today. Some of these may include:
- A full set of the Dionne Quintuplets – one set sold for $5250 in 2019!
- One of the First Lady series, such as the rare 1957 Lady Hamilton doll which sold for $2750 in 2022!
- Margaret Rose 1947 doll – one doll complete with its miniature sold for $1100 in 2019!
Valuable Madame Alexander Dolls: Price Guide
Every Madame Alexander doll has something special to offer, and while some may fetch a higher price than others, it does not mean they are not valuable! Many associate these vintage dolls with happy childhood memories and others consider them as much part of the family as part of their doll collection.
If you have a Madame Alexander doll and want to know how valuable it is, try searching for it online and finding current listings to get a gauge of the market value. You can search some vintage forums and post detailed images of your item to get information and an idea of value from experts and enthusiastic amateurs. Try:
- The Madame Alexander section of Antique Dolls Collectors Online
- The eBay Dolls community forum
- The Madame Alexander Doll Club
Evaluating your vintage dolls yourself can be easy depending on their condition, rarity and provenance. Try these simple steps:
Check the whole piece for cracks, chips, stains, faded areas, and repairs. Items in mint condition will fetch top prices while those with damage are valued much lower.
2. Research Recent Sales
Searching through eBay and other online auction sites will give you a good idea of how much the item is selling for currently. Try to find the same model in the same kind of condition as your piece.
Search for your model/series online. It will be easy to get an idea of how rare or common the doll is through various expert blogs and online catalogues. The rarer the doll, the higher the value!
4. Find A Price Guide
Price guide such as Madame Alexander Dolls: 4th Collector’s Price Guide are a great source of information.
Valuable Madame Alexander Dolls: Buying And Selling
Whether you want to start a doll collection or sell a doll that has come into your possession, we have assembled the best resources for doing so.
Before buying or selling, make sure you research the average market price for the particular item you are buying or selling. Search thoroughly for the model/edition, size, and original clothing, and try to find examples which have been sold in the same condition as your piece (or in your desired condition if buying).
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.
The Madame Alexander Dolls, Clothing and Accessories 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, character, ethnicity, and keywords.
Etsy is an excellent place to find vintage Madame Alexander dolls in a range of styles, sold by independent sellers.
When it comes to how to sell your vintage dolls, make sure you do your research thoroughly and include lots of details in the listing for collectors to read through. The same goes for buying dolls – go for listings with plenty of information and detailed photos. Try to find reputable sellers and don’t be afraid to ask them for more information.
What is the oldest Madame Alexander doll?
The first Madame Alexander doll produced was the Alice in Wonderland doll which was an original cloth doll.
What is so special about Madame Alexander dolls?
Their attention to detail, durability, and enduring popularity in the hearts of many are just a few of the reasons Madame Alexander enthusiasts believe these dolls are the most collectible and valuable of them all. Beatrice Alexander Behrman’s motivation for creating the company and promoting compassion and good parenting are also key points making these dolls special.
How old does a doll have to be to be antique?
Dolls over 100 years old are regarded as antique, while those between 40 and 100 years old are generally considered to be vintage. Therefore, most Alexander Doll Company dolls are vintage rather than antique.