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Moving Your Dolls

You and your dolls are here.  You need to be there.  Now what?  moving.gif (20260 bytes)

According to the US Census Bureau, approximately 43 million Americans move each year.  Moving is always stressful--experts say that moving is the third most stressful life event after death and marriage--and, that is for an average American without any dolls to move!  If you are a collector or dollmaker with beloved or expensive dolls to move, the stress can be almost overwhelming. 

I speak from recent personal experience--I am in the middle of a move of several hundred dolls in my personal doll collection, as well as many more dolls, molds, and doll-related items for my doll business to a location 500 miles away.   So, you will have to pardon my current obsession with moving, and hopefully benefit from some of the lessons I have learned from my current  move.  Additionally, read on below for tips on moving your dolls  to and from conventions, auctions and doll shows.


move2.jpg (19915 bytes)If you are moving your entire doll collection to a new location there are several steps which can insure that your dolls arrive safely:

1.  Pack the dolls yourself.  Even if you are having movers pack the rest of your items, no one will take the same care to pack your dolls as well as you.  In my current move, I pre-packed (and pre-moved) the majority of my doll collection.  The movers we hired were amazing; they packed up the rest of the house efficiently and well. However, there were a few dolls and doll items which I had not packed myself.  Most movers have no idea of the delicate nature of collectible dolls, either antique or modern.  My movers, for instance, tried to squeeze several modern NRFB Barbies in a box just slightly too small.  Any collector knows that is asking for disaster--crushed doll boxes, and therefore worthless dolls.   But, a mover would have no idea about that.  Then the movers packed a large Kestner antique German doll.  Yes, the movers  knew enough to put bubble wrap around her, but it was two layers of thin wrap; the legs were wrapped together, and, they packed her face up (eyes falling out danger).  I walked in, explained to them a bit about how delicate the doll was, and it was repacked properly, face up.  SO....pack your own dolls.  And, if you cannot, at least watch the movers pack them, and let them know how it needs to be done (Did I also mention the heavy book placed right on top of some flat MIB Vintage Tammy outfits?....

2.  Don't Skimp on Packing Materials: You are going to need bubble wrap.  And tape.  And packing paper and boxes.   And, lots and lots of it.  Shop around--prices vary widely, and bubble wrap is especially expensive.  The types of dolls you have will dictate how much packing material you need--porcelain, composition, and china dolls require large amounts of bubble wrap, around the head, and each limb.  Legs should be wrapped separately, as should arms.  If you have mostly vinyl or hard plastic dolls, you will be more concerned with carefully packing to preserve outfit freshness, original hairdos and the like.   Newsprint-free packing paper is ideal for this (do NOT use newspapers as the ink can leave marks on the dolls).  If you have NRFB and MIB dolls, you need sturdy outer boxes to help keep the doll boxes dent-free.  Pack heaviest dolls on the bottom; lighter dolls and doll clothes on top.   If you have large dolls that you have been thinking of selling on eBay, do it before the move, not after, since you can easily spend several dollars worth of packing material on each large doll.

3.  Mark the Boxes Well: Know which boxes have the delicate porcelain, and which boxes have the heavy doll molds, so you don;t roughly throw the doll mold box on top of the porcelain box!  Also, good marking will help you unpack much more quickly when you arrive.

3. Beware of Storage Facilities: Heat, humidity and insects are enemies to most types of dolls.  If you must store your dolls for any length of time, make sure our dolls are in a climate-controlled facility.   Many storage facilities are simply storage lockers out of doors--literally ovens in which to bake your collection, causing fading and degradation of materials (and crazing in composition dolls).

4. Make Sure the Dolls are Properly Insured: Your homeowners policy many cover some portions of the insurance for your move.  Most do not cover breakage, however, and you will need to purchase breakage insurance from the moving company. 


You have just had a marvelous time at an auction or doll show--the Brus were only $100 each; the Bob Mackie Barbies were $10 each, so you bought boatloads.  There you are--surrounded by bags and bags of dolls in your hotel room, happily reveling in your good fortune--then you remember you have a plane to catch, and that you have to get these dolls safely home.  NOW what?  Well, hopefully, you have planned ahead. 

When you to to a doll convention, show, or auction by plane, and there is any chance you might buy dolls, you should take empty luggage stuffed with bubble wrap with you.  Many collectors bring trunks with them--the hard sides protect the dolls well.  Others have hard-sided luggage.  Packing the dolls in soft-sided luggage is very risky because of rough handling from baggage handlers.   Additionally, you cannot depend on carrying your dolls on the plane with you, since the airlines have gotten very strict with their carry on rules.  Many airlines restrict you to only one carry on; even if you can have two, they are generally quite small.  Make sure you understand the regulations completely; if you have an oversized bag, the airlines are much more likely lately to have you

If you haven't planned ahead, and are staying at a hotel, you can have your purchases shipped from your hotel to your home address. The business centers of most hotels can handle this for you.  As always, makes sure your packages are properly packed and insured.


Here are some links with information on packing for moving, sources for packing materials, and traveling with dolls:

Images courtesy of www.arttoday.com.
copyright Denise Van Patten 1999.  All Rights Reserved.

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