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Doll Convention Frequently Asked Questions

Everything you need to know about doll conventions.


Nancy Ann Storybook Exhibit

Nancy Ann Storybook Dolls in UFDC Special Exhibit by Elaine Pardee

Denise Van Patten

What is a Doll Convention?

A Doll Convention is a get-together of doll collectors to share their passion for dolls, Conventions can be for collectors of all types of dolls (such as conventions held by the United Federation of Doll Clubs or Collector’s United), or they can be for dollmakers (ODACA, NIADA), or they can focus on one type of doll (Barbie, Madame Alexander, Gene). The conventions are held all over the United States and they can be regional or National in scope.

Why should I attend a Doll Convention?

Because its at amazing amount of fun, you’ll learn more about dolls than you ever thought possible, and you will have friends from all over the United States and the World who share your passion for dolls.

Who organizes a Doll Convention?

Generally a Doll Convention can be organized by a group of doll clubs or collectors or by a doll company.

Can you buy or obtain dolls at a Doll Convention?

Absolutely—why else attend a doll convention? Opportunities include an official sales room at the convention, sometimes additional unofficial sales rooms or sales from rooms (depending on the convention; these may or may not be allowed) and auctions of various types (charity auctions, auction house auctions accompanying the convention, etc.). Often, special meal events are held at which attendees receive a special, limited doll as an event favor. And almost all conventions have a final banquet with a special convention doll as the favor for all attendees.

What is a Convention Helper?

Convention Helpers help financially support conventions and make them possible, since the cost of running conventions generally exceeds the money taken in for registration fees. “Convention Helpers” are dolls and doll related items donated by doll collectors, clubs, companies and dealers. Each item has a separate raffle for the item, and tickets are generally 50 for $20 or something similar, so that each attendee can take part in a great number of raffles. Many people enter so its hard to win, but it IS possible—after 8 years of buying $40 worth of tickets to support the Convention Helper raffles at the UFDC conventions, I actually won THREE helpers at the 2004 convention—a $250 gift certificate generously donated by a favorite doll dealer of mine, and two STACKS of older doll books that I was thrilled to get for research. Its always fun to enter and a true thrill to win.

What is a “Meal Event” at convention?

This is a breakfast, lunch, dinner or tea usually organized and hosted by a doll club in conjunction with a doll company or doll artist. Each table of doll collectors is assigned a hostess, and the club/company/artist/hostess generally provide beautiful favors for each guest. At the meal, you get to meet fellow collectors, and after the meal, there is usually a doll-related program (slide show, group game or something similar). Often, there are door prize raffles and a raffle for the lovely doll-related centerpieces at each table. At the end of the meal, each guest is given a beautiful limited edition doll (generally ONLY produced for the event) as their meal favor.

What else can you do at a Doll Convention?

Oh my! What can you NOT do at a convention?? Well, if the sales room, auctions, meal events and helpers aren’t enough, there are tons of seminars, lectures and hands-on workshops where you can learn about dolls and make dolls and doll related items. There are generally special exhibits of dolls (like mini-museums!) and doll competitions (see below). There are also get-togethers of various doll groups, tours of local doll museums or other places of interest, and MUCH more. Its hard to be bored, and if you get a spare minute, you can do some touring in the cities where the conventions are usually held. Thanks to doll conventions, I have visited cities including New Orleans, Washington DC, Atlanta, Chicago and Denver!

What is a Doll Competition?

In a doll competition, collectors bring there dolls to be judged among others of its type. There are competitions for vintage, antique and modern dolls at various conventions, and also competitions for repainting dolls and doll costuming. For vintage or antique dolls, dolls are generally judged on rarity, condition and originality. Doll costuming and repainting is often judged on difficulty, originality, the expertise of the work involved and artistry. Winners win ribbons for their dolls.

What can I learn at a Doll Convention?

Just about anything!! At the convention I recently attended, I learned in-depth about sewing for small dolls, German cloth dolls, Googlies, Little Miss Nancy Anns and more. This is in addition to all I learned from the special exhibits and the competition rooms.

OK—I’m Ready—-How Can I Find a Doll Convention To Attend?

You can find conventions via About.com. Or, you can visit the web sites of organizations that organize conventions, such as www.ufdc.org.

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