Rosemary Carter and Judy Boyd

Toys to some and collectables to others

While children’s eyes often light up at the sight of a doll, the members of the Victoria Doll Club have the same reaction.

This year marks the 100th anniversary for Canadian doll making, and the VDC is honouring that with a display of dolls from the past century at the Juan de Fuca library. While dolls have been made in Canada long before 100 years, this anniversary is for manufactured dolls.

The display at the library showcases dolls from the early 1900s to present.

Langford resident Judy Boyd has been a doll collector since the 1980s. She started collecting dolls as a young girl, and then revisited the hobby as an adult.

Boyd found herself getting back into doll collecting after her husband found china doll heads in the ocean off of Victoria while scuba diving.

“There were lichens and shells growing in them,” Boyd said.

For Boyd and fellow doll collector and club member Rosemary Carter, collecting dolls has many steps.

When they find a doll they want to add to their collections, they use books and the Internet to verify a doll’s age, origin and worth. The references are also helpful in determining if a doll still has its original clothing or hair.

When scouting out for a new doll, the women says it’s important to check out the condition.

“You want to make sure there are no cracks or crazing,” Boyd said, explaining that crazing causes the surface of a doll to crackle because water has become trapped inside.

Another sign of authenticity of clothing is if tags are sewn into the clothes, she added.

After giving the doll a once over and making sure there are no ink markings or scuffs, they may purchase the doll and add to the collection.

“Most dolls have (authenticity) marking on the neck or back,” Carter said.

Other than just trading with other doll collectors, these women also find dolls in second hand and antique shops.

Carter’s collection has about 400 dolls, and Boyd has about 100. Each of them has dolls they look for. Carter has a soft spot for dark-skinned dolls, while Boyd prefers older dolls with a ties to Victoria.

“Some dolls are just sentimental, and some can be worth thousands of dollars,” Boyd said, adding most doll collectors don’t join the hobby for the money.

These doll collectors are well-versed when it comes to these little beauties. By looking at a doll they can distinguish between a doll made of china, bisque porcelain, and a composition mix of wood fibres, sawdust — and sometimes bone — mixed with glue and put in  a mold.

The Victoria Doll Club’s display of dolls showing the history of Canadian doll making is on display at the Juan de Fuca library, 1759 Island Highway, until the end of the month.

For more information on the Victoria Doll Club, call Boyd at 250-478-6116.

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