Above is a 1930's Lenci Bed doll that I worked on.  She had the remains of her skirt and underwear. I researched the doll and came up with this design for a dress for her and made it out of felt.  It is not an exact copy of a known Lenci dress but it is in the style of what would have been on her when new.  Based on her face and pose I assume she was "little Miss Muffet" being scared by a spider.

Vintage and Antique Doll Repairs

Repair work

We are located in Northern California near Modesto  CA.  We have contacts and have been repairing Vintage and Antique dolls in the Central Valley and San Francisco Bay area for many years.  Click the button below to see the shop the locations where we sell dolls and do repair work. see Repair Shops

Below are the details of the doll repair work we can do.  We have a lot of experience in repairing various types of Vintage and Antique dolls.  See the examples page for examples of the repairs see example repairs

Contacting Us about Repairs

When you wish to contact us about a repair E-mail is always best.  In the E-mail about a doll repair you should attach pictures of the doll and if possible close-ups of the damaged areas.  Also the size of the doll is useful in assessing the cost of repairs.  If parts are broken also indicate if you have the broken pieces (like fingers or toes).   Using the broken pieces is often cheaper than rebuilding them from scratch.

When you take a photo with most digital cameras or cell phones the resulting image is usually of the highest possible resolution for the device taking the photo.  The resulting file the photo is stored in will be larger than is needed to easily email.  Once you have the photos on your computer or phone you should try to crop them to contain just the relevant portions of the doll and to compress them to a smaller size for ease of emailing. On a computer a file size of 200 K to 500 K bytes for each picture is usually sufficient. Also if the total attachments in a single email is more than 10-15 Meg bytes the email may not go through. In this case you may need to send multiple emails to get all the photos to me. With this information we can quickly give you an indication if a repair is practical and a rough estimate of the cost of the repair Email Us

Dropping off repairs

We do doll repairs out of the shops where we sell Vintage and Antique dolls. The shops are in the California Central Valley located in the Modesto CA. area, Turlock and Salida. see map to shops

Most people contact us about the repairs by Email or phone.  If you decide to go ahead with the repair we will have you leave the dolls with the sales people behind the sales counter at one of the shops we work out of.  The sales people there will give you one of my receipts for the dolls you drop off.  The shops have secure storage locations for the doll until we pick them up.  We will pick up the work at the shop and contact you to confirm the details of the repair and give you an estimate for the cost. 

If you agree to the cost I will do the needed repairs and return the doll to the shop for you to pick up at your leisure.  When you return to pick up the doll you will contact the sales help and they will collect the money for the repair and return the doll. See the shops tab for details of where repairs can be dropped off. see shops

I am not normally in the shops when you drop off projects but can arrange to meet you to discuss a special or complicated repair, if you contact me in advance to make an appointment. If you cannot get to one of the shops I can also have you mail the items to me and I will mail them back to you when they are done.  I try to limit the items I repair through the mail.  It does not make sense to mail simple repairs like restringing dolls.  I also do not want to ship fragile items including bisque head dolls.  Please do not mail items to the shops I work out of.

Restringing and repair of doll bodies

I can string Vintage and Antique Composition, Bisque or Hard plastic bodies.  On Composition bodies I can repair or replace fingers or toes as needed.  I also have access to replacement arms and legs if needed for hard plastic or China dolls.  Obtaining replacement arms or legs may take some time depending on the doll. I have a limited number of parts I keep on hand. For others I will need to work with my contacts to obtain the part.

rubber doll

Special note on rubber doll bodies

In the late 40's and early 50's there were many dolls (like Tiny Tears) made with rubber bodies. Over time these bodies usually split or collapse like a deflated balloon (see picture to the right). Many people say I can work miracles with dolls but unfortunately for these bodies there is no miracle repair.  No one is making replacement parts for them.  Any vintage doll I could get for parts is usually similarly deteriorated or is so brittle it would be damaged trying to remove parts. I know many of these dolls have tremendous sentimental value to there owners but unfortunately there is nothing I can do to repair them.      

Special note on Hard Plastic and Vinyl Dolls

For some hard plastic and vinyl dolls (especially walker dolls) attaching an arm or leg may not be possible. The internal mechanism of some dolls is not designed to facilitate repairs. In most cases I can reattach the arm or leg with limited movement. For these dolls I will need to evaluate the doll on a case by case basis to see what is possible. It is best to send pictures of the detached arm or leg showing the joint.

Leather Bodies

For bisque or porcelain dolls with leather bodies I can repair and re stuff bodies.  Over time the kidskin will become brittle and will crack.  The stuffing usually sawdust or cork will then leak out.  In extreme cases an arm or leg is fully detached.  I can patch the bodies and re-stuff them as needed to return them to their original condition.  Note that the patches will be visible on the bodies.  This is the accepted means of repair for these dolls. While I can usually match the leather patches they will be visible on the body.

Cloth Bodies

For cloth bodied dolls I can repair or replace the body. Often the body will need to be re-stuffed to return it to its original condition.  I always recommend retaining the original body assuming it is clean and sound.  If there are serous problems with the body I can make a new one from new or vintage material.  I can also repair or replace attached hands or feet

Composition Dolls

I can repair most damage to vintage composition bodies. This includes repairs to the heads and molded hair.  I am able to repaint molded hair and features to a close approximation of what the doll looked like from the factory. see Baby dimples repair

Please note that while a repaired body will increase the value of a doll it will never have the same value as the doll with a factory mint body.  Having said that doing a repair on an old composition doll with sentimental value can have a profound result.  I have had customers close to tears when they give their mother or grandmother back their old doll that now looks like they remember from their youth. In this case since the doll is priceless the cost to repair it is inconsequential. 

Porcelain or China dolls

I do not repair antique porcelain or China dolls using invisible repair techniques.  Depending on the extent of the damage I can glue the broken pieces together if no pieces are missing.  In this case the repairs may be visible.  I do have contacts to people who can do invisible repairs.  I can work with them to have the invisible repairs done.  On porcelain or china dolls I can restring them, fix their hair, repair the bodies and eyes.  (see other sections)

Doll Eyes

I am able to repair or replace eyes in most dolls. For antique bisque dolls I can reset the eyes if they have come dislodged.  I can also obtain replacement eyes if they have been lost or broken. Vintage composition dolls from the 1920-1930's often have clouded or crystallized eyes.  There are several different techniques I can apply to improve the appearance of these eyes.  In most cases they will look better but it is not usually possible to restore them to original factory condition. It is my personal preference is to keep the original eyes and just touch them up a little. I feel that replacing the eyes as some suggest reduces the originality of the doll and thus devalues the doll.

If the eyes are missing you should try to find the eyes and any parts of the eye mechanism and bring them with the doll.  Finding replacements can take time and is always more expensive than using the original eyes.

Doll Seamstress work

I am able to clean and mend almost any costume. If not, I’m capable of creating a close reproduction of the original, using new, vintage or antique materials; applying all needed hand or machine work. see details of remake of a Lenci dress

Doll Wigs

Hair Cleaning and restyling

I can clean and restyle your favorite dolls hair to make it look almost as good as new within the limits of what the wig allows.  In extreme cases the hair may be in such bad shape it may not be suitable for restoration.  In this case I can provide replacement wigs.


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