'Truly a collector's dream': Antique 18th-Century English doll collection raises £250,000 at auction

Antique 18th-Century dolls are said to have been collected in 1949 by English collectors

By Web Desk
February 23, 2024
The collection of the English 18th-Century dolls kept in a cupboard. — Special Auction Services/File

Approximately 50% of an 18th-Century doll collection sold for more than £250,000 at auction and an English wooden doll dating back to 1740 was the top lot, selling for £27,500.

For the past 25 years, Special Auction Services in Newbury, Berkshire, has seen the greatest and most valuable doll collection, according to BBC.


Expert in dolls, toys, and teddy bears Daniel Agnew declared the collection to be "truly a collector's dream."

He called the sale of the top lot "the highlight", adding it was "absolutely incredible".

Highlights of the auction were Peggy, an English wooden doll from the 18th century that brought £11,875, and a shadowbox depicting a garden scene with two dolls from the mid-19th century that went for £9,375.

The entire amount raised during the auction, including buyers' fees, was £315,425.

Austin Smith and his late partner Margaret Harkins started collecting the dolls in 1949.

Now in his mid-nineties, Agnew stated that Smith was "delighted" with the outcome of the auction.

The collection used to be kept highly secret and wasn't displayed to anybody.

Agnew said he was “blown away” when he first saw it.

He added: "There must be over 1,000 dolls, and many smaller items too. It is an honour to find new homes for Austin and Margaret’s wonderful doll collection."