In 1986, a Wisconsin-based former teacher named Pleasant Rowland founded a company that ended up teaching youngsters about American history in a way no one saw coming: with young girls right at the center of it all.
With American Girl dolls, Rowland helped redefine the toy industry and even gave Barbie a real run for her money. Each doll character had a diverse background and belonged to a specific historical era—from the mid-19th century to World War II and beyond. They had their own corresponding book series to match, all of which were told from the perspective of that character, a young girl usually between 8 to 11 years old.
At first, the dolls—which retailed for about $65 circa 1986, worth about $174 today—were only available to purchase via catalog. Still, the brand took the world by storm, earning about $1 million during that first year in business.
Decades later, the first fans of those original dolls (and additions like Addy and Felicity) have all grown up, but love for that line is still strong, especially amongst Millennials, many of whom grew up alongside the toys. Now with a new American Girl doll movie in the works from Mattel, there‘s never been a better time to track down the one you might have had back in the day to see what it‘s worth now, especially with collectors. Below are some of the most valuable American Girl dolls and accessories from the ‘80s and ‘90s that could fetch you a historic fortune—if you‘re looking to resell, that is.
The Most Valuable American Girl Dolls
1. Molly McIntire Doll (1986)
Molly McIntire, Samantha Parkington, and Kirsten Larson were the first three American Girl dolls that were released back in 1986. It’s no surprise that these dolls are pretty valuable today. In fact, if you have all three dolls, you could be looking at a big payday. One signed set recently sold for over $20,000 on eBay.
Molly was designed to represent a girl from the World War II era, and wore glasses, a dark blue wool knit sweater with an argyle pattern, and a navy blue A-line skirt. A few indicators of the first-release original are accessories like a real steel penny, a silver locket that opens, and glasses (which have a curved end). Those accessories alone are worth a great deal, as the glasses recently sold for $120 on eBay. You’ll clean up even more if you have the doll with those accessories and her complete outfit—one with an intact box and almost all the matching accessories netted $1300. However, another one with a hat went for over $1900 on the site.
2. Samantha Parkington Doll (1986)
Little Samantha Parkington is a Progressive Era orphan in the series, and she’s raised by her grandmother. She sports some great turn-of-the-century fashion, including a drop-waisted checkered dress with maroon accents, and accessories like a bow and gold-shaped broach to match.
If you have one to sell, you should know that those signed by Pleasant Rowland herself are worth some serious cash. In recent months, autographed versions have sold for between $5000 and well over $10,000. If yours isn’t signed, you can still profit off it: Others have typically earned between $400 to $600. If you have the first-release versions of the doll, be sure to keep an eye out for her unique accessories, such as the authentic Indian head penny and the faux velvet hat that had a rose ribbon around the band.
3. Kirsten Larson Doll (1986)
The Kirsten doll represented a true pioneer girl: The book that originally came with the doll, Meet Kirsten, revealed that she had voyaged in the mid-19th century from Sweden to a small Minnesota town. She fit in with the local farming community, wearing a blue prairie-style dress and a striped cotton apron. She also carried a red bonnet and heart pendant, among other accessories.
If you have the complete set—including the doll, her whole outfit, and accessories—it’s sure to be worth a great deal of money. Dolls that were signed by Pleasant Rowland have been sold for between $1200 to nearly $6000. Unsigned, she usually goes for anywhere from $200 to $600.
4. Felicity Merriman Doll (1991)
Felicity Merriman was the fourth doll released in the American Girl line, and came out in the fall of 1991. She represented Colonial America during the early Revolutionary War period. Although she had a new outfit in time for the movie that was based on her (which was released in 2005), her original dress is valuable among collectors. It was a cream-colored floral print dress with black shoes; the doll also came with numerous accessories, like a drawstring purse.
Because Felicity’s outfit had a lower neckline, her body was given a tan color. However, there are rumors that white-bodied Felicity dolls exist, too. If you happen to have one, you can probably expect a fantastic resale value. That said, a mint-condition Felicity doll can earn upwards of $2000. Others generally sell for between $300 and $345. (If you have multiple outfits and furniture items, however, you can expect to get more cash.)
5. Addy Walker Doll (1993)
Released in 1993, Addy Walker was the first Black doll released by the company. In her book series, it’s revealed that the character was born into slavery in North Carolina and later escaped with her mother to freedom in Philadelphia. The company even worked with Black history scholars to try and accurately capture the period and the complicated history around slavery in the U.S.
Addy’s outfit was equally important, as it represented the dress she received after finding freedom. Her cowrie shell necklace (an accessory included on the doll) had major significance, as it hearkened back to her African roots.
The doll’s value today among collectors largely depends on how many of her accessories and outfits you might still own. If you have Addy with lots of clothing and furniture, you could collect up to $500 on eBay. The original doll also came with a water gourd (which sells for up to $75 these days), which was made of real gourd and came with a cork stopper. Her necklace was made of real cowrie and had a genuine leather cord, and is worth up to about $35 on the site. For just the doll though, you can expect to get anything from $100 to $300.
The Most Valuable American Girl Accessories
6. Addy’s Trunk (1993)
In addition to the American Girl dolls, many of their furniture items are worth a bundle, too. For example, Addy’s wooden trunk, which was designed with a lid and two handles, is a much sought-after item. The original 1993 release includes Harper's Weekly, a Civil War-era newspaper printed inside the lid and the trunk. It holds Addy comfortably, with plenty of room to store her clothes. There is also a hidden compartment to stash her other treasures.
The 1993 version came with black iron hinges, and the lid stayed with the trunk. In 2007, it would be redesigned so the top lid was completely removable. The average resale range is about $200 and $250. However, you could sell yours for even more, as someone recently purchased one on eBay for $375.
7. Molly’s Christmas Box (1986)
The Molly collection got the Christmas box treatment in 1986, to go along with the book Molly's Surprise. The complete set included a small nurse doll and snow globe (the 1986 version of the globe had a wooden base) inside a box wrapped with twine. The box also featured 24 blue stamps and had the words, “Keep Hidden Until Christmas Day.”
If you have the snow globe with a real wooden base, you’ll be happy to discover that it’s worth a nice chunk of money; this one recently sold for about $140. If you have the complete 1986 Christmas collection, it’s possible you could earn even more than that. Someone currently has theirs for sale on eBay for $550.
8. Felicity’s Writing Chair (1991)
In 1991, the Windsor writing chair was added to the Felicity collection; it was a replica of the writing chair that appears on the cover of the book Felicity Learns A Lesson. It’s a duplicate of the Windsor writing chair designed by Thomas Jefferson, who created it to make it easier to write the Declaration of Independence. Later versions of Felicity’s chair include an inkwell and pen, although this item was retired in 2008.
A writing chair in mint condition, including the original box and pamphlet, recently garnered about $210 on eBay. Another (which included the reading, writing, and tea lesson toys) earned about $245. In other instances, the chair pulled in between $50 and $100.
9. Kristen’s Wooden Trunk (1986)
Early settlers didn’t have closets to store their clothes and other items, so they tended to put them all in trunks. That’s where the idea for Kristen’s blue wooden trunk originated. Like Addy’s trunk, it was large enough to fit her bed and the doll, too. It was designed with two heart-shaped cutouts on the side and red and green flowers painted on the top and sides.
If you’re selling her trunk, you can expect to somewhere between $200 to $375 on eBay. And if you have her bed, nightstand, and quilt too (all of which were meant to complement the trunk), you can potentially get $650 or more.
10. Samantha’s Wicker Table & Chairs (1987)
Coinciding with the release of the book Happy Birthday, Samantha! was the inclusion of a wicker table and chair set in the doll’s collection. The two wicker chairs each came with a seat cushion decorated with a floral design. Samantha’s Victorian lemonade set was a new addition to the collection and was meant to complement the story as well. It came with everything from a tablecloth, a glass pitcher, and two each of napkins to glass goblets, saucers, and more.