Artist Dolls Standards Definitions

The National Institute of American Doll Artists, The British Doll Artist's Association and The Original Doll Artist Council of America have adopted the following definitions for their members. We encourage all doll makers, collectors and retailers to use these terms as a guide for uniform communication in their doll producing, collecting, and marketing endeavors.

If a collector is concerned about a long-term investment and the creation of a quality collection with re-sale value, they should be familiar with all types of doll production. Before making a purchase, the collector should take care to read advertising closely, and should question and ascertain facts when in doubt. As with any art object, quality, rarity, and originality are the prime considerations to the collector. Dolls of the highest quality of craftsmanship, made by or under the direct supervision of the artist from his original designs and those fewer in number are most likely to be of lasting value.

The National Institute of American Doll Artists, The British Doll Artist's Association and The Original Doll Artist Council of America have provided a relationship diagram as part of "the Artist Doll: Standard Definations" for their members. We encourage all doll makers, collectors and retailers to use these terms as a guide for uniform communication in their doll producing, collecting, and marketing endeavors.

Artist's Original Dolls

  • Artist - Designer
    One who takes an idea and transforms it into a three-dimensional doll form by using his or her hands to sculpt or re-arrange raw materials.
  • The Idea
    The starting point of the creation of any doll. The idea may be inspired by a story, an illustration, or a life experience of the artist or it may be a concept given to an artist by an individual or manufacturer who is commissioning a specific piece
  • The Original or First Doll
    The first doll is the object made by one artist who takes a lump of clay, a piece of wood, a length of fabric or other raw material and re-arranges it into a doll form which reflects a particular idea or concept. The work of the artist's hands and mind, the individual nature of the artist's approach to technical process and the fact that this particular portrayal has never before been seen in three-dimensional reality makes the resulting work the first doll or original.
  • One-of-a-Kind
    When the original or first doll is sculpted, assembled, costumed and finished by the artist and this doll is never made again, it is called a one-of-a-kind doll. One-of-a-kind dolls are almost always entirely designed and handcrafted by the creating artist..
  • Design Prototype
    If the original or first doll is used for the purposes of reproduction, it becomes a design prototype. A design prototype may be used by the creating artist for the production of his own editions or it may be sold to a company for commercial reproduction.
  • Ghost Artist
    One who has been commissioned by a company to create a three dimensional doll from a graphic artist's original painting or illustration. The graphic artist does no hands-on work, in the execution of the idea in doll form. The ghost artist rarely receives credit for his execution of the idea in doll form. Manufacturers should advice buyers/collectors when a doll has been "inspired by" or "designed from" the original art work of another artist. Ghost artists are generally artists well-known for their own original work.

Artist Doll Production

  • Artist's Original Limited Series
    Individual one-of-a-kind dolls handmade by the creating artist which form a "family" or related group because of shared similarity of character, theme, or costume. Dolls in this type of a series may appear to be very similar. However, as each one is individually sculpted and constructed without a mold by the artist. They are essentially one-of-a-kind originals..
  • Limited Edition
    When an original/design prototype is used to make molds and identical dolls are reproduced from the molds in a pre-determined number the group of dolls resulting is called a limited edition. The amount to be made is advertised with introduction of the doll. The molds will be broken at the completion of the specified number of dolls in the edition to guarantee the "rarity" of the edition.
  • Artist's Signature Edition
    If the original/design prototype is used to make a mold and identical dolls are reproduced from this mold by the artist himself, the resulting dolls are called an artist's signature edition. Signature editions are usually produced in very small numbers and are usually entirely hand made by the artist. They should carry the artist's signature or mark as well as the name of doll, number in edition and date.
  • Artist's Limited Edition
    If the artist has help with the construction (pouring, cleaning, costuming) of dolls made from his original molds, but does the majority of the work, maintaining full control over design and execution, the resulting dolls form an artist's limited edition. Edition sizes are usually small in number and may or may not be signed.
  • Artist's Studio Edition
    The artist has control over production and quality, but all work is completed by his or her staff. Edition sizes can vary from a few to several hundred.
  • One-of-a-Kind Costume
    A limited edition in which each doll is finished with a different costume. Hairstyle and eye color may also be different.

Commercial Reproduction

  • Reproduction
    A reproduction, or "copy of," is any doll made or produced by an individual or company from an existing mold or model. In general, the term includes dolls made by artists from molds of their own original design prototypes. The more common usage of the term and its abbreviation "repro" refers to dolls made from purchased craft molds or antiques by makers who did not create the original design prototype. With the exception of purchased craft molds and some antiques, making a mold from a doll not of your own creation without permission of the creator or manufacturer is not acceptable. Copyrights may still be active even if doll is unmarked or original company is no longer in production It is not acceptable to call any reproduction an original.
  • Craft Molds
    An artist may produce or have a commercial company produce molds made from his original sculptures. These molds are sold to the public. Dolls made from these molds are never originals or artist dolls. All work made from commercially available molds, even if significantly changed by the hobbyist, should carry original marks followed by "reproduced by . (craftsman's name or initials)." To do otherwise can constitute infringement of creator copyright. Makers who sell works made from other's molds as their own originals may also be subject to charges of fraud.
  • Collector's Edition
    Editions of dolls mass produced by commercial manufacturer's in large numbers. Generally, they are produced in a pre-determined number or in a limited time period. The artist has no control of quality or final form of the finished product. Collector editions usually recognize the creating doll artist by name, although, in some cases "ghost artists" are used to execute graphic artist's designs. Collector's should note that the artist whose name is listed as the designer may not have had anything to do with the actual prototype doll design and construction. In some cases, the listed artist has only contributed the design concept or the costume design drawing. Collectors wishing specific information or having questions should contact the company in question.
  • Design Team
    In the commercial world, a company may employ several persons to come up with ideas for dolls. When one person is responsible for the concept, another for the design sketches and another for the three-dimensional prototype, this is called design team production. Usually, members of a design team are employed in-house by the manufacturer and no one individual is given credit for the design when it is marketed. However, collectors should be aware that sometimes in design team production the person who has the original idea - especially if a marketable "name" - will be given credit for being the doll's designer. This person often has not done any of the actual design graphic or sculptural work.
  • Mass Produced
    Dolls produced in large numbers with no production time limit and with no set edition number. Generally, these are items produced for the toy market.
  • Manufactured Limited Edition
    Edition advertised with predetermined number. Doll costumes may not be repeated, but actual doll form may be used in several different editions.
  • Limited Production
    Dolls mass produced within a specific time period - generally limited to what can be made in a period of two years. Edition is closed at the end of time period. Neither doll nor costume is produced again. Closing dates are usually advertised in advance.

© 2013 Original Doll Artists Council of America. All Rights Reserved.

Original Doll Artists Council of America is a non-profit organization. If you have any questions about ODACA membership please email your request to ODACA. Information about ODACA Artists dolls must be made through the individual artists. ODACA does not provide advice regarding doll valuations, doll businesses or legal information.