American Girl introduced their first line of dolls in 1986, and since then, the value of the brand has only increased. Generations of young girls have grown up loving these inspirational and collectible dolls, and when those young girls grew up, they passed on their love to their children.
The nostalgia factor is one of the reasons why American Girl dolls are so valuable nowadays. These dolls also tell the story of American history. Do you still have yours?
Rebecca Rubin Broke Down Barriers
Ok, we’re going to take at these American Girls starting with the least expensive of the vintage dolls, making our way up to the most expensive. This doll’s name is Rebecca Rubin. What’s her story? She was born in 1914 in Russia. She immigrated to New York City and was able to embrace her Jewish identity and her new American identity.
Rebecca is the first Jewish doll that American Girl ever made, which is why an original one is now worth around $180.
Addy Walker Is Now A Valuable Collector’s Item
This doll’s name is Addy Walker. Like all American Girl dolls, she comes with a pretty elaborate backstory. Addy was born in 1864. She was a fugitive slave. Her story starts out in the Deep South, but then she ends up in the North where her mother found freedom.
Addy was the first black doll that American Girl ever made, making her a major collector’s item today. That’s part of the reason that she’s now worth around $190.
Kit Kittredge’s Value Has Gone Way Up
Kit Kittredge is one of the most famous American Girl dolls ever made. This doll brings with her the story of The Great Depression in America. Kit Kittredge was born in 1934. She was something of a tomboy who completely idolized Amelia Earhart. Kit wanted to become a journalist when she got older.
This doll came out in 2000, so American Girl might retire her at any moment. That’s why the doll is now worth $230. In 2008, Kitt Kittredge: An American Girl made its way to theaters, increasing her value.
Julie Albright Is A ’70s Icon
Kids born in the 1970s were able to relate to American Girl doll Julie Albright, who was born in 1974. Julie is a modern girl living in a modern world. She lives in San Fransisco and she’s the daughter of divorced parents. She has a lot of thoughts about feminism and is a true flower child.
American Girl still makes Julie dolls, but a lot of her books and outfits have been retired. If you want to purchase a Julie doll, you might have to pay around $300.
The Swarovski American Girl Doll Costs $5,000
In late 2019, Mattel announced that they would be releasing a special edition American Girl doll for the holidays. Partnering with luxury jeweler Swarovski, the doll’s clothing is designed with an incredible 5,000 crystals and beads and costs $5,000.
There will only be three of these dolls made, one for each of American Girl’s flagship stores in New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago. The brand is displaying a doll in the window of each of the stores as a way to bring customers in. Visitors will also be allowed to take selfies with the glitzy doll.
Josefina Montoya Is An Expensive Little Doll
This is the Josefina Montoya American Girl doll. She was born in 1824 in Mexico, but then she immigrated to New Mexico when she was a young girl. Sadly, Josefina’s mother passed away, and this girl had to help her family make ends meet all while struggling with her own grief.
American Girl is still producing Josefina dolls, but the older models are worth more than the newer ones. An original Josepfina can be worth up to $300.
An Original Cécile Rey Is Worth Some Serious Cash
American Girl doll Cécile Rey was born in 1853 in New Orleans to a wealthy family. She and her best friend, Marie-Grace grew up learning important lessons about friendship, loyalty, and trust.
This American Girl doll was actually discontinued in 2014, so the only way to get her now is from somebody who’s willing to sell her. And the longer you wait, the more expensive she’ll get! These dolls in good condition can fetch up to $300 on the open market.
Felicity Merriman Is One Of The Oldest American Girl Dolls
Born in 1774, Felicity Merriman is one of the oldest American Girl dolls, in that she is one of the dolls who was “born” the earliest in history. This doll lived through the American Revolution. She knew people who wanted American independence, and people who wanted to stay under British rule.
American Girl retired this doll in 2011, but then they gave her a little makeover and brought her back in 2017. Original Felicity dolls made in 1991 are worth up to $325.
Kanani Akina Is A Newer Doll, But She’s Still Valuable
This is Kanani Akina. She’s from Hawaii and she was born in 2011. Her father is Japanese and her mother is European. Kanani is a newer American Girl doll, and she’s the first doll to showcase Hawaiian culture.
Kanani lives on the island of Kauai (according to the book that comes with her). In good condition, an original Kanani doll can sell for $550. That’s a lot of money for a little doll, especially considering how recently she was introduced to the American Girl line!
Kaya’aton’my Is Actually The Oldest American Girl Doll
I know we said that Felicity was one of the “oldest” American Girl dolls, but Kaya’aton’my is actually older than he by a few years. Kaya’aton’my, referred to as Kaya, was born in 1764. Her name translates to “She Who Arranges Rocks.”
Kaya lives in the American Northwest and she’s a member of the Nez Perce tribe. Kaya is one of the most recognizable American Girl dolls, which is why she can sell for as much as $596.
Samantha Parkington Is Worth The Most
Alright, it’s time to talk about the most valuable American Girl doll in existence. This is Samantha Parkington. She was born in 1904 and she grew up in the Edwardian era. According to her story, Samatha witnessed important changes in women’s rights and in child labor laws.
American Girl officially discontinued this doll in 2009, but they released her in a different format in 2014. If you have an original Samantha from 1986, she could be worth as much as $1,850.
Pleasant Rowland Funded The Company Herself
Pleasant Rowland, the creator of American Girl, completely funded the company herself. Pleasant was an educator who wrote textbooks before she started American Girl. She had $1.2 million of textbook royalties saved up, so instead of asking investors to help her start her company, she put all of that money into American Girl.
Pleasant said, “American Girl seemed like a million dollar idea. I put $200,000 aside in case all failed and plunged in… While the dolls were being made in Germany, we produced the books in our own office.”
At First, She Didn’t Know How To Make The Dolls Historically Accurate
Pleasant Rowland had experience writing textbooks but didn’t know where to start with making the dolls look like they were from a particular point in history. She knew that she needed to find a model doll to work off of, so she sent a friend to Chicago to find one.
Rowland said, “By the end of the second day, she found one at Marshall Field’s, down in the storeroom, covered with dust. Nobody had paid any attention to this doll because it had crossed eyes!”
Market Researchers Originally Hated The Idea
Rowland had already been working on the dolls for some time when she hired a marketing team to help her test her prototypes. The marketing team suggested doing some focus groups with mothers and daughters, so that’s exactly what they did.
When these test customers were told about the concept for the product, "they thought it was the worst idea they’d ever heard," Rowland remembered. "I was devastated—and terrified. It had never really entered my head that this idea could fail!"
The Company Was An Immediate Success
Even though the original test audience did not love the idea, Rowland’s risk paid off. The American Girl doll line was released in 1986, and between September and December of that year, the company sold $1.7 million worth of dolls and accessories.
In its second year, the company made $7.6 million. The, in its third year, the American Girl doll line made $30 million. This was clearly a fast growing company and everybody wanted a piece of it.
The Books Were Always A Part Of Rowland’s Vision
As you probably know by now, every American Girl doll comes with a book that tells the story of the doll’s childhood. The idea of a doll coming with a book was always a part of Rowland’s vision for the company.
Rowland told the Chicago Tribune, “Books are the heart of the collection, but the dolls are the way the stories are visualized and experienced as little girls act out the stories using the dolls. They came together. I never conceived of one without the other.”
She Sold The Company For How Much?
Rowland ran her company for 13 years. In that time, she turned American Girl into a $300 million business. That’s how much she sold the company to Mattel for anyway. When asked about her decision to sell the company, Rowland said:
“My original business plan had been executed, and I was tired. It was time to sell the company … Why Mattel? I felt a genuine connection to [then CEO] Jill Barad, the woman who built Barbie.”
Molly McIntire Is An American Girl Original
American Girl Molly McIntire was one of the first of the doll company’s Historical Characters. Released in 1996, she represented the World War II era. American Girl decided to retire (archive) Molly in 2013, so she’s extra valuable to collectors today.
The bespectacled cutie wears a blue, red, and green argyle sweater over a white shirt, along with a navy blue skirt. With an initial purchase price of around $85, top-condition Molly McIntire dolls now sell for up to $5,000!
Kirsten Larson Is A Rare Toy
American Girl doll Kirsten Larson was born in 1854. She came to America from Sweden and her family settled in Minnesota. Kirsten learned English and she learned how to adapt to life on the prairie.
Kirsten was discontinued in 2010, and since then, she’s been a highly sought after collector’s item. That’s just how supply and demand works. If you can find someone who’s willing to sell a Kirsten doll, they probably won’t sell it to you for less than $625.
There’s A Noticeable Difference Between Kaya’aton’my And The Other American Girl Dolls
Remember Kaya’aton’my from a few slides ago? Well, she actually looks a little bit different from all of the other American Girl dolls. All of the dolls except for Kaya have their two front teeth showing. The Nez Perce advisors told the American Girl that in their culture, that facial expression is a sign of aggression.
Also, Kaya didn’t grow up with a lot of the material objects that the other girls had. It just wouldn’t have made sense for her character.
Rowland Was Diagnosed With Cancer Shortly After She started Her Company
Pleasant Rowland was diagnosed with breast cancer in American Girl’s second year. Rowland said, “I cut the ribbon on the new warehouse in the morning and went into the hospital that afternoon to have surgery. It was a large tumor, and I had a poor prognosis, but throughout chemotherapy and radiation I never missed a day of work.”
Pleasant is now cancer-free and her dolls now bring joy to kids who are going through similar medical issues.