I just want to take a moment to welcome a new follower to Erndalesnmore. Welcome Loretta, so glad you have joined us.
So back to the hoarding story...
I had my gloves on, the garbage bag was near, so I decided to organize the piles of dolls that were everywhere. I started with the nearest pile, and started sorting. There were dolls of every size, from Barbie-type dolls, to a very large walking doll... which immediately caught my eye., not because it was a walking doll, but because it was a Male walking doll. Someone had dressed him in a knit pink suit and he wasn't looking very impressed.
As I sorted I noticed a trend - well several of trends, actually. Firstly, aside from the occasional doll from the 60's most of this Woman's collection were very inexpensive dolls from the 90's and 2000's - none the type that are being collected by serious collectors today and in very rough shape ( most of them). The second thing I noticed was that 95% of them were vinyl dolls with cloth bodies.
It was instantly apparent that the woman who had been collecting these dolls, was not really a serious doll collector, and that her collection of vinyl/cloth bodied dolls needed to be destroyed.
I am not being a snob, or a know it all - but every doll collector I know from Antique to Vintage to Modern - all have one thing in common... They love their dolls. To that end, they take pride in their dolls' appearance, spending hours and hours and a lot of dollars making their dolls the best they can be. They clean them regularly, do their hair, dress them in nice outfits, they sit them on shelves or display them in a pleasing way. They look after the investment they have made, because eventually every collector will sell their dolls (if they have no one to pass them down to), and they want to get fair market value for their investment. Not the case here.
Maybe it had been the case once, but I could see no evidence of that anywhere. The dolls were beyond dirty, their hair was so badly matted - some of the hair fell out in my hands just with a touch. If they were lucky to have clothes on - they were dirty, ripped, torn. There were a few decent outfits on some of the dolls, but they were so stained, with I don't want to know what, that no amount of washing would see them clean.
There were very few dolls that were truly collectible. There were a some hard plastic dolls - many of them were covered inside and out in black mold. The 40's and 50's rubber dolls that I collect were few and far between - all in very sad shape with missing fingers, and hair falling out, and cloudy eyes.
After I had filled several large garbage bags, I gave up that activity, and just piled the dolls I had checked out on a huge pile. I did set aside about 20, mostly small dolls to look at again, and possibly take home.
When I had finished all I could do, I approached the lady working there. I would never take dolls without paying something - even ones in disrepair - so I showed her the pile I had and asked what she wanted for them. She gave me a price that suggested she thought them valuable.
I told her that the dolls I was taking might never be saved. All had so much filth and smell attached, they might very well land in the garbage after hours of anything I could do to restore them. Some needed complete re-rooting of hair, all needed clothes, and some I would use for parts. I was prepared to spend hours of my time and my supplies of chemicals and cleaners to try and clean them, and then I would have to dress them.
It broke my heart to tell her that all the other dolls - the ones with the cloth bodies - would have to be disposed of and in my opinion burned. The dolls were not valuable - and the cloth bodies were stained with animal urine. The bodies would have to be replaces with new bodies, and the dolls were just not worth that kind of work. I had to ensure that no child ever touched those dolls - they were that bad - so I told her to burn them all.
I paid for the dolls I was taking, and headed back home. I drove home with three windows in the car down, the smell was so bad - and left the box in the garage when I got home, where it still sits. I only bring a doll in at a time, and already several in the box I bought home have been trashed.
I have accepted a huge challenge in every doll I purchased there. And after hours of work, I have unearthed several gems. Only one of the dolls I brought home that day has turned out to be valuable...but he was worth nothing the way he was there.
I have a couple of the dolls done, but restoring these dolls is a painfully slow process, as these dolls need so much. I am pleased with the ones I have worked on successfully and they now live happily in their own space along with the rest of my collection.
It is very obvious to me that the lady who owned these dolls, did love dolls. I am sorry that she could not enjoy them the way I know collectors enjoy their dolls. I am very thankful for the dolls I did rescue from her collection, I shall treasure them, and look after them for a long time to come.
The two story house where these dolls lived was filled to the rafters with things that perhaps had been new or useful at one time, but time and neglect had rendered everything trash. It was hard to wrap my mind around the waste in that home. It made me very very sad indeed to see the entire contents of someones home and life, dolls included being rifled through and deposited into black garbage bags to be destroyed.
It eases my heart knowing that finally this woman is in a place where she can be looked after and cared for... Her home, certainly was not that place.
Answer to my question: No, I am not a hoarder - I know that now for certain.