Antique doll heads made by popular French and German manufacturers, including KPM Meissen, Kestner, Jumeau, Huret and Steiner, are among the most valuable. Some doll heads were made to stand alone as decorations; these heads are appraised according to condition, age and provenance. Others were manufactured to be attached to doll bodies. If the body is present, it can affect the head's value.
The value of an antique china doll head depends on several factors, including the manufacturer and the condition of the head. Chipped or cracked heads are worth less than those that are whole and retain their original detailing. The value of an antique doll head increases if it retains the original clothing and parts, such as wooden arms or legs. Rare or unusual details, including facial expressions or hairstyles, may add value to a doll head. For example, as of September 2015, rare antique dolls on Provenance-Dolls.com fetch between $1,000 and $13,000.
Collectors desire intricate facial details, as well as original period clothing and hair. They may also seek special features, such as separately modeled teeth, eyes that can close or a maker's mark of authenticity. Maker's marks were sometimes stamped on the shoulder plates of the china heads or inside the heads themselves. Collectors often seek dolls made by famous French manufacturers, particularly Jumeau and Huret.
The market for German character dolls is also usually strong, because these dolls have not lessened in popularity over the years. In the 19th century, many German-made doll heads were shipped to Paris to be outfitted with accessories like jewelry, flowers, hair and hairpieces. Porcelain doll heads that retain these additions are typically valued more by collectors.