Who can forget the first time they saw an American Girl doll? Maybe your best friend got one for Christmas and let you brush its hair, or you read the books in your school library and knew all you wanted was an American Girl doll of your very own. This wasn’t just any doll, you told your parents, this was a doll with a personality, a life and family, and a part of your country’s history. This doll was pretty and perfect and educational and really, you’d just DIE if you didn’t get one.
Originally marketed in 1986 by the Pleasant Company, the American Girl line began with 3 girls and has since swelled its ranks to nearly 40 (though some dolls have been retired or archived), including full accessories, several book series and films. Originally intended to teach American history to young girls through a character-focused personal histories, the dolls’ popularity skyrocketed, spawning a line of contemporary girls, custom dolls, and a set of life-lesson guidebooks for preteen girls. The refined boutique-style display boxes and stands made the original American Girl dolls instant collector items.
It’s not just the early dolls topping the auctions at eBay either. More recent Girl of the Year dolls are selling for top dollar due to their limited availability. Do you have a valuable American Girl doll collecting dust in the closet? Don’t go running for the attic yet, we’re going to take a look at the top 10 most expensive and valuable American Girl dolls out there.
#10 – Julie Albright
Julie Albright debuted in 2007, representing the 1970’s. An original ‘social justice warrior’, she hated injustice and her enduring spirit and caring heart led her to stand up for what was right in a decade having to face the errors of the past. Julie was also the first American Girl to be the child of divorce, an issue faced by many of the girls who called her their favorite. Her retro, free-flowing look was an instant draw for admirers and now retired, Julie (in mint condition) can be found for $140 – $299.99 at online auction.
#9 – Rebecca Rubin
Rebecca Rubin, released in 2009, was a young Jewish girl in New York City during the early 20th century. The child of Russian immigrants, she often found herself caught between her love and respect for her family’s culture and her longing to belong in a country just starting to define what exactly it meant to be American. Living life with a flair for the dramatic and the confidence of a young actress, Rebecca was an instant hit. Since retired, Rebecca (with box and book) can be found for $150-$259.99 at online auction.
#8 – Kit Kittredge
In the hearts of many young women, Kit Kirredge is the top American Girl. Released in 2000, Kit exemplified the 1930’s with her ingenuity and tomboy charm. Always up for an adventure and always ready to see the bright side of anything (even the Great Depression!) Kit’s popularity went through the roof due to the release of her film Kit Kittredge: An American Girl in 2008. She was also the first American Girl doll released with short hair and freckles. A first edition Kit can go for anywhere from $160 – $325 at online auction.
#7 – Kaya
Kaya (short for Kaya’aton’my, She Who Arranges Rocks) was a young girl from the Nez Perce tribe in the mid-18th century. Released in 2002, Kaya was light-hearted and fiercely independent, though her willingness to jump into any situation often landed her in hot water. Kaya was devoted to her family and tribe, presenting a perspective of Native American life as an integral part of American history without resorting to tired tropes and stereotypes of the country’s first inhabitants. Now part of the BeForever line, Kaya in mint condition can fetch between $179.99 and $775 (with all accessories and horse).
#6 – Kirsten Larson
One of the original 3 girls to be released in 1986, Kirsten represents the pioneer era of Western Expansion in the mid-19th century. Born in Sweden and seeking a better life in American with her family, Kirsten’s pioneer spirit made her a perfect addition to the new frontier. Helpful, responsible (though sometimes a little bit stubborn), Kirsten was a long-time favorite of collectors due to her sweet blue eyes, intricate pleated braids, and simple but pretty dress. Retired in 2010, unboxed Kirsten can be found for $300-$750 at online auction, but over $2000 in mint condition with full accessories.
#5 – Felicity Merriman
Released in 1991, Felicity was the first doll of the second series in the Historical line. Representing the Revolutionary War era, Felicity faced hard choices over where her loyalty lay; with England or with the struggling independence of the emerging United States of America. A lover of horses (and hater of chores!) Felicity struck a chord with young girls, especially after the release of her film Felicity: An American Girl Adventure in 2005. While Felicity was archived in 2011, she became the second girl to be brought back in mini-format as part of the BeForever line. First edition Felicity can go for anywhere from $399.99 to over $1300 at online auction.
#4 – Molly McIntire
Another of the original 3 girls released in 1986, Molly represented the America of World War II, humanizing a time of conflict with the perspective of a child just trying to avoid turnips (yuck!). While her father was away in England helping with the war effort, Molly had to learn to grow up and get along in a complicated world, her lively and loveable spirit seeing her through. Always especially popular, Molly was the star of her own film, Molly: An American Girl on the Home Front, released in 2006. Molly was archived in 2013, so in mint condition, she sells for anywhere from $450 to over $1500 at online auction (depending on accessories).
#3 – Samantha Parkington
The last of the original dolls released in 1986, you probably thought she’d be #1, right? An orphan at the turn of the century, Samantha was raised by elderly relatives and always did her best to make them proud. Compassionate, kind, and a gifted speaker, Samantha loved the new inventions and innovations of her changing world, an America coming of age on the world stage. Like her friends Felicity, Molly, and Kit, Samantha also graced the silver screen in Samantha: An American Girl Holiday in 2004. Archived in 2009, Samantha became the first girl to be re-released in mini-format as part of the BeForever line. In perfect condition and with accessories, Samantha can be found for anywhere between $600 to over $2000 at online auction.
#2 – Kanani Akina
Girl of the Year in 2011, Kanani is super-rare and very hard to find without punishing your bank account. A contemporary girl, Kanani lives in Hawai’i where she helps out in the family store. Kanani is multiracial and cares very deeply about Hawaiian culture and conservation of the all the natural wonders of the islands, including the wildlife. Always willing to help anyone and passionate about her home, it’s no wonder Kanani became an immediate must-have for collectors. In mint condition, Kanani and her full collection (accessories, outfits, and stand) fetch anywhere from $800 to over $2100 at online auction.
#1 – McKenna Brooks
Here she is, Ms. #1! McKenna was the Girl of the Year for 2012, a contemporary girl living in Seattle. Strong-willed and determined, McKenna sometimes struggles with certain aspects of life (reading comprehension, who needs it anyway?) but loves to be active and is driven to one day be an Olympic gymnast. Smart and funny, McKenna is easy for modern girls to relate to, especially her dreams of athletic achievement, and teaches them that no matter what they want to be, they’re never too young to reach for it. Her film, McKenna Shoots for the Stars was released in 2012. As a limited-release Girl of the Year, McKenna and her full gymnastic set will set you back anywhere from $750 to a staggering $2,399.99!
So those are the top 10 most expensive and valuable American Girl dolls. If you have any of the older series sitting around, unloved and forgotten about, dust them off and get to posting them on online auction sites! Or, if your American Girl collection is lovingly arranged on glass-protected shelves as you’re reading this, enjoy knowing that not only do you have the best dolls in the neighborhood but you’ve got a valuable piece of your (and America’s!) history to pass on to your daughter someday.
If you’re a parent who’s not ready to plunge deep into debt over American Girl dolls, don’t worry! The mini-format BeForever line are very affordable (about $20-$30, depending), all the lines’ book series are still in print (through American Girl directly or at fine bookshops everywhere), and the films are all available on DVD.