Aylsham Woman turns her childhood hobby into a full-time addiction and builds a collection of more than 3,000 dolls
07:00 02 June 2014
Archant Norfolk 2014
Susan Clipston has spent 20 years, thousands of pounds and many hours scouring the internet, car boot sales and newspapers building her collection of more than 3,000 dolls.
From hunting for valuable 1960s Sindy dolls still in their boxes to spotting a rare find among jumble sale junk, Mrs Clipston’s hobby has become an obsession.
Her vast collection spills into several rooms and features dolls varying from a rare £1,000 Mitzi doll to bargains picked up for £1 in boxes of toys.
The Aylsham care worker said sometimes she would wake up at 6am to bid for a lot on eBay. She said: “I always wanted more until I got to a point where I couldn’t stop.
“You just carry on, you get addicted after a time.”
Her hobby began when, at age 11, Mrs Clipston was given a ballerina Sindy doll for her birthday.
She said: “I just loved her so much that I looked after her.”
And when Mrs Clipston, who was adopted, lost her mother in 1995, she began to build her collection, searching newspaper adverts for dolls and accessories.
Mrs Clipston, who said her husband, Andrew, also collected toys and supported her hobby, said: “After my mum died I was at a bit of a loose end and didn’t know what to do.
“I spotted a box of Sindy furniture for £10 and haven’t looked back since.”
Now Mrs Clipston has too many dolls to display, with boxes piled high of Sindy, Tammy, Action Girl, Pippa and Daisy dolls. And even now she said the excitement of getting a new doll had not gone away.
She said: “It is quite nice when you buy a few you can sit and wash them, comb their hair and dress the dolls.
“It is lovely if you can get all the marks off, then they go in the cabinets.”
And sometimes Mrs Clipston, who is now 48, said she has to try hard not to seem too excited when she spots a good find at a boot sale.
She said: “Sometimes I don’t know how I control myself. You have to play it cool or the sellers will think there is something valuable there.”
And to others who want to start a collection she said: “Buy what you like. Make sure it is in good condition and join a group on Facebook to get more information.”
A selection of Mrs Clipston’s dolls can be seen at Wroxham Miniature World in Hoveton.
Have you got an unusual collection? Email firstname.lastname@example.org