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News for doll collectors

There has been such a flurry of interest in doll collecting recently that a whole new assortment of doll-price guides have appeared.

''Eighteenth-century and early 19th-century dolls are now so rare you will probably not find one,'' warns Ralph and Terry Kovel in their June newsletter on antiques and collectibles, but dolls made since 1875 can often be picked up at reasonable prices at house sales. Nineteenth-century fashion-type dolls are high in price, but the ordinary china-headed or metal-headed dolls of the 1875-1900 period often sell for less than $150 in the shops.

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It is the 20th-century dolls that are taking off in price, the Kovels say , particularly toys from the 1930s-60s.

''Madame Alexander dolls, Nancy Ann Storybook dolls, Lenci, Ravca, and even dolls made by American Indians to sell to tourists and many others, are now bringing hundreds of dollars,'' say the Kovels, who predict that good dolls of this time period are going to keep rising in price. These experts also predict that an exhibition of thousands of dolls opening Oct. 9 at the Strong Museum in Rochester, N.Y., will create more interest.

The Kovels refer serious collectors to the publication, the Doll Investment Newsletter, PO Box 1982, Centerville, Mass., 02632, and to about a dozen new doll-price guides. These include: ''Price Guide for Madame Alexander Collector's Dolls,'' ''Price Guide for Shirley Temple Dolls and Collectibles,'' and ''Modern Collector's Dolls, 4th edition, all by Patricia R. Smith and published by Collector Books, Paducah, Ky. Collector Books also published ''The Standard Modern Doll, Identification and Value Guide,'' with values updated to 1981.

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