Collecting and Identifying Vintage Barbie

Bubblecut Barbies

Collecting Vintage Barbie

Collecting vintage Barbie is a rewarding hobby.  Identifying  vintage Barbie  correctly is very important.

Fifty years ago in 1959 the very first Barbie doll was the brainchild of Ruth Handler of Mattel. While in Germany, she was excited to discover a German doll called Bild Lilli that had a ponytail and fashion model body. She excitedly went home to begin the creation of a well loved toy that is highly collectible today.

The first Barbie had hoop earrings, a solid body, eyebrows that are arched in the middle and a stand that had two rods that went into the feet. Number one Barbie's hair was made in both blonde and brunette with blonde made in a ratio of three to one with 350,000 dolls produced. The first doll was shortly replaced by the number two ponytail Barbie which looked exactly the same except she did not have holes in her feet. Both number one and two Barbies are extremely hard to find though some lucky collectors have them. The price of either is in the thousands now. On Ebay you will have to expect to pay from $2,000.00 up according to condition. Recently a number one barbie sold for $14,600 on Ebay! 

To identify the number one and two dolls there are some important things to look for. Besides the holes in the feet which are lined with copper on the first doll, and the pointed eyebrows you will see the vinyl has turned a very pale ivory color. Under the hair you will find flocking which continued through the first four Barbies as did the tight curly bangs. Barbie came in a black and white swimsuit for the first four dolls.

At the end of 1959 and the beginning of 1960, Barbie number three was made still with the same beautiful ponytail but the eyebrows were changed to a more rounded shape. The vinyl still faded on the dolls. A few months later number four ponytail Barbie was produced and was the last to have the the solid body and tight curly bangs.

Important to Barbie identification is the marking on the dolls behind. The first three were marked: Barbie TM Pats Pending C MCMLVIII . The later versions had an R after Barbie.

Ponytail Barbie number five came out in 1961 with blonde, brunette or titian hair with a new hollow torso and a red swimsuit. Her hair did not have the under flocking and the curly bangs were not as tight. She had coarser hair than the earlier Barbies. Ponytail number five Barbies sometimes got a greasy face through the years because of a chemical change in the vinyl Mattel used. The sixth Barbie produced also had a ponytail and was like number five but had thicker bangs.

Ponytail Barbies have been reproduced in recent years with reproduction clothing and boxes along with the Bubblecut Barbie, Color Magics, and American Girl Barbies. The vinyl is much different as is the hair and markings. Just be careful when purchasing that you know the differences. Also be aware that there are those who repaint dolls to look like a rare number one or two Barbie.

Prices for the #4,5 and 6 are much more reasonable, usually starting around 125.00 with no box on Ebay and going up to aproximately 350.00 or more if still in the box.

If you love the vintage Barbies, and want the same basic Barbie face with the solid eyelash ridge and unsmiling face of the 1960s ponytail dolls, the Bubblecut Barbies may be fun for you to collect for less money. They have short curly hair in a variety of shades and lipstick colors. Bubbelecuts were made from 1961 through 1965. They were marked Barbie Pats Pend Pend c MCMLVII by Mattel INC in 1961 and later Midge TM 1962 Barbie c 1958 by Mattel Inc.

Following the straight legged Barbie dolls of the early years, bend legs came into the picture starting with Miss Barbie with blinking eyes, American Girl Barbie and Color Magic Barbie. They are beautiful dolls to collect. Check the legs when considering buying as they often have damage such as splits and nicks.

While purchasing a vintage Barbie, be sure to undress her and look over the body, the marks and condition. Know the value you should pay. For more knowledge about collecting early Barbie, go to doll shows and talk to collectors. Though no longer published, you can still find Barbie Bazaar back issues on Ebay and they are packed with information and pictures. There are some excellent books on vintage Barbie  doll identification and for her wonderful wardrobe.

Vintage Barbie

Barbie Collector's Request Vintage Reproductions - Friday Night Dream Date Giftset
Barbie Collector's Request Vintage Reproductions - Friday Night Dream Date Giftset

Barbie Collector's Request Vintage Reproductions - Friday Night Dream Date Giftset

The Complete & Unauthorized Guide to Vintage Barbie Dolls® & Fashions (Schiffer Book for Collectors)
The Complete & Unauthorized Guide to Vintage Barbie Dolls® & Fashions (Schiffer Book for Collectors)

The Complete & Unauthorized Guide to Vintage Barbie Dolls: With Barbie & Skipper Fashions and the Whole Family of Barbie Dolls (Schiffer Book for Collectors) (Paperback)

This is a number 5  brunette Barbie.
This is a number 5 brunette Barbie.

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Comments 3 comments

sueb1965 6 years ago

Your information is much appreciated. I had recently acquired a box of Barbies, most are within the past 15 year period. One I know is vintage but only has one marking and it is a # 2 which is on her back below whar appears to be a button to retrach her missing hair (hole in head where I think hair came out). She has turqoise iris, eye shadow, thin eye brows, holes in her heels and a head that appears to be a little bigger than your average Barbie. Are you able to give me any information on this Barbie doll? Thanks a lot!


morgan 6 years ago

i have an ash blonde #5 ponytail barbie too, im not sure what they're worth but i do know its expensive! (depending on the conditoin)

Nancy J. Wilcox 5 years ago

I got a blond ponytail Barbie in 1960. She came in the doll case on a black stand, dressed in a black & white swimsuit. She has tight, curly bangs, blue eyes, and blue eyeliner. There are no holes in her feet. The problem: there are NO TRADEMARK MARKINGS on her rear end or elsewhere. I can find no info. online. Help.

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