History of the Collectible Barbie Dolls

History of Barbie Doll Collectibles

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History of Barbie Doll Collectibles


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History of the Barbie Doll


Ruth Handler sat watching her daughter and her friends play adult, teenage, make- believe with paper dolls, and using them to play out different careers. Ruth knew that playing grown up parts with these dolls was an important part of growing up. She was inspired by a rather lewd 1952 Bald Lilly cartoon in Germany.

In 1957 Ruth Handler brought back, three plastic dolls from the Bald Lilly Company. She then introduced a doll of innocence with a different image. Most people thought this doll would not sell and children would not put down their baby dolls to play with a grown up doll. The names, Barbie and Ken came from Ruth Handler’s children’s names, and Elliot Handler in his youth was called "EL" which in fact is part of the name "Mattel". When Barbie was first introduced, mothers looked upon this new doll as scandalous but children loved Barbie, and the doll’s popularity grew quickly.

Several designs later, Mattel introduced Barbie, at the Toy Fair in NY in 1959, this new doll was one not to be seen anywhere at the fair, since baby and toddler dolls were, the popular doll at this time.

Barbie was always keeping up with fashion and had an extensive wardrobe, showed every fashion in a wide variety and was a huge success with the children. Advertising hit television and the popularity of Barbie has survived forty years, last year her 40th anniversary. Her image evolved from the renown images of Jacqueline Kennedy to today’s more free and youthful look. Teenage fashions always changing kept the wardrobes and clothes changing at a very fast rate. Many trends besides the Kennedy era kept her afloat in popularity.

The early sixties she showed many qualities of Paris fashions and then there was the Beatles which showed the new mini fashions, her hair much longer as well as the mod look which actually showed a whole new face sculpt on the doll. Barbie portrayed the little girl’s best friend and dreams of the future were played through her.

In the seventies Barbie again got a new face sculpt and showed the flashy glitter of the disco years, and her skin took on a much tanner look than before, with sun streaked blonde hair and even the granny dresses that people were wearing at the time.

In the eighties Barbie showed her business look, with suits and briefcases and a typical look of the nighttime soaps, such as “Dallas” and "Dynasty".

Then the 1990s, the Barbie doll walked into the world of women’s sports and takes on Women’s National Association and NASCAR racing, and a woman’s world wide cup holder for soccer.

For those of us lucky enough to have had a Barbie doll, or collect them, we have seen her actually become a role model opening new careers to little girls. Some careers Barbie introduced were a college graduate in 1963, surgeon in 1973, business executive in 1986, "Summit Diplomat", airline pilot in 1990, a presidential candidate in 1992, and a dentist in 1997. The Barbie doll has actually had 75 careers since her inception in 1959.

The new millennium presents exciting things for Barbie, new software with the game called "Barbie Fashion Designer", “Magic Hair Designer", "Barbie Photo Designer Digital Camera and CD-ROM".

Exciting as it seems that we can go online to design our own sneakers, picking soles, fabrics and designs there is also," My Design", for Barbie which allows consumers to go online to customize Barbie right down to the shoes, and have her exactly the way they want her. The history of Barbie today seems only the mid chapter of what is to come in the future… more exciting things, to come for this wonderful doll which has played a small part in our children’s dreams, and futures.

Copyright/All Rights Reserved B. A. Williams

Barbie and Ken

What to Collect?

Barbie and Ken are definietly collectible toys, especially with the present divorce of the two dolls. That is an entirely different story, why would we teach our children that divorce is something good to play out, or do we just teach them the story so they can adjust in life if their own parents are divorced.

Personally I liked it before that happened, and as every child plays fantasy should always be a bright sunny place in our mind to escape.


Maybe they will remarry?

Comments 5 comments

lucybell21 profile image

lucybell21 4 years ago from Troy, N.Y.

Awesome hub! With lots of great info.


B. A. Williams profile image

B. A. Williams 4 years ago from USA Author

Thanks so much Lucy!


gail641 profile image

gail641 4 years ago from Mason City

Barbie's history is really fascinating. When I was young I had a Barbie doll and a Skipper doll. I have a cousin who had the Skipper doll with the bendable legs and arms. The Barbie doll is really beautiful and sure went through a lot of changes through the years. Nice hub and nice picture of Barbie, too.


B. A. Williams profile image

B. A. Williams 4 years ago from USA Author

Thanks gail I hope to continue with more stories about her and Ken, and another article on the last few years in progression. Thanks so much for commenting and reading. They are great dolls I don't think the pizazz will ever wear off.


gail641 profile image

gail641 4 years ago from Mason City

Your welcome. At amazon.com I saw Barbie dolls made as Dorothy from "The Wizard of Oz", and others. I really like the Silvertone Barbies, they were really neat. I agree, I don't think the pizazz will ever wear off, either.

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