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BARBIE DOLLS-Collectors' Information

Updated on October 19, 2009

Cupboard Full Of Barbie Dolls

BARBIE DOLLS-Collectors' Information

Today I am going to digress from my usual fare. I am going to examine the hobby of collecting Barbie dolls. You see I was helping my daughter, she’s 10 years old; to clean her room when I realised that she has a cupboard full of Barbie dolls ranging from those normal play line collections to those limited collectors items.

Of course, yours truly has no inclination at all on the fuss she kicked up when I roughly handled her Barbie dolls. Well not really rough, I would not dare, not in million years to be rough with any lady. And Barbie is no ordinary lady as I would find out later. Most of her Barbie dolls are still in mint condition, never taken out from the boxes and of course hidden in her cupboard to be admired only when her classmates visited her.

My research subsequently, opened up a whole world of Barbie culture which boggles the mind, all for a doll made from plastic vinyl with those bright eyes and a head full of neatly coiffured hairs. There are over 13 million websites on Barbie dolls alone on well, what else; a whole world of topics on Barbie dolls.


For a start, Barbie was “born” in February 1959 at the American Toy Fair when she was first exhibited to the world by the founders of Mattel Toys, Ruth and Elliot Handler. Barbie whose original name is Barbara Millicent Roberts must have certainly endeared herself to the public with her pure and innocent demeanor. For a toy which is about 11.5 inches high with a well proportioned feminine figure dressed in contemporary costume, Barbie has certainly endeared herself to many generations of collectors. According to Wikipedia, a total of 350,000 Barbie dolls were sold in the first year of manufacture alone. It was a humongous figure.


Barbie dolls are classified by collectors into two categories ie the vintage collection from 1959 to 1972 and thereafter the modern collection. Each category reflects the cultural trend of that period, in particular the costumes and hairdos of the dolls. The vintage dolls generally spot ponytail or bubble hairdos.


Today's Barbie dolls are manufactured worldwide and as such Barbie dolls reflect the ethnicity and culture of the place she is “born”. She adorns the costume, hairstyle of the country she’s from and she even changes her skin tone or color as well. There are now African American, Hawaiian, Asia Pacific which includes the Chinese, Indian, Japanese, Korean and Thai variety. Continental Europe is definitely represented by French, English, Portuguese, Spanish and not to mention the Russian too. I suppose the entire United Nation is her playground. Barbie dolls also take on iconic figures of the historical period that they represent, an example of which is the Empress Tsi Tsu doll, who was the last Empress Dowager of China. It's a collectors item of considerable value now

Barbie’s family and friends have also grown over the years. From Ken, her initial partner introduced in 1961, there are now the likes of Francie, Allen, Mida, Stacey, Tutti , Todd and many more. All of them bear the same quality and finesse as Barbie herself. There are now added to Barbie a multitude of costumes and accessories. Even her home furniture and her cars have also become collectors items. Renowned fashion icons like Vera Wang and others have put their mark on Barbie's outfit.


A rule of the thumb advised those experts is never to take it out from the box but this is not enough for serious collectors. Other conditions must be observed to ensure that the doll is in mint condition:-

1) No rough handling

2) Always store in cool dry place away from direct sunlight. Sunlight tends to fade the vinyl and the clothing of the doll

3) Keep her away from prolonged exposure to flourescent and incandescent lights. The heat generated by these sources of lighting will adversely affect the vinyl

4) Avoid spraying the doll with chemical compounds or any items containing chemicals like bug repellent sprays and deodorant

5) She likes no smoking zone. Smoke has a tendency to leave unhealthy odor on her

6) Never enclosed her in airtight plastic wrappers, mold tends to form

7) Keep the doll in a cabinet so that no dust or bugs can damage her.

Its no wonder my daughter likes to fuss over her as though she’s a bone fide princess of the house.

The Market for Barbie Dolls

There is certainly a huge primary and secondary market for Barbie dolls. It was reported that two new Barbie dolls are sold worldwide every minute.

The secondary market is even more exciting. Prices for collectors grade Barbie dolls range from a few hundred to thousands of dollars depending on whether they are vintages or moderns, collectors grades or limited edition collectors grades. My daughter claims that she is a proud investor of an important asset with considerable value and appreciating by the day. She surfs the Net to ascertain the value of her collection. There are virtually thousand of websites devoted to the secondary market for Barbie dolls. It is imperative that serious collectors should visit these sites to gauge the value of their dolls or their intended purchases. E bay is a good starting point. Next, a comparison should be made with the book value of the dolls which can be glimpsed from reference books on the subject. From there an assessment can then be made after scrutinizing the condition of the doll.

Before we appraise the value of Barbies we also need to know the lexicons that have been developed by connoisseurs of Barbie dolls to understand their lingo and participate meaningfully in the negotiations:-

1) MIB - mint in box, refers to a Barbie doll still encased in her box and in factory condition

2) MIP - mint in package, this is sometimes used interchangeably with MIB

3) NM - near mint, its still in excellent condition but not quite

4) NRFM - never removed from box, still in factory packaging

5) EC - excellent condition – not quite mint but spot no major flaws

6) VG - very good condition, played before but with no flaws

7) GD - good condition, the doll has been used and spots minor flaws

8) PC - poor condition, beyond repair

9) HTF - hard to find

10) Collectible line Barbie dolls – a line of dolls meant or the adults and are generally meant for display only

11) Play line and Pink line Barbie dolls - a line of dolls meant for children and young adults to be used as play toys and these are usually displayed in toy shops by the rows

12) Limited collectiors edition - modern limited edition meant that less than 35,000 pieces of the toy are manufactured

13) Collectors edition - a line of modern Barbie dolls whose production are in excess of 35000 pieces

Now, armed with a rudimentary knowledge of the above jargons, collectors can participate meaningfully in the appraisal of the value of the dolls. A MIB doll would certainly fetch a higher price than an NM doll and so forth. However a detailed assessment of the dolls' condition must be made to ascertain the price a collector is willing to pay notwithstanding the above.


Firstly, according to those experts that abound in the Net , you must hold the doll softly with your hands to assess the condition of the vinyl. She must have that feel of authenticity and texture similar to a newly bought Barbie. She must be properly kept and handled to maintain that original feel.

Scrutinize and ensure that there are no scratches, alterations or markings (other than those originally there). Examine closely to ensure that she bears no sign of being restored. These experts also point out that the face of a vintage Barbie doll might be greasy as a result of seepage of the plasticizer to the surface of the plastic. This will surely undermine the value of the doll concerned.

Vintage Barbie dolls might also have ears that are stained green caused by the metal emplaced in the post of the dolls’ earrings.

It is also vital to check if the limbs and torso are bendable. Due to improper storage and care, the limbs may be hardened and become brittle.

Look out for the completeness of the accessories provided in the original purchase.

Finally check the date and other inscriptions on the doll which only genuine Barbie dolls would carry. Actually see the butt marking which is a number in her behind indicating the date of manufacture of her mould.


Certain Barbie dolls are actually investments in monetary terms. Not bad for a toy! So long that here are collectors for the dolls, there will always be a market. My daughter thinks she’s an astute investor always on the look out for Barbie Dolls in the flea markets. Well if nothing comes of her investment as least Barbie has given her the first lessons in the world of trading plus uncountable hours of companionship, joy and pleasure of playing with the Princess.




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      Lois Massey Westbrook... 2 years ago

      I have a 1966...Barbie doll. It is in great condition but is not in a box....This Barbie was made with a cigarette in her mouth I have never found another one like it anywhere online....I would love some info on this particular Barbie doll...Thank you.

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      Joyce Miller 3 years ago

      I think this site will b very interesting n knowledgeable.

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      Kaila 3 years ago

      Gerri I have a question for you. I have a mint condition 1959 Barbie doll card. m=the card has no dents no finger prints or nothing. I was just wondering how much money this would go for??????

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      Chery 4 years ago

      Just wondering about Geri 1, comment.

      "I have an aqua, convertible, 1957 Barbie car in the box"

      If Barbie was not invented until 1959, how can you have a 1957 barbie car?

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      stormymontana 4 years ago

      Besides a mint in box 1963 skipper with head still wrapped stock no 1030 stored since purchased by parents I found 2 of another item but can't seem to find anything out about them or their value. I wanted to list them but have no idea what for. I have 2 unopened sets of dated 1963 "Barbie Make-believe purse cosmetics for a date with Ken" made by Merry Manufactoring Company. Can you tell me anything about these? They have a stock no on them of 1123:100 . Can you tell me anything about these? Thanks, Terri

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      Judy Walker 4 years ago

      I have a1992 Dorothy, 1995 Tin Man, 1995 Glinda, 1996 Cowadly Lion and a 1996 Scarecrow Barbie doll collector edition never taken out of the box, how can I determine the value of these dolls?

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      george 4 years ago

      i have dolls 210 309 3133

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      Donna Pollum 5 years ago

      Why do some dolls have a different date on their back from the date on their head? Or some have a date on their back and no date on their head. Why is that? Thanks.

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      Linda 5 years ago

      I have a Suzie goose double bed. I don't ever see them so it must be very rare. I would like to get an idea of it's worth . It's the frame ' headboard, footboard. The color is good. The red velvet is on the headboard and footboard. It has a drawer in the bed on the right side looking at the headboard. I would appreciate any info. Thanks, Linda

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      Geri 1 5 years ago

      I have an aqua, convertible, 1957 Barbie car in the box in mint anyone interested in buying?

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      Nelsy 5 years ago

      I have a barbie dall made in 1966 and Kent made in 1968. I bought them for my oldest daughter 40 yrs ago and she never played with them. They were kept in a suitcase and not exposed to sunlight or were never in plastic bag.

      I would like to sell them.

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      Stacy 6 years ago

      I was wondering about that Mida Barbie as well. It say Japan on her foot and barbie and name on her butt. Yet, I can find nothing on her. Please respond

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      Gretchen Kraft 6 years ago

      I have a Mida Barbie Doll and haven't been able to find out much information on her. Your article mentioned her name and I was very surprised to see her name. Can you tell me more about Mida?

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      Ms. Green 7 years ago

      I have a Hallmark Nostalgic Barbie-Stand-up Card Collection with seals/stickers and envelopes that have never been used. would anyone like to purchase this?

      Thanks for your response!

      Sincerely, ms. Green