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Collecting Barbie Dolls

Updated on February 5, 2009


Barbie was introduced by Mattel in 1959, and although toy critics weren't thrilled with her, little girls across America quickly started begging for their own Barbie doll. Her good looks, charm, and charisma won everyone over,soon to be sought after by adults and children for their own collections.

Ruth Handler came up with Barbie after watching her own girls play with their paper dolls. She designed a doll that would grow with us all- in both fashion and attitude.

Barbie symbolized the innocence of youth.

No matter what critics thought in 1959, they could never have expected the popularity that Barbie has explored.

Througout the years, Barbie has been a model of fashion. She has held a number of jobs, and she has found herself in a number of countries.  Barbie has always been a true trendsetter with her hair, makeup, and ever-growing closet of close, shoes, and accessories.

Collecting Barbies

When collecting Barbies, you'll find that you aren't alone in the hobby. There are a large number of children, teens, and adults who collect Barbie dolls. It's estimated that there are over 100,000 Barbie doll collectors, with about 90% of collectors being women of about 40 years old, who purchase about 20 Barbies a year with about 45% of them spending about $1,000 a year.

When looking for Barbie dolls, you want to shop around and find the best deals. Remember that if you ever want to sell a doll from your collection, you want to be able to say you made a profit, which can only be done if you buy low and sell high.

When looking for Barbie dolls to add to your collection, it's a good idea to keep variety of dolls in your collection.

As of 2004, Barbie Collector even added a color-coded tier system for each doll that identifies what level of doll collecting that Barbie belongs to. The colored label not only adds to the packing design but makes them stand out to collectors.

  • Pink Label- The Pink Label includes includes a collector's most beloved and fun keepsake Barbies. These dolls are available at quality retailers, with Wal*Mart being their premier destination.
  • Silver Label- The Silver Label Barbies are those where less than 50,000 dolls are produced worldwide. Silver Label dolls are available at toy retailers, such as Toys R Us.
  • Gold Label- The Gold Label marks dolls where less than 25,000 dolls are produced worldwide. The dolls marked with a Gold Label are those that are packaged in "cake boxes" with a acetate layer to protect the dolls and intricate artwork on the lid and back. These dolls are sold through authorized Barbie doll dealers, as well as fine retailers.
  • Platinum Label- The Platinum Label are those that are more sought after, as these dolls are produced with less than 1,000 dolls worldwide, to include premium one-of-a-kind dolls and dolls created specifically events.

Barbie Doll Collections

While your collection is growing, you may want to figure out what it is worth. When pricing your collection, you'll want to consider purchasing a collector's guide book for Barbies throughout the ages. There are a number of collector's books, doll magazines, and various auction sites that can help you place value to your collection of Barbie dolls. Although, the values and information in these such places will vary and fluctuate over time, so it's a good idea to check a variety of sources before determining the value of your dolls.

Some dolls will increase in value, where others will decrease. Mattel doesn't guarantee the potential value of any of their dolls.

There are many online trading sites that you can participate in, as well as Barbie conventions that you can check out. The more you are in the hobby, speaking with others in the hobby, the more knowledgeable you will become.

Just remember that in order to decide which dolls are worth your investment, you have to just stay informed in the community. The more unique the doll and the higher quality and workmanship of the doll, the higher the potential value of the doll.

A few things that you should remember is that dolls that are mint in the box (doll in the original box), mint in the package (all accessories still in the package), and mint no box (doll is in pristine condition, possibly in a collector's case but not original box), are typically going to be worth more than a used doll.

Also consider fan club exclusive dolls, limited edition, collector edition, online exclusive, timeless treasure, and the label dolls are potentially worth more than a mass production doll.

You want to invest in those Barbie dolls that appeal to you the most. Don't buy just for value. Buy what you are interested in, and add those dolls to your collection.

Collectors Factoid: The original Barbie sold for $3.00 in 1959, and in 2004 a mint boxed 1959 Barbie sold on eBay for $3,552.50. And, in 2006, a Barbie set a world record in London, selling for $17,000.

1972 Surprising Vintage Barbie TV Commercial


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    • profile image


      8 years ago

      so for all you barbie lovers out there i have 35 collectible barbies still mint in box, never been opened. and since im 18 now im trying to sell them to raise money to get my first car. if anyone is interested please let me know. thank you -Morgan

    • profile image

      pooyah faown 

      8 years ago

      we used to put them in our shoes-for their car.

    • gr8archer45 profile image


      10 years ago from Pakistan

      ooh I just love barbies, I still have 12 from my childhood, kept safe till now. I used to enjoy making little clothes & furniture for them :) they r such fond memories!

    • rainbow horse profile image

      rainbow horse 

      10 years ago from Roseburg, OR

      Great hub! I always enjoy reading about Barbie!! I love collecting vintage Barbie and her wardrobe.

    • MellasViews profile image


      10 years ago from Earth

      Very neat. I had no idea about the color coding system!!! My mom has barbie numero uno. Guess where she got it?

      As a kid, she dug this doll up in the dump (back in the day the dumps would let people dump dive. lol).. and this was where she aquired her first barbie... little did she know at the time it was thee first barbie.

      At any rate, the doll is in excellent condition, but does not have its box. She refuses to sell the dang thing though because it was her only barbie (poor family) as a child.

      Anyhow, great hub. : ) Im going to pass this one on to ma, who maybe will be more willing to sell her precious when she sees what its worth. : )


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