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Vintage Barbie Identification & Value Guide

Early Barbie: Dolls from the years 1959 to 1961

Published: 2009 | Updated: 2015

Number 1 & Number 2 Ponytail Barbie

 
  There's really no mistaking Mattel's first Barbie dolls for any of the others because of their distinctive cat eyes and dramatically arched eyebrows.  The #1 and #2 Ponytail are just alike except the #1 will have holes in the feet and the #2 will not.  Most likely the doll will be very pale or even a ghostly green because the vinyl used to make the body fades over time.  
 
 
  Issue Date:  1959     Model:  850
Hair Color:
  Blonde/Brunette (might look strawberry blonde), flocked head.
Face:  No iris eye color, heavy eyeliner, dramatically arched blonde or brown eyebrows and large red lips (might fade to reddish-orange).
Body:
  Heavy solid body that smells of crayons, faded skin color, small neck knob.  May have indented lines on hips (see photo of mold marks on #3 Barbie).  The #1 Barbie has holes in the feet with copper tubes inserted.  The #2 Barbie does not.  Red nails.
Marked: 
Barbie™ Pats. Pend. ©MCMLVIII by Mattel, Inc.
Average Value:  $2500 - $8000 value guide key  (#1's = higher price)

Accessories sold with the Barbie doll : 
1959 Barbie Fashion BookletBlack & White Swimsuit
Black Mules
Gold Hoop Earrings
White Sunglasses
Black Disc stand with Prongs
1959 Barbie Fashion Booklet (left - cover graphic)

 
 
 
 
 
 

Number 3 Ponytail Barbie

 
  The same faded body color as the #1 and #2's but with brown shadow makes the #3 look rather anemic.  There were less #3's made with blue shadow.  It may be difficult to tell 3's and 4's apart if the shadow is blue.  You can rely on skin color, but it's confusing because Mattel cross-utilized body parts creating "transitional" dolls.  See this image for an example.  

  Issue Date:  1960     Model:  850
Hair Color:
  Blonde/Brunette (might look strawberry blonde), flocked head.
Face:
  Blue eyes, blonde or brown brows, blue or brown eye shadow, red lips (might fade to reddish-orange).  Less dolls painted with blue shadow.
Body: 
Heavy solid rubbery body that smells like crayons, faded skin color unless she is a transitional doll (see #4 row 3 middle and this image), small neck knob.  May have indented lines on hips (see photo of mold marks below).  Red nails.
Marked:  Barbie™ Pats. Pend. ©MCMLVIII by Mattel, Inc.
Average Value:  $300 - $700 value guide key  (brown shadow = higher $'s)

Accessories sold with the Barbie doll : 
1959 Barbie Fashion BookletBlack & White Swimsuit
Black Mules
Gold Hoop Earrings
White Sunglasses
Black Disc Stand with Wire
1959 Barbie Fashion Booklet (left - cover graphic)

 

 
 
 
1960 Barbie Ponytail Barbie 3
 
 
 

Number 4 Ponytail Barbie

 
  Originally, the #4 Ponytail looked much like the #3, minus the brown shadow, but a new kind of vinyl was used for the #4's that doesn't fade like the previous dolls.  The body is still the heavy solid body, with some being marked "R" during the transition into 1961.  These #4 Ponytails age very well and retain much of their beauty from when they were brand new dolls.  
 
 
  Issue Date:  1960     Model:  850
Hair Color:
  Blonde/Brunette (might look strawberry blonde).  Flocked head.
Face:
  Blue eyes, blonde or brown brows, red lips, blue eye shadow only.
Body:  Heavy solid rubbery body that smells like crayons, small neck knob.  Skin color is a lifelike flesh color unless she is a transitional doll (see row 3 middle and this image).  May have indented lines on hips (see photo of mold marks on #3 Barbie).  Red nails.
Marked:  Barbie™ Pats. Pend. ©MCMLVIII by Mattel, Inc. or
Barbie®​ Pats. Pend. ©MCMLVIII by Mattel, Inc.
Average Value:  $150 - $400
value guide key

Accessories sold with the Barbie doll : 
1959 Barbie Fashion BookletBlack & White Swimsuit
Black Mules
Gold Hoop or Pearl Earrings
White Sunglasses
Black Disc Stand with Wire or Black Wire Stand
1959 Barbie Fashion Booklet (left - cover graphic)

 

 
 
 
 
 
 

Number 5 Ponytail Barbie

 
  The #5 Ponytail's had a new hollow body and poodle curls gone in favor of big coarse curls.  The #5 Ponytails are plagued with problems.  Often, the new plastic "sweats" and gives them what collectors call "greasy face."  The head color sometimes darkens and the leg stance is often splayed.  But they are blessed with original Barbie big luscious red lips.  #5 Ponytail Barbie  
 
 
  Issue Date:  1961     Model:  850
Hair Color:
  Blonde/Brunette/Titian.  Big coarse curls.  No flocking.
Face:  Blue eyes, light blonde, brown or reddish brows, blue eye shadow and red lips.  Sometimes the doll has a greasy-looking face.
Body:  Light-weight hard plastic body with hollow torso, small neck knob.  Skin color is not faded and no mold marks on hips.  Leg stance is often splayed.  Red nails.
Marked:  Barbie®​ Pats. Pend. ©MCMLVIII by Mattel, Inc.
Average Value: $75 - $275 value guide key

Accessories sold with the Barbie doll : 
1961 B&K Fashion BookletBlack & White Swimsuit
Black Mules
Pearl Earrings
Optional White Sunglasses
Black Wire Stand
1961 B&K Fashion Booklet (left - cover graphic)

 

 
 
 
#5 Barbie oily face
 
 
 

Number 1 Bubble Cut Barbie

 
  A new Barbie with a bouffant hairdo!  The first Bubbles are very distinct from the others.  They had tight short bubbles, the famous big red lips and unfortunately the same problems as the #5's; greasy and/or darkened face and splayed stance.  The rare 1961 Bubbles are the white ginger and the brownette.  Krista of "Doll Restoration" describes 1961 White Gingers.  
 
 
  Issue Date:  1961     Model:  850
Hair Color:
  Brunette, Titian, shades of Blonde and the rare colors: white ginger and brown sable aka brownette (see middle photos below).
Face:  Blue eyes, blonde, brown or reddish brows, blue shadow and red lips. Gingers have pink lips, turquoise eyes and green-blue eye shadow.  Sometimes have a "greasy" face or darkened face.
Body:  Light-weight hard plastic body with hollow torso, small neck knob.  Skin color is not faded and no mold marks on hips.  Leg stance is often splayed.  Red nails.
Marked:  Barbie®​ Pats. Pend. ©MCMLVIII by Mattel, Inc.
Average Value:  $50 - $150
value guide key

Accessories sold with the Barbie doll : 
1961 B&K Fashion BookletBlack & White Swimsuit
Black Mules
Pearl Earrings
Optional White Sunglasses
Black Wire Stand
1961 B&K Fashion Booklet (left - cover graphic)

 
 
 
 
 
 

Number 1 Flocked Ken

  First issue Ken dolls had "lifelike" flocked hair, so there's no problem distinguishing them from later painted-hair Kens.  They also have larger eyebrows.  Many have lost the flocking and some have greasy faces and faded body color like Barbie.  Rare Kens are JC Penney's flocked Ken with light brown hair (see image below and with red towel).  Some have painted legs. First Ken Doll  
 
 
  Issue Date:  1961     Model:  750
Hair Color:
  Blonde/Brunette.  A rare Ken doll issued by JC Penney had light brown hair (see photo below).
Face:  Blue eyes, brown or reddish brows, mauve lips.
Body:  Light-weight hard plastic body with hollow torso.  Some early Ken dolls have painted legs.  Some bodies fade to ivory or ghostly green like early ponytails do and some have "greasy" faces like the #5 Ponytails.
Marked:  Ken™ Pats. Pend. ©MCMLX by Mattel, Inc.
Average Value:  $20 -  $75
value guide key

Accessories sold with the Ken doll :
1961 B&K Fashion BookletRed Trunks or Red with White Stripe
Red and White Striped Jacket
Red Cork Sandals
Optional Yellow Towel
Black Wire Stand
1961 B&K Fashion Booklet (left - cover graphic)

 
 
 
Brownette Ken
Flocked Hair Ken
 
 
 

Explanation of Vintage Barbie Values

The 2015 Vintage Barbie doll values listed on this page are meant to give someone new to Vintage Barbie collecting an approximate idea of value.  Value depends greatly on the condition of the doll and the conditions of the sale.

Values given are based on dolls in average condition -- not near mint dolls with original box and accessories, and likewise, not a doll with major damage such as missing digits, green ear, cut hair, gouges, or swingy limbs.

Examples:

  • Barbie's hair may be missing the original hair bands and be out of the original style, but there are no haircuts or missing plugs
  • She may have a lip rub or rubbed eyebrow, but she is not missing all of her lip or eyebrow paint
  • Ken may have a few hair rubs, but he is not missing large amounts of flocking.
  • The doll might be in great condition, no problems -- it just shows minor playwear

Dolls being sold by established dealers that collectors trust or being sold in person will bring more than dolls being sold on eBay because of the fraud risk eBay poses.

The amounts posted do not include values for rare versions of the dolls.

2015 Note:  There are pages and pages of vintage Barbie dolls on eBay that have been customized -- repainted (even airbrushed) and re-rooted with colors and hairstyles that are completely alien to the original dolls (unfortunately many of these are vintage #4 Ponytail dolls).  They are also dressed in clothing that is not original to vintage Barbie.  This customized style, using actual vintage Barbie dolls, seems to have merged with the OOAK-style that has been done for years using reproduction Barbie dolls and other fashion dolls.

Because of this, I have have based the values on loose dolls that are in original condition (with, at the very most, a minor paint restoration, for example a lip rub or something similar, or re-banded hair) and dressed in original vintage Barbie swimsuits, nude dolls, or a little bit of clothing that was most likely found in the case with the doll.  It's very hard to know what has been done to the original-looking dolls being sold by the sellers who customize them as well, or even to be sure what model of doll they were originally.
 

 
 
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