Frequently Asked Questions
1. How can you tell an authentic Vintage Barbie from a reproduction?
Answer: Mattel has made many excellent reproductions over the years, and if you are not familiar with vintage dolls, you could get confused! All the vintage Barbies were made in Japan, and have "Japan" marked on the bottom of one foot, or in the case of the bend-leg dolls, on the right buttock (Some may not have "Made in Japan" but do have the Mattel 1958 mark ). The faces and hair are not really the same (see below pics!), but you have to look at a number of them to see this. The markings on their bums, backs, or feet tell the story! If it says "Korea", "Philippines", or anything other than "Japan" it is not a Vintage Barbie!
Vintage #1 Barbie Reproduction #1 Barbie Vintage #1 Barbie
***NOTE: I have added an entire page on how to tell a vintage from a reproduction Barbie. Still working on it, but you can now find more info HERE! ***
Also see the websites on the "links" page. In particular, Krista's Doll Restoration site has tons of info. There is an ID guide on "Barbiefanatic" site and "Fashion Doll Guide" has a lot of info about the markings.
[I have added a little ID help for Ponytails (see question 3 below). I thank Krista's site for much of the knowledge I have gleaned to post this info.]
2. Are your dolls for sale?
Answer: While this site is mainly for the display and sharing of Barbie collections, I have added a page with some sale items.. Some photos on this site have been posted by members, and those dolls of course are privately owned by them. The dolls in the photo gallery that are marked as posted by "Teresa" are in my private collection and are not intended as sale items here, unless they are also listed on the sale page. I am not a broker for any sale of a doll from another member. If however you are interested in purchasing a particular doll belonging to me, and it is not on the sale page, it is possible that she could be available. Please contact me and let me know which doll you are interested in, if that is the case.
3. How do you tell which Barbie doll is which? I can't tell the # of the Ponytails!
Answer: Good question! Please click on the sidebar item "1: Vintage Barbie ID Guide" or "2: Identify YOUR Barbie".
4. Everyone wants to know the butt cheek markings! How do I tell what they mean?
Answer: The raised marks on the right buttock (bum, tushie, butt, whatever you please) are the ones that count. The left butt cheek has a number that just signifies a mold number, not which # of Ponytail you have, etc. Fashion Doll Guide and Krista's sites have more specific info on this, and they are in my links.
However, if you can manage to see the marks (I need a magnifier), the appropriate ones for the #1,2 and 3 Ponytails have "Barbie TM" on the top line, and some Roman numeral dates (1958), "Mattel" and some other info. The #4 Ponytails had "Barbie R" (Although some still had TM). Their torsos are solid, while the #5 and on have hollow, lighter-weight torsos. The markings on #5 Ponytails and early #6 are "Barbie R", etc. The first issue (1961) Bubblecuts have the same bodies as the #5 Ponytails, and so do the 1962 Bubblecuts. In 1963, with the introduction of barbie's best friend Midge, the Ponytails and Bubblecuts gained the mark "Midge TM" which was on top line, with the "Barbie R" mark below that.
These marks did not change until the bend-leg Barbies (Miss Barbie, American Girl) in 1965, which had no "Barbie" at all, but started with "Mattel"...etc. These marks were intaglio (imprinted to make them depressed rather than raised). In 1966, Mattel added "Made in Japan" at the end in raised letters. Later that year they decided to make the whole thing in raised letters.
5. How can I tell the value of my vintage doll?
Answer: Values go up and down with the market. There are guides on the internet and in books, but these can get outdated, so you can't really go by them. The best way is to identify your doll and get an idea of her (or his) condition. Look on ebay at prices similar ones are going for, and at "completed listings" to see what they actually sold for.
Value depends on:
Condition--I am not expert enough to say exactly what the criteria are for "C-10, C-9, etc. But "Mint" should indicate a doll that has been very rarely handled, and has no flaws such as face paint rubs, green at the ears (a pretty bad flaw, resulting from the metal posts on the "pearl" earrings the dolls came with), chipped nose, gouges, scratches, missing or cut hair, vinyl splits, loose limbs, etc. Retouching would take her out of the Mint category.
I believe "Near Mint" can describe a doll with very, very minor flaws, such as a little wear to the nail polish, a little bend in a leg, a tiny fade to an eyebrow, that sort of thing.
Once you have something like face paint rubs (other than the slightest eyelash ridge), big scratches, or swingy arms, the value decreases. Big issues such as neck splits, nose damage, fingers missing, haircuts, or bad green ear will lower the value very significantly. (Krista can treat previously untreated green ear quite successfully, by the way.)
Rarity: A rarer doll can be worth much more, even with a flaw or two, than a common one. For example, a Near Mint Brunette Bubblecut, because Mattel made a lot of her, may be worth $120, while a #3 Brunette Ponytail even with some face paint flaws can be worth $300 or more. A 1961 Brownette Bubblecut is so darn rare, compared with a Blonde 1961 Bubble in the same condition, the Brownette will be worth about 3 times as much!
...And since the #1 was made in such small numbers (a few hundred thousand), she is very expensive! Usually a #1 or #2 in good condition will go upwards of $2500, and if near-mint and/or having the original box, stand, etc, can command more than $5000. Also very rare and thus expensive are the side part American Girls. Some of the European market and Japanese market dolls are rare in the U.S. and command a good price.
Box, Accessories, NRFB: Obviously a truly never-removed-from-box doll is a valuable thing! (I do not own one.) It is hard to ascertain that for sure, but if someone is selling one to you, do look for a totally intact wrist tag, not reattached or reglued; the box should have its original insert with little to no damage, and the booklet and shoes should be sealed in the original cellophane.
Boxed dolls are worth more, especially if the box is the correct one, is in good condition,and the accessories are there.
*NOTE: For more information, go to my page Vintage Barbie Values
6. Can I post pictures of my collection or make comments?
Answer: YES! You will want to join my site as a member, and you can post photos all you want , add a blog or comment on one, contact other members, and generally have fun!