Vintage Barbie Identification
Which Barbie do I have? It can be quite confusing for a newbie collector! Even "experts" get stumped sometimes by rare or unusual-appearing dolls. In the days of Vintage and Mod Barbie, Mattel was producing toys, not trying to make heirlooms or collectibles! So they didn't waste materials. That's why you may see some totally authentic Mattel Barbies or outfits with unusual combos, seemingly in the "wrong" box, or with "incorrect" head/body parts. Needless to say, kids and collectors have pulled the old switcheroo on parts, and most "odd" combos are probably reassembled this way rather than original. But some are indeed original!
These ID guidelines are general, and there can be exceptions.
Also, for lots of side-by-side photos of various dolls, look at my page Theme and Variations !
Ponytail #1 Through #6 (or #7)
The #1 and #2 dolls (1959) both have the white irises and heavy eyeliner, royal blue liner over the black, plus pointy upside-down "v"-shaped eyebrows. They tend to get pale complexions over the years. They came in Blonde or Brunette only. Only the #1 has holes in her feet with copper tubes in them. Some early #1 dolls were hand-painted lovingly my Mattel artists, before they developed the stencil that made the dolls look more uniform.
This is a stenciled #1 Blonde with especially vivid black eyeliner.
Next, a hand-painted #1 Brunette. She has visible brush strokes in her eyebrows, and her irises are painted slightly differently.
Below is a stenciled #2 Brunette. Facial appearance of #1 and #2 is exactly the same. The only difference is absence of the foot holes in #2's.
The #3 dolls (Late 1959 and 1960) are also usually pale, as the vinyl faded (a few didn't, but most are quite light). They have gently arched brows, blue irises, and blue or brown eyeliner. In fact only #3's had brown eyeliner, so if your doll has it, she is a #3! The blue was supposedly rarer than the brown that year.
Interestingly, the lips are different shades (even accounting for fading or not) depending on the eyeliner. Mattel made the brown eyeliner dolls with either orange or brick-y red lips, but sometimes with scarlet red. The blue eyeliner dolls always, but always, have the scarlet red! (If anyone finds a blue eyeliner girl with orange lips, let us know!)
Below are two Blonde #3's with brown eyeliner. The one on the right has faded a lot compared to the one on left! Both have deep royal blue eyes and orangey lips.
Here is what may be my most scrumptious #3 Blonde with brown eyeliner! She has the quintessential orange-red lips with uneven cupid's bow.
Next is a #3 Brunette with blue eyeliner. She is quite pale but still retains a little bit of pinkish color to the face and arms. She has lighter baby blue eyes and scarlet lips!
Below are two pretty Brunettes with brown eyeliner --the on on the left has very dark brown liner and darker blue eyes, while the one on right has copper eyeliner!
All the #1, 2 and 3's have a solid torso with "Barbie TM" on the right buttock. The later #3's may have "Barbie R". They have a mold number on the left buttock that has no significant meaning. All have "Japan" on one foot.
The #4 Ponytails still have the solid torso, but their vinyl did not fade, so they all retain their original nice peachy skin tones. They still came only in Blonde and Brunette, and had only blue eyeliner.
Below is Sandy's lovely #4 Blonde. Note how the skin tone is still just like new, compared to the #3's above. (Photo courtesy of Sandy Mann)
Here is a pretty Brunette #4:
...And here is the above #4 Brunette with my #4 Blonde (They both have incredible factory blush!)
What about "Transitional Ponytails?" These, according to Krista, are combos of #3 and #4 parts which were actually assembled by Mattel. They might have a #4 head on a #3 torso, and then have a pair of #4 arms or legs, or even all four limbs! However, they do not have only a #4 head and an entire #3 body, or vice versa. Nor do they have one #3 arm and one #4 arm, they always have both matching limbs together. There are also some possible combos of #4 bodies and #5 heads around.
The #5 Ponytails and the new Bubblecuts in 1961 were the first to feature hollow torsos. "Barbie" was still imprinted on the first line on the buttock markings. The Titian (redhead) hair color was added this year, and the Ponytails' bangs were now made of more wiry material instead of the softer "poodle" bangs. They still had blue eyes and liner, although some had deeper turquoise eyes with a more green liner. The #5's had the full red "Lucy" lips!
Below is a Titian #5 Ponytail. She has the medium turquoise eyes with teal/green eyeliner. Some of the #5's had blue/blue.
Some #5's had a new vinyl formula used on their heads, so their faces got "oily" looking. Below you see a Brunette #5 whose face is a bit oily, but in my eyes, she's still gorgeous!
The Pony's from 1959 to 1961 came in the earlier box with "Gay Parisienne" on the cover. The #1,2 and 3's came in a box marked "TM" (some #3's came in "R" box) and the #4 on, usually in one marked "R". They had a round pedestal stand with a disc-shaped base marked TM or R as well. In 1961 the stand became all-wire. They all wore the B&W Zebra swimsuit.
Below is my #4 Blonde in her "R" box. She has the R stand. Her box should have separate cardboard neck and foot holders, as well as a pink fashion booklet with Barbie's profile on it. The liner in there is a repro.
In 1962, the girls looked about the same, but some of their lips changed to "watermelon" pink, and the nails to match. The eyes could be the light blue, or turquoise, but the turquoise became a deeper color. (See new page What Happened in 1962? ) Still the same hollow "Barbie" torso. These dolls are sometimes called "late #5's" or alternately, #6. However they still had the torso with a small neck knob and narrower face.
They came in the new box which was initially undated, but later marked "1962" (it has Registered Nurse on top right, see the Ash Blonde Ponytail in this box below). Now the girls wore Red jersey "Helenca" swimsuits.
Below is a #5/6 Raven Brunette Ponytail from 1962. Her lips are "watermelon" pink, otherwise she looks like the red-lipped #5's. Dark turquoise eyes can also be found with red lips. (See the Raven Bubble below.) This places these PT's in 1962, although they are called #5. They do not have oily faces, their eyes are deep turquoise, and they can have red or pink lips--lips are slightly less full than original #5 (1961) Lucy lips, but still quite full.
The #6 (or #7 if you prefer) dolls of 1963 looked similar to the previous year but their faces became a bit chubbier to go with their new hollow torsos which had a bigger neck knob. They were now marked "Midge" followed by "Barbie", because Midge had come onto the scene. These gals had hair colors ranging from lemon blonde to ash blonde, redhead, and brunette. Some of the #6/7 dolls had much thinner lips. The lips and nails were now coral.
Below is a gorgeous Mint-in-Box Ash Blonde #6 Ponytail belonging to colormagickid. She has the slightly thinner coral lips. Some had even tinier lips! (Photo courtesy of colormagickid)
The lovely Swirl Ponytails came out around 1964, but Mattel still made the Ponytails with bangs that year too. Instead of the curly bangs, the swirls had a sweep of hair coming over the forehead and wrapping around the topknot. Their hair could be platinum, blonde, ash blonde, redhead (titian), or brunette. The lips were varying shades of coral or peach (pink or white on the platinums), and went back to being fuller. Many of the 1964 dolls' coral lips faded to a buttery yellow shade.
Next you see a Titian Swirl Ponytail with original coral lips.
Bubble Cut Barbies 1961 to 1964
In 1961 at the same time Mattel changed the Ponytail body to the hollow body marked "Barbie" on the right buttock, they came out with a new hair style called "Bubble Cut" (or Bubblecut). The times were changing from the popular 50's ponytail to the new bouffant hairdos, and Barbie had to have the latest too. The 1961 Bubbles came in 5 colors: Blonde, Brunette (Raven, Jet), Titian (Redhead), the rarer White Ginger, and the rarest, Brownette. The size of the 1961 bubble of hair was in general (but not always!) tighter than the later Bubblecuts.
Below is a pic of two of my prize 1961 Bubblecuts! They have the tight bubble 'do, "Lucy" lips, and came in these "Gay Parisienne" boxes with black wire stands. The pink Barbie/Ken booklet is the correct one. The blue booklet went in the 1962 boxes. the brunette has the early neck and foot inserts, and a very rare pink-and-gold tag. Most had a gold-and-beige tag.
Their eyes were the same as the 1961 Ponytails, either turquoise (always that color in the WG's) or blue. Some had the oilier faces like the Ponytails of that year. That was corrected with a new non-oily vinyl by 1962. The bodies were the same as the Ponytails.
All of them had the full Lucy red lips except the White Ginger who had candy pink! Some have said you can tell a 1961 White Ginger from a later Platinum by the fact that the lips did not fade on the WG and they often faded to white on the platinum. Not true, as there are many examples of WG's that faded and Platinums that did not! All the 1961's had red nail polish.
Below is a lovely Raven Brunette Bubblecut whose hair is in tight curls all over her head. She has the turquoise eyes with green liner. I have now decided she may be from 1962, as she has deep turquoise eyes. (See my new page What Happened in 1962? )
Titian 1961 Bubble with lighter blue eyes.
Classic 1961 White Ginger Bubble with pink lips and turquoise eyes.
White Gingers could have darker turquoise-blue eyes (like the Raven Bubble above). Here is one with fuller hair and the darker eyes. Check out that greeeeen eyeliner! (Another one with deep turquoise eyes, placing her as a 1962 WG!)
I believe this girl is a 1962 Ash Blonde Bubble--I have heard from an expert who said they still made red lips in 1962 as well as watermelon pink.
Most WG's hair has "oxidized" over time, or changed to a darker blonde which may look brassy or peachy. The WG above has darkened very little! WG's have been felt to be rare, but my experience has told me that they are not that rare, they have simply oxidized to look more like blondes and have gone unrecognized as WG's for the most part. The later Platinums have the same oxidizing problem. The rare thing is to find a WG or Platinum with un-oxidized hair!
This is my MIB girl, whom I think is a WG but is from 1962 and is labeled "Platinum" her face looks WG , hair has oxidized a little to a light blonde. She has a "Barbie" body but coral nails. Note her lips just staring to fade to white! *NOTE* I have now changed my designation of dolls like this one to "Transitional White Ginger-Platinum". (I have now owned 3 of these transitional girls.) Please see my blog "The Mystery of the White Ginger" here.
Below is an extremely rare 1961 Brownette Bubblecut. This beautiful shade of chestnut is distinctive, and once you've seen one, you will never mix her up with a titian or a brunette again!
In 1962, the Bubblecut hairdo was sometimes getting a bit fuller and looser. The new thing this year was a lighter lip look! They now had a peachy-pink lip shade we call "watermelon". (These are actually somewhat rare due to only being made for one year!) The lips were still very full. They still came in the same hair shades, although WG's supposedly were not made anymore. Exactly when they switched to "Platinum" is unclear to me.* The 1962 Bubbles still had the "Barbie" body, as Mattel did not change to the "Midge/Barbie" one until 1963.
* For more interesting details and my own ideas about the mysterious White Ginger, please see my blog The Mystery of the White Ginger !
Below is a Titian Bubblecut from 1962. She has the watermelon lips and a huge bubble!
By 1963, Mattel had brought out the Midge doll, and the new torso for all the dolls now had "Midge" above the "Barbie" logo on the right derriere. The neck knob was made larger, probably because there had been some issues with heads coming off, and this knob was sturdier.
The faces from now on look plumper, and the lips are usually coral. They started out fairly full, but became thinner, then fuller again by 1964. Some of the lips faded to white (?or were they white to begin with?) and some faded to a buttery yellow on the 1964's. The hair shades were Lemon Blonde, Ash Blonde, Redhead, Brunette (now a dark fudge brown rather than jet black), and Platinum. Their eyes are now all blue, never turquoise. The Bubble 'do is sometimes huge on these gals!
Here is my best example of a 1963 Bubble, a Platinum. Note that her lips are a bit smaller than the earlier dolls, and she has plumper cheeks. Her eyes are blue (not turquoise)with blue eyeliner.
Here is a 1964 Platinum Bubble whose lips are dead white! Hair is slightly oxidized. Her face is slightly darker than her body, a problem with some 1964 dolls including Bubbles and Swirls. The flash makes it appear a bit worse than it actually is.
In 1964 and 1965 some lovely Bubblecuts were produced with a side part in their hair. These gals were marketed in Europe and Canada, but not in the U.S. so they are quite prized. Some "regular" Bubbles appear to have side-parted hair, but these true side-part gals had a "thatched" part that was very hard to un-part, and a little ram curl on the right side. They had coral lips that usually faded to butter yellow. Sometimes they had the problem of face-darkening too. To tell if your Bubblecut is a true side part, look at her right upper hairline, and there is one little extra hair plug at the beginning of the part.
Platinum Side Part Bubblecut with butter yellow lips.
Around 1963 the Fashion Queen came on the scene. She came with molded hair on her head, so she could wear one of three wigs that came with her. She always seems to have a haughty expression! She had the Midge-Barbie straight-leg body. Here is colormagickid's stunning FQ wearing Golden Glory and a fabulous auburn wig! (Photo couresy of colormagickid)
By 1965, the Ponytails and Bubbles had abdicated their throne to the lovely American Girls with their pageboy hairdos.
American Girl Barbie now had legs that would bend at the knees. Their butt cheek mark in 1965 was embossed or "intaglio", rather than raised. From 1965 to 1966 the markings changed to intaglio with a raised "Made in Japan" at the end, finally to all-raised in 1966.
The hair started out as a short pageboy and the faces looked much like the bubbles just above, with light peach or coral lips that often faded. In 1966 the "high-color" faces had brighter makeup, with raspberry lips and more cheek blush. (This came along with the advent of the "Color Magic" dolls, who had the same face.) The AG pageboy hairdo got longer too, and hair colors varied from Platinum to shades of Blonde, Brownette (cinnamon), Silvery shades of Blonde and Brunette and dark Brunette. Now the long-hair gals are favored over the short.
Below is a 1965 Brunette American Girl with original coral lips.
Next, a mint-in-box Pale Blonde American Girl from 1965. Her coral lips have faded partially to buttery yellow. (Wouldn't you love to spend your life with your head in cellophane?
A pretty Cinnamon Brownette Long-Hair AG with high-color face.
Below is a Pale Blonde High Color AG with nice long hair and amazing blush!
The very rare 1965 Side-Part American Girl usually had the low-color face, and had a glamorous full side-parted hair style! Some high-color mint Ash Blondes have shown up, and I own a high-color brownette! SPAG's were marketed in Japan with a brighter pink vinyl and high-color paint.
Below is a gorgeous Blonde Side-Part AG, with beautiful soft low-color face. It was said that Mattel didn't make many of these because the hairstyle was so difficult!
A Midnight Brunette Side Part AG, Low Color face. (She is not the "Japanese" version but the "tan-tone" American Girl.)
Sometimes a Tan-Tone Side-Part AG had a high-color face, most often with Ash Blonde hair. Here is a Cinnamon Brownette Hi-Color gal! I have actually seen only this one, although others may exist. This one insisted on wearing the also-rare "AtelierFest".
In 1965-6 the Color Magic Barbie came out. She had long, straight hair that was coming into popularity! Using a solution, you could change her hair color from a Yellow-blonde to a Flame-Red, or from a Midnight Black to Scarlet Red. She had the same body and bendable legs as the American Girls.
A lovely Yellow-Blonde Color Magic owned by Sandy. (Photo courtesy of Sandy Mann)
NOW, do you have a Barbie you want to ID? See the next page
For ID Part 2 ~ a step-by-step easy path to her true identity!
And to make matters more confusing...Does your doll not look like ANY of the above? Or is her butt cheek marked "1966"? Go on to the MOD Barbie ID Guide and see if she's there!