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Caveat Emptor! Barbie Shopping on Ebay ~ HINTS!

We’ve pretty much all purchased Barbie items on eBay, and we do it at some risk, because we can’t see the item in person, and we all know about the potential for scammers (many of us know it all TOO well!).  Having been discussing one of the scammers recently, I have been thinking--I have picked up some helpful ideas along the way, and thought I would share them  So, for those of you who buy vintage items on eBay:

Pretty obvious:

It’s best to buy from sellers who have close to 100% feedback, and a good history of selling--high numbers.  

Check their feedback as a seller.  

If you get to know a few good sellers, keep them on your fav list!


“Near Mint” or “Mint” can mean totally different things to different people!  

Less Obvious:

Look more closely and ask questions if they are not regular Vintage Barbie sellers.  

There are perfectly good sellers who have inherited something or buy different vintage items and happen to find a doll to sell.  But if they don’t know much about their item, ask, ask, ask!

Beware of blurry pictures, they can be just bad photography or purposeful hiding of important things.  Ask the seller to send you more pics--you can now do that right in the eBay “message” section.

Beware of sellers who post only ONE picture, especially if it’s not great quality.  Scammers rip photos off the internet.  Ask for more photos at different angles, close-ups, etc.  One good trick is, ask for a pic of something really specific even if you don’t even need that info--like the bottom of a foot.  They can only send more pics if they have the item.

In any case of a very expensive thing like a #1, (or anything that you feel you’re stretching to buy), look closely at the sellers other items, including completed listings.  I got burned once buying a very well-faked box.  When I checked back, that seller had listed 5 or 6 boxes with no dolls.  Unusual!  if you see something odd like that--they just sold five #2 Ponytails, other unlikely events--beware, and ask, ask, ask, verify!

Many sellers retouch and don’t admit it is retouched.  I usually ask if it is alcohol-tested original --if they don’t reply or will not test, and you want all-original, I would not buy.  In fact, today I asked that very question of a seller and she said “not to my knowledge” on retouching.  However, when I looked at her other listings, she had 4 or 5 dolls from 1961 or 62 that ALL had cheek blush.  Sorry, but how often do you find a #5 or 1961 Bubble who has her cheek blush?  Rarely!  Not five in one place.

(I own some retouched dolls--i have nothing against them in particular, I just want to know they are retouched before I buy!)

When you’re thinking of bidding on something unusual, like a Japanese exclusive, or “prototype”, etc--do as much research as possible!  Look in the Barbie in Japan book, check websites--send emails to experts (I have found Joe Blitman to be very helpful.)--anything to verify you are getting the real thing.“Near Mint” or “Mint” can mean totally different things to different people!

Once you buy:

A number of people have noted that sellers sometimes pack things poorly.  Especially if your seller is not a repeat vintage doll seller:

Include a message on your payment page, or better yet contact the seller and ask (nicely) for them to ship the doll (or outfit) in white tissue in a sturdy box with lots of packing material.  Then you may be less likely to receive a doll in an envelope with her head rolling around, or in newspaper, with ink on your doll.  

If the doll is not what you expected, I have found most sellers to be nice about returns, as long as you are nice in the way you contact them.  

Buyer Beware, but still have FUN!


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