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Barbie Dolls--History And Collector Facts

Sep 11, 2008
In 1959 the first Barbie doll was introduced at the New York toy fair. It was billed as "New For '59,The Barbie Doll:A Shapely Teenage Fashion Model Price $3.00."

This was the beginning of the Barbie doll phenomenon which is one of the great success stories of the toy manufacturing business. Before Barbie most children's dolls were child dolls or babies not adult figures. Barbie changed this completely.

In 1945 Elliot and Ruth Handler began a partnership with Harold Mattson. The company name Mattel is a combination of the two names Mattson and Elliot. Elliot started making doll house furniture from scraps of wood left over from his picture frame business. He started the Handler doll furniture business from this idea.

Around this time Ruth noticed that her daughter Barbara and her friends liked to play with adult paper dolls and not child or baby dolls. The little girls preferred a doll they could look up to as a role model for growing up. Ruth got the idea that there could be big profit possibilities in making adult dolls. She talked over the idea with her husband but he decided that to start making the dolls would be very expensive.

Right after this Ruth went to Germany and purchased an adult doll called Lilli. This adult female doll was based on the heroine of a German comic. On her return to the USA she started redesigning the doll and worked with a doll clothes designer. Soon the Barbie doll came to be and was named after her little daughter Barbara.

Mattell patented the Barbie doll in 1958 and introduced it to the public in 1959. She very soon became one of the best known and most loved toys ever made. Barbies were sold all over the world in more than 150 countries.

Barbie soon became a very collectible doll and was eagerly sought after by adult collectors. Between 1959 and 1972 Barbie had seven distinct changes in her looks and design. All Barbies made up to 1972 are seen as vintage collectible dolls by their fans and are much sought after.

A 1959 Barbie in mint condition can be worth up to $8000 but you will frequently see them offered for a lot less. Later editions fetch lower prices of course.

You can usually purchase dolls made in the 1969 to 1972 period for just a few dollars. However you may still find some of the early dolls,even the rare 1959 edition,in such places as garage sales and flea markets. About 300,000 of the 1959 doll were made and many are still out there awaiting discovery
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