Prior to the introduction of Barbie, most dolls were models of infants and toddlers. But Ruth noticed that her daughter, Barbara, enjoyed dressing up dolls and pretending they had adult jobs. Ruth’s husband, a co-founder of the Mattel toy company, had the good business sense to listen to his wife. Mattel bought the German company that made one of the few adult-model fashion dolls (Bild Lilli) and introduced the concept to 1950s America. The rest is history (and an ongoing billion-dollar business venture).
Barbie, whose full name is Barbara Millicent Roberts, was named after Ruth and Elliot Handler’s daughter, Barbara, a shy 17-year-old attending Los Angeles' Hamilton High School. “It is very strange to have a doll named after you,” the original Barbie has said. “Much of me is very proud that my folks invented the doll; I just wish I wasn’t attached to it.
What makes a Barbie Doll Valuable?
When it comes to Barbies, many variables come into play including its' age, condition, style & colors. If a Barbie is still in its original box and all its parts are intact, including the original outfit, you definitely have a money maker. However, if it has missing parts, is disheveled, or discolored, the value lowers significantly. Also, any alterations will diminish its worth.
Barbie dolls are classified into three eras: The Vintage Era (1959 – 72), The Modern Era (after 72), and The Collectible Era, which started in 1986. The older your doll is, the rare it is, hence more valuable. A classic vintage doll’s estimated value is $119 on average if it’s in excellent condition and still in the original packaging.
Special Editions or Limited Time Dolls
While rarity is a crucial factor, some Barbies could surprisingly have collectible qualities. To verify, check the digits on your doll’s abdomen to confirm when that model was created.
Limited editions and rare collectible models fall into this category with some examples being:
- Lorainne Schwartz Barbie – This Barbie was made in 2010, so she isn’t vintage. The key is that there were only 12 produced.
- City Smart Barbie – Made in 2003, this vintage-inspired Barbie is a very limited edition. There were only 600 made.
- Pink Splendor Barbie – Featuring a stunning pink gown, this Barbie from 1997 is prized by collectors. There were only 10,000 made, and it’s hard to find one in excellent condition.
- Calvin Klein Barbie – This Barbie from 1996 is incredibly tough to find in mint condition since almost all of these models were played with.
Which Barbies are valuable?
The original Barbies made in 1959 to 1972: These are the vintage Barbies, and they’re the most valuable, especially the original one. Money, Inc. reports that even in played-with condition, she is worth $8,000. In pristine condition, she could be worth more than $27,000.
Barbie in a box: Because the vast majority of vintage Barbies have been played with, collectors love a rare Barbie that’s still in the box. Because this is so uncommon, these coveted dolls fetch top dollar.
Any Barbie connected with something of cultural significance may be saleable. For instance, collectors will buy Britney Spears Barbies and 90210 Barbies from the 90s.
Much of Barbie’s value is in the tiny detail, such as the green residue around her ear lobes from her original non-pearl pearl earrings. Also, any variations in eye and hair color can influence the value.
Collector's items: Since the 80s, Mattel Inc., has released a series of Barbie Collector Edition dolls each year. They range from dolls dressed by top fashion designers to TV editions. Designed for display rather than play, some of these will gain in value over the years.
Twist N’ Turn Barbie – This mod Barbie from 1966 could bend her knees and twist at the waist. One that was still in the box sold on eBay for almost $1,800.
Millennium Princess Barbie – This Barbie, which is part of the holiday collection, was made in 2000 to commemorate the new Millenium. One still in the box sold on eBay for about $1,500.
The Marie Antoinette Barbie – It was a special edition that was produced in 2003. It pays homage to the French historical figure and is decked out in an elaborate gown inspired by that era.
Chicago Bulls Barbie – This Barbie looked sporty with a hat that had the official team’s logo and a number of accessories that could be played with. The hat is what makes this Barbie valuable at $ 2000.
Making money from your Barbies is possible, but only if they’re valuable. Collectors worldwide are always in search of valuable Barbie dolls and their accessories.
Factors that determine a valuable Barbie are:
- Limited editions or collector’s items
- Price guides
- Professional appraisals
With these being the main, you’ll know how to make money off your Barbie dolls. If you are interested in selling your old Barbies contact Blue Box Auction Gallery today. We will make sure to give these treasures the proper exposure to get you top market value. Call today to schedule a consignment 757.550.0285