Barbie Collecting

Barbie Collecting


Barbie doll collecting has been a passion of mine since I received my first barbie doll at the age of four.   Over the years my collection of barbies grew to include walking barbie and talking barbie just to name a few. I would save up my allowance and go with my parents to thrift stores, yard sales and flea markets to scour every nook and cranny to find the perfect addition to my collection. Of course, at that time, I didn’t know how valuable the barbies I collected would one day be. 

With the invention of the internet, barbie doll collecting has become much simpler. From researching different barbie types to different barbie clothing and accessories, there is always something new to learn.  The ever popular barbie doll is constantly changing and evolving and is still sure to bring a smile to collectors faces both young and old.


 In 1945,  Elliot and Ruth  Handler along with their friend Harold Matson, founded Mattel.  The name Mattel came about from the sir-name Matson,  using Matt combined with  El from Elliot Handlers first name, created the name Mattel. In the beginning Mattel made mostly wooden picture frames then Mr Handler started making doll furniture with the scraps from the frames. Thus was the beginning of Mattel’s toy business.  After a few years Mr Matson retired due to ill health leaving Elliot Handler as New toy creator and Mrs handler in charge of marketing.

Mrs Handler got for idea for the barbie doll when she noticed that her daughter rarely liked to play with dolls of her own age group and instead liked to play with the teenage paper dolls with their fashions and accessories. She thought,  why not create a well made doll with a teenage figure and pretty fashions? The product planners at Mattel did just that. In 1958 Mattel patented a new type of doll the fashion doll.


The year 1959, a new doll made her debut.  She was a shapely young lady and stood at 11 ½” inches tall. Her name, Barbie. The barbie doll was named after the Handler’s daughter Barbara. Barbie’s full name is  Barbara Millicent Roberts.  The Barbie was created and marketed as a play doll for children but soon became loved by adult collectors as well.  Barbie became popular not only here in the US but also in several foreign countries.

It has always been my dream,  as well as most passionate barbie collectors,  to own a 1959 barbie . The 1959 barbie is also known as the #1 barbie. This elusive and highly sought after  barbie has features that are not found on any other barbie. The #1 and #2 barbie’s are different from subsequent barbies in that the irises of the eyes are white instead of blue.   Only the #1 barbie  had a copper tube inserted into the bottom of each foot to attach it to it’s stand. The #1 barbies stand is plastic, embossed with barbies name, and has two metal prongs that would insert into the copper tubes located in the bottom of barbies feet.

The #1 barbie came originally in her box, marked #850, with a black and white one piece bathing suit, white cat eye sunglasses and black high heeled pumps that had a hole in the bottom to fit barbies prongs for her stand. Barbie was either a blonde or brunette and had a ponytail with curly bangs.  She had highly arched eyebrows and red painted lips and nails. Her body was heavy and solid and some say it smells like crayons. She was also known as stock # 850. 

The number 1 and number 2 barbies are alike in that they both have white irises and highly arched eyebrows, they also have red lips and nails. Number 1 and 2 barbies also have soft saran hair and are either blonde or brunette with ponytails and curly bangs. They both wear gold hoop earrings with the exception of some number 2 barbies having pearl earrings. Both barbies have heavy solid bodies that are prone to fading to a very pale white. The barbies body’s are also said to smell like crayons. Interestingly both barbies faces were all hand painted by different workers in  Mattel’s factory in Japan and no two are exactly alike.

The big change is that the number 2 barbies body was made without copper tubes in its’ feet .  After learning that the first barbies stand was prone to breakage, Mattel invented a different type of stand. The new stand had a plastic base with a metal wire inserted into it,  the wire branched up to support the barbie under both arms thus eliminating the need for the copper tubes.  

The #3 Barbie

The number 3 barbie has some differences not seen in the proceeding barbies. Like the number one and number 2 barbie it came in both blonde and brunette along with the usual ponytail. The eyebrows are curved instead of highly arched and it had blue irises. It also came with either brown or blue eyeliner. The body is the same as the number 2 and also fades to a pale white. Later in the year Mattel came up with a different type of plastic\vinyl  for the barbie and the barbies made with the new plastic retained their original tan color. This is considered the fourth barbie type by collectors.

The number 3 barbie came with her box #850 and booklet with barbie only on the cover. Number 3 barbie also had the black and white bathing suit ,white cat eye sunglasses and  black heels. It also came with the same stand as the number 2 barbie and had either gold hoop earrings or pearl earrings.

The number 3 barbie with the brown eyeliner and pale body is my personal favorite.  I have searched for very long time for this doll and though I could go to an online auction and find one relatively easily, I think the hunt  in itself, is almost as satisfying as finding her. I continue my quest to find this beautiful and elusive doll.

The Color Magic Barbie

 In 1966   the Color Magic Barbie  #1150 came onto the scene. It was a doll whose hair and outfits could change color with a special color changing solution.  This doll had long straight hair without bangs, lifelike bendable legs and both the doll‘s arms and waist were straight. The first issue of this barbie was marked just like Miss Barbie with the following indented lettering: c1958 /Mattel,Inc./U.S.Patented/U.S. Pat. Pend., two more lines of raised letters are as followed : Made In Japan . Later Color Magic dolls used the same wording as the first issue but all of the lettering was raised.

The color magic barbie came with two different hair colors midnight which would change to ruby red and golden blonde which would change to scarlet flame when the special color change solution was applied. The hair and outfit colors could be changed over and over again. Color Magic Barbie came with  a one piece bathing suit with a diamond pattern in fluorescent red, blue, yellow and green with a matching headband and blue high heels. When the color change solution was applied to the outfit the green diamond would change to purple and the yellow diamond to red.

The barbie came in a 12” x 5” x 2” see into plastic box which doubled as a clothes closet. Included were the instructions for many different hairstyles and a hair styling set. In 1965 two booklets one showing Francie only and the other Tutti only ,on the covers, showed Color Magic in a floral print suit. Other 1965 booklets had drawings of Color Magic dressed in the diamond suit.

The Auction

I searched both high and low for many years hoping to find a Color Magic barbie. The task seemed almost impossible but at last I found one! I was at a local auction when I spotted a stack of older barbies. I could hardly contain my excitement when I saw the dolls.  There were four of them, in a stack, on the auction table which was crowded with items that came from a storage unit repossession. This particular auction put the items that were to be auctioned that night out for display and I casually joined the line of people checking out the nights treasures. I  glanced at the dolls but did not linger over them because I didn’t want to show my interest in them.   

If any of you have ever been auction regulars you know how some people seem to want to bid on everything you want? That’s the boat I was in.  My competition was right behind me to see if she could find out what I was interested in. She picked up one of the barbies, a blond tnt barbie, and looked it over glancing at me to see if I showed any interest. I had on my best poker face and picked up a salt and pepper shaker that was next to the dolls feigning interest. I quickly shushed by husband as he was going to say something about the barbies and continued to look at the other items.  I finally sat down sweating ,thinking I might have to challenge my competition to pistols at dawn over (my) barbies. Well imagine my elation when the auctioneer started the first bid at $4.00 for all four dolls and nobody bid against me. I got a beautiful, though naked, first edition Color Magic doll with beautiful golden blonde hair.

Those of you that know about this particular doll, know how hard it is to find one with it’s original hair in good condition.  I also got a raven haired bubble cut barbie and a blonde and brunette tnt barbie. The dolls were all naked but in very good original shape. This night was definitely one to remember and I can’t help but chuckle when I remember the satisfaction of finding my Color Magic barbie and outfoxing my competition.

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