In response to many e-mails I receive about Barbie and her value, I have decided to create a page just for answering some basic questions about vintage Barbie's value and identification. Many times, I just haven't had a chance to respond back and I think this will answer many questions. The following questions and answers are only my opinion and by no means I am no expert on Barbie. I have also added a new identification page for some early Barbies.
Q. I have a Barbie with a date of 1966 on her. Is she old?
A. There are literally hundreds of Barbie dolls made from 1959 to present. They all have markings on the backs of their bodies that sometimes help. The newer dolls will have markings on thier neck rims. Unfortunately, the some of the dolls that sell today have a patent date of 1966. This is very confusing since these dolls weren't made in 1966. This is a patent date and not the date it was issued. Mattel put a patent on Barbie's body mold in 1966 and they still continue to use that same patent. So, the date on the doll does not represent the date made and can in fact be a recently released doll from Mattel.
Q. How do I figure out who she is?
A. There are several books on Barbie identification at most major bookstores. You can look under the collectibles section. They have books on dolls, fashions, structures and more. These books not only identify but also tell you what originally came with them and how the dolls looked when first purchased on store shelves.
My personal favorite for fashion identification is Barbie Fashion Volume I (1959-1967) and Volume II (1968-1974) by Sarah Sink Eames. Each volume sells for approximately $25.00.
Q. So what's the value of my Barbie?
A. Again, go to a major bookstore and look her up. Most of the books also give price guides. If you look through them, you will notice discrepancies in prices from book to book. This is very normal since no one is an actual authority on these prices as the only true authority is the collectors and what price they are willing to pay.
Please keep in mind, these are just price guides. You can find any doll selling for below, at or above the given price guides. The price guides given usually give a value for NRFB and mint and complete.
Q. What does NRFB mean?
A. NRFB (never removed from box) means that this doll or item is EXACTLY like it was when originally purchased from the store shelf. Basically just what it says, never removed from the box. Factory new!
Q. What does mint and complete mean?
A. Mint and complete usually means that items have been removed from the original box but never played with and all items that came with the item are still present. The original box does not have to be present for mint and complete.
Q. My Barbie is in played with condition and has some flaws. Does she have any value?
A. As far as I am concerned, any vintage Barbie doll has some value. Now is it worth hundreds of dollars? Probably no. As a vintage collector, if I couldn't find Barbies that had flaws, I would have never started my collection. I couldn't afford to buy NRFB and mint dolls at first.
Sometimes, they are really played with and there is no way they would look nice displayed. You can still use these type of dolls for body parts. Some people boo at this idea, but many don't. Someone would love to buy a loose head for $25 if they have the body to match at home.
Q. I want to sell my Barbie. What's the best way to sell her.
A. In my opinion, there are three ways to get value for your dolls. While each way has it's pros, they also have its cons. You figure what is best for YOU. Not everyone is in the same situation.
1. The simplest way is to sell to a dealer.
Pro - You get cash in your hand and never have to deal with Barbie again.
Con - You don't get the full value of what she is worth because of overhead costs of maintaining a doll store.
2. Consign your dolls to a dealer.
Pro - You get more money for your Barbie than you would if you just sold outright and you still don't have to deal with any of the selling haggles.
Con - You get paid as they sell. They could sell in a day and then it could take 6 months. So what do you want, cash now or cash later?
3. Sell it yourself. You can sell over the internet, local newspaper advertisement, go to a doll show and get a table or word of mouth.
Pro - You usually get full value or close to it for your dolls.
Con - You have alot of work that needs to be done before you sell (get inventory list together, clean dolls, package dolls, display dolls and finally put a value on them). You have costs just to sell (ad money, table money, etc.). You probably won't sell everything immediately and then get stuck with the stuff that nobody wants. You know what I am talking about if you ever held a garage sale and then at the end of the weekend you have junk that nobody wants. Finally, I think the worse is that items are overpriced. Many times people use price guides as definite values and items don't sell because they are overpriced. Even when you are in the Barbie market, it is very hard to determine a value.
Q. How do I clean my dolls and their clothing?
A. If you are interested in solely selling the item(s), I would suggest leaving them in the original condition because if anything gets damaged you will lose the value on the item(s). If not, here is some suggestions that might help you. And remember, any type of cleaning may damage item(s) worse than what you started with. So, you may ask yourself, can I live with this in case something worse happens.
Clothing - I suggest using Woolite or something mild on vintage clothing. Put the clothing and Woolite in a container with lid and agitate by shaking the container. Basically you are duplicating what happens in the washing machine. You can either hang the clothing or lay on white towel to dry.
I would not suggest using this method on anything but cotton material, as other delicate material may stain or crumble due to age. Also, some colors run and will do so when drying and will look much worse later. If you are uncertain if this may work on a certain material, you might want to try to find something old you have yourself that is the same material and test it on that. An old nightgown you may own, etc. will work for testing so you wont ruin your beloved Barbie item.
Dolls - Use rubbing alcohol with a cotton ball on light surface dirt until removed. If heavy soil is present, you can use Soft Scrub and a light touch to clean the doll's body. If you scrub too much, you can remove the original paint - this is something you do not want to do. So, be careful of where and how much you scrub.
Green Ears - I have never had any success at this myself. However, I knew someone who got green out perfectly over time. The darker and bigger the green area is, the longer it will take. There are two methods which are discussed later.
If you are successful at treating green, the green could still come back in a few months to a few years, but usually the treatment is permanent. Also, you may want to know some complications before proceeding with any of these methods. First - both methods remove the dye from the plastic, so on mod dolls (not vintage), you will remove the pigment and will have to recolor that area to have the doll match the original skin coloring. I personally will never do any of these methods to a mod doll as you are repairing one problem for yet another. These methods work great on vintage dolls (ponytails and bubble cuts) as limited problems can occur. Second - With Tarnix and possibly with Oxy, their original facial paint can discolor. Meaning, their blue eyes are now light blue or white. The fumes with Tarnix are the cause of this.
First cleaning method is the Oxy 10 or is that 5. Yea, the pimple stuff supposedly works. This is the least harmful way for dolls. You basically rub the Oxy on the affected area and when it dries, reapply until the green is gone. Do not put Oxy on the makeup area, as it will also remove that paint. If possible, you also want to treat the inside of the head so it doesn't return.
Second method is Tarnix. You can purchase this at any drug store or grocery store usually. This is a more aggressive approach and can ruin your doll, so please be careful. First you soak a cotton ball with Tarnix and place on the affected area. Place in an air-tight container and replace balls daily or as needed when they have dried out. This method is supposedly faster than the Oxy method but can cause more damage. This method can also dry out the doll's hair and cause it to break off if Tarnix is left on it. Again, you may want to treat the inside of the head so it doesn't return.
Hope all this seems to have helped in one way or another :)