Has all the hype over last month’s “Barbie” movie driven up the price of vintage collectible Barbies? You better believe it!
“From where the market was, there’s about a 20% to 30% increase in values right now,” says Dr. Lori Verderame, the Ph.D. Antiques Appraiser on the History Channel’s “The Curse of Oak Island” and “Pawn Stars Do America,” Discovery Channel’s “Auction Kings” and Netflix’s “King of Collectibles.”
“The big transactions are happening from seasoned collector to seasoned collector [often] at Barbie conventions,” she says. But if you’re wondering whether you should dust off the old Barbies in your attic and get them appraised right now, the answer is a resounding yes. The highest value dolls are in mint condition and NRFB (Never Removed From Box), and most of them are “ones that date before the year 2000.”
And the market for Barbies beyond the “Stereotypical Barbie” (which Margot Robbie played in the movie) is also expanding. “The ones that don’t look like our image of Barbie will be valuable going forward,” Dr. Lori says. “Do you have a Barbie with brown hair and big hips? Tattoos? Different ethnicities? Those are [increasingly] desirable collectibles.”
As with all collectibles, the rules of supply and demand apply.
“The harder they are to find, the more expensive they are,” says Marl Davidson, a Florida-based Barbie doll dealer and owner of the vintage Barbie site, Marl & B. But she can attest to the fact that regular (non-collector) people are finding them around the house.
“A lady from Florida came to me, and she had a Number Two Barbie she’d found in her house, and it had everything except the box.” Davidson knows a rare vintage doll when she sees it, and she bought it for $5,000.
So, do you have an old Barbie at the bottom of a toy box? Here are nine Barbie dolls that are worth hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars right now.
Number 1 (Original Barbie), 1959
If you’re a Barbie collector, you definitely want the first Barbie that Mattel produced! And … you’ll pay a pretty penny for it. “If it’s in the original box, this doll will sell for $15,000 to $25,000 today,” Dr. Lori says. There were about 350,000 of these dolls made. Of those, two out of three were blonde, and one out of three was a brunette. For the first month of production, the dolls were hand-painted. So, if you have a hand-painted, still-in-the-box, brunette Number 1 in your attic, you can make some real money!
“Number 1 Barbies in mint condition are rare, but it’s amazing that there are as many of them out there as there are — especially after the trade-in of 1966,” Davidson says. This was a promotion by Mattel to boost sales of the new Twist ‘N Turn Barbie. “They wanted people to get a feel for this new Barbie who can move her waist and bend her knees. So they told people, ‘Bring in your old Barbie, and we’ll give you a new one.’ Nobody knows where [those traded-in originals] ended up.”
Davidson is selling the doll below for $12,195.
Number 4 Pink Silhouette Solo In The Spotlight, 1960
“The Barbie Numbers 1-5 are all very coveted,” Dr. Lori says. “They come in different hair colors, some with curly bangs in front, some with a ponytail. They don’t have bendable legs. There are always going to be high [prices for dolls made] up to 1963. If in mint condition in the box, they [are worth] between $7,500 and $10,000.”
Davidson is selling the Number 4 “Solo in the Spotlight” Pink Silhouette doll (pictured below) for $3,900. (Margot Robbie wore a Schiaparelli dress inspired by this doll to the world premiere of “Barbie.”) This particular doll is unique in that she was a “showman’s sample.” As Davidson explains, “There were dolls [that came in] in a pink silhouette box that were brought into the store so people could see how Barbie looked in an outfit.” There was just one per store, she says, “and most of them didn’t last.”
Titian Twist ‘N Turn Barbie, 1966
Twist ‘N Turn Barbies ushered in the “Mod Barbie” era from 1967 to 1972. Barbie got a complete makeover, including new hair, a new face and a new, flexible body.
“Twist ‘N Turn Barbies come in a couple of different swimsuits,” Davidson says — presumably so you can see how her body bends, unimpeded. They are expensive, she says, because “it’s hard to find one that’s mint.” Oxidation of the hair, especially among the platinum blondes, is common and brings down the price. Davidson is selling the doll below for $1,950.
American Girl Brunette Side Part, 1966
Long before American Girl dolls, there were Barbie American Girl dolls — and they’re valued in the hundreds (and some in the thousands) of dollars, depending on the condition.
“A side-part American Girl Barbie is very in demand because they are hardest to find,” Davidson says. “They didn’t make a lot of side parts. There was too much hair — too much work, probably!” Davidson is selling the doll below for $4,900.
Silkstone Barbie Doll – Golden Gala, 2009
In 2000, Mattel’s head designer launched the Silkstone Barbie Doll line. “The material that the doll is made of is a little heavier than a regular vinyl doll,” Davidson says. The silkstone, which is intended to mimic porcelain, has a vintage look and is very popular among collectors. And according to Davidson, Silkstone Barbies have gone up a lot in value in the three years since they stopped producing this line. She is selling the doll below for $1,395.
Bubble Cut Euro Pink Skin Barbie Doll, Circa 1964
“Another collector’s favorite is when Barbie had a bubble haircut like Jackie Kennedy,” Dr. Lori says. And the value goes up even further if you can get your hands on one from Europe or Japan. These are rare, Davidson says, because they only produced them for about six months. It’s also hard to find one in mint condition: If not well-preserved, the doll’s ears can turn green from the earrings, and the rosy skin on the face can fade. Davidson is selling the doll below for $3,999.
Color Magic Barbie, 1966
The blue-eyed Color Magic Barbie doll came in two different hair colors, golden blonde or midnight, which you could “dye” a different color by using a special solution.
“Golden blonde hair changed to scarlet flame and midnight hair changed to ruby red,” Davidson says. “Lemons are plentiful, but the midnight blacks are hard to find. Every time I get one I sell right out.” The doll below is selling on eBay for $2,999.
Totally Hair Barbie, 1991
The Totally Hair Barbie sold over 10 million dolls when it was released in the early 1990s, and Dr. Lori says it remains popular today. “We see those [the 90s version of this doll] going for upwards of $1,000.” It must be in mint condition to sell at this price, though a used Totally Hair Barbie in a damaged box is selling on eBay for $134.99.
Francie Black First Edition, 1967
Francie, Barbie’s British cousin, was launched in an attempt to get into the international market in the 1960s. “She was a Twiggy-looking, Rolling Stones-rocker type,” Dr. Lori says. “Her outfits would look like they were out of British Vogue in the 1960s, with big blocks of color.” Dr Lori is seeing Francie dolls fetch between $800.00 and $1,200.00.
A Black version of Francie can be worth even more. “Any time you see Barbies with different body types or ethnicities that show we should all be inclusive — those Barbies are happily getting a lot of play in the market, she says. Davidson is selling the Black Francie below for $4,200.
Time to go looking through your attic. You might be sitting on a gold mine!