Vintage Barbie Identification & Value Guide

Early Barbie: Dolls from the years 1959 to 1961

Update:  January 2018
 
1959 Ponytail #1 & #2 1960 Ponytail #3 1960 Ponytail #4 1961 Ponytail #5 1961 Bubble Cut #1 1961 Ken #1
 

#1 & #2 Ponytail Barbie


There's really no mistaking the first and second-issue Ponytail Barbie dolls with the others because of the distinctive eyes with white irises and dramatically arched eyebrows.  The #1 and #2 Ponytails are just alike except the #1 has holes in her feet to accommodate the metal prongs on the first-issue stand (see photo below).  The #2 was only produced for three months in 1959-1960.  Both will likely be faded to a whitish color, or possibly even a ghostly green, because the vinyl Mattel used fades over time.
 
  1959 #1 Ponytail Barbie
Issued: 1959
Model: 850
Box Date: 1959
Size: 1:6 scale, approximately 11.5" tall
Hair: Poodle curls & a ponytail with a hard curl at the end.  Soft floss hair.  Flocked head.  Brunette or Blonde (might look strawberry blonde).
Face: No iris eye color.  Heavy eyeliner with medium blue eye shadow.  Arched light or dark brown eyebrows.  Red lips (might fade to reddish-orange)
Body: Heavy solid body that smells of crayons, faded flesh tone, small neck knob.  Possible indented lines (mold marks) on hips (photo on #3 Barbie).  The #1 has holes in the feet with copper tubes inserted.  The #2 does not.  Some bodies have nipples.  Red nails.
Marked: Barbie™ Pats. Pend. ©MCMLVIII by Mattel, Inc.
  Gay Parisienne Barbie Box Box and Accessories sold with this Barbie doll:
1959 Barbie Fashion Booklet 1959 Box (Gay Parisienne fashion bottom-right)
1959 Barbie Fashion Booklet
Black Pedestal Stand (#1 stand has prongs/#2 stand has a t-wire)
Black & White Zebra-Striped Swimsuit
Black Mules (open-toe shoes)
Gold Hoop Earrings
White Sunglasses
 
Value:  Average - $4000  |  Excellent w/Box - $7000
value guide key  (#1 dolls may have a slightly higher value than #2 dolls)

#3 Ponytail Barbie


The third-issued Ponytail had more lifelike eyes and eyebrows.  The brown eye shadow and the same faded vinyl  skin tone makes the #3's look rather anemic, but that's what collectors like, even though less were produced with blue eye shadow.  It can be difficult to tell the #3 and #4 Ponytails apart when they have blue shadow.  If you rely on skin color, it can still be confusing because Mattel cross-utilized body parts creating "transitional" dolls.  See this photo.
 
  #3 Ponytail Barbie
Issued: 1960
Model: 850
Box Date: 1959
Size: 1:6 scale, approximately 11.5" tall
Hair: Poodle curls & a ponytail with a hard curl at the end.  Soft floss hair.  Flocked head.  Brunette or Blonde (might look strawberry blonde).
Face: Blue eyes.  Light or dark brown eyebrows.  Blue or brown eye shadow.  There were less dolls painted with blue eye shadow.  Red lips.
Body: Heavy solid rubbery body that smells like crayons, faded flesh tone unless she is a transitional doll, small neck knob.  May have indented lines on hips.  Some bodies have nipples.  Red nails.
Marked: Barbie™ Pats. Pend. ©MCMLVIII by Mattel, Inc.
  Gay Parisienne Barbie Box Box and Accessories sold with this Barbie doll:
1959 Barbie Fashion Booklet 1959 Box (Gay Parisienne fashion bottom-right)
1959 Barbie Fashion Booklet
Black Pedestal Stand with T-Wire
Black & White Zebra-Striped Swimsuit
Black Mules (open-toe shoes)
Gold Hoop Earrings
White Sunglasses
 
Value:  Average - $300  |  Excellent w/Box - $900
value guide key  (brown shadow has a higher value)

#4 Ponytail Barbie


Originally, the fourth-issue Ponytail looked like the #3 Ponytail, minus the brown eye shadow, but Mattel used a new kind of plastic for the #4 dolls that doesn't fade like the previous dolls.  The body is still the heavy solid body, with some being marked "R" during the transition into 1961.  These #4 Ponytails age very well and retain much of their beauty from when they were brand new dolls and, in my opinion, are very underrated.
 
 
Issued: 1960
Model: 850
Box Date: 1959
Size: 1:6 scale, approximately 11.5" tall
Hair: Poodle curls & a ponytail with a hard curl at the end.  Soft floss hair.  Flocked head.  Brunette or Blonde (might look strawberry blonde).
Face: Blue eyes.  Light or dark brown eyebrows.  Blue eye shadow only.  Red lips.
Body: Heavy solid rubbery body that smells like crayons, small neck knob.  Skin color is flesh tone unless she is a transitional doll (this image).  May have indented lines on hips (see photo  on #3 Barbie).  Some bodies have nipples.  Red nails.
Marked: Barbie™ Pats. Pend. ©MCMLVIII by Mattel, Inc. or
Barbie®​ Pats. Pend. ©MCMLVIII by Mattel, Inc.
  Gay Parisienne Barbie Box Box and Accessories sold with this Barbie doll:
1959 Barbie Fashion Booklet 1959 Box (Gay Parisienne fashion bottom-right)
1959 Barbie Fashion Booklet
Black Pedestal Stand with T-Wire or Black Wire Stand
Black & White Zebra-Striped Swimsuit
Black Mules (open-toe shoes)
Gold Hoop or Pearl Earrings
White Sunglasses
 
Value:  Average - $300  |  Excellent w/Box - $600
value guide key

#5 Ponytail Barbie


Little poodle curls gone in favor of big coarse curls on the #5 Ponytail Barbie.  They also have a new hollow body.  Unfortunately, the plastic used for the head sometimes "sweats" and results in what collectors call "greasy face."  Sometimes the head color darkens as well.  Leg stance is often splayed.  Despite being mass produced by this time, the 1961 fifth-issue Ponytails are still very detailed and individual in appearance like the earlier Ponytails.
 
 
Issued: 1961
Model: 850
Box Date: 1959
Size: 1:6 scale, approximately 11.5" tall
Hair: Larger coarse curls & a ponytail with a hard curl at the end.  No flocking under hair.  Blonde, Brunette or Titian (red). 
Face: Eyes and eye shadow are shades of blue to turquoise.  Reddish or light or dark brown eyebrows.  Red lips.  Some #5's have a greasy-looking face or darkened face.
Body: Lightweight hard plastic body with hollow torso.  Small neck knob.  Beginning with the new hard plastic bodies, the skin color does not fade as the previous dolls do and there are no mold marks on hips.  Leg stance is often splayed.  Red nails.
Marked: Barbie®​ Pats. Pend. ©MCMLVIII by Mattel, Inc.
  Gay Parisienne Barbie Box Box and Accessories sold with this Barbie doll:
1959 Box (Gay Parisienne fashion bottom-right)
1961 Barbie & Ken Fashion Booklet
Black Wire Stand
Black & White Zebra-Striped Swimsuit
Black Mules (open-toe shoes)
Pearl Earrings
Optional White Sunglasses
Mattel Barbie Wrist Tag
 
Value:  Average - $125  |  Excellent w/Box - $300
value guide key

#1 Bubble Cut Barbie


A new kind of Barbie doll called "Bubble Cut" (spelled as two words by Mattel) joined the Ponytail Barbie in 1961.  She had a new bouffant hairdo.  The first-issue Bubble Cuts generally have shorter, tighter hairdo's and thinner faces than the later ones.  They still have the beautiful red Barbie lips.  They share the same problems as #5 Ponytails with possible greasy or darkened face and splayed leg stance.  The rare 1961 Bubble Cut is the Brownette and the hard-to-find White Ginger. 
 
 
Issued: 1961
Model: 850
Box Date: 1959
Size: 1:6 scale, approximately 11.5" tall
Hair: Bouffant hairdo, usually smaller/tighter than later Bubbles.  Hair is more wiry than soft.  Blonde, Raven (black), Titian (red), Brown Sable (Brownette) and White Ginger (platinum).  The hair on the White Ginger has oftentimes oxidized to a darker blonde over time.
1961 White Gingers can be difficult to verify.  Do your research when looking to purchase one.
Face: Eyes and eye shadow are shades of blue to turquoise.  Reddish or light or dark brown eyebrows.  Red lips, except for the White Ginger's bubblegum pink lips which oftentimes has faded to white.  Some 1961 Bubbles have a greasy-looking face or darkened face.
Body: Lightweight hard plastic body with hollow torso.  Small neck knob.  1961 Bubbles have a thinner face than post-1961 Bubbles.  Leg stance might be splayed.  Red nails.
Marked: Barbie®​ Pats. Pend. ©MCMLVIII by Mattel, Inc.
  Gay Parisienne Barbie Box Box and Accessories sold with this Barbie doll:
1959 Box (Gay Parisienne fashion bottom-right)
1961 Barbie & Ken Fashion Booklet
Black Wire Stand
Black & White Zebra-Striped Swimsuit
Black Mules (open-toe shoes)
Pearl Earrings
Optional White Sunglasses
Mattel Barbie Wrist Tag
 
Value:  Average - $75  |  Excellent w/Box - $200
value guide key

#1 Ken - Flocked-Hair Ken


The first-issue Ken dolls had lifelike fuzzy "flocked" hair and are easy to tell apart from the later painted-hair Ken dolls.  The first batch of Ken dolls also had larger eyebrows than the painted-hair Ken's, although flocked-hair Ken's were produced with thinner eyebrows over time.  Some have greasy faces, faded body color and painted legs like the Barbie dolls do.  There was also a rare "Brownette" Ken produced in 1961.  (see image with red towel).
 
 
Issued: 1961
Model: 850
Box Date: 1961
Size: 1:6 scale, approximately 12" tall.  "Shortie" Ken is slightly shorter.
Hair: Flocked hair.  Blonde, Brunette and rare "Brownette" (light brown hair).
Face: Blue eyes.  Reddish, light or dark brown eyebrows.  Mauve lips.
Body: Lightweight hard plastic body with hollow torso.  Some early Ken dolls have painted legs.  Some Ken dolls also fade to ivory or ghostly green and some have "greasy" faces.
Marked: Ken™ Pats. Pend. ©MCMLX by Mattel, Inc.
  Box and Accessories sold with this Ken doll:
1961 Ken Box (graphic with Black Striped Trunks, bottom-right)
1961 Barbie & Ken Fashion Booklet
Black Wire Stand
Red Cork Sandals
Red Trunks (red knit, red cotton, or red cotton with white stripes)
Red & White Striped Cabana Jacket
Yellow Terrycloth Towel (optional Red Towel with Brownette Ken)
Mattel Ken Wrist Tag
   
 
Value:  Average - $40  |  Excellent w/Box - $150
value guide key

 

Explanation of Vintage Barbie Values

The 2018 Vintage Barbie doll values listed on this page are meant to give someone new to Vintage Barbie collecting an approximate idea of value.

Values vary wildly depending on the condition of the doll and the conditions of the sale.  In general, dolls being sold in person or by established dealers that collectors trust will bring more than dolls being sold on eBay because of the fraud risk eBay poses. 

Average:
This is based on loose dolls that are in played-with condition but have no major damage. 

Examples:
• Barbie's hair may be missing the original hair bands and be out of the original style but there are no haircuts or a lot of missing plugs.  Ken may have a few hair rubs, but he is not bald or missing large amounts of flocking.
• May have small rubs on the lips or eyebrows, missing eye ridge paint, but are not missing most of the lip or eyebrow paint.
• Does not have major damage such as green ear, nose nips, or darkened face.

Excellent w/box:
This is based on dolls with the original box, outfit and accessories that have excellent face paint or very minor restoration, minor body issues, full head of flocking with only tiny spots (Ken).  Very few Ponytails have the original top and bottom bands because the rubber bands disintegrate, so a professional restyle is common. 

Note:
The amounts posted do not include values for rare versions of the dolls.

 
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