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Barbie doll by mattel blonde ponytail evening splendor teen fashion model est 1959

March 9 is Barbie’s birthday – and she is turning 60!

Barbie creator, Ruth Handler, and husband, Elliot Handler, founded Mattel Creations in 1945. She was inspired to design the Barbie doll after watching her daughter play with paper dolls. Most dolls made for children were baby dolls, not fashion models. The first Barbie was introduced at the American International Toy Fair in New York on March 9, 1959. This date is considered her official birthday.

Barbie’s look was inspired by Bild Lilli, a German doll based on a comic strip character that Handler bought in Europe in 1956. Mattel purchased the rights to Bild Lilli in 1964. (Bild Lilli dolls from 1952 to 1964 have their own collectors.)

The original Barbie, No. 1 as she is known by collectors, is easily identified in its black and white bathing suit. It had copper tubes in its legs and holes in its feet, enabling it to be upright in a stand. No. 2 Barbie, released the next year, no longer had holes in her feet and sported a different wire stand. A Barbie No. 1 with a brunette ponytail recently auctioned for $4,600, nearly double its high estimate. (It's pictured in Kovels' February 2019 newsletter.) And, depending on rarity and condition, her fashion accessories can sell for more than a vintage Barbie itself.

Barbie has more than 150 careers on her resume and reflects how women’s careers have changed since the 1950s. She broke the toy “glass ceiling” in 1960 when she worked as an astronaut and went to the moon.

Barbie was a “Commuter” in 1959 and a “Busy Gal” in 1960, both ambiguous terms for the “Career Girl” (1963) trying to find her footing. Over the years she has been a Fashion Editor (1960), Nurse (1961), Stewardess (1961; she became the Pilot in 1990), Surgeon (1973), and Veterinarian (1985). She entered the Board Room in the 1980s and 1992 as a Business Executive and CEO. She joined the military in 1991 as a Navy Petty Officer, the Marine Corp in 1992, became an Army Medic in 1993 and a Paratrooper in 2000. Barbie was also a Teacher (1985, 1992, and other years), Doctor (1988), UNICEF Ambassador (1989), Police Officer (1993), Pediatrician (1994), Firefighter (1995), Dentist (1997), Chef (2007), News Anchor (2010), Computer Engineer (2010), Architect (2011) and Presidential Candidate (2012). And she is still learning and exploring new careers.

The Barbie pictured here is dressed to party. She is a No. 2 with a blonde ponytail and is wearing the brocade and fur “Evening Splendor” ensemble made from 1959 to 1964. This doll, with box, brought a whopping $6,325 at a recent Theriault’s auction in Chicago. Search for prices of many more Barbie dolls and her groovy Barbie accessories at Kovels.com.

Friday, March 8, marks International Women’s Day, a time to celebrate women's changing accomplishments around the world.

 

 

 

Comments  

#7 1958 Bild LilliCherden11 2019-04-01 07:18
Would like to know more about where to find Bild Lilli info as I bought one in 1958 when I was 13 in Vienna, Austria. I still have here in her, blond, pony tail, in her original red felt-like (wool?) straight skirt business-type suit with matching jacket, white blouse, original stand & part of that packaging (had to replace the clear plastic tube she came in, that did not stand up to time). I bought her because I thought she was the most elegant doll I'd ever seen, modern and sophisticated. I am curious as to what her value would be today as I'd like to sell her.
#6 Barbie#2subon 2019-03-08 16:30
I got a blond Barbie #2 for Christmas in the striped bathing suit and plastic footed and wire stand that went under her arms. All my friends thought she was the strangest looking doll in the world. I still have her and some of the original clothes and her wardrobe case.
#5 Barbie CoutureJDLinda 2019-03-07 18:42
I bought a Barbie in 1959. I was a 14 years old, and started a business designing and sewing Barbie clothes for moms in the neighborhood. I had a Barbie wardrobe pattern from Simplicity, and bought scraps of gorgeous fabric, leather, and fur from a thrift shop. I still have her. Fond memories!
#4 RE: Happy 60th Birthday, Barbie!FlaKNMB 2019-03-07 18:42
I was born in 1957. Although I didn't receive the #1 Barbie, Santa did bring me a Barbie doll and outfits the next year. I played with my Barbies until I was in 5th or 6th grade and my mother told me I was too old to play with dolls. She gave them to friends who had a young daughter, and I was crushed. I loved my Barbies!
#3 Bubble Cut BarbieVAFlats 2019-03-07 16:25
She came out in the early 60s. I had the ginger hair colored one.
#2 Barbie-bubble cutjennywren 2019-03-07 15:25
I still have my 850 ash-blonde bubble cut Barbie, called the 850 Barbie - and have the fuzzy headed Ken. I was just about at the end of my doll playing days. I haven't seen much on her, either. Check out the Fashion Doll Guide site. Some info on her. It would be interesting to know more about her. My problem is that I left her earrings in and they are blue-green. Wish I had known better.
#1 Barbie - Bubble CutAlixzzz 2019-03-07 09:22
My sister bought me what was called a Bubble Cut Barbie when I was about 9. I never had the pony-tail version but I don't see much information about that version. Anyone know?

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