|How to Identify Your Vintage Barbies|
Please note: This section is still incomplete! Right now I just have the Ponytails section and a Vintage Article on Bubblecuts done but I will be working on sections to help you identify your other vintage Barbie dolls as I find the time. I do not intend to include a value guide as it fluctuates too much and would be huge amounts of work to keep up to date. In my opinion, knowing exactly what you have is the best place to start. Any questions, just let me know!
PLEASE NOTE: The numbers that you find on the dolls' left buttocks, under their arms, on the legs, etc. don't mean anything to collectors. These are a mold ID marks only. Also, the number on the left buttock does not determine what 'number' the doll is. Please use the guide below to help you determine this.
1959 #1 blonde
Ponytail Barbie (stock number 850)
The very first Barbie doll that was ever on the market came out in 1959. She was (and always has been) 11 1/2 inches tall with a head that twists on the neck knob and arms and legs that rotate in their sockets. She came dressed in a black and white jersey swimsuit, with gold-toned hoop earrings, black open-toed high heels (with holes in the soles to accommodate the prongs in her stand) and white sunglasses with blue lenses. Her hair is rooted of soft Saran and is styled in a ponytail with a "hard" curl at the bottom, and her bangs are small rag curls on her forehead. The scalp is flocked underneath the ponytail. A long strand of hair is wrapped around the ponytail elastic and tucked underneath to blend in with the rest of the ponytail. Blondes outnumbered the brunettes by 2 to 1. She has bright red (with a slightly orangish tone) lipstick and nail and toe polish, heavy eyeliner and very pointed eyebrows (#3's on had curved brows). Her irises are white (#3's on had blue eyes). The arms and legs are a rubbery type of vinyl that is somewhat pliable. She has a heavy, mostly solid torso and her feet have holes in each sole with a metal cylinder sleeve inside so that she can fit on her stand that has 2 wire prongs sticking up to position her on. Her bum reads Barbie TM/Pats. Pend./©MCMLVIII/by Mattel/Inc. The skin tone of most of these dolls has faded over the years to a sickly pale white color. A few exist that haven't faded but they are more difficult to find. Pale or flesh-toned, these dolls are extremely rare as they were only on the market for a very short period of time and most believe just in the Southern California "test market" area!
1959 #2 Ponytail Barbie (stock
This doll is identical to the #1 Barbie in every way but one. She doesn't have holes with metal cylinders in the bottom of her feet as her stand was revised to a plastic based one with a wire that stood up behind the doll and held her under the arms. Also her black open-toe shoes don't have holes in the soles, nor do any Barbie shoes from this doll onward. She came in either a blonde or a very dark brunette, same as the #1's do. #2 Barbies were available for an even shorter period of time than #1 dolls and hence are even more difficult to find, although they do not usually command quite as high a price from collectors as the #1 Barbie does.
1960 #3 brunette Ponytail Barbie (stock
The #3 Barbie has a few noticeable changes from the first two dolls. Her irises are now blue and therefore a bit more realistic! Also Mattel softened her look somewhat by changing her eyebrows to a more curved shape. A few of the #3's came with blue eyeliner instead of the usual brown. These dolls also came in both blonde and brunette (which is almost black), with bright red lips and nails. The doll shown is not wearing earrings, but they would be gold hoops. The vinyl on the #3's was also prone to fading and you will find most of these dolls today have that ghastly pale white tone like the first two Barbies. The #3 Barbie came with the same swimsuit and accessories as the first two dolls as well.
1960 #4 blonde Ponytail Barbie (stock
The #4 Barbie's main difference from the first three dolls is that Mattel used a new kind of vinyl that didn't fade to white over the years and has retained its tan color. Her hair color is still either blonde or very dark brunette. This doll came with either the previous gold hoop earrings or more often found is the new style of pearl earrings (shown in photo). The #4 Barbie also has red lips and nails, curved brows, blue irises and the same accessories as the above dolls.
1961 #5 brunette Ponytail Barbie (stock
The #5 Barbie has a new type of body with a hollow hard plastic torso. She also has hard plastic arms and legs. Some of the #5's have the new, firmer textured, Saran hair but some still have the old soft hair as well. A few even have both kinds of hair combined! The bangs tend to be larger curls and not the soft rag-curl type of bangs seen on previous dolls. Hair colors are blonde, brunette (black really) and finally a redhead (called titian, pronounced "tee-shan"). No flocking on her scalp under the ponytail now. Lips and nails are still bright red and accessories are all the same with the exception that her earrings are all now the pearl kind and not the gold hoops. You often find #5 Barbies will have a greasy, shiny face as the vinyl that the heads were made out of this year tends to "sweat" over time. Not all #5's have this, but many do. You can dull the shine with a light dusting of baby powder but it will eventually come back to haunt you and there's not much you can do to get rid of it permanently. Also you will notice that, compared to the #6 Barbie below, the face is narrower through the cheeks. Her stand was changed to a black wire stand (no plastic base) with a black wire rectangular base.
1962-64 #6 blonde Ponytail Barbie (stock
The #6 Barbie was available with lots more variety than her ponytailed predecessors. Hair color is available in many shades of blonde, brunette and titian. The hair and bangs are firmer textured. Lip and nail color also came in many varieties from bright red to the palest pink. She came dressed in a new red helenca swimsuit and the old black and white striped one was retired. (Necklace shown in photo didn't come with doll but is part of the outfit this model is wearing.) She came with pearl earrings (not shown) and red open-toe heels. No sunglasses anymore, either. The torso was hollow, same as the #5 dolls. Her black wire stand was also the same as the #5 Barbie. Many #6 Barbies have a slightly wider face mold that makes them look a bit fatter in the cheeks (the one shown here is not as wide a face as many I have seen). Also a lot of them have smaller factory painted lips than previous dolls. The 1962 and earlier Barbies will say just Barbie on the bum, but the 1963 and onward dolls say Midge/Barbie as this is the year that Midge is introduced. The exact bum markings for 1963 dolls are Midge T.M./©1962/Barbie®/©1958/by/Mattel, Inc.
1964 titian (redhead) Swirl
Ponytail Barbie (stock number 0850)
The designers at Mattel came up with a new look for the ponytail Barbie in 1964. No more short curly bangs - instead the bangs are long and swept across the forehead, along the right side of her head and join into the ponytail at the back. Collectors call this new style the "swirl ponytail". Hair color was available in as many different colors as the #6 Barbies. Lip color also varied although most often a coral color is found, as seen in this picture, or a faded out coral. The most desired style of swirl ponytail Barbie by collectors is the platinum blonde with white (yes, white!) lipstick. It's a very striking combination! She also came with the red helenca swimsuit, pearl earrings, red open-toe shoes and a black wire stand. The first swirls to hit the market had the same markings as the 1963 dolls, however later issues had the word "patented" added at the bottom. Little girls usually took the ponytails down, so if you find one with no bangs and sort of a "widow's peak" looking forehead hair-line, then you've probably found yourself a swirl!
To find out all about vintage Bubblecut Barbies, go into my Vintage Article section (link below) and you will find one of the articles is a neat write-up to help you identify your vintage Bubblecuts!
home | dolls59-66 | dolls67-76 | dolls77-95 | clothing | footwear | accessories
bargain | other-stuff | identification | articles | links | board | contact