The first thing to check is the trademark. Is it on Barbie's heinie or on her lower back? The dolls with the trademark on the heinie were made between 1959 and 1972 and are considered vintage. If the trademark says "Barbie TM" and Barbie is in script, then it is one of the first Barbies made. This mark can be found on the #1 Ponytail Barbie, #2 Ponytail Barbie, #3 Ponytail Barbie and #4 Ponytail Barbie. Here are some pictures to help you figure out what you have (or want to have).
#1 Ponytail Barbie
|Bubble cut Barbie|
Another trademark to look for says "1958 Mattel Inc." or "1958 Mattel Inc. Made in Japan". If you are lucky enough to see one of these, you either have a "Miss Barbie" (issued in 1964) or an American Girl Barbie which is a collector's favorite! The American Girl Barbies were made in 1965 and 1966 and they can easily be identified by the fact that their knees bend due to an internal mechanism.
|American Girl Barbies|
|Miss Barbie 1964|
Next, if the copyright says "1966 Mattel Made in Japan" that's a very good sign. These dolls are called "Twist and Turns" because Barbie had a unique hip and waist movement that allowed her to bend and twist at the same time. In 1967 Barbie got a new face also. The other important doll with this trademark is Malibu Barbie. Her features are the same as TnT Barbies but her skin is a dark tan. This is a strange case where "Made in Japan" makes the dolls more valuable rather than less. After 1967 and up through 1972, the Barbie family dolls all came on the market. Skipper, who is Barbie's little sister, Francie, who is slimmer than Barbie and a little shorter and Midge were all popular during this time and still have quite a following among collectors. One thing to look for with these dolls is rooted eyelashes. Many had them but not all. But just because they don't have them doesn't mean they aren't valuable. 😉
Hair Happenin's Francie
This gives you a starting place for vintage Barbies, it is by no means even close to all of the information there is out there...this site has some great precise information on early models. VintageBabs.com I haven't given you any values because there are just too many variables. Each doll needs to be evaluated on it's own merits. I just hope you know a few things to look for now when you're out treasure hunting.
Stay tuned, we are about to give everyone their overload on Barbies on our auction site, Southern Estate Sales!