Tuesday, January 3, 2012


An early Barbie doll from the collection of a 65++ year old mother who had this as a teen in 1961. A friend who works for an airline bought her this brunette Barbie, already a worldwide hit in the 60s, in France, of all places. After years of play, the daughter of the original owner decided to put it up for sale online--so that's how it got to my toy chest!

Barbie (Barbie Millicent Roberts) is a fashion doll manufactured by the American toy-company Mattel, Inc. and launched in March 1959. American businesswoman Ruth Handler is credited with the creation of the doll using a German doll called Bild Lilli as her inspiration.

Contrary to the seller who advertised this as the first Afro-American Barbie, this is actually Barbie Ponytail #5. It is different from the Barbies released in the previous years in that it has a new, hard hollow torso, and a flesh-like, tanned complexion (earliest Barbies had a pale, ghostly skin color). Her brunette hair has a firmer texture, and she comes dressed in her traditional striped swimsuit, earrings, high heels and shades (now missing). She has also lost her wire stand.

Ken, Barbie's boyfriend, would be introduced the same year this doll came out (1961), and there has never been an idle moment since their first meeting. Yes, I do have a Ken doll from that era as well, a perfect match to my vintage Barbie acquisition. In the meanwhile, the two stand side-by-side in a glass encased cabinet in my toy room, playful reminders of an era when girls' idea of leisure was dressing up Barbie and pretending to go to shindigs with their Kens in tow.

1 comment:

  1. That appears to be a #3, not a #5 (looks like brown eyeliner?), and it's stained -- the skin isn't supposed to be that colour (normally it would be the "ghostly white") ;-)