|1966 Barbie® Dolls: Trash or Treasure?|
|Sorting Out What The "1966" Mark on a Barbie® Doll Actually MEANS.|
The following scenario is common at my doll store:
Your Guide: "Hello"
Caller: "Hi, are you the doll lady who placed the ad in the newspaper for pre-1970 dolls?"
Your Guide: "Yes, that's me. How can I help you?"
Caller: "I have some old 1960s Barbies that I'd like to sell, since your ad mentions that you pay top dollar."
Your Guide: "Really? That's great--how do you know the Barbie dolls are from the 1960s?"
Caller: "The dolls are marked 1966!"
Your Guide: "Well, what else do the markings on the doll say?"
Caller: "I don't know--I don't have the dolls with me. So, how much will you pay?"
Your Guide: "Well....I need more information. Where did you get the dolls?"
Caller: "At a garage sale!"
Your Guide: "Can you describe them to me?"
Caller: "They are blonde with bent arms and twist waists. They are naked, and they are pretty grubby--I'm sure they are really old"
Your Guide: "I'm pretty sure that your Barbie dolls are more recent than the 1960s--most likely from the 1980s or 1990s. I'm sorry, but I'm not interested in purchasing them."
Caller: (getting agitated...) "But the dolls SAY 1966!!!"
Your Guide: "Yes, but that's the copyright of the Barbie doll torso--dolls marked 1966 can be from the 1960s up through 2001! There have been many millions made. Most are later issue Barbie dolls, like yours." But, thank you for calling."
Caller: "Gee, well THANKS!" (click).
Although this call is a dramatization, and names have been, um, avoided to protect the innocent, this is a common exchange, both via phone for dealers and vintage Barbie collectors, and via e-mail for owners of doll web sites. Whether or not a Barbie® doll with a 1966 mark is "valuable" or not is the number one question that I receive via e-mail at About.com--usually, I receive several of these e-mails a week!
What The 1966 Mark Is And How You Can Tell If It's A Vintage Doll
Barbies®, especially vintage Barbies, are often identified by the marks on the dolls behind or torso. The markings often include a date. The DATE, however, is not the date that the doll was manufactured, but the date of the copyright of a particular doll body. The most COMMON mark on Barbie includes "©1966" plus "Mattel, Inc." and the name of the country of manufacture of the doll.
ARE a few Barbie dolls marked 1966 that ARE vintage (and valuable). Most
of these were Made In Japan in the late 1960s or early 1970 and a few were made
in Taiwan or Hong Kong (but, be careful and do further research when you see
those countries of origin--Barbies were made in Taiwan and Hong Kong through the
1980s). However, to make it a bit easier on you, MOST of the valuable
vintage dolls WERE from Japan and the marks show this. Here are a few
versions of the early vintage Barbies (in red) and their marks, plus a few
Most of the early marks are longer (more lines) than the later Barbie marks. Also, note that MOST of the early 1970s Barbies did have straight arms and NOT arms bent at the elbow, and that the dolls generally had closed mouths or small smiles (unlike the later, wide Superstar Smiles on Barbie dolls). Plus, the TNT (Twist and Turn) dolls were marked on their behinds and NOT the small of their backs like many later dolls. Finally, remember that MOST post-1970s dolls have twist waists. You can tell an early TNT doll from these because the TNT vintage dolls have waists that twist on an ANGLE and not straight across like the 1980s and 1990s-2000s Barbie dolls.
Later and Common Barbie Dolls
The three dolls pictured above are typical of the later Barbie dolls, and are all marked on their torso:
ALL these dolls
were purchased in 1999-2000. Some variations of this later 1966 mark
(1980s/1990s) are as follows:
Other ways you can tell if you have a later Barbie--
smile (Superstar Face Mold)
MOST of these Barbies, produced in the 1980s to the 1990s are virtually worthless if found nude. If found with all their original clothing and accessories, the dolls may have value to a collector, depending on which Barbie model the doll is. On the other hand, a very mint, vintage TNT Barbie could bring several hundred dollars
hope that this article will be helpful to novice collectors, and to people just
discovering Barbie. And, for dealers and web site owners who hear this question
a LOT, I hope I have provided a useful reference for them, and a place they can
send inquiring new collectors and treasure hunters when they ask "I have a
1966 Barbie--what is it worth?"