Vintage Barbie dolls: What makes them worth thousands of ££

Pink is trendy again! The highly-anticipated Barbie live-action movie is hitting cinemas worldwide tomorrow, rekindling the love for this iconic doll. As the excitement builds for the movie release, I’m uncovering new facts, tips, and advice for those interested in buying or selling these timeless fashion dolls.

If you have vintage Barbie dolls hidden away, now might be the perfect time to discover if you have a valuable asset waiting to be unearthed.

valuable Vintage Barbie dolls collage From left to right: The 1959 original Barbie, The 1992 Totally Hair Barbie, Part of the 2023 Movie Collection, Barbie.com

From left to right: The 1959 original Barbie, The 1992 Totally Hair Barbie, Part of the 2023 Movie Collection, Barbie.com

The Value of Vintage Barbie Dolls

In recent years, the demand for Barbie dolls has skyrocketed, with sales nearly doubling in the last two years. On the market, these dolls have seen a significant increase in their average value, surging by more than 20%. Amongst the top markets for Barbie collectors, Italians lead in the number of purchases, while the Dutch spend the most on these beloved dolls.

Some vintage Barbies have become true treasures, fetching high prices at auctions. For instance, a 1960s American Girl Barbie exchanged hands for an impressive €2,000, while a rare 1998 Fabergé Barbie sold for €1,510. Notably, a vintage 1967 Francie, Barbie’s mod cousin and the first-ever Black Barbie doll, fetched over €1,000. Ultra-rare models can reach six-figure sums, such as the world’s most expensive Barbie ever sold, designed by Australian jewellery designer Stefano Canturi, which went for almost 300,000 euros in 2010.

Vintage Barbie collection London Mums magazine collage

How to Identify Valuable Vintage Barbies

With a collection of 300 vintage Barbie dolls, I think I know a thing or two about these fashion dolls. If you have Barbies from the past, you might be wondering if they are worth a fortune. To determine their value, consider these key factors:

  1. Age Matters: The older the Barbie, the higher its potential value, particularly if it is in mint condition. A first Barbie from 1959, in excellent state, is estimated to be worth around 10,000 euros. Original Barbies from the 1960s and 1970s, in well-preserved condition, can be sold for high three-to four-figure sums. Early dolls from this era may have distinctive features, such as holes on the bottom of their feet, a paper label on their wrist, and a whiter shade due to the material used.
  2. Condition: The state of a Barbie is a critical factor in determining its price. Dolls in sealed, unopened packaging fetch the highest sums, ensuring that all the original accessories are intact. Well-preserved Barbies have intact nail polish and knees that make a characteristic clicking sound. On the other hand, damaged hair, nail varnish, or self-made makeup with felt-tip pens can decrease the value, as can green discolouration on the ears from old earrings.
  3. Special Editions: Barbies with unique designs, collaborations with celebrities, or dolls commemorating special events tend to have a higher value. Even editions that previously garnered little interest can gain popularity due to renewed cultural interest.

Collaborations with fashion houses are particularly noteworthy, as Barbie has been dressed by over 70 designers, from Dior to Armani and Versace to Oscar de la Renta. These collaborations often result in dolls that can fetch higher sums amongst collectors. For example, a Karl Lagerfeld Barbie was sold for 1,500 euros on a leading marketplace.

Start go scouting for your cash in the attic!

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