How to Value Barbies

One of the most iconic figures of modern pop culture and girls’ media, Barbie dolls have entertained over a half century of children, earning them a place as one of the most beloved toys of America and the world.

Barbie Dolls

Barbie doll

It is no wonder that today they are sought after as highly prized collectible items around the world. Do you have an old box of Barbies that you would like to know more about? Do you believe you have come across what you believe may be an early model Barbie at the thrift store? Perhaps you want to know if your mother’s collection of Barbies is worth anything? Find out today here at Value My Stuff!

A history of Barbies

Barbie was first introduced to the public on March 9th, 1959, at the American International Toy Fair in New York. Named after creator Ruth Handler’s daughter, and inspired by the German doll Bild Lilli, Barbie was created to fill a gap in the American market of adult-bodied girls’ dolls. During the first year of production, over 350,000 dolls were sold. However despite Barbie’s initial success, many parents were concerned about the mature appearance of Barbie’s body, but Ruth Handler saw it as important to give young girls a distinctly adult role model to look up to and aspire to. She was a doll that represented a modern, well-rounded woman who could be anything from a mother to a doctor to an astronaut.

Condition

One of the first factors to address when setting out to determine the value of your Barbie is its condition. Naturally collectors will be willing to pay a lot more money for a doll that is in mint condition compared to a doll of the same model that is damaged beyond repair. The doll will be especially valuable if it is in its original box and comes with all its original accessories. On the other hand, if the item is missing parts, or has suffered any damage such as cut or matted hair, chipped paint, scratching, or anything else that compromises its original appearance, its worth will be decreased significantly.

Rarity

The next attribute of your doll to take into consideration is its level of rarity. Even if a doll is in perfect condition, if the supply exceeds its demand on the market, it will likely be worth very little. Aside from rare collectors’ models, your Barbie’s age will be the most likely factor in determining its rarity; the older your doll is, the more rare it will probably be. A mint condition original 1959 blonde Barbie is worth approximately £19,000 on today’s collectors’ market.

body of Barbie in pink dress

Identity of the doll

Once the above factors are assessed, the next quintessential step to take is determining the year and model of the doll. While older dolls do tend to be rarer and thus more expensive, there are still plenty of younger collectible models that could be worth much more than you might expect. For example, some rare collectible Barbies are the 2014 Karl Lagerfeld Barbie, the 2001 Aqua Queen of the Prom Barbie, the 2003 City Smart Silkstone Barbie, and many more. 

Price Guides

It can often be helpful to compare your Barbie to what dolls of the same model have sold for in the past. Price guides can be a beneficial tool to assist in doing so, as they provide comprehensive lists of what Barbies have sold for in the past, given that they are in good condition. Many of these exclusive to Barbie price guides are available on platforms like Amazon, such as Illustrated Price Guide to Collectible Barbie Dolls by Carol Manos and Susan Paris, Warman's Barbie Doll Field Guide: Values and Identification by Sharon Verbeten, and more.

"The only way to acquire a truly accurate estimate of an item’s value is to seek professional appraisal, and thus narrow the margin for error as much as possible."

Seeking Appraisal

While the above factors undoubtedly play a role in affecting the worth of your Barbie, even the most meticulous and observant amateur is prone to making mistakes. The only way to acquire a truly accurate estimate of an item’s value is to seek professional appraisal, and thus narrow the margin for error as much as possible. Luckily here at Value My Stuff there are specialists in the field that are readily available to provide expert valuation for your Barbies today!

Barbie has unarguably been one of the most monumental and influential phenomena of modern toys and children's media. To this day the company continues to thrive and children across the world are able to enjoy what Barbie has to offer having successfully adapted to a contemporary 21st century context. And just as modern children are eager to play with the doll, collectors and enthusiasts of any age appreciate vintage Barbies as highly valuable collectors items.

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