Vintage Barbie Dolls - Identifying Vintage Ponytail Barbies
Barbie was first released by Mattel in 1959 and since the earliest Barbie doll had her hair pulled back in a Ponytail, she is referred to as the Ponytail Barbie by vintage Barbie collectors. There are six different incarnations of the Ponytail Barbie and so she is referred to by her number, i.e. #1 Ponytail Barbie or #2 Ponytail, etc. What follows is a brief guide to identifying each one as the differences between them are usually subtle, but hugely significant to value.
#1 Ponytail Barbie
The #1 Ponytail Barbie can be either blonde or brunette. More blonde dolls were made so the brunette is more valuable. Her hair is tied back in a ponytail and she has curled bangs. Her irises are white and her lips are red and she also severely arched eyebrows. Pointy, actually. She is also peering off to the side.
Constructed from heavy vinyl plastic, she has a solid torso and holes in the bottom of her feet and copper tubing in her legs so she can be fitted to her pedestal. The bottom of her right foot also says "Japan" on it.
Due to the nature of the plastic she was made from, she is usually faded to a very white color. Her original outfit consists of a black/white zebra striped swimsuit, open toed black high heels (with holes in them!), white sunglasses (blue lenses) and golden hoop earrings.
#1 Ponytail Barbie is also marked: Barbie (TM) Pats. Pend. ©MCMLVIII by Mattel Inc.
#2 Ponytail Barbie
The #2 Ponytail Barbie is actually exactly the same as the #1 Barbie except she no longer has holes in her feet and no copper tubing. Her new pedestal has arms to hold her in place. She bears the same mark as above.
#3 Ponytail Barbie
#3 Barbie is like the #2 except she now has blue irises and softer eyebrows. She may have either brown or blue eyeliner.
#4 Ponytail Barbie
The #4 Barbie now comes in a new type of plastic and generally keeps her flesh-colored tone over the years. She also only comes wearing blue eyeliner.
#5 Ponytail Barbie
The big changes to the #5 Barbie are that her torso is now hollow and she bears a new mark: Barbie ® Pats. Pend. ©MCMLVIII by Mattel Inc. Note the ® instead of the (TM).
In addition. #5 also is available in a new hair color, Titian. Barbie's hair is also a bit stiffer now. The Titian #5 Barbie is very hard to find and the most collectible. Unfortunately, #5 Barbies are prone to greasy faces due to some problems Mattel was having with the vinyl. A greasy appearance will reduce value as the problem isn't universal and there are some dolls still showing lovely matte faces to be found.
#6 Ponytail Barbie
#6 has a new outfit, a red jersey swimsuit and red open-toed heels. Her lips are now watermelon colored instead of red. Her fingernail polish matches her lips. The vinyl problems were fixed so she won't have a greasy face anymore either.
Is she a number 6 or number 7?
Some time in 1963, there was a major change to Barbie. The #6 dolls produced in 1963 and 1964 have broader faces and also have a different mark: Midge(TM)/© 1962/Barbie®/© 1958/by/Mattel, Inc and they are available in different hair colors -- lemon blonde, ash blonde, titian and brunette (not raven black like the #1's). Her lips and nails are now coral.
Sometimes the Barbie with the new mark is referred to as the #7 Barbie by collectors and sometimes she is referred to as the #6. If you are considering adding one of these dolls to your collection, the important thing is to know that Barbie had a bit of a makeover between 1962 and 1963 and the 1962 doll was only manufactured for one year so she may be more collectible.
On a final note, there are lots of artists doing restorations and repaints of vintage Barbie dolls. Like any antique, any vintage Barbie that has been altered from her original condition will be far less valuable even if the repaint restores her beauty. If you are bidding on an auction for a Barbie doll and you have questions about any possible restoration work done to her, don't be afraid to question the seller.
Here are some more barbie dress up articles...