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The Collectics Antiques Information & Education pages are designed to further knowledge of antiques, collectibles, collecting styles, periods, artists, designers, and manufacturers of fine and decorative arts. To learn more, our Antique Collector Bookstore lists only the best collector books and price guides, complied by surveys of top antique dealers and auction houses. For a different shopping experience, you can also browse our featured selections in a fun new way with the Antique Price Guides Slideshow or see current Amazon.com bestsellers by using Collector Books Topic Search.

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BARBIE DOLL COLLECTING INFORMATION & HISTORY
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Since being designed and introduced in 1959 by Mattel founder and Barbie doll creator Ruth Handler, this first anatomically correct molded plastic doll has become a true American icon, an outlet for girls' dreams and an ever changing reflection of American society. Barbie dolls themselves as well as the history and evolution of Barbie's clothes, her various "face lifts" to reflect changes in modern times, her links to professional, political and charitable endeavors, and in multi-culturalizing of her product line have all kept Barbie in the forefront for doll collectors worldwide. Collectors value not simply the dolls but the many accessories and theme dolls that have been issued over the years, and collecting complete sets usually takes many years of effort.

Barbie namesake Barbara Handler was the daughter of Ruth and Elliot Handler, and in the early 1950s Ruth Handler saw that her young daughter Barbara and her girlfriends liked playing with adult female dolls even more than with baby dolls. She felt that it was just as important for girls to imagine how they would be and act when they grow up as it was to pretending what caring for children might be like. Because most 195's adult dolls were made of paper or cardboard, Ruth Handler decided to create a 3 dimensional adult female doll lifelike enough to inspire her own daughter's dreams of her future. Handler took the idea to the ad executives at Mattel, the company that she and her husband Elliot founded in their garage some years before. At first, Mattel's design committee rejected the idea as too expensive, and with little potential for wide market appeal. Soon thereafter, Handler returned from a trip to Europe with a "Lilli" doll which was modeled after an older female character in a German comic strip. Handler spent some time designing a doll similar to Lilli, and she hired a designer to make realistic doll clothes. The result was the Barbie doll named after her own daughter Barbara. Upon seeing the model, Mattel finally agreed to back the Barbie doll, and she was introduced in 1959 at the American Toy Fair in New York City. Almost immediately, American girls clamored for the doll, and Barbie set a new sales record for Mattel its first year on the market by selling over 351,000 dolls at $3 each. Since then, the popularity of Barbie has rarely dropped, and today the Barbie product line is the most successful doll in the history of the toy industry with over 1 billion sold. The very first Barbie doll had a ponytail, black and white zebra-striped bathing suit, open toed shoes, sunglasses, and earrings. A complete line of clothing fashions and accessories was also available, and Mattel was so swamped with orders that it took several years for supply to catch up with demand. The Barbie doll was introduced as a teenage fashion model, but in the years that followed she has taken on many aspirational roles. She has tackled almost every conceivable profession including dentist, doctor, astronaut, businesswoman, police officer, firefighter, astronaut, paleontologist, and even a Presidential candidate. Barbie has been joined over the years by friends and family including Ken (named for the Handlersí son) in 1961, Midge in 1963, Skipper in 1965, and Christie (an African-American doll and the first of many subsequent ethnic friends) in 1968. In 1995, the Barbie doll's little sister Baby Sister Kelly was introduced and in 1997 a disabled friend in a wheelchair Share a Smile Becky followed. Still being made today by Mattel, girls can now use their computers to program and personalize their Barbie doll, and Mattel's product line now includes books, clothing, home furnishings, home electronics, and even food. From the beginning, Barbie has also had her critics claiming that Barbie reinforces sexism, representing a young woman with questionable intelligence but remarkable physique. Despite the protests, Barbie popularity with young girls continues unabated, and early vintage Barbies are ravenously collected by doll enthusiasts around the world, the most popular fashion doll ever created.

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Barbie Doll: Identification & Values (Collector's Encyclopedia of Barbie Doll Collector's Editions) American Dollhouses and Furniture from the 20th Century: With Price Guide (Schiffer Book for Collectors)
 
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