37¢ Barbie Doll
Celebrate the Century – 1960s
Issue Date: September 17, 1999
City: Green Bay, WI
Printed By: Ashton-Potter (USA) Ltd
Printing Method: Lithographed, engraved
Ruth Handler noticed that many of the dolls available for her daughter, Barbara, were modeled after infants. Inspired by her daughter’s fascination with cut-out adult paper dolls, Handler decided to create a toy which would allow young girls to experiment with other adult roles.
Handler’s husband, Elliot, was a founder of Mattel, Inc. Ruth suggested to her husband that Mattel make a three-dimensional doll that would be called “Barbie,” after their daughter. Barbie was introduced at the American International Toy Fair in 1959. Buyers weren’t impressed with the toy, but little girls were. Mattel was so buried in orders from retailers that it took several years before supply caught up with demand.
The very first Barbie is 11 ½ inches tall, and wears a black and white striped swimsuit, high-heeled shoes, and gold-colored hoop earrings. This first doll, known to collectors as #1, is extremely valuable.
Yves Saint Laurent, Christian Dior, Perry Ellis, and Oscar de la Renta have designed outfits for Barbie during her 40 years. Originally a teenage fashion model, Barbie has taken on the roles of dentist, firefighter, astronaut, and presidential candidate. One and one-half million Barbie dolls are sold each week in more than 140 countries – that’s two dolls sold each second.