Live Auctions

Saturday, January 19, 2008

1959 Barbie- Barbie Doll Invented

"New for 1959, the BARBIE doll: A shapely teenage fashion Model! Retail price $3.00..."

You may ask yourself who invented the Barbie doll, what year(1959)was it invented,what was its original price, and what is all this craze about? Well the history of the Barbie doll started back in 1959 and has been going strong ever since. Prior to the time the Barbie doll was invented, Elliot and Ruth Handler (the inventors of the Barbie doll) started a company with Harold Matson which was "Mattel"- it was the joining of the two names. The mattel company was originally started in 1945 (14 years prior to 1959) to build and sell picture frames. Elliot invented a business on the side where he was making dollhouse furniture out of the picture frame pieces. Elliot Handler recalled in 1967 "My bright young wife stated if I could make this furniture for the house, why not make some for sale?" And so the Handler furniture business was begun. As business was booming Ruth noticed her daughter Barbara and her friends spending time playing with the grown up paper dolls versus playing with baby dolls. The girls needed a doll they could play with and imagine what they could be when they grew up. She soon realized that there was niche for this type of market. She brought the idea she had invented to her husband who as part founder of Mattel. He quickly his told the inventor (Ruth) that it was an expensive idea.

During a trip to Europe she purchased a doll called "Bild Lilli". The german inventor invented this doll based on a German comic strip and was a gag gift for adults. Ruth brought the doll back to the U.S. and started working on redesigning the doll and worked with a designer who could design doll clothes. A likeness of the doll was made and Ruth Handler invented the name "Barbie" after her daughter Barbara. On March 9th, 1959 the Barbie doll was presented at the Toy Fair in New York City.

Since the Barbie doll was invented many things have happened:
Mass plastic and vinyl had to be invented for Barbie to be produced.
The inventor company (Mattel) sold 500 million Barbie dolls during the first eight years since the Barbie doll was invented.
The Mattel Company became a publicly traded company in 1959/1960.
Since 1959,within 5 years, Mattel, the company that invented the Barbie doll, made the Fortune 500 list.
Because of Barbie's success another doll was invented the next year and it was named Ken. Ken was Barbie's on and off again boyfriend who was named after the inventor's (Ruth Handler) son Ken.

The inventor of the barbie doll in 1959, Ruth and Elliot Handler

Since the Barbie doll was invented in 1959, she has been everything that Ruth had envisioned and more. When she watched her daughter Barbara play with paper dolls she knew that she wanted her daughter to have a doll that she could imagine with. She could play with the doll and live out her dreams.

From the time she was invented, Barbie has done many things and here are just a few:(see below the slide show of some of the Barbies through the years)

Barbie has had 80 careers starting in 1959 with a teenage fashion model to a Presidential candidate
Barbie is marketed in over 150 countries and represents 45 different nationalities
Barbie has had 43 pets that were invented as companions for Barbie. Everything from dogs to a zebra- her first pet was a horse named Dancer
Barbie has made the art of collecting Barbies second only to stamp collecting

Barbie made the most interesting decision when she went into the official "America's Time Capsule" which was buried at the celebration of the Bicentennial in 1976. This showed what an impact the Barbie Doll has had with our society since it was first invented in 1959. Barbie has changed with the times through her clothes and her careers which represents the ever changing aspirations of every little girl. Since the original Barbie doll was invented in the year 1959 by inventor (Ruth Handler) and carried a original price of $3.00, she has now become an icon which represents the ever changing world we live in