How to Identify a Vintage Ponytail Barbie

Vintage No. 6 Ponytail - brunette
Vintage No. 6 Ponytail Barbie, Brunette. RomitaGirl67/Creative Commons

The first Barbie dolls were unveiled at the New York Toy Fair in 1959. Barbie released the Ponytail Barbie line from 1959 to 1964. There were seven versions released. To collectors, the most valued is the first edition and second edition, which can be sold for several thousand dollars. Each variation of the doll has slight differences, body style, clothing, and markings that enable you to tell them apart.

Which One Do You Have?

Which Ponytail Barbie do you have? First, carefully examine your doll. Note its facial features, skin color, feet, feel of her torso and hair, as well as any markings on her behind.

No. 1 and No. 2

The No. 1 Ponytail Barbie has white irises, severely arched eyebrows, and holes in her feet/copper tubing in her legs. Her skin is faded white, her torso is solid, and her original swimsuit has a black-and-white zebra pattern. Her markings are Barbie™/Pats.Pend./©MCMLVIII/by Mattel/Inc. Depending on its condition, this doll can be worth several thousand dollars.

If your Barbie meets all of the above criteria but does not have holes in her feet/copper tubing, then the doll you have is a No. 2 Ponytail Barbie, which also can be worth several thousand dollars.

No. 3

No. 3 Ponytail Barbie has the same characteristics as No. 1 and No. 2 except that the doll has blue irises and the eyebrows are curved. The No. 3 doll can have blue or brown eyeliner and they sometimes smell like Crayola crayons. This doll can be worth several hundred dollars. 

No. 4

If your Barbie conforms to the description of No. 1 and No. 2 except that her skin tone is tan, then you have a No. 4 Ponytail Barbie. The No. 4 dolls and later only have blue eyeliner. 

No. 5

If your Barbie conforms to the description of No. 1 and No. 2 except that the body is hollow (not solid) and the doll is marked Barbie® rather than Barbie™, then you have a No. 5. The No. 5 dolls were also the first to come as a redhead, so if you have a redhead (called Titian), it is either a No. 5, No. 6, or No. 7

No. 6 and No. 7

If your Barbie wears an original red jersey swimsuit and has a slightly chubbier face, your doll is most likely a No. 6. Some experts do not differentiate between a No. 5 or a No. 6, and there is little difference in value. You can know for sure if you have a No. 6 Ponytail if the markings read "Midge™/© 1962/Barbie®/© 1958/by/Mattel, Inc" (only 6s produced in 1963 and 1964 had this marking). A No. 7 (sometimes referred to a late No. 6) has a different body than a No. 6, it also came out in 1964 and the word "patented" as added to the marking. Quite simply, if the markings say "Midge" but not "patented," you have a No. 6, but if it says both, you have a No. 7.

Tips for Collecting

  • Later reproductions: A reproduction line of Ponytail Barbies was produced by Mattel in the 1990s. These reproductions are marked Barbie/©1958, 1993/Mattel, Inc./Malaysia. Another retro line, Silkstone Barbie, was produced in 2000, and often use the ponytail hairstyle. They are called silkstone because they are made of a very hard plastic that is intended to mimic porcelain.
  • Look for subtle variations: Differences in some of the Ponytail Barbies can be subtle to an untrained eye, great places to look for the slight differences would be noticeable by the eyebrow shape and skin tone.
  • Dolls to pass on: Try to avoid dolls with green ears or broken limbs. Look for switched heads, and for a doll that has her ponytail intact. Sometimes, the rubber band will deteriorate, and the doll's hair will become tangled. The old rubber band bits are very hard to get out. Exercise good judgment; if a ponytail Barbie seems too cheap or too good to be true, it probably is.
  • Collector reimaginings: Many collectors like to re-root Barbie's hair. Some who love retro and vintage dolls may create ponytail hairdos. Also, there are OOAK (One Of A Kind) artists who enjoy recreating dolls or making their own original costumes.