How to Tell If You Have a Vintage 1966 Barbie Doll

A Copyright Doesn't Mean Your Doll Is Vintage

A 1966 barbie doll.
Julius Seelbach / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

Doll collectors often field calls from people looking to quickly sell 1966 Barbie dolls. These would-be sellers are often turned away, however, because that copyright on such dolls doesn't mean they were actually manufactured that year. More often than not, the dolls are from the 1980s and 1990s, which means they have little value.

Use these tips to tell if your Barbie is vintage and worth some cash or a contemporary Barbie worth little.

How to Tell If Your Doll Is Vintage

Barbies, especially vintage ones, are often identified by the marks on the doll's behind or torso. The markings often include a date. The date does not mean the doll was manufactured that year. Rather, it's the copyright date of a particular kind of doll body. The most common markings on Barbies include ©1966, "Mattel, Inc." and the name of the country where the doll was made. Some people see this information and think they've scored a vintage Barbie but couldn't be more wrong.

On the other hand, there are a few Barbie dolls marked 1966 that are vintage (and valuable). Most of these were made in Japan in the late 1960s or early 1970 and a few were made in Taiwan or Hong Kong (but be careful and do further research when you see those countries of origin--Barbies were made in Taiwan and Hong Kong through the 1980s). Vintage 1966 Barbies will usually have the information displayed in the left column of the box below, while modern Barbies will have the information displayed in the right.

©1966/
Mattel, Inc. 
U.S. Patented
U.S.Pat. Pend.
Made In
Japan

1960s TNT Barbie:  This doll has rooted eyelashes.
Malibu Barbie:  Dark, tanned skin, straight arms
Hair Happenins Barbie: lashes, chin-length hair and wigs

 

©1966/
Mattel, Inc. 
U.S. & Foreign
Patented
Other Pats
Pending
Made in
U.S.A. or Hong Kong

Busy Barbie:  This doll has grippable hands, straight arms
Sweet 16 Barbie: Straight arms, but painted eyelashes

 

Most of the early marks are longer (more lines) than the later Barbie marks. Also, most of the early 1970s Barbies did have straight arms and not arms bent at the elbow. The dolls generally had closed mouths or small smiles (unlike the later, wide grins on Barbie dolls). Plus, the TNT (Twist and Turn) dolls were marked on their behinds and not the small of their backs like many later dolls. 

Finally, remember that most post-1970s dolls have twist waists. You can tell an early TNT doll from these because the TNT vintage dolls have waists that twist on an angle and not straight across like the contemporary Barbie dolls.

Late Model Barbie Dolls

Newer Barbie dolls tend to have the following marked on their torso:

©1966  Mattel, Inc. 
China

Variations of the later 1966 mark are as follows:

©1966 Mattel, Inc. 
China
©1966 Mattel, Inc. 
Malaysia
©1966 Mattel, Inc. 
Philippines
©1966 Mattel, Inc. 
Hong Kong
 

You can also tell if your Barbie is relatively new if she has large plastic earrings, a plastic "ring" made from the little plastic bolt on her finger or very thick blond hair.

Most of the Barbies produced in the 1980s to the 1990s are virtually worthless if found nude.  If found with all their original clothing and accessories, the dolls may have value to a collector, depending on which Barbie model the doll is.

 On the other hand, a very mint, vintage TNT Barbie could bring several hundred dollars.