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Recently, I was asked by a friend to sell some items from her parent’s warehouse. Some of the items were hers, from her childhood. One item, which for some reason I saved for last, was a red chest, wrapped in multiple garbage bags, with the words “Barbie doll and clothes,” written in jittery black letters on the white plastic. I thought to myself, “Oh, another item to sell.” Little did I know what I was getting myself into!
I unwrapped it, to find a nice, sturdy chest, red in color. I still did not know what to expect – maybe, “an old Barbie doll, great!” in a sarcastic tone, or “Okay at least it has been kept in good condition…” I opened the chest, not knowing which way was up. I peeked inside, to find a rod with tiny clothing hanging on it – coats, shirts, fancy fabric, faux fur, etc. Opposite that was a set of large drawers. I opened them, finding all sorts of bizarre, tiny accessories – hats, bags, shoes, plates, a tea set, gloves, glasses, Barbie-sized jewelry, etc. Oh – and a Barbie bathtub – you just never know when this will come in handy!
Then I thought to myself, “where did Barbie go? Is she somewhere else?” I was puzzled for a moment. Then I saw a pink box in the corner. Oh, that might be Barbie sized! Sure enough, I opened it and I found a Barbie doll clothed in a simple white dress, made of simple material almost rough in texture. Wrapped around her waist was a strand of rainbow-colored wool, like a belt. It was almost as if I had unearthed a strange commentary on the Barbie phenomena – “the Hippy Barbie” (not that there is anything wrong with that).
So, I had a bunch of Barbie accessories on my hands, along with a simply dressed doll. What to do with it? Well in my ignorant fashion, I decided to just jump right in! (Hopefully this pattern is on its way out!) I decided I would post it on Ebay – of course, what a grand idea! When I had spoken with its owner, she said that the Barbie was from the early sixties. She could not narrow down a specific year however. So I decided to list it as a 1961 Vintage Barbie Doll. I was clueless.
Well I knew I had made a mistake within an hour of posting it, because I received an email from one of the bidders saying, “Can you take closer pictures of the face and body, because I think you have a #1 or a #2 Barbie, which might be worth thousands of dollars?” Huh? … Oh my word! I had originally listed it for about $200. Hmmm… Well I had a few hours of fretting as I worried that I was deceiving people, or that I had vastly undervalued it (and hence I was taking money away from myself and its owner). I was able to research the value of Barbie dolls and discern exactly which year and model I had – and sure enough, it is a #2. Thankfully Ebay allows, albeit reluctantly, the retracting of items when there is a problem. Hey hey! I was in luck, there were several problems – wrong price, wrong item listed, wrong date on the accessories.
So now, here I am, on the other side. And I have a plan. I will re-post it in a few days, after making a short movie about the Barbie, whose name is Lavender, walking around the Circle Center (where she has been living for the past few years) – a house in Charlottesville that is dedicated to healing facilitation. I will also write a story about her experience. It should be fun. I will post it here when it is complete. [Added a few years later… I should note that Ebay said that telling a story, whether true or not, about an item can add more value. Hence my desire to film a little Barbie tale. But that did not pan out.]
And remember, you never know when you will come across a Diamond in the rough! Who knows, there might be something in your attic right now, just basking in its secret value.
[Revision in October of 2009 – I ended up selling the Barbie doll and chest / accessories for $5500 via Ebay. Can you imagine? I was originally listing it for $200. Wow! I am glad I put in the 50 – 60 hours of work – researching, chatting with auction owners, etc. It certainly paid off.]