Today’s Friday Girl is a new arrival but has become my oldest Barbie to date. I bought her recently from an eBay seller who listed her as either a #5 or #6 Ponytail these were released in 1961 and 1962 respectively. Up to now, my oldest vintage Barbie was Fashion Queen who was first released in 1963. Barbie duly arrived and I hurried to check her markings. Very faintly I could read the markings on her right butt cheek. On the other side, a very small 5 but apparently this has to do with the assembly process and nothing to do with her ID. The #5 was the first Barbie to be made with a hollow body and the first to have the Titian hair colour so I am glad that mine is Titian. The #5 was also the first Barbie to come with the foil wrist tag but of course, in this one’s case, it is long gone. Some of them suffer from a greasy face which is caused by a chemical reaction in the vinyl. A couple of my vintage dolls from around this time have that problem, my original Skipper and Allan both have it but this Barbie appears to be fine.
I’ve read conflicting pieces of information about the #6 Ponytail. One source says that this Barbie shared the same marks as #5 while another says that the #6 had the Midge Barbie body markings and the later #6’s sometimes referred to as #7 also had the word “patented” added to the doll mark.
The #6 Ponytail Barbie also had a larger neck knob which gives her a chubbier face and that she came in a variety of lip and nail colours while the #5’s were mostly red. So I’m still not 100% certain of what I have. I’m inclined to think she is a #5 but of course, there were also a lot of transitional dolls being made with features of both as Mattel used up body parts.
Barbie does have a couple of issues, the main one being that she has had a trim and there is not much of her ponytail left. She also has one swingy arm and a couple of dents and a tiny hole on her breasts. However, as these things will be covered by clothing I was not too bothered. If she had not had these faults I probably would not have been able to afford to buy her. As it was I got her for what I felt was a reasonable price. Luckily she has no green ear which is often a problem with the really old dolls. All her fingernail and toenail paint is intact too. I’m not sure if that is her original lip colour, most of them fade over time. If it was originally pink that suggests that she might still be a #6. I can see why the seller hedged her bets when listing her, but she was a loved Barbie.
I gave her a quick clean and washed and conditioned her hair before retying her ponytail. She hasn’t got a lot of back hair to do anything with but the front looks fine. I did think about seeing if I could pin it to look like a bun or she may get a hat later. I haven’t seen it for a while but I do have a repro Suburban Shopper dress somewhere and if I find it and get a hat that would disguise the short hair quite well I think. In the meantime, she is wearing “Sophisticated Lady”, one of my favourite of the early dresses. I sent a couple of photos of her to Jane, the seller, and she responded that she was pleased that Barbie had found a good home.