Collectors use a Grading System for vintage dolls and fashions. It helps to know the item's grade you buying. If you are using a price guide the higher price zone are for the items that are factory perfect (usually Mint in Box (MIB)), lower prices for less than perfect items or dolls. But not everyone agrees on what is mint or perfect. So you must use your own judgement on what is a fair price. I used several references to help build this guide.
NRFB: Never removed from the box Factory-sealed
MIB: Mint in the box Brand new condition but may have been removed
C/M: Complete and mint All pieces of mint outfit are there
MOC: Mint on the card Outfit on its original card
Mint: Unplayed with condition Removed from box but displayed, not played with
NM: Near mint, played with but in great condition
EC: Excellent condition, played with
VFC: Very good condition, played with, minor flaws
GC: Good condition, play with flaws but still displayable
Fair: Item or doll may have problems like mission buttons, stains or dirty
Another Grading System
C-10: Mint. Factory perfect. Right off toy store shelves. No matter what the age, item is factory new.
C-9: Mint. No original packaging, but unplayed with condition.
C-8: Dolls or clothing flawless, very lightly handled and still original, non-laundered clothing, no green ear, pricks or tears on skin, no body dings.
C-7: Display quality. Doll played with but has been well taken care of. Dolls still have no makeup rubs, but "crispness is missing. It would be obvious that it is not a C-9 doll. Clothing would NOT be laundered or faded, but might need ironing. Doll still all original.
C-6: Gently played with. May be missing important accessories, original paint rubbed, hair not in original set. Doll's arms or legs do not click or they may have a loose leg at the hip. Items still displayable. Clothes may have lost some crispness and may have to be ironed or steamed. Some may even require cleaning to remove age stains.
C-5: Wear and tear visible to everyone. Can be repaired.
C-4: Lots of flaws and spots. Heavily played with and damaged in some way. A professional is required to repair or restore it.
C-3: Damaged. In the right costume, it could be used for display. LOTS of work needed here.
C-2: Doll is beyond repair but it may have a couple of parts that a collector wants. Legs or arms still good for transplanting to another doll.
C-1: One part of doll, outfit or item could still be used.
1. Buy a Value Guide. It's always good to be informed. There are several good ones to choose from. Subscribe to Barbie Bazaar or Miller's Fashion Doll magizines for collectors.
2. Understand who you're buying from. Are you buying from a known Barbie dealer, collector, a doll or toy dealer, antique dealer or a yard sale. A person at a yard sale will probably not have as much Barbie knowledge as a Barbie dealer.
3. Caveat Emptor (Buyer Beware.) Be Cautious. Especially if you are purchasing by mail or internet. Remember that often EBay sellers don't research the dolls before selling, so watch out for statements such as "Mint #3 Ponytail Barbie." Keep in mind that they may not know which doll it is. Look for specifics such as markings and remember you're taking their word for it what the markings are. If it doesn't say the doll doesn't have green ear, it might have it or have been treated for it-- ask.
4. Ask Questions. Even if you have a photo, ask questions. For dolls ask if the doll has missing hair, body scratches, tears, missing limbs, green ear (treated or not) or cracks, whether the doll is all original or restored. Remember your version of mint may not be another person's definition of that word.
5. Buy the dolls you like. Just because the value has gone up in the past does not mean it will continue to do so. If you are buying for investment, remember the doll or outfit will only be worth what a buyer is willing to pay. Even if you buy as an investment, bring some pleasure into the equation by buying dolls you would like in your collection, because you may end up keeping it.
6. Decided what you want from your collection. Do you want all Ponytails or American girls? Do you only want the items that are rare/valuable? Do you want items you had or wanted as a child? Do you want only items still in the original packaging or do you want to display your dolls? What is your Barbie budget?
Please feel free to e-mail me with any questions.
Vintage Vixen Barbie Store
© 1994-2004 by Kerri K.
All pages on this site are Copyright Kerri K. You may not copy, duplicate or post the contents, in whole or in part, without written permission from the author.