By A. Glenn Mandeville 

At a recent doll show, a man was selling his mother’s dolls. All were mint condition. This brunette Barbie especially stood out because she was beautiful, but also she had on a spectacular fashion (red is my favorite color). Is there more to this doll than just a pretty face?

Q: At a recent doll show, a man was selling his mother’s dolls. All were mint condition. This brunette Barbie especially stood out because she was beautiful, but also she had on a spectacular fashion (red is my favorite color). Is there more to this doll than just a pretty face? 

A: Your doll is from 1961 and the previous owner really took excellent care of her. Some dolls from this time period get what’s known as a “greasy face” caused when the plastic weeps. This can easily be cleaned with alcohol on a cotton swab — just avoid rubbing hard on the make-up. The previous owner also used replacement earrings that won’t turn Barbie’s ears green from a reaction between the metal and the vinyl. 

Now for the fun part — the outfit consists of a gorgeous red velveteen coat lined in white satin. The coat was a direct copy of a Balenciaga design. In an interview with Ruth Handler in 1989, I asked her why the coat, complete with pillbox hat and matching purse (Red Flair #969), was made for several years. Her reply was that Red Flair was the best-selling outfit at the time, and so it was kept in the line. 

But you have another surprise in store! Under that coat is a red velveteen strapless top with a white satin full attached skirt. It is #977 Silken Flame, and it goes perfectly with the coat! You really did quite well with this great purchase. 

A. Glenn Mandeville is the author of numerous books on dolls and doll collecting and writes his Curious Collector column for each issue of DOLLS magazine. Send your queries about vintage and modern dolls, with photos, to Curious Collector.