Economics

Barbie, Age 50, Still Has Legs

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Not an official Barbie but should be.

[Collector Joe Blitman] has charged up to $15,000 for a 1959 blond in condition that he calls "Christmas-morning-new." Such flawless pieces keep turning up, found slumbering in storage. "It's astonishing how much boxed stuff still comes to the surface," he said, "how often I get a call from the family of a woman who has died, and who left a closet full of dolls put away that she forgot about or never told anyone about."

In honor of Barbie's 50th birthday, Mattel has rereleased half a dozen retired models, including a 1971 Malibu in gauzy bell-bottoms, a 1977 SuperStar in feather boas and a 1986 Rocker in a spiky pink wig. The replicas, however, do not seem to dampen the prices for vintage stock. "Reproductions have actually strengthened the market for antiques by increasing interest in scholarship," Ms. Holder said.

Few things are more bizarre than the collectibles market, but the idea that reissues can drive up the price of originals makes total sense to me. And on some level is an argument for allowing non-authorized duplications of items as long as they are not passed off as authorized. More here.

Reason on Barbie the doll over the years.

Hat tip: Alan Vanneman.