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Barbie - 1959 - 2002
The Ietje Raebel and Marina collection
My mother was born in Utrecht, Netherlands, in 1921 and from her school days she was always interested in fashion and design. She designed and made, for herself and her friends, clothes and hats. After 1954, when she married my father, a Colonel in the army, she was always travelling with several outfits and many different hats to accompany him. At that time she had a look of Greta Garbo and was widely admired for her fashion sense and designs.
I was born in 1956 and played with traditional baby dolls, but in the early 1960s something changed. Suddenly mother began visiting toy shops and started buying all the Barbies coming out in the Netherlands. She dressed them in their original clothes and displayed them in three special wooden cupboards, each with a different theme. As a child I was completely amazed by my mother and her display of dolls. I didn't play with them. I found Barbie a little bit too small to play with and luckily neither I or my girl friends touched them, so everything was kept in original condition. Some friends said it was strange that an adult was collecting and playing with Barbie dolls, but my mother always said at that time: "I am interested in the designing world, all the different outfits, the icons of the century, the different styles". However at that time, in the 1960s, nobody understood about collecting.
My father was often in Germany for his work and when he came back he always bought for mother and me very special Barbie outfits, NRFB (Never Removed From Box) items which where not for sale in the USA. At that time we did not know anything about the special vintage outfits which were only for the European market. Of course he came back home with a BILD LILLI and the rare and special outfit GALA ABEND.
Mother kept all the outfits very carefully in wardrobes and, with the furniture, made a complete theatre from them. For example a ballroom where officers (Action Man dolls in soldier's uniforms) were dancing with the Barbie dolls. She also made very detailed displays such as a little nursery room, a kitchen, a theatre (with all the theatre outfits), and a children's playroom. (Please note non-Mattel items from the collection will be included in the Christie's doll sale on the 5th October)
When she started collecting, mother thought she was the only Barbie collector. Later on she discovered that there were many others around the world. In the 1970s she bought the 'missing years' Barbie dolls and outfits from 1959 to the early 1960s from collectors in the USA as the Barbie doll had not been released in the Netherlands until four years after general release in America
During these years I was a teenager and discovered that collecting Barbie was great fun. I also started going to local shops and started driving with mother across the whole country looking for older toy shops where there still might be undiscovered Barbie items in stock. That was a great time and we did it for years and years.
We moved, in 1977, to a bigger house and mother started to display the Barbies in sixteen glass display cupboards in two big rooms upstairs. One room was full of Barbies, most of them vintage, but there were also many from the later years 1970s-1990s. We collected and collected and tried to get everything displayed. Often the house seemed to be too small for so many inhabitants but it must have expanded to fit them all in. In the end mother managed to find room and got everything on display.
My father died at the age of 76 in 1982. He was a man who was always interested in my mother and my collection and we had a very difficult time after his death, but because of collecting Barbies we rediscovered our belief in the future.
Mother collected many special collectible Barbies, designer Barbies such as Bob Mackie, porcelain Barbies, Holiday Barbies, International Barbies and many, many outfits. There were many vintage outfits from Barbie NRFB. My own speciality was collecting Barbie trunks in different colours and designs.
We made many Barbie friends all over the world. In 1987 there was the First Barbie Collector Fan club and many other Dutch and foreign collectors came to visit mother and me. They were all amazed by the huge collection, impressed by the rarities and exceptional items, and especially by the fact that most of the items had never been played with and were still in mint condition.
Mother was always dreaming and thinking about us opening the first Barbie Museum in the Netherlands to show the world how beautiful it is to collect dolls and to share them with other people. Unfortunately she ran out of time. In 2002 mother started to suffer from Alzheimers disease and last year I had to make the decision to bring her to a care home, where she is now staying.
I hope that our Barbie collection brings again hope, joy and knowledge for all new and old Barbie doll collectors around the world for years to come.
THE BARBIE STORY
Barbie took the world by storm when she was launched at New York's Toy Fair in 1959. With her good looks, charm, and charisma, she won audiences over in record time. Soon, little girls across the world were singing her praises. In the years that have followed, both adults and children have collected her in record numbers. Today she remains one of the hottest selling toys in the world.
She began like any other great invention does - as an idea in a visionary's head. Ruth Handler, co-founder of Mattel Toys, created Barbie after watching her daughter Barbara play with paper dolls and imagine them in grown-up roles.
As a teenage fashion model, Barbie has worn many fabulous outfits. Beginning with her trademark black and white striped swimsuit and swirled ponytail, Barbie has followed style trends as well as blazed her own fashion trail. Over the years, as fashion and teenage lifestyle trends have shifted, so has Barbie.
The 1960s saw Barbie adorned in designer outfits influenced by Parisian couture fashions and the decade's most famous trendsetter - Jackie Kennedy. In the 70s, Barbie embodied the fashion and lifestyle trends of the time including the zany glitz of the "disco" era.
In the 1980s, Barbie collecting became more than a childhood pastime. With Barbie dolls original fans now in their twenties and thirties, Barbie collecting began attracting adult women as well as little girls. For many of these women, Barbie symbolised timeless glamour and style and so the adult collecting boom was ignited.
In the 1990s, some of the world's most famous designers began creating fashions for Barbie including Bob Mackie, Vera Wang, and Christian Dior.
Barbie collecting is now an international phenomenon and Barbie is officially the most Collectible Doll in the world. She has an innate ability to not only capitalize on trends, but to create her own.
As the popularity of vintage dolls continues to rise it's clear that Barbie collecting is here to stay. The latest designers to style Barbie include Diane von Furstenburg, Anna Sui and Monique Lhullier.
Now in her fourth decade, the world's ultimate fashion model not only continues to retain her audience from years past, but also ignites the hopes, dreams, and imaginations of a new generation of little girls. Barbie - with her humble beginnings as a teenage fashion model - has transformed herself into whatever girls want her to be. She has had over 90 careers and 70 nationalities and can be a best friend, confidante, and fearless adventurer.
Barbie was - and is - placed in the current moment, always expressive of young women's aspirations. With a unique ability to inspire self-esteem, glamour, and a sense of adventure in all who love her, Barbie continues to inspire as she moves through the decades.
Public Relations manager for Mattel UK
BARBIE AND HER FRIENDS IN STANDARD RETAIL SWIMWEAR
The darling of the adult doll collecting fraternity was unveiled one year after her first conception to an enraptured audience at the annual New York Toy Fair of 1959. Her full name was Barbie Roberts and she was of no definite age, however it is believed that little girls often imagine her to be approximately six years older than themselves. Since her first appearance on the world stage Barbie has not only maintained her position as one of the world's best selling toys, she has also become an iconic symbol of the eras through which she has existed.