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B A R B I E (credit: Dolls4Play)

This story takes place in the 1930ís. Itís a story that starts out sounding like one weíve all heard before.

Girl meets Boy. Girl falls in love with Boy. Girl graduates from high school. Girl has visions of great career success in the real world. Girl wants to go to college. Parents are not overly enthusiastic about college since it is more traditional to get married and raise a family. Girl goes to college anyway and marries boy too. This married girl and boy are Ruth and Elliot Handler. They raise two children, Barbie and Ken.

In the mid 1940ís, the young ambitious duo Ruth and Elliot Handler, owned a company that made wooden picture frames. Elliot and his partner Harold Mattson built the samples and Ruth was in charge of marketing them. Elliot began to use the scraps of wood from picture frames to make doll furniture. This was the beginning of their toy business. It was in 1945 that Ruth and Elliot Handler joined with their close friend Harold Mattson to form a company that would be known for the most famous and successful doll ever created. This company would be named Mattel, MATT for Mattson, and EL for Elliot. Mattel continued to grow from a very profitable business into a corporate giant.

In the mid 1950ís, while visiting Switzerland, Ruth Handler purchased a German Lilli doll. Lilli was a shapely, pretty fashion doll first made in 1955. She was originally fashioned after a famous cartoon character in the West German Newsletter, Bild. Lilli was made of hard plastic with molded on shoes and earrings. She was available in 11 Ĺ" or 7" in heights. Her hair was long and pulled back into a ponytail. There was a large wardrobe available for this doll. Lilli is the doll that would inspire Ruth Handler to design the Barbie doll.

Ruth knew what she wanted Barbie to look like. With the help of her technicians and engineers at Mattel, Barbie was born. Ruth then hired Charlotte Johnson, a fashion designer, to create Barbies wardrobe.

It was in 1958 that the patent for Barbie was obtained. This would be a fashion doll unlike any of her time. She would be long limbed, shapely and beautiful, all of this and only 11 Ĺ" tall.

Paper fashion dolls of the times would give way to a three dimensional beauty with a wardrobe of unsurpassed quality. Ruth and Elliot would name their new fashion doll after their own daughter, Barbie. Barbie dollsí soon to be boyfriend Ken, would be named after their son Ken.

In 1959, Barbie doll would make her way to the New York Toy Show and receive a cool reception from the toy buyers. She would be viewed as risky to buyers since she was not the typical style selling baby doll of the times. Upon seeing Barbie on store shelves, the public decided differently. By 1960, the mood would change and the orders started pouring in to Mattel. It took several years for Mattel to catch up with the demand for Barbie. Within ten years, the public purchased $500 million worth of Barbie products.

Barbie has undergone a lot of changes over the years and has managed to keep up with current trends in hairstyles, makeup and clothing. She is a reflection of the history of fashion since her introduction to the toy market. Barbie has a universal appeal and collectors both young and old enjoy time spent and memories made with their dolls.

Please visit Barbie's History at Dolls4Play for a complete run down on the Barbie History