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Rose Mary
By Rosemary McKittrick
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This early Barbie sold for $316.25 at auction. Photo courtesy of Dunning's
Ok, so maybe this blonde bombshell isn't the 20th century role model the Mattel Toy Company would have us believe. Try telling that to your 9-year-old daughter as she whines in a crowded store for just one more Barbie to round out her already packed collection.

In an era when computer games dominate the marketplace, this vinyl fashion icon from the ‘50s monopolizes the attention of young girls, and drains the pocketbooks of parents and grandparents worldwide.

The typical American girl between the ages of 3 and 10 owns an average of eight Barbie dolls. In Italy girls average seven dolls. In France and Germany the typical girl owns an average of five Barbie dolls.

Barbie is sold in more than 140 countries and the kids can't get enough. Two Barbies are sold every second somewhere in the world. When archaeologists dig up the remains of our culture, do you suppose this is how we’ll be remembered?

Barbie celebrated her 35th birthday in 1994. No surprise the most popular 11 ˝-inch doll in the world would also highlight “A Century of Dolls” at the Aug. 28, 1994, sale of Dunning's Auction Service in Elgin, Ill.

Harold Mattson and Ruth Elliot Handler founded the Mattel Co. in 1945. Handler noticed her daughter (you guessed it) Barbie, liked to play with teen-age paper dolls rather than dolls of babies and children. In 1958 she experimented with this idea and patented the first Barbie doll. Worldwide sales now top $1 billion yearly.

Because so many Barbies were made, their value rests in being in excellent-to-mint condition with their original packaging, which also must be in excellent condition. This is important. If a young child played with the doll at all, you can probably forget it.

Collectors prefer dolls and accessories from the first 10 years of production. There has also been a shift in recent years away from the dolls and more toward clothing and accessories.

The top seller at Dunning's auction was the 1963 Barbie, Ken and Midge “On Parade Gift Set" which sold for $2,070. A Barbie called "Enchanted Evening" with a pink satin evening gown brought $1,380. Mattel also made a "Dolls of the World" line. "England" and "Filipena" sold for $210.25.

Q. I own a 14k gold ladies pendant watch made in 1895 by American Waltham. It is in excellent condition and runs great. The watch has a double case and flowers embossed on the one side. Could you help me put a price on it? Patricia Danowski, Pittsburgh.
A. Some of the very first watches made in the 1500s were actually small clocks that hung from the wrist or belt. The value of old watches depend only in part on their age, the maker is more important.

Hunting cases which have a snap-open cover as well as, solid gold cases, enamel or multicolored gold sets with precious stones are some of the most valuable. After that, comes the silver cases, gold-filled and nickel cases.

The early watches made in the United States first appeared in 1810. The well-known American Waltham Watch Company was established in 1850, and most of their turn-of-the-century watchcases were gold filled.

The back of the movement will give you information about the watch. American manufacturers usually marked watch movements with serial numbers which indicate dates of production.

Jewelers can easily look these numbers up for you. Your pendant watch in the condition you describe is worth about $300-$500. For more information write to: International Wrist Watch, 242 West Ave., Darien, Conn. 06820. This glossy magazine deals with old & new watches.

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