2009-11-27 / Front Page

Collector wins a first place at Barbie’s 50th anniversary

By Mimi M. Maddock

Yvonne Mockabee Yvonne Mockabee Barbie turned 50 this year, and Yvonne Mockabee celebrated the doll’s anniversary with thousands of others at the National Collector’s Convention the week of July 9, 2009, at the Marriott Wardman Hotel in Washington, D.C. The convention included four days of Barbie–inspired events including new doll unveilings, Barbie doll designer signings, a fashion show, and a wall– to–wall display of Barbie dolls and specialty items.

Mockabee was awarded first place using the Civil War Nurse Barbie (1996 #14612 Doll) with her Civil War diorama in the history category at the convention. The Civil War nurse comes with her own storybook that teaches about life during the Civil War. It took Mockabee six months to do research and create the diorama. She used the Confederate Relic Room and Museum and the Internet to get her facts.

Creating the diorama demonstrated another one of Mockabee’s talents. She collects dolls and and has built Victorian doll houses and a 4’x 4’ Victorian cottage.

A scene from the Civil War diorama created by Yvonne Mockabee to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Barbie. A scene from the Civil War diorama created by Yvonne Mockabee to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Barbie. The Barbie Doll began with two people, Ruth and Elliott Handler who owned a company that made 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 Mattel, MATT for Mattson, and EL for Elliot.

In the mid 1950s, while visiting Switzerland, Ruth Handler purchased a German Lilli doll. Lilli was a shapely, pretty fashion doll first made in 1955. Lilli would inspire Ruth Handler to design the Barbie doll. 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.

Ruth and Elliot Handler raised two children, Barbie and Ken.

In March of 1959, Barbie made her way to the New York Toy Show and received a cool reception from the toy buyers. She was viewed as risky to buyers since she was not the typical style. The public decided differently. By 1960, 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 is a reflection of the history of fashion since her introduction to the toy market.

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