Antiques Roadshow expert leaves guest heartbroken as they point out Barbies green ears

Antiques Roadshow: Barbie dolls green ear problem exposed

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During a recent episode of Antiques Roadshow, lecturer and author Hilary Kay was tasked with valuing a collection of Barbie dolls which came in their original boxes with a bag full of accessories. The dolls were manufactured in the 1960s and the guest was curious to know how much they could sell for at auction. However, Hilary had to break some “really bad news” after spotting the dolls had green ears.

Hilary began: “We’ve got a tabletop here full of Barbies, fabulous costumes, in their boxes, and a great collection of accessories. Were they yours?”

The guest replied to explain the collection once belonged to her mother. 

Hilary explained: “Well first, talking about Barbie, her birthday is March 9, 1959, which is when she was unveiled at the New York Toy Fair as the brainchild of Ruth Handler.”

Barbie was named after the American businesswoman and inventor’s daughter Barbara. 

The guest guessed one of the Barbies she presented to Hilary, which was wearing a pink fluffy coat, was made in the mid-1960s, however, she was unsure about the age of one with light brown hair wearing a striped vest. 

Hilary replied: “Barbies have a serial number as they come from a particular series.” 

The Barbie wrapped in an orange coat was from the 850 series which first came onto the market in 1965, Hilary explained. 

“Originally, in her box, she would have just been wearing a red swimsuit, the 850 was the start of Barbie in her really glamorous period,” she added. 

Another Barbie the guest presented Hilary with was the “bendable leg” model known better as “the American girl” Barbie. 

After a closer inspection of the dolls, Hilary asked: “Would you say they are in very good condition?”

Unfortunately, the guest admitted the Barbies had a lot of green around their ears which Hilary had also picked up on. 

“It’s really bad news,” Hilary told the guest with a heavy heart. 

“[The green] is from the stud of the pearl earring and if they are not kept in exactly the right conditions they just deteriorate.”

As the guest looked disappointed, she added: “There is nothing you can do about it.” 

Hilary pointed out another doll had completely green ears and admitted the issue could not be restored. 

“You’re going to have to enjoy them as they are,” she exclaimed. 

Ending on a more positive note, Hilary said the clothing and accessories the dolls came with were in good condition. 

After a long hard think, Hilary told the guests the collection was worth between £400 to £500 at auction. 

“It looks as though they are going to have a great rest of their lives, they’ve certainly got the outfits for it,” Hilary quipped. 

Antiques Roadshow episodes are available to watch on BBC iPlayer. 

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