Reading, Part One

13 Jun

I was made to collect stuff – I like to really geek up on my subject. I’ve found this particularly hard with dolls, for several reasons. Firstly, there are many many books on Barbies and its hard to come in as a novice and make good decisions about what to get. Secondly, a fair amount of books about Barbies are about vintage dolls and while I’m very interested in some of these, I’m not collecting them at the moment. Books about modern dolls are harder to find, and the more modern the subject, the more expensive the book. On eBay books are surprisingly expensive, so when I see something I’m interested in I now tend to go to Amazon where there are some really good deals from the marketplace sellers, especially if you are prepared to wait a little while for delivery. I’ve read three books lately that I’ve found pretty interesting:

The first is Warman’s Field Guide Second Edition. As it was published in 2009, it includes a lot of modern dolls. It also has some really interesting articles about both collector and playline dolls, and loads of great photos. I haven’t exactly put loads of effort in, but the price guide index makes no sense whatsoever to me and I have no idea how its organised. On the plus side, this doesn’t really matter as its based on American prices – its a very different market over here in England (unfortunately – bloody import taxes)

The next book is “The Art of Barbie” published in 2000. The proceeds of this book were donated to the Elton John AIDS Foundation and it features customised dolls and photos by the fashion world glitterati. Its nice to look at, if a little gimmicky. Some of these creations are very lovely (for instance, the cover doll, called “purity”, by Nicole Farhi) but some of the designers seem to have done their dolls in half an hour at four in the morning when they’ve been up partying all night (Missoni, Prada, shame on you). Claudia Schiffer makes an appearance as a barbie, John Rocha (who went on to design outfits for the Barbie So In Style Range) has contributed a slightly ropey offering, and there are some amazing photos by Mario Testino, Daniel Levin and Benedict Campbell. This is Versace’s barbie, designed long before the Versace Barbie that you are probably more familiar with (if not, you can see my post “girly girls” for some pics of the Versus barbie):

and this is my favourite, Narciso Rodriguez’ Posh Punk, who reminds me of the recent Ladies of the 80s Debbie Harry Barbie:

The last book was really quite cheap, but I think its the best. Its a bright mish-mash of images – dolls, packaging pictures, design drawings, adverts, quotes, newspaper cuttings and bizarre little pull-outs like this reproduction vintage barbie club membership card:

barbie fan club membership card

There’s so many fabulous things in this book its hard to pick anything out in particular. However, I did really like these seventies drawings, which I think were from adverts of the time. They reminded me of my sister’s Pink and Jackie Annuals, in which there were always cartoon strips drawn in this style:

superstar barbie cartoonCheryl Ladd superstar barbie cartoon


2 Responses to “Reading, Part One”

  1. Taswegian1957 May 21, 2013 at 4:28 pm #

    I can relate to your difficulty in finding books about the dolls you are collecting. When I started collecting Barbies in the 1990s I bought a lot from flea markets etc and it was very hard to ID them. Eventually I was lucky enough to come across some books that covered that era and I was very happy.

    • barbielea May 21, 2013 at 7:07 pm #

      Hi Taswegian. Since I wrote this post, I have managed to pick up a few more reference books, but I kind of got sidetracked buying vintage children’s Barbie books, which I love. I tend to use the internet for identifications mostly these days – but I still love a good reference book when I can get hold of one.

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