Happy Birthday to Someone

12 Jul

After many years of hunting in vain for dolls at various venues where second-hand goods are sold, it seems that things have picked up all at once in a rather spooky way. As I mentioned in previous posts, I’ve recently found a car boot sale where I’ve managed to make several very interesting finds and now I’ve picked up four new dolls from a Charity shop. This never happens in my area – but now it has, and I am so pleased.

So, I was on my way into work and noticed I was running early, for a change. As I was walking past a charity shop (Americans: thrift store/ Goodwill) and I thought I’d duck in for a browse. Just as I was leaving, I noticed about twenty to thirty Barbies on a shelf for sale at Β£3 each. Now, if I’d been a Mackie collector, I would have completely cleaned up as somebody was fond of this sculpt, but I didn’t want to be a Doll Pig, just snatching everything up for the sake of it. So I ended up coming away with four. My caution served me poorly, as there were definitely a couple more I should have got, and one of them is kind of haunting me now (don’t ask). From the ones I chose, three were late 1990s girls with that classic Barbie sculpt that I have a bit of a weakness for. Two had original outfits, including this one, Birthday Surprise Barbie from 1996.


Isn’t she amazing? I absolutely love her little neon dress, with its pattern of parcels and musical notes. And the strangest thing about this doll is how absolutely fresh and vivid she looks – like she’s just stepped out of a timewarp. Most of the dolls that were on sale were like this.

My first thought was, somebody must have given up collecting, or left their collection to a family member who didn’t want them. Then I noticed that some of the dolls had been re-dressed, and it seemed to me that they were not re-dressed in the way an adult would have done it, either – don’t get me wrong, some thought had gone into picking the right silky bra to go with the fantasy tulle evening skirt. It looked nice, but not “grown-up”.

So, then I thought, maybe it was a little girl who didn’t like dolls very much? Perhaps this is why they were so unspoiled? But then again, she went to the effort of re-dressing some of them, and very few of them were wearing shoes. They had been played with, just very, very gently. Some of them had had their hair done, but none of them were tangled or matted. My God, I can’t keep my dolls’ hair that nice. This must have been the gentlest little girl in the world, and seriously, she must have had the cleanest hands ever seen on a child.

When I took them to the till, the cashier told me that a nearby branch of the shop had had 270 of these beauties donated, and they had been distributed to shops for miles around to sell. Unfortunately, this is the only branch within travelling distance of me (I know, I checked). That was all she could tell me. I am often intrigued by the back stories my dolls must have, but this one is a peach. I’d love to know if the detective work I’ve done is right, and I’d love to know how they ended up in the shop, and if anybody is going to miss them, one day. And I must say, this has all made me very fond of the dolls in question – I am secretly extremely sentimental, and the way that these dolls have been cared for is touching.



PS. I nearly didn’t feature this doll because of my issues about posting things at the wrong time of year. Its nowhere near my birthday, after all. But in the end, she is so lovely that I couldn’t wait, and I figure it must be somebody’s birthday somewhere. So – happy birthday, someone!



10 Responses to “Happy Birthday to Someone”

  1. Taswegian1957 July 13, 2014 at 1:09 am #

    She is pretty and you were so lucky to find dolls that had been so well cared for. Usually Barbies I see in op shops as we call them look very much the worse for wear. I like your idea about the little girl and I too would love to know if you guessed right. Back story can affect how you feel about certain dolls I think. When I finally acquired a Pedigree Walker the eBay seller told me how it had belonged to a friend of hers who had died. It had taken her ten years to bring herself to sell her friends dolls. I named the doll after the lady’s friend.
    The late 90s was when I started to buy Barbies for myself so a lot of my first ones looked like this.

    • barbielea July 19, 2014 at 2:05 pm #

      That’s a sad story, Taswegian – but its nice that the Pedigree Walker has gone to you, where she is valued.

      Yes, whatever the reason, I was lucky! I just can’t get over how perfect this doll is, I’ve deboxed dolls who were dustier and more faded. Its nice to see this doll looking how she was intended to look.

  2. fleurdolls July 13, 2014 at 10:33 am #

    Goodness me, what a find! And WHAT a story! Can you book a little excursion to the nearby shops to check out the rest? πŸ™‚ I wouldn’t have been able to resist such a treasure, even though I’m working on reducing my collection which has expanded beyond any control. I often think about where dolls came from too… do you think it’s possible the little girl who may have had them simply had too many to do any damage to them? Like shoes, you know, if you have just a few pairs, they get worn down pretty quickly, but when you have dozens they look like new for much longer πŸ™‚ it’s the best analogy I could come up with! I love this Barbie’s dress, gimme a bright pink fabric with parcels and musical notes on it any day! πŸ™‚

    • barbielea July 19, 2014 at 2:16 pm #

      Haha yes I had thought about that, Fleurdolls! Its likely that, if the previous owner was a little girl, she had six or seven dolls she played with regularly who were in a much worse state, and the rest were all like this – played with and undressed/ redressed maybe a couple of times. I think shoes are a great analogy, this is certainly what happens with my shoe collection πŸ™‚

      I have checked out several other branches of this shop and come up with nothing 😦 however, I did return to the same shop the following week and made another fantastic find – I will be featuring this in a couple of weeks.

  3. Andrea July 13, 2014 at 11:38 am #

    Congrats on such a find, Lea! She is in perfect condition, wow.

    The donation of 270 dolls at once makes me think, that they belonged to a collector rather than a child. Giving so many dolls to a child who barely plays with them doesn’t make much sense to me somehow. Maybe some came in nude and were redressed by the shop staff and they didn’t have much time to spend on redressing them perfectly. I would be so curious to know where they really came from.

    • barbielea July 19, 2014 at 2:20 pm #

      Thanks Andrea πŸ™‚ My latest find points to you being right, I’m now thinking the previous owner probably was a collector – it was a collector-level doll, still in the box (that’s all I’m revealing for now :)) So, you might be right about the shop staff just shoving them into anything to hand. It still seems strange to me that a collector would leave dolls in otherwise perfect condition nude and separate from their original outfits? I don’t know, maybe its just me – I tend to store mine in or with their clothes.

  4. Teresa B. July 14, 2014 at 1:43 am #

    I’m curious to know where they came from too! What an amazing find! She is absolutely beautiful. I’m thinking along the lines of Andrea. Maybe they did come in nude with clothes separate. Kind of funny to have a bunch of nude dolls on a shelf in a shop!

    • barbielea July 19, 2014 at 2:22 pm #

      Hi Teresa πŸ™‚ yes, none of the dolls in the shop were naked. I would have loved that job – dressing hundreds of dolls! Maybe I should start volunteering in a charity shop πŸ™‚

  5. Blackkitty July 14, 2014 at 11:16 pm #

    What a story! I bet there’s a death or two in it somewhere >:) Too bad you didn’t get to buy all the dolls you wanted, but I’d love to see the other three you did buy.

    By the way, I know a lady whose birthday was on the very day you published the post. Happy birthday, Elandria πŸ™‚

    • barbielea July 19, 2014 at 2:30 pm #

      Hi Blackkitty and happy birthday Elandria (what a beautiful name) πŸ™‚

      I’l be featuring the other dolls in due course but two need redressing (I’m making outfits), one of these needs an ID and the remaining doll has a seasonal theme (as you’ve probably gathered, I have issues about posting dolls out of season – I know, I can’t help it).

      Yep, there may well have been a death there 😦 This is why I kind of hope they were a child’s toys – if so, because of their age its highly likely that she is grown-up and still out there somewhere, its just that either she or her parents didn’t realise the value of what she had and were trying to clear some space. On the other hand I don’t think any collector would willingly give up 270 dolls, for free, knowing the value of them. I did a bit of head maths and selling them for Β£3 each, which is less than most of them would go for on eBay for instance, would equal over Β£800 profit. So, if she’s a collector I think its highly unlikely that she’s still alive, sadly.

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