Thursday, May 5, 2011

Pawn Queens make a huge mistake with Barbie

Tonight I happened to catch an episode of the new TLC reality series "Pawn Queens" about a pawn shop outside Chicago that is owned by two women and two men. The show focuses on the female partners in the business and the fact that they buy and sell "girl stuff" in the shop - not just the usual guns, electronics and other "big boy toys" that most other pawn shops specialize in. Among the items they purchased in this episode were a light-up wedding dress, a baby stroller that converts to a bicycle, and a vintage ponytail Barbie doll.

The owner of the Barbie doll said that it was "an original 1959" doll and asked for $4,500. Only a #1 Barbie would be worth that kind of money, because she was only made for a few months. The doll was obviously NOT a #1, #2 or even #3 Barbie, and had a massive case of green ear. Worth a couple hundred bucks, tops. One of the pawn shop ladies agreed that it was an "authentic" doll, and stunned me by countering with an offer of $3,000! I was yelling at the TV by this point.

Now came the drama. One of the male co-owners pulled one of the women aside and informed her that they didn't have $3,000 on hand. She had to swallow her pride and ask the Barbie owner to come back in a few hours after they scraped up some cash. I was hoping for their sakes that they woman had second thoughts about selling her "valuable" doll and didn't come back. Alas, she did return. One of the guys ran down to a gold buyer with some jewelry and got some money. I was still yelling at the TV, but Chicago being halfway across the country, they couldn't hear me.

I can't say this bodes well for either the series or the business. I am a huge fan of "Pawn Stars," the History Channel show about a very successful family-run pawn shop in Las Vegas. While they make the occasional bad purchase on that show too, they routinely call in local experts to advise them on the authenticity and value of items that they don't know enough about. The "Pawn Queens" better take a lesson, or they might end up having to hock their own jewelry to pay the bills.

The photo above shows what #1 or #2 Barbie should look like - notice her eyes are painted only in black and white. (Photo courtesy of Loving Dolls.) The doll in the photo below has blue eyes, like the one the "Pawn Queens" purchased. This doll is a #3 - but the doll on the show had a darker skin color, indicating it was a later model Barbie.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Vintage jewels at Julia auction this week

James D. Julia's doll auctions are known for high end French and German antique dolls, and his upcoming auction on May 4 and 5 is no exception. But this time around there is a good selection of 20th century items that vintage collectors will want to bid on as well. Day One of the auction includes some wonderful dolls by Lenci, Kathe Kruse and Steiff in addition to the usual Brus, Jumeaux, Steiners and Kestners. There is a nice selection of early Disney items and some Schoenhut circus and safari figures. Bear collectors will find many lots by Steiff and other early makers to choose from. Great early toys and doll houses are abundant here, too.

Day Two will bring several lots of Steiff and other cloth dolls, many more Disney items, bisque and composition character dolls. Lots of tin toys, children's books and vintage holiday decorations include items that would display well with your vintage doll collection. Much of the day will be given over to vintage advertising collectibles which will appeal to anyone who appreciates the graphic style of the early and mid 20th century.

If you can't get to Maine this week for the auction, you can bid online or by phone. Photos courtesy of James D. Julia, Inc., Auctioneers, Fairfield, ME.