Bettina Dorfmann, from Dusseldorf, Germany, will be featured in the 2013 Guinness Book of Records for her amazing Barbie Doll collection which numbers 15,000 items. She started collecting Barbies in 1993 and doesn’t plan on ever ending her quest for new additions.
Ever since Barbie was created, in 1959, it’s estimated about 1 billion dolls have been produced, and there are over 100,000 passionate doll collectors all around the world, hunting for the rarest items. But none is more dedicated than Bettina Dorfman, from Germany. In the last 19 years she has amassed an impressive collection of over 15,000 Barbie dolls, from vintage items of the 1960s, to the latest models launched by Mattel. The 52-year-old Dusseldorf-based collector says she has loved Barbie ever since she was just a little girl. “They are great for children. You can wash their hair, change their clothes, buy new outfits”, she told the BBC, back in 2009, when she had “only” 6,000 dolls. But even after she grew up, Barbie still appealed to her, and since her daughter Melissa always seemed more interested in the new Barbies that came out than in the old ones Bettina had saved for her, she decided to keep them for herself.
Photo: REUTERS/Ina Fassbender
The more Barbies she added to the collection, the more passionate she got about her hobby, and soon Bettina found herself asking people if they had any dolls to sell or give away, pretty much everywhere she went. As you can imagine, finding room for 15,000 of Barbie dolls can’t be easy, and the avid collector admits she had to convert an upstairs office in her home into a Barbie gallery filled with over 1,500 items. Some others are kept in other rooms around the house and in the cellar, but the bulk of her collection is spread all around the world, appearing in various doll exhibitions.
“They are happy dolls, carefree, that’s why I love them so much,” Bettina says about her favorite Barbies, from the Mod era (1967 -1972). “They have fantastic clothes, very colourful outfits, different haircuts and different hair colors.” Although to the untrained eye, all Barbie dolls look pretty much the same, Ms. Dorfmann says some are more special than others. For example, the most expensive item in her collection, a Barbie Pony Tail Number 1 in mint condition with all her accessories, is priced at over $10,000, but doesn’t really look all that impressive. She paid €8,000 for just that one doll, so this isn’t the cheapest of hobbies, but Bettina has found a niche in the market to help her pay for the dolls – she has setup a mail order doll repair service, and has dolls coming in from all over the world.
Asked when she was going to put an end to this constant hunt for Barbie dolls, Bettina Dorfmann immediately and instinctively answered “Never!”