Friday, August 1, 2014

Barbie of the Month: Montgomery Ward Reissue Barbie 1972

Montgomery Ward & Co. was founded in Chicago, Illinois in 1872 by Aaron Montgomery Ward, who started his business as a mail-order company. It was also the very first mail-order business in the world.   

Mr. Ward began his company by purchasing products wholesale, and then retailing his merchandise directly to the rural community.   

He started with just 163 items in his first “sheet” catalog, and in 1876, only four years later, grew the catalog to a whopping 3000 items and 152 pages.  

1876 Pocket sized catalog (152 pages)

The slogan that was adopted in 1875: “Satisfaction Guaranteed or Your Money Back” was an important part of the rapid growth of the company.  By 1904, his catalogs were being mailed to over three million customers.  The first retail store opened in 1926, and by 1930 store sales exceeded the catalog sales.  In 1931 there were more than 530 retail stores. The catalog business came to an end in 1985. In 2001, after almost 130 years in business, the company closed its doors.

In 1972 the Montgomery Ward toy department released a re-creation of the Original Barbie doll dressed in a one-piece strapless zebra print swimsuit with white open toe heels.  This doll was to commemorate the stores 100th anniversary.  The #3210 Montgomery Ward Reissue Barbie was exclusive to Wards, and therefore makes finding her on the secondary market much more difficult.

#3210 Montgomery Ward Reissue Barbie

The advertisement for the doll in the Wards catalog reads “1959 Original Barbie”, but in fact she more closely resembles that of the #5 ponytail doll from 1964 because of her hollow body and Japanese markings (Midge™/1962/Barbie®/1958/by/Mattel,Inc./Patented).  She is easily distinguishable because of her slightly darker skin tone, which the earlier ponytails did not have.

Page from the 1972 Montgomery Ward Catalog

The original sales price listed in the 1972 catalog for this doll was $2.77, and she was sold alongside other exclusive reproduction dolls (1956 Shirley Temple, 1925 Bye-lo Baby, and the 1919 Kewpie Doll).

Barbie’s hair was made with a stiffer saran material like the later ponytail dolls from 1961 to 1964, and she was only available in brunette.  The earlier ponytail dolls from 1959 to 1960 had much softer hair. 

There are two versions of this pretty lady.  The first is the in-store doll who wears striking red toe and nail polish, and who came in a plain pink box with a clear face marked “The Original Barbie Doll”.   The other version was sold strictly by mail order through the catalog, and this doll did not wear any nail or toe polish.  She came in a brown shipper box.  Both versions wore a pink Barbie wrist tag that read “Genuine Barbie By Mattel”, and the reverse side of the tag is marked “Japan”.

Store and Catalog Version (missing wrist tag on catalog doll)

I have both versions in my collection, and I hope you find one too!

Happy Hunting! 


  1. I wasn't around when this lovely doll was released, but thank you for the trip down Memory Lane, anyway, because I've seen pictures of this pretty Barbie before, and because I love Barbies of different types!

    My aunt owned the original Barbie (brunette), but, for years, she kept promising to show her to me, and she never did. Finally, one year, she did, and I realized that the poor doll was an absolute mess!

    I was, and I am, so glad that I own some of the My Favorite Barbie 50th Anniversary releases, including the "Original" swimsuit doll (blonde), and the wedding gift set (brunette).

    Right now, I'm trying to obtain a few of the 35th Anniversary Barbies, so that if I just want to keep the My Favorite Barbies in the doll case (I take most of my dolls out of their boxes, but I want to keep the MFB dolls looking fairly decent), I can justify doing anything that I want with them (I mean the 35th Anniversary ones), as they were far less elaborate and accurate than the 50th Anniversary ones.


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