Saturday, November 9, 2013

Barbies Adventures: Virginia City

Barbie recently visited Virginia City, Nevada, which is one of the oldest and at one time richest cities in the West.  It is a very well preserved historical landmark.

In 1859 prospectors began mining the area in and around the town and it soon became the site of the largest silver and gold strikes in the country.  They called it the Comstock Lode.   The miners worked the seven major mines from 1859 to 1898.  They produced nearly 400 million dollars worth of silver and gold.  Using today’s dollars, the amount they mined would be worth billions.

Virginia City was the major hub between Denver and San Francisco.  At its peak there were close to 15,000 people living in the area.  By the 1930’s, just after the depression, there were only a few hundred people still living in the town.

Virginia City, Nevada
Today Virginia City contains over one hundred historic buildings, along with other memorabilia and furniture from the heyday.  Barbie enjoyed strolling down C Street on the wooden sidewalks.  It’s the major street in this Old West town, and is lined with souvenir shops, restaurants, museums, and saloons.  Three of the most popular saloons are the Bucket of Blood (est. 1876), The Red Dog Saloon (est. 1875) and The Delta Saloon (est. 1883).    


MacKay Mansion

Fourth Ward School (1876)

Silver Dollar Queen
made with 3,261 Silver Dollars
which were minted in Carson City.
Her belt has 28 twenty-dollar gold
pieces and her necklace and bracelets
are made using dimes.  She stands
15 feet tall and 8 feet wide

St Mary's in the
Mountains Church

 St Mary's in the Mountains Church (1876)  Called the "Bonanza
Church" because of the Rich Silver mines of the 1800's

Inside St. Mary's in the Mountains Church

You can take train rides on the old Virginia & Truckee Railroad that runs between Virginia City and Gold Hill during the warmer months (usually Memorial Day through October).  There are also mine tours, trolley rides, ghost tours, a Wild West show, and tours of many of the old buildings.  As you walk or drive the steep streets of the town you will also see several well preserved Victorian homes.

A Cowboy from the Wild Wild West Show

Barbie really enjoyed walking through the old Silver Terrace Cemetery, located on the edge of town.  The site is full of history and interesting grave markers.  Most plots have some sort of fencing or border around them, which was common in the Victorian period.

Silver Terrace Cemetery


Silver Terrace Cemetery
There were five fires during the Comstock years.  The largest and most famous became known as ‘The Great Fire of 1875’.  The fire was started when a coal oil lamp was knocked over in Kate Shea’s Boarding House.  Since there were high winds that day, the fire spread rapidly.  When it was all said and done, there were about two thousand buildings lost.  The city was rebuilt in the years following the fire.


If you visit, be sure to take the Comstock Highway, which is the twenty mile winding road (which reaches a summit of 6789 feet) that takes you through Virginia City.  On your way you might even see some wild horses roaming. You will have a chance to stop at some scenic pullouts for some extraordinary views of the surrounding mountains and valleys, and will see numerous reminders of the areas rich mining history.

A visit to Virginia City is always a good time, and a fun way to experience a little bit of the wild wild West!

Friday, November 1, 2013

Barbie of the Month: Twiggy

Twiggy (1967)

Who is Twiggy?  She is Lesley Lawson (born Leslie Hornby), and her childhood nickname was Sticks, and later she was called Twigs.  She was born in London, England in 1949.  By the mid 1960‘s her boyfriend, who was also her hairdresser, encouraged her to change her name to Twiggy.  Eventually he became her manager.

Twiggy Hornby

At age 16 Twiggy, now a British fashion model was called “the face of 1966” by the Daily Express Newspaper.  With her boyish thin build, crop haircut and heavy false eyelashes (wearing three pairs at a time), she represented the teens of the swinging sixties.  By 1967 she was in all the major fashion magazines, had her own line of clothing, and was modeling internationally.  She appeared on the cover of the Paris version of Vogue magazine, Elle, and others.  Considering her 5’ 6”, 112 pound frame it is amazing that she was even considered for modeling. Originally she planned to do head shots because she was told she was too short to model.  Interestingly she wasn’t just a model, but is considered the world’s first Super Model.
Twiggy on the cover of two Seventeen Magazines (1967)

In 1967 (the height of her career) her popularity grew even more when she came to America to model and promote her new clothing line. She was so popular that Mattel released a Twiggy doll (stock #1185) after her.  This blonde short haired teen was the first doll released depicting a real live person. She was on the market for only two years; 1967 and 1968.


Often people get the Twiggy and Casey dolls mixed up.  Casey was released the same year as Twiggy.  They both are the same size and have a similar short hair style. They used the same head mold, have bendable legs, a twist ‘n turn waist, and real rooted eyelashes. What’s different between the two dolls? Twiggy wears much heavier eye makeup than Casey.  Casey also came in a choice of three hair colors (blonde, brunette and red), where Twiggy only had one color; blonde.

Twiggy's Eyes (top) & Casey's Eyes (bottom)

Twiggy came dressed in a yellow, blue, and green short knit mini dress, with matching yellow boots.  She wore her Twiggy wrist tag, came with a clear stand, and a little fashion booklet.
Twiggy in her Original Box

There were only four ensembles specifically packaged for Twiggy, which were all released in 1968:  #1725 Twiggy-Do’s, #1726 Twiggy Turnouts, #1727 Twigster, and #1728 Twiggy Gear (pictured right).  But since Francie was the same size, she had all of her clothes to wear as well.
I think Twiggy is a must have doll in any vintage Barbie collection.  She represents so much of what the 1960’s were all about!
Happy Hunting!