She consulted Mattel officials, who indicated that her doll’s bob hairstyle from the American Girl series appeared consistent with vintage Barbies made in the early 60s. They were, however, equally stumped by the date. Chrisostom has speculated that her doll could be a preproduction model.
“In that case, she could be truly unique, which would make her very, very valuable,” Chrisostom said. Well-preserved vintage Barbies, made between 1959 and 1967, are worth thousands of dollars.
“Or it might turn out that she’s not worth a cent,” Chrisostom added. “No matter what, I adore her just the same.”
For The Love of Barbie By day, Chrisostom is a researcher for an English-language newspaper, poring through advertising rates and revenue figures. Friends who call her home get this message on her answering machine: “Ken and I are busy. So please call us later.”
After her day job, she returns to her dolls, some of whom wear designs by Vera Wang, Christian Dior, Bob Mackie and Todd Oldham. Her dolls also pose as Posh Spice, the Statue of Liberty and Detective Scully of the X-Files.
“I’m a confirmed Barbieholic,” she said. “I never have money to eat, but I have enough to buy clothes and shoes for my dolls. My friends and family say I’m mad.”
Once, she bought 36 pairs of Barbie shoes during a warehouse sale. “I grabbed the shoes before four little girls could get their hands on them,” she said.
Chrisostom, who sleeps with her dolls, hopes to set up a Barbie museum.
“People who think that Barbie collectors have gone cuckoo are ignorant,” said Chrisostom, who is single. “If they’re married, they can have their kids and husbands. As for me, I have my Barbies.”