The Appraiser’s Diary

Simon, Bradley, Billye and Barbie
   Recently, an eight-year-old boy named Simon came into my doll shop in Denver. He said that he was a Barbie Collector and that he knew a lot about the dolls. I asked him right away when Barbie was released to the world and he replied, “1959 at a Toy Fair in New York.” Wow! Ok, Simon. Who is Barbie named after? “Barbara Milicent Roberts.”
   I was immediately impressed with Simon and asked my brother to bring in a bag of Barbie dolls that I had been waiting to give to a special person. Simon sorted through the dolls and found several that he educated me about, including a rainbow-haired Hula Hair Barbie.
   I promised the happy child that if he kept learning, kept looking, and kept dreaming, that his doll collecting would help him have a GREAT life. I told him of opportunities in the world for him. I told him there are Barbie Conventions with magical friends that share the same love he does. I said he could grow up and have a shop and travel the world. I told him of my good friend Bradley who has made a career in Barbie – and that he, too, can do amazing things just like him.
   That next week, Barbie Expert Bradley Justice Yarbrough happened to travel to my shop for a special project with his best friend Billye Harris. Both are leaders in the doll field, and good friends of mine. They came armed with special Barbie gifts for Simon and spent the afternoon chatting with him and his family. Simon left that day with Barbie reference books, a special tote bag, and a limited edition doll with an outfit designed by Bradley. It was an incredibly special day for all of us.
   When you meet a child interested in dolls, or ANYTHING that is cultural, MAKE IT MAGIC for them. We have an obligation and a duty to inspire younger generations. Just one special interaction from a person of power can propel a child forward through their entire life. Think back on your childhood. Did you have a teacher or a special mentor that changed the course of your life? I still have them and they have changed my life in more ways than I can write in an article. Children remember these special moments. They remember when you took the time to see them, speak to them, and validate their interests.
   I’m incredibly happy that there are parents in the world who not only support their children’s passions but do things like bring them to doll shops to make them feel happy and supported. In this contemporary world, children like Simon are rare. He was interested in history, culture, and he had whimsy and a zest for learning. He expressed himself and was born with an inquisitive nature. I truly can’t wait to see what he does in his life.    The stars are out, Simon. Shoot for them!
   Rachel Hoffman is an Accredited Doll Appraiser with the International Society of Appraisers, President of Denver’s Antique Row Association, and Co-Owner of Turn of the Century Antiques in Denver, Colorado.

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