Saturday, February 28, 2009

'Rose Cottage' Shell Box

This dolls' house is tiny - 3 1/2" (9 cm) wide, 2 3/8" (6 cm) deep, and 3 3/4" (9.5 cm) high!
This is the front:

As you can see, the name above the gable window is torn - but I think it's 'Rose Cottage'. It has quite a grand door for such a little cottage, and the back door also has six panels - but just a pediment, not a portico. And those look like double-hung sash windows, front and back:

Unfortunately, the doors don't open, only the roof:

It is, in fact, a little box - and was most probably a souvenir sold in a coastal town. But it came with three tiny dolls

- two frozen Charlotte type dolls, made wearing smocks, and one bisque doll with movable arms, who was dressed in a ribbon tied around in a bow which has, sadly, almost completely disintegrated.
So I think this little box was used as a dolls' house by a little girl a long time ago. Perhaps her family didn't have room for a larger house, or couldn't afford one. I bought the house and dolls from an ebay seller in Brisbane - I don't know whether she acquired it locally. I'm sure souvenirs like this were made and sold widely - Vivien Greene showed two on a page of 'Model Houses' in her book The Vivien Greene Dolls' House Collection.
I think it could well have been made close to where it was bought - perhaps someone who knows shells well could say what region it's likely to be from.
The roof shows scraps of printed paper - perhaps a papier maché base to make the roof stronger for all the shells?

The roof (shown open above) is hinged with more printed paper under a strip of fabric, and the shells are pressed into a base of ?plaster? ?putty?:

You can see the indentation in the base, where a shell was pressed into it.
I remember as a kid making a shell-covered tin following instructions in a 'things to do' book - I can remember the smell of the putty!

Homemade Australian - Federation Bungalow, Chatswood NSW

My Federation bungalow has some inhabitants now! I was thinking about what kind of dolls would fit, and looking at various wooden and character dolls on the internet. Then I found some dolls my sister gave me a few years ago:

These are Deepings Dolls, hand-turned and hand-painted in Tasmania. It seems very appropriate that this house should have Australian-made wooden dolls in it - and dolls that look like very ordinary everyday Australians of some time in the mid-twentieth century. The boy is wearing overalls; the woman is wearing a skirt, blouse and apron; the man has his shirt sleeves rolled up, and an open collar with no tie; and the little girl has quite a long frock tied with a big bow.

So here they are in their new home:

Dad and the little boy have been out in the back yard working on the vege patch, and have brought in some carrots. (I'm not quite sure why they are still holding their tools!)
As you can see, some dogs have joined the household too - little pipecleaner dogs from the 20s-30s. One belongs to the little boy, and one is the little girl's:

She has been in the front yard with Mum, picking flowers. Mum has her little garden fork with her, ready to tend the potplants on the verandah - when she gets some!

Monday, February 23, 2009

Triang Modern Dolls' House No 52, 1939

Triang are well known for 'Tudor'-style dolls' houses, but in the 30s and 60s they also produced houses in modern architectural styles. This one is No. 52, listed in the 1939 catalogue, according to Marion Osborne's wonderful reference book Lines and Tri-ang Dollshouses and Furniture 1900-1971.
I bought it through Australian ebay from an antiques dealer in Newcastle, NSW. It's missing the suntrap and chimney (which should sit on the roof), and also the front door and the upper curved window. But otherwise, it was in good shape.

It has been repainted, in much the same colours as the original. I have removed some paint from the window frames, and from the crazy paving on the base.

Here's how it looked on the inside:

Repainted and re-papered! And furnished mostly with Barton furniture from the 1960s or 70s. I removed the floor and wall-papers (actually the red carpeting was flocked contact, or something like that). The original floor papers (parquet in the house; brick in the garage and porch) are still there, but in very poor condition, as they had clearly not been protected when the house was re-painted at some stage, and removing the sticky floor covering was tricky. Underneath the pale brown and white striped wallpaper in the living room was pink paint. Although the antique dealers couldn't (or didn't) tell me anything of the previous owners, it looks as if the house was re-decorated twice, perhaps in the 1950s (the pink paint), and the 1960s or 70s (the brown striped wallpaper, funky 'lights', and Barton furniture).

Although the original fireplaces had been detached from the walls (and in one case, replaced), the paper fires are still stuck to the walls of both large rooms. Around these fires there are remnants of the original paint. Instead of scraping off the pink paint, I have repainted the walls as close to the original colours as I could get - a pale green (with quite a lot of black in it) in the living room, and cream elsewhere. Where original paint remained (some on the landing, and parts of the staircase), I've left it.

Here's the kitchen when I had repainted and put down new flooring - a 1930s sample of British 'Empire Series' paper.

The house was first available in 1939, and is not listed in the 1950 Triang catalogue. But as you know from my previous posts, I am not a purist about make or year of the furnishings in my houses. I do prefer vintage, 'lived-in' furniture to reproductions, but otherwise I go with what looks good. Here, the much later Twigg kitchen sink and cupboard fit perfectly with the modern lines of the house, and the Barrett & Son gas stove, from the 1950s, goes beautifully with the 1930s floor paper. The stove is all metal, with the door of the stove and the lids of the kettle and saucepans painted red.

The cream coloured metal refrigerator and table and chairs are Australian-made - according to Dolls' Houses in Australia 1870 - 1950, probably aluminium alloy, and most likely made in the Sydney area in the 1940s.

I've been trying to work out what year and what country we're in, in this house. When I supplied the household with a fly swat (on the sink, at the moment) and electric fan, I was thinking of Australian summers - and friends who have seen the house have said the kitchen reminds them strongly of older relations' houses. I think it might be just after the war - perhaps 1949 or 1950 or so.

The tall dresser here is a Triang piece; the other one is part of the set of aluminium Australian kitchen furniture. The light is German; the original light is above the fireplace, and would have had a shade.
I really got in to beads and buttons as dolls' house decoration in this house. Actually, I got the idea for the buttons from the last child to play with this house, who used buttons as plates and as wall plaques. The ornaments on the stand in the front are vintage trade beads, and there are two floral Czech buttons on the top of the dresser at the back, on either side of a metal button commemorating the 1933 Chicago World Fair:
The porcelain rooster on the mantelpiece is 1930's Herend (Hungarian), and the rather sad little dog is Denby.

Another button (Artid, 1940s) and more trade beads, as well as a glass goblet marked 'G.R. 1937' (King George VI of England's coronation was in 1937). The wonderful eggcup set is supposed to be French, ca 1910.

This is the inside of the bay window downstairs:

Oh dear! Bare windows. I do have fabric to make curtains and other soft furnishings for this house, which I've had for 3 1/2 years - and for several other houses - if I didn't keep buying more houses, perhaps I might catch up on the sewing. I should put the dolls to work - the yellow and red house has a sewing machine.

The dolls here, and the others in the kitchen, are all Erna Meyer dolls. Erna Meyer started making dolls just after WWII, but they only became widely available after a 1950 toy fair. I have chosen some of the oldest in my collection to visit this house.

The other main room is the drawing room, above the kitchen.
The lady of the house is bringing in the tea trolley. She is a 1930s Caco doll:

and her husband (in the arm chair)
and mother (on the sofa, with a pipecleaner Airedale being very friendly) are too:

The others are visiting Erna Meyer dolls - one of them a sailor, home on leave.

She has a rather lovely collection of glass (vintage art deco glass beads and cabochons (I think that's what the flat shapes are called)).
I think he is a writer - I bought him a typewriter (at least that's what I bought it as - is it?).
As you can also see, I haven't hung the pictures yet - there are more besides this one propped crookedly on the radio.
I'm not sure that the grandmother approves of all the artworks - that painting, and the bas reliefs and cameos on the sideboard - an tiny erotic art deco cameo (said to be German; bought from Canada), and a French art deco bronze bas relief and an Artid button (washed out in the flash) both of female figures in flimsy figure-hugging draperies ...

This fireplace isn't original. In pictures I've seen of other Triang 52s, the white art deco fireplace which I have in the kitchen, is in the upper room; the downstairs room has a different style of fireplace - but not this one. I don't recognise this one, but it suits the room well.

This model has only two large rooms. To the left there's meant to be a garage at ground level, and a porch off the living room. The previous owner had converted both to bedrooms, and so have I.
Upstairs is the adults' bedroom:

and in the garage is the kids' bedroom:

Both are furnished with 'Jacqueline' metal furniture, in cream, blue, red and yellow. This also post-dates the house, but its art deco styling suits it very well. The wooden beds (and the chair between them) in the kids' room are American 'Happy Hour' furniture, made ca 1933. I've just put these in today, when I realised they are the perfect size for children. Before, the kids had a piano and Jacqueline sofa and a dolls' table & chairs.
Those things that look a bit like hatstands are Jacqueline lamp stands, both missing their lampshades - I'll have to improvise.
The kids' walls look quite bare - I'm planning to create a 'window' for them, with a 1940s postcard view and curtains, and I have some tiny vintage travel posters to stick up as well. I'm going to put curtains in the upstairs bedroom, too ..... one day!

On the right side of the house are the stairs:

As you can see, I've squeezed a bathroom under the stairs, as the previous owner did too:

The bathroom set is not marked - I think it's Fairylite. (The stool is Jacqueline, and the towel rail (with towel) is Barton.)

I love this house - and I think it was the first for which I started looking for vintage miniatures that were not made specifically for dolls' houses. Starting this blog has inspired me to make and put up all the decorations I've already acquired for it - and perhaps think about others, such as plants on the balcony, and outside furniture for the roof ....

Friday, February 20, 2009

Lundby Gothenburg / Göteborg 1960s

So far I have shown only one of the commercially made dolls' houses in my collection, the Lines No 17, and three of the home-made ones. I have other home-made ones too, but also quite a few commercially made ones. This Lundby house is one of my most recent purchases.
I loved the 1960s Lundby houses I saw in books and websites, with really funky wallpaper - and I especially wanted one because the house I live in now (built in 1974) has a staircase with a straight wooden banister very like the dolls' house staircase!
I found a really nice house with legs last year on Tradera (Swedish ebay); I wanted legs so it can sit under the real stairs. It was listed by a very friendly seller who was happy to ship it all the way to Australia.
This is how it looked on the auction:

Three great wallpapers, as well as the typical 60s 'woven' design paper on the side walls.

Once I had the house, of course, I had to buy furniture for it! I've bought a lot through Tradera, although I'm not being purist about furnishing it only with Lundby pieces - I've also used some Barton and Dol-toi furniture.

Here's how it looks now, with a lot more work to do.

In the living room, there's a family gathering. The dolls are from my Erna Meyer collection, of the right scale and vintage.

Grandma and the aunts and uncles and cousins are visiting. The beautiful red lounge suite is Lundby. The rug is made from a 60s tie, and I've made several pictures from 1960s stamps, or stamps of prints which were common then - the kind of pictures I remember having at home and at school in the late 1960s.

Downstairs in the entrance vestibule, more relations are arriving.
One of the kids has left the pink bag which holds their ballet shoes here - I had one just like this.
Behind is a glimpse of the bathroom, which has tiny toothbrushes in tooth mugs, and a tiny blue tin of nivea cream.

Here's the dining room - Dad has come downstairs to meet the new arrivals.

Because there are so many people, two tables (Dol-toi 'Continental', and Lundby) have been put end to end - but they do need more chairs. They have some wine, though - the tiny chianti bottle is a silver charm. I've just bought two more bottles of chianti, but I don't know yet whether they'll fit this house or a bigger one.
My cat likes to sit on the stairs and look through the banisters too:

The kitchen is quite crowded. One cupboard needs to be fixed on the wall above the workbench, and some bowls and containers need to be put away. There are also a Dol-toi twin-tub washing machine (not Barton; thanks for the correction, Sarah), and a Triang Spot-on dishwasher (we had a Colston dishwasher in the 1960s, which stood on a stand - no bending).

In the bedroom, lots of little cousins are keeping themselves amused with different things. Two little girls are entranced by the gorgeous toiletry set. Some little boys are looking at photos of Disneyland, which the family have recently visited, and one (invisible here) is sitting on the floor playing with a Donald Duck figure. The little girl on the bed at the back has brought in two of the kittens to play with. (And there are more pictures to be hung.)

I am really enjoying filling this house. This is a period for which I have some scraps of material, stored in bags from when my Australian grandmother made clothes for me and my sister and the rest of the family. (And I've bought a few more bits of fabric, too.) So I've got curtains, cushions, sheets, blankets, tea-towels, towels, etc, to make. I also want to make a little electric jug - the kind which was a ceramic jug with an element in it, and a plastic lid into which the electric cord was plugged. I've never seen this kind in miniature, so I'm going to try using a little jug, and making the right kind of lid for it.
I'd really like to get a cobra phone (ericofon) for this house, too - I love the ones in JennyMi's houses. There don't seem to be many miniature ones around.

I'll put up more pictures as I make the soft furnishings and hang the pictures and curtains and lights.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Victorian Cupboard House "Hartsridge" ca 1900

This is the other house my grandmother bought for me, after our visit to her in 1972/73. From the outside, it looks just like a cupboard -

Inside, it is a dolls' house with four rooms and a staircase in the middle. The top (viewer's) left is the drawing room, then the landing, and the bedroom on the right. Downstairs is the dining room on the left, the hall and staircase, and the kitchen on the right.

This house, amazingly, has a full provenance. My grandmother bought it from Miss Nancy Bettesworth, who bought it from Mrs Bernard Fox, who bought it from Mrs Searle, who bought it from Miss Avice Hoare, sister of the original owners, Eleanor and Penelope Hoare. Miss Bettesworth wrote to Miss Hoare about the dolls house, and received a great deal of information from her.

The cupboard is mid-Victorian, perhaps ca 1860s. Avice Hoare wrote, on Nov 8th, 1969:

"It was converted into a doll's house by my Father, who married in 1895 + lived at Hartsridge, Godstone, for my sisters Eleanor + Penelope, born in 1897 + 98 - I can't say when it was converted but I should think it was begun fairly soon. .... my father would no doubt have collected from home or bought an old cupboard to convert."

Eleanor, Penelope and Avice Hoare's father was Henry Gerard 'Philip' Hoare, a banker. Miniatures of Philip and of his wife Margaret hang in the dining room of the house:

and photos of the two little girls hang in the drawing room - here's one of them:

You can hardly see them for the frills!

The house has original floor and wall coverings, and the fireplaces are original too. One is in the drawing room:

Avice Hoare wrote: "I should think the carpets ... were home-made from our Grandfather's waistcoats". On the wall above the window is the other photograph of the two little girls - taken outside their house, Hartsridge in Godstone, Surrey, in England.
There is no original furniture, apart from the fireplaces - "I am afraid that unlimited playing rather disposed of the furniture."

My grandmother began furnishing this house with Victorian or Edwardian pieces appropriate to its age. Some of the pieces were rather large in scale, so I haven't kept all of them in the house - instead, I've furnished it as a family house, with dolls house furniture from my own and my mother's childhood.
In the drawing room, the lounge suite was made from matchboxes by my mother ca 1930s; the doll with her back to the camera was bought for me and my sister by my father (in France, I believe) in 1966, as was the bookcase and wooden books. I haven't identified the maker of the bookcase (and the grandfather clock, rocking chair & kitchen table, also in this house), but when I bought Zillner & Cooper's 'Antique and Collectible Dollhouses', I recognised our dolls on page 263 - they were made by Erna Meyer. I've bought a lot Erna Meyer dolls since, and several inhabit, or visit, this house, which is owned by the elderly lady in black in this room.

Here's an earlier photo, when more of the family were visiting, and before I had framed and hung the Hartsridge photo:

On the landing, some boys are playing with toy trucks. The rug and the curtain both came with the house, though I don't know whether they are original, or made by Mrs Fox. I have just added the exquisite embroideries, believed to be early or mid-19th century, which I bought on UK ebay - the stitches are so tiny, I don't know how the embroiderer managed without going blind. The tiny photographs by the doorway are original, I believe - I think they may have come from a tiny concertina postcard charm. They show images of Hampton Court Palace, Richmond, etc, which no doubt the Hoare children knew.

Next door, in the bedroom, two little girls are playing with dolls. The one with her back to the camera is the second doll saved from our childhood - she suffered a terrible accident to her face (I have no memory of it, but it looks as if someone bit it off), so prefers to keep it private. (She also has no hair, a frequent problem with vintage Erna Meyer dolls.) The curtain is original - when I first received this house, I planned to replace it, as it's torn, but I'm so glad I never got round to it. My grandmother bought the beautiful brass beds - they even have springs! The lovely washstand is a new acquisition, from

Below the bedroom is the kitchen, where two dolls are preparing food. The flooring is original; the clock, stuck on the wall, and the little check curtain were in the house when my grandmother bought it. She put the kitchen range in - it should really have a wooden surround, and is missing its little tap for the hot water. (Strange that the dolls have not felt the need to buy a newer stove to replace it or provide an alternative for cooking.)
The green Pit-a-Pat dresser was my mother's, and then ours - I'm sure we had the second door somewhere. The light blue Twigg dresser and sink (which you can't really see - it's under the window) - were ours.

The photo of the hall shows the magificent flight of stairs, made by Philip Hoare (his daughter Avice explained "Hunt was the estate carpenter + a fine cabinet maker who worked with my grandparents + no doubt taught my father + his brothers - they were all carpenters"). The carpets here are original, too.

Finally, in the dining room, several men are having drinks. The fireplace was also made by Philip Hoare, and the carpet is original - perhaps another of Grandfather's waistcoats. Someone tried to wash the little runner, and the embroidery thread ran. On each side of the fireplace are the portraits of Philip and Margaret Hoare. As it's summer, the fire is not lit, and a vase of peacock feathers stands in front of the grate. The feathers are real - tiny feathers shed by peacocks at a caravan park I stayed at in Elliott, in the Northern Territory!

This house is pictured in Jean Latham's beautiful book 'Dolls' Houses - a personal choice' (1969), which my grandmother sent me when she bought the house. The picture below (on page 68 in the book; there are more on pages 78-79) shows the bedroom and kitchen as furnished by Mrs Bernard Fox, who owned it at the time. You can see the same clock in the kitchen, and curtains in bedroom and kitchen.

In her letter to Miss Bettesworth, Avice Hoare mentioned that "when I come to think of it, there are quite a number of doll's houses in the family, so I have made you a "pedigree" of them." One was, in 1969, shown on "Garden Open" days at South Park Farm, Bletchingley. I am hoping to trace the whereabouts of the other dolls' houses made by this family - I'd love to see how they compare with the one I now own - and it's another chance to use my family history research skills.

Homemade Australian - ca 1970s yellow & red house, Darwin

This house, is, I think, the first I bought myself. When I moved to Darwin, I started frequenting the second hand shops here, and found this in one. I like it. It's pretty rough and ready - no stairs, and the little partition is flimsy, and just balances on the wooden support; the 'door' cut in this partition is really only big enough for the dog. But it's bright and cheery, and I like the beige vinyl flooring with the brown wildflower design.
It didn't really have furniture with it when I bought it - the shop assistant told me that she had collected all the dolls house furniture that was donated into a bag to sell with the house. I used some of it in the house for a while, but then refurnished it with furniture I bought on ebay. This furniture is made of natural varnished & red painted wood, and looks great in the house. Most pieces are not marked - one or two have a paper label saying 'foreign'. I bought some pieces in their original boxes, but even those don't give a maker's name or country! However, recently I've seen identical furniture listed on UK ebay by Marion Osborne and other sellers, and described as Tofa furniture, made in the former Czechoslovakia in the 60s and 70s.
The dolls are modern and German, and suit the house very well, I think. Again, their box doesn't name the maker! just the distributor, Dr. Rolf Ottmüller of Hamburg. I bought these dolls in 2003, at the Brighton Toy and Model Museum where my uncle is a volunteer, and where some of my grandmother's dolls houses are on display. The bathroom is soft plastic, marked Made in England.
This is another house I'm going to make bedding and cushions for!

Lines No 17 Country Villa ca 1906

This is the house my grandmother named 'Redfern', for the place where we lived when I was a baby. She didn't know the maker or the age of the house, and neither did I, until I started reading books about dolls houses, and thought G & J Lines houses looked very similar. When Marion Osborne put a request in a dolls house magazine article in about 2002 for readers' photos of their Lines houses, I sent her photos of mine. She very kindly wrote a long and informative letter, enclosing photocopies of articles etc about this house. She identified it as a No. 17 'Country Villa'.

My grandmother bought this before we visited her at Christmas 1972, though I don't know how long before. Nor did I think to ask her if she had done any redecorating. The brick paper on the sides and back is original, as is the tile paper on the roof. The front has been repainted, though the gold paint on the gable timbers and balustrades seems to be original - it looks like there's more underneath the white paint, on the decoration on the window pediments. There probably should be brick quoining on the sides, as the catalogue illustration shows.

This is the kitchen as my grandmother furnished it. The fireplace is original; the wallpaper, according to Marion Osborne, is not. I rather like it, and haven't attempted to remove it. You can see that the inside of the opening front has a different wallpaper, which Marion Osborne thought is probably original.

I was concerned that the dolls did not have a stove - although they have a fireplace in the kitchen, it is not really big enough to cook on. Lines' houses often had large kitchen ranges - I bought these dolls a tinplate kitchen stove. I also removed some of the furniture - the light wooden pieces, which are modern (1970s) replicas, and the dark wooden sideboard, pre WWII Elgin, which has gone to another house which has a matching dining table. I also found a butler, and now have a cook to add as well, of a similar period to the other dolls in the house, replacing the rather modern person in regional costume. (The milk glass pieces, which my grandmother had obtained, were packed away at the time that this photo was taken.)

In the bedroom, the nursery maid seems to have fallen over in front of the chest of drawers- she is supposed to be caring for the two babies, one in a cradle and one in a highchair. My grandmother bought one of the beds - I found a matching one on ebay. I have seen identical beds in an 1860s dolls house, so perhaps they date from that era. The wallpaper again is not original, being a different colourway of the paper in the kitchen, and in the schoolroom below.

In the schoolroom, the governess is reading to one small boy, while another practices on the piano. I have added more furniture to this room, but don't have a good photo of it. Among their books are a history of England, an ABC, a dictionary, and a songbook; they also have a globe.

The windows of this house would originally have had lace curtains. I have bought some antique lace to make curtains, but have not hung them yet. I also plan to make mattresses and blankets for the beds, as their bedding is rather makeshift.

I'm also hoping to find out more about the original owners. I recently noticed that there is writing on the roof - faint pencil writing, hard to see on the rather darkened paper. It reads 'Miss Lulu and Miss Millie? Minnie? Agar', which I presume are the names of the two little girls who first played with this house. I've searched the UK birth indexes, and the newly released 1911 census of England, and have found some possibilities. Agar seems to be mainly a Yorkshire name, and I'm looking for a family with daughters named (probably) Louisa and (possibly) Millicent, Mabel, Maria, Marianne, Wilhelmina, or any other name for which Millie or Minnie was a pet name. Great fun for a passionate family historian - mine or my dolls' houses', the fun is in the chase!