Monday, February 1, 2016

My first Tasmanian dolls house

This is the other dolls house which was waiting for me in Bathurst. I bought it from its original owner, who lives in Canberra, but the dolls house itself was made in Tasmania. Mary, the owner, told me:
It was made in the mid-1960's by my great uncle, Leonard Alfred Clippingdale (1886-1976) for my eldest daughter, and was subsequently loved by three more daughters. Len was then living with my family in Tasmania, having migrated from Somerset to live with them after his wife died. He had worked as a builder/carpenter in his early years and never lost the skill. Len made this dolls house in the old toolshed on the farm we had at Glengarry, West Tamar during the 1960's.
--> Mary even sent me a lovely photo of Len with Mary and three of her daughters in Canberra!

When I first saw photos of the dolls house, I was attracted by the verandah, and all the opening plexiglass windows and external doors.
The back of the house lifts off - it is held in place by hooks at either end, and metal tabs along the edge of the base.
The small box on the end is not a battery compartment - the house has never had lighting. Instead, it's the recess for the fireplace - there's one at each end, with a chimney above each.
I don't seem to have taken a photo of the whole interior - there are four rooms, which, looking at the back of the house, from left to right, are the living room, kitchen, bathroom and a bedroom. I didn't measure the rooms individually, but the whole length of the house is 114 cm (about 45", or 3' 9"). The height (including chimneys) is 39 cm (1' 3 3/8"), and the depth (including the verandah) is 44 cm (1 5 3/8").
The living room, with double plexiglass French doors opening on to the verandah. The house is fully furnished, with all the furnishings made by Len - another thing I love about it. (I think these chairs, sofa and stool have probably been recovered, as the fabric looks much more 90s than 60s.)
An internal door in the living room gives access to the kitchen ...
You can see a door at the back right which leads out to the verandah, and there's a short passageway from the kitchen to the bathroom and bedroom, too.
Most of the kitchen furniture is built in - the fridge and cupboard, seen open in this photo, are both attached to the wall.
This kitchen dresser is also attached. The table and chairs aren't fixed, however.
The bathroom has the same flooring as the kitchen. There's a bath, basin, toilet and towel rail, all fixed, and a stool and mirror which aren't fixed. Here's another shot showing the hollowed out interior of the toilet:
The door opens to the short passageway - the other door standing open there is the door into the bedroom:
The furniture in the bedroom is painted a gorgeous bright yellow:
Inside the wardrobe is a tiny coathanger:
The base of the dolls house has printing on it, showing that it was made from an old packing case:
Mary, the owner, told me that her brother John worked in Launceston (Tasmania) at about that time for the National Cash Register Company of Kingsway West (now part of Dundee), in Scotland. That is wonderful to know - I have other dolls houses made from teachests and packing cases, but (if the company names on them can be made out), I have never before known the relationship between the maker and/or owners of the dolls house, and the companies whose packing cases were recycled to make them.

Some of the furniture is also made from packing cases. The chest of drawers has part of the word 'United' on it:

and the wardrobe has part of the word 'Kingdom', with the base of letters from another word above it. This appears to have been a packing case from another company, as the National Cash Register Co's address on the base of the house does not include the words 'United Kingdom'.

There are a few other pieces of furniture which I haven't photographed yet - porch seats, and a black item which looks a bit like another fridge. There are also three sets of curtains. I didn't have time to clean this house while I was down - I'll do that on another trip, and also hang the curtains. Then I'll think about which dolls would like to live here, and find them kitchen utensils, pictures, and other accessories.

The roof, with red binding tape over the ridge. The red paint needs a bit of touching up.

Mary has mentioned that her great-uncle Len made three other dolls houses. One is no longer in existence, but the other two are. I hope to see them, through photos or in real life, one day.


Monday, January 18, 2016

A Lumberjack dolls house, without doubt!

This was one of the dolls houses waiting for me in Bathurst. I had bought it on ebay, and as it was in Sydney, it made more sense to have it freighted to Bathurst than all the way here to Darwin!

As well as having many similarities to the Lumberjack dolls house I had found in a toy store catalogue in the National Library:

- different coloured shutters (yellow instead of green), but the same front door - it has a label on the side which says Lumberjack BWG Screenprint:

so it's definitely a Lumberjack.

It's wider than the house in that catalogue, with three rooms up and down:

Unlike the house in the catalogue, the upper rooms don't have dormer windows - which will make placing furniture easier!

The interior is painted white - the traces of white on the floors, and the missing bit under the stairs, indicate that this was done by an owner, not in the factory.

A child has also added stickers in many rooms - I'll be keeping them, as they're a reminder of a former owner, and some, like this one on the back of the front door with kangaroos and a koala saying "HI!", are also reminders of the house's Australian origin:

The top left room has a sticker saying "Holidays", with people running with bags:
The top middle room must have been used as a bathroom, as it has a mirror and a towel rail attached to the walls:
The top right room has three stickers, including one of a lovely orange and white tabby cat:

This room has the opening to the stairs in it. The stairs are missing a couple of treads, but it shouldn't be too hard to replace them:
(That sticker says "Don't Forget:", with a pink space to write what you're not supposed to forget!)

Here's the bottom middle room, with the front door again:

And the bottom left room:

The sticker here has an Easter egg and a chick.

I haven't furnished this house yet, just cleaned it and photographed it. I'm thinking I might use my Europa furniture in it - I'll see.

Last year I found some more information about Lumberjack in issues of the Australian toy trade journal, the Australasian Sportsgoods and Toy Retailer, from the late 1970s. Here's a full page ad from the October 1976 issue:

which gives the address then for the "Lumberjack Toy & Gift Company" as 13 Hills Street, Gosford, NSW 2250. It shows a couple of other items made by Lumberjack - a service station with carwash, and a magnetic chalk/paint board.

Here's a close up of the dolls house:

Like mine, it has three rooms across - but unlike mine, it has both dormer windows upstairs, and an inbuilt garage on one side of the ground floor, with a "fully operative tilting door". It's described as 12th scale, 28" x 18" x 18". I measured the rooms in my Lumberjack as 21cm (8 ¼") wide, 31 cm (12 ¼") deep and 19 cm (7 ½") high. So 12th scale furniture would work - I think I'll try out the vintage 16th scale Europa anyway, and see how it looks.

This ad mentions printed carpet, lino and stained floors in the bottom storey, so it does seem that they were sold with undecorated walls and upper floors and ceilings. Here's another Lumberjack I saw on ebay, which has not been painted inside:

Photos © ebay seller untide1

Another three bay model, with dormer windows but without a garage, and with the front door on one side, rather than in the middle. (It seems to have been given carpet upstairs.)

In 1979, Lumberjack had a stand at the Toys and Games Manufacturers of Australia fair, where they displayed three dolls houses:

The caption reads: "Lumberjack: Popular wooden toys including dolls houses with much interest in the limited edition 2-story colonial dolls house; chalk boards; garages; block wagons and blocks; cradles; nursery furniture; playcastle and playfort; stilts; billiard table; games table; table tennis table, dartboard cabinets, etc. Number of new releases inc. a Car Yard and Roadhouse in WOODY WOODPECKER items; Space Station with space buildings; Cape Cod house and single storey Colonial house." (I don't see a single storey dolls house in the photo, unless they mean the one on the right with dormer windows and rooms under the roof?)

Another photo shows a closeup of the limited edition colonial dolls house, with two people from Lumberjack: Frank Marsh on the left, and Don Windus standing on the right. (Seated on the right is John Bassingthwaighte, who had a sports and toy store in Dubbo.) (I think that, in the photo of the whole stand above, Don Windus is seated on the left, and Frank Marsh on the right.)

Late last year, I had a comment on my blog post about my possible Lumberjack dolls house from Adrian Windus, Don's brother, who said:

"The Toyworld dolls house was made by Lumberjack Toys in Gosford NSW. The company was owned by a Don and Del Windus. They were sold to toy shops in Qld, NSW and Victoria. This I know as I'm a brother to Don, I also owned Lumberjack Toy Wholesales in 1976 selling Don's products. Hope this enlightens you a little. Adrian Windus"

Wonderful information, as the photo caption doesn't say what Frank Marsh or Don Windus' roles at Lumberjack were.

I had found other information online, suggesting that Lumberjack later moved, and changed hands. A company called Lumberjack-Bestoys was registered with the address 25 Engadine Crt, Engadine, NSW 2233. The websites which hold that information don't give dates, but Lumberjack bought Bestoys at the end of 1984, so that address probably dates to 1984 or 85. Did Don Windus still own Lumberjack then? I don't know - I hope to find out more from Adrian or Don Windus, sometime.
Then later there's another company name and address: Lumberjack Toys Pty Ltd at The Old Cheese Factory, Hoddle Street, Robertson, NSW 2577.  The name associated with that company is Allan Jackson, who was a carpenter.
So it seems likely that Don Windus sold Lumberjack at some point, whether directly to Allan Jackson or to someone else in Engadine who then sold it on again later. Perhaps it was a later owner who made the other dolls house I have, which has the same front door, the same yellow window shutters, and the same screen-printed brick front wall as this labelled Lumberjack house, but which is otherwise made of polished pine, with a plain hardboard back? 


Saturday, January 16, 2016

A New Year, a summer holiday, and op-shopping!

It's so long since I have posted anything on this blog that I feel I should be wishing you Happy Everything, not just Happy New Year! I do hope that this year brings us all health, happiness, peace of mind, and lots of mini enjoyment - and I hope to keep in touch more with my blogging friends!

I wish my summer holiday could have been longer - but I did manage to avoid the really hot weather that arrived just after I left, so I can't really complain. I had hoped to work on some of my dolls houses in Bathurst which need restoring, but didn't really have time. I did make a start on reorganising one of the rooms where some of my houses live - the former main bedroom of the house - so that they are easier to access, and so I could also fit a couple of new houses in (more about them in later posts).

My sister and I went to a few op shops (thrift stores / charity shops), which we always enjoy doing - and my haul of dolls house related things was better than it often is! Above you can see most of what I found in two op shops. Two things are from the art gallery shop - the little figurine may go in a house or a dolls house art gallery as a sculpture, and the postcard has lots of great mini portraits! The place mats have a nice woven pattern of green and red through them, and will make good flooring - and the silk tie will come in handy for bedding or cushions or curtains ....

My sister found the Blue-Box dolls house in one of the op shops - I have several other Blue-Box houses, but not this one, so I was thrilled to find it! It cost the princely amount of $4!!! (much less than its original price of $27.00, probably in the late 1970s - I have an ad for this dolls house from 1978, though I'm not sure when it was introduced or last available).

The mat is missing, but I think all the other pieces are there (plus a couple of extras) - hopefully I'll have time to photograph it all next time I'm there.

(The box does not have the Blue-Box name on it, strangely, but it is impressed on the bottom of the house.)

In another op shop, we had taken our finds (mainly books) to the front counter, and I had a look in the glass cabinet there, where small things are kept - and was amazed to see these two containers of miniature plastic plants!

The Britains flowers even have the planting tool (it's the long blue piece with a label about complaints attached to it). (These are two views of the same container here, by the way.)


Silver birch trees with moss foliage, and plastic conifers - are these also Britains?

In the op shop where I found the place mats, silk tie and Blue-Box dolls house, I also looked through the books. There were quite a few vintage carpentry manuals and children's annuals, both of which can be sources of plans for dolls houses or dolls house furniture, so I had a good look through them - and struck lucky with one, called The Handyman's Complete Carpentry Guide by Andrew Waugh, with furniture designed by William Greenwood. This was published by the former Australian newspaper company Consolidated Press - there's no date in the book, but it was advertised in newspapers in 1954 (and was a "privilege book" (ie offered at a discount) for purchasers of Consolidated Press's newspapers, including The Argus in Melbourne).

The inside covers show some of the items described in the book - including the dolls house (the small thing just to the left of the bed, with a green roof and red walls). (As you can see, this copy of the book was originally sold at Boans, a Perth department store, so it had made its way right to the other side of the country.)

The book gives instructions for building a house, as well as for making furniture, a slippery dip, an extension ladder (!), a sleep-out - and toys, including a dolls house:

The dolls house has a rather strange front, to my way of thinking. The roof is asymmetrically pitched, but the removable front has a "double-gable appearance" - a false roof line matching the steeper side of the roof, as well as the real roof line of the shallower side ... Perhaps they thought it looked better, as the false roof line would be parallel to the porch roof. I don't think that I've seen a dolls house made to this design, but I'll look out for it now - if this plan was followed faithfully, it would be quite distinctive.
The suggested colour scheme for the dolls house was cream coloured walls, apple green window sashes and frames, and a terracotta roof (quite different from the illustration on the inside cover!).

Most of the dolls house furniture is quite simple - it might be possible to identify pieces made to these plans, but some look quite similar to commercially made pieces. The book recommends that the dolls house furniture be "stained and finished with French polish or clear lacquer", with scraps of fabric for the settee, bed and dressing table).

I was very happy with these finds - and I hope to be back soon to show you the two dolls houses which were waiting for me in Bathurst.