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 ....


  1. *sigh*

    I'm quite quite green with envy.

    And more than happy to provide you with a scan of my Triang parquet paper for you to print out for your house if you wish. It looks like they were still using the same design in the 1960s...

  2. What a lovely house! Thank you so much for sharing it.
    Good wishes,Marel

  3. Lovely! Really enjoyed looking through the rooms. You have some very interesting pieces. I have the same bathroom, I love the cistern! It's by Codeg.

  4. Thankyou, redrickshaw! and thanks for the identification. Somewhere in the last few weeks richness of dolls house photos, I do remember seeing a Codeg bathroom set that I thought looked familiar - and now I find that short_paws has a photo of a boxed set in her photobucket album, and I can see the differences between Fairylite and Codeg. It does help to know what I'm looking for! Thanks again!

  5. What a devine little art deco house Rebecca that suits the 50's pieces too. I'm working on a small 70's dolls house i've had a couple of years at the moment along with a little modern pretty plastic cottage. I usually work on my two Sindy and Barbie houses so its a first for me working on such smaller scale as the little houses are between 1/16th and 1/24th scale. I know what you mean about finding the time to get curtains done etc. I've just made a little fireplace from self drying clay, painted and varnished. I love the inspiration that pics such as yours give me. Thanks too for a great tip of using fancy old buttons and beads as ornementation as i have plenty of these in my habberdashery supplies i can use as finding these things for dolls houses smaller than the regular 1/12th scale isnt so easy is it. I am making my bathroom stuff out of self drying clay as i only have one plastic white 70's bath. I've just painted a little toilet and sink i made to go with the bath and also a white butlers sink i fashioned out of the clay.

    Kind Regards

  6. beautifull house, i've always wanted one of these, you've furnished it well. I'm just doing a flat roofed house, i think 50's its a back opening house and i've got some bits of furniture for it, i willtry and post some pictures of the interiors of my houses when i get time, working full time doesn't help!

  7. Hello Carl, Thank you for your comments - and sorry to take so long to respond! Do you photos up somewhere of your little 70s house? Would be great to see them - and the Sindy and Barbie houses too. I don't have any houses in their scale, but they have some fantastic furniture available, I know.

  8. Thanks, Roberta, gee that was quick! I'd love to see your flat roofed house when you have time to post pictures. Have a great time at Cobham, cheers Rebecca

  9. A great collection Rebecca :-)

    I have some "Jacqueline" furniture, the little stove and some Fairylite stuff too. I love metal furniture. I will have to put them on my list to post next. Do you know anything about Jacqueline furniture? My only knowledge of it was that it dates from around 1940's ? I have the red a cream (same colourway as your Jacqueline chairs but I have also seen it in green and cream.

  10. Great site, well done. I enjoy beeing here and i´ll come back soon. You do a great job. Many greetings.

  11. Hi Pandora, thank you! I've enjoyed seeing your Jacqueline furniture - I have a box for the bedroom set, so I should post a picture of that too!

  12. Hello Term paper, thanks for visiting! Glad you enjoyed it :-)

  13. love the way you have restored your dollshouse. I have the larger model, it has pink walls and flock flooring as yours did, so I will remove the flooring and repaint the walls in your suggested colours. would it be possible for you to send me a scan of the parquet floor? many thanks Christine

  14. Hi Christine, thanks for visiting my blog. How lovely that you have a Triang Modern house too! As I said, I repainted with colours as close as I could get to the remains of the paint in the two rooms of my house. I know of other models of this house which have blue paint, and several larger, four-roomed models which have cream, pale green, pale pink, and pale blue - one even a golden yellow. You can see a couple of them here: and and
    So it's quite possible that your house would have had a different colour in each room - or different colours from mine - so choose the combination you like best.
    As for the parquet, I'm afraid I don't have a scan. The remaining paper in this house was torn and paint-stained, and I don't know if there'd be enough to get a good sample from. There is a guy in the UK who sells reproduction sheets:
    They're very good copies, so you might want to get some of that. (He also has a website, the address is given in the ebay listing.)
    (There were two parquet patterns, one known as herringbone - diagonal, and this one sometimes called four-by-four - it's this square one which was used in this Triang house. Some dolls house supply places have the herringbone one, but I don't know of others which have the four-by-four.
    If I come across any scans on dolls house sites, I'll put another comment here. I'd love to see photos of your house too - are you on any sites like flickr or photobucket or facebook or Dolls Houses Past and Present, etc?
    cheers, and happy restoring! Rebecca

  15. Hello Rebecca, I googled and found your dolls house. I have what I think must be the same model. It belonged to my mother in England. It is great to see the way you have done yours up. Gives me some good ideas. Mine has the suntrap but no chimney. Also mine only has a flat window upstairs, not a bay one. The parquet flooring and garage flooring is in good condition but there is no crazy paving outside. Anyway, lovely to see you and you have inspired me! Bye for now, Jane

    1. Hi Jane, Thanks for visiting my blog and commenting! How wonderful that you have a similar dolls house! They are very sought after by collectors, and to have one which was your mother's is extra special. Triang made a series of Ultra Modern dolls houses from 1935 to 1940. This one, with the curved window on the upper floor and two main rooms in the house, is No 52. If your has a flat window on the upper floor, and two main rooms in the house, then it sounds like it is a No 50. You can see one here: (and the next photo shows the interior). They are wonderful houses - I had great fun finding vintage art deco furnishings, and tiny art deco accessories for it!

  16. Hi Rebecca, thanks so much for getting back to me and for the link. You are quite right, the No 50 is definitely the one! I really look forward to getting it up to scratch without wrecking it of course! There are tiny nails where there must have been curtains. Do you think they would have come with curtains fitted or was that something done after Mum got it? I'll have to ask her. She may remember. So nice to be in touch and thanks for your help. My grandchildren will be pleased as they get older. Jane

    1. Hi Jane, you're welcome! I've just checked a reference book of Triang dolls houses, and yes, these models had curtains. I'll email you a catalogue pic.