Saturday, March 28, 2009

Lines Letchworth Doll's House 1912-1914

This is the third house from my grandmother - my sister's house, which my grandmother called 'Roseville' after the place we lived when my sister was a baby. I sent photographs of this house to Marion Osborne in 2002, along with the photos of my Lines house (No. 17). Marion Osborne identified this one as the Letchworth doll's house, which appeared in Harrods catalogues in 1912 and 1914. It does not appear in her reference book Lines and Tri-ang Dollshouses and Furniture 1900-1971, as she did not then have the information.

I'm sorry that this photo is a bit washed out - I took it some time ago. However, it does show the front pretty clearly. The house is a bit of a mystery - in the catalogue, it is described and shown as having an open front, and a related house, the "Garden City", is shown with open sides as well as an open front. Marion Osborne thought it was possible that Lines had changed the design, but not the artwork, to include sides and a front - she noted that the balustrades and pediments were correct (except the flat balustrades downstairs).
The house has definitely been repainted. When my grandmother acquired this house, in the 1960s, not much was known of dolls' house makers. I do remember my grandmother remarking on the blue mansard roof, and the house may have been thought to be a French 'Blue Roof' house (since identified as actually made by the German company Gottschalk). The original roofing would most likely have been tiled paper.
Several of the original green window blinds have survived.

This is the left side of the dolls' house, with the front door.

Inside are two small rooms, decorated by my grandmother as a kitchen and children's room. All rooms have the original Lines fireplaces (though I'm not sure that the paint colours are all original).

In the kitchen, the kitchenmaid Bessie is at work. Bessie and the parlour-maid Darlow are cloth dolls which were given to my sister when she was small, and are most likely modern (1960s).

The large central rooms are furnished as a dining room, where another maid is cleaning out the fireplace:

and drawing room, where Darlow has just shown in a visitor.

The rooms have been repapered. As Marion Osborne pointed out, the red and gold paper in the dining room appears in a 1952 Hobbies catalogue, along with the parquet floor paper (surprisingly described as 'Lino Floor Paper'). A tiny bit of the original floor paper can be seen in the doorway between the drawing room and the children's room. I don't have a good picture of it - I think of it as oakleaf patterned tiles.

On the far side is the staircase, with doors leading into the two large central rooms. I think the paint, including the lines, on the staircase may be original; on some of the internal doors, faint lines are visible under the paint, suggesting that they may originally have been decorated like the staircase, and repainted at some time.

Thank you very much Marion for identifying this dolls' house!

Friday, March 27, 2009

Also seen on ebay - Mikro House and Cubes

After reading Mini Modern's request for input into affordable modern dolls' houses, I was thinking about modern Australian architecture - not MacMansions, but Glenn Murcutt, for instance. I started looking around Australian ebay for architects' models. I didn't find any (this time), but I came across the Mikro House:

- not a dolls' house, or an architect's model, but a model constructed from one pre-cut sheet of stainless steel "only 150 micron thick". The central walls are 8cm square. Wow!

Mikro Mart also produce Living Cubes, 7cm high - Work, Eat, Bath and Garden. I particularly like the garden -

What a lovely place to sit and be refreshed!

Seen on ebay: 1960s Ideal dolls' house & ?70s Vero

I'm hoping to have time over the weekend to clean and photograph another dolls' house or two. I've been spending a bit of time this week looking for furnishings for my Kaleidoscope house, getting inspiration from other bloggers' sites, and looking at modern dolls' house furniture makers' websites as well as ebay. I'm particularly looking for kitchen, bathroom and living room furniture - the latter because I doubt I'll find (and win) a Kaleidoscope lounge suite, and the others because I'd like a bit more detail than the originals have.
I came across these dolls' houses on ebay:

This was on German ebay, and it's a Vero Erika house.

I've seen pictures of other Vero houses from the 60s (bottom of page) and 70s on a virtual museum of German dolls' houses, and on The Shopping Sherpa's blog, and I actually have a Vero bungalow, which I must set up (first, I have get more shelves put up, so I have somewhere to put all these houses!).
This one I hadn't seen before. It's furnished with a mishmash of styles, but what caught my eye was the simple design, and the very groovy floor patterns:

Top right:

Top left:

Bottom right:

Bottom left (unfortunately you can't see much of the floor):

and the balcony:

I would love to furnish this house! but the seller was not posting it out of Germany.

Another one, with very similar design, was also listed on German ebay:
Not such groovy floors, but a great staircase.

UPDATE: Karin Wester has very kindly identified this house as one made in the Netherlands by OKWA. Diepuppenstubensammlerin has one too.

On US ebay, I saw this house, a folding cardboard house which the seller stated was made by Ideal in 1963 (I'm not sure which Ideal, and now I wish I'd asked for a photo of the maker's name):

I would have bid for it (cardboard is surely lighter than wood or metal, for shipping), but the dimensions exceeded those accepted by the USPS.

This is the living room (with extra patio furniture):

and a bedroom with team pennants on the wall:

The kitchen:
It looks like a few pieces are missing, but still, it's a nice mix of early 1960s pastels, with some orange creeping in to the living room. And so easy to store!

Monday, March 16, 2009

Casa Mañana plans sold on ebay

One of the dolls' houses in the 1999/2000 exhibition and book Dolls' Houses in Australia 1870-1950, called Casa Mañana by its current owner, was constructed in the 'ocean liner' style popular in the 1930s and '40s.

Some plans for a very similar house just popped up on ebay, and I wouldn't be surprised if Casa Mañana was built following these plans:

The auction contained an excerpt from the text:

"Just think of the pleasure the youngsters will get from this modern doll house! Up-to-the-minute styling makes it easy to build, for simplicity is always a feature of modern design."

Given dimensions: 29 x 18 x 20.

The plans were published in 1937, when the ocean liner style was at its height. Casa Mañana was thought to be made c 1950 - perhaps it's a little older, if it was made following these plans.

Marx Imagination house on ebay

While I do have several tin litho dolls houses, I've never really warmed to those produced by the American company Marx. Not sure why. But it seems that they also produced a plastic dolls' house in 1965 called the Imagination dollhouse. I don't have many reference books on 20th century dolls houses, so I've just discovered this house on US ebay, where there is one listed at the moment:
I love the rich combination of colours, and the shapes in the window panels:

The house itself is made of transparent coloured plastic panels which can be assembled in different configurations - a bit like the Bozart Kaleidoscope house, with more scope for changing the layout of the rooms and shape of the house.
The ebay auction is listed with shipping to the UK, so perhaps they'd ship to Australia - but I suspect the final price will be very high, even without the cost of shipping it.

Update: The house sold for only US $204.49, which does not seem much considering it was fully furnished and came with original instructions.
I've just come across another Marx Imagination house, owned by Kathy, while browsing through minimodern's blog archive. Kathy has furnished hers spectacularly with wonderful retro furniture and accessories by a whole lot of different brands, rather than using the moulded plastic Marx Imagination furniture. I love it!

Friday, March 13, 2009

Homemade Australian - Californian Bungalow style house, late 1920s

Here is another of my homemade Australian dolls houses. Like the Federation bungalow, this one also comes from Sydney, probably from the Centennial Park area. I loved the front of the house when I saw it on ebay:

I love the pylon-shaped window frames and door frame - wider at the bottom, narrower at the top. This shaping of exterior (and interior) timbers is typical of the very common architectural style known in Australia as 'Californian Bungalow', which was imported from California in 1916. Other features of this style are diamond-paned leadlight casement windows, and porthole windows in the front door (in real houses, usually filled with a stained glass design of an Australian native bird or animal).

This house is definitely not a bungalow, and it doesn't show as many features of this style as the Californian-bungalow style house in Dolls' Houses in Australia 1870-1950. But I think that the maker of this house definitely had this style in mind - and the white picket fence is so typical of Australian towns and suburbs.

The exterior has been repainted - perhaps fairly recently. The original colouring can be seen in places - creamy yellow on the walls, with grey trim (very similar to the Federation bungalow in reverse).

The interior is much plainer. When I bought it, it had wall and floor coverings dating to the 1950s:

The wallpaper in particular was falling off the walls. I have removed it, although I've left most of the flooring under the new floor papers. I discovered remnants of the original decoration. All rooms had heavily embossed cream wallpaper; the largest fragment is above the light switches:

Upstairs there was a flocked crimson floor covering:

and an olivey grey green patterned material downstairs:

Cream, deep pink and olive were fashionable colours for decorating Californian bungalows in the 1920s.

I couldn't hope to find enough vintage embossed wallpaper; I have one beautiful sample sheet, but you can't scan or photocopy embossing! Instead, I have used vintage sample papers of wallpaper - French this time, some of it thick and washable. So the house is much more decorative than it would originally have been.

Here is the living room.
It's 1929, and the man of the house is a well-to-do business man. He and his wife have recently been on a trip through Great Britain and the Continent, and have brought back souvenir books - of Inverness, Burns Country, the Krkonose Mountains, and Stuttgart. They are now entertaining two visitors from the Continent (I'm not sure exactly where), and the maid has served tea and coffee.

The furniture here is German, apart from the beautiful fireplace, which I think is English.

Upstairs is the nursery, where a governess and a nurse are supervising a tea party of four small children, as well as a toddler in a playpen and a baby in a cot:

The playpen and stroller are German, the sideboard is homemade Australian (and I think the table and chairs are too). The rest of the furniture at the back of the room, which you can see a bit better in this photo, is American - Wisconsin Toy Company nursery furniture from the 1930s.

I have bought vintage fabric to make curtains for each room. I'm keeping the curtains which came with the house, but not using them; they are transparent white nylon, and I think they date from the 1950s decoration of the house.
There is a light in each room; whether this was original (1920s) or installed later, I don't know. The wiring runs to the roof, where there was no doubt a battery - I haven't tried to get the lighting going again (yet).

In the main bedroom, there are two single beds - at the back, one in English oak (which comes with a dresser and wardrobe)

and at the front, a Wisconsin Toy Company 1930s "Moderne Bed Room Set". I bought this through a live auction on US ebay - it was not cheap! But the tapering lines of the furniture reflect the lines of the window and door frames on the front of the house.

In this room, the eldest daughter of the house and a friend are looking at the lengths of material they have just bought, and considering which of the designs in the Weldon Ladies Journal they will have them made up into:

Downstairs is the kitchen, where you can see the light switches and also the dagger-shaped curtain rod finials, which I think are most likely original (they are in all the rooms):

Cook's nephew has dropped in. He is unemployed, and tramping around with his cockatoo looking for work. Cook has fried up some bacon, eggs and tomatoes to give him a good feed before sending him off again, and is joining him for a cup of tea before she gets back to work. She is lucky to have a Triang kitchen range, though I hope she won't mind a modern new gas stove if I ever have a Triang house that needs a stove. (There's no frying pan, so she must have taken it out to the scullery, which, with the bathroom, is perhaps in a lean-to on the back of the house - though that is not typical of Californian bungalows).

Cook has a very large cookbook which she inherited from her mother. It contains recipes for sandwiches, salads, chafing dishes and cocktails!
The table and chairs here came with the sideboard now in the nursery - they are all homemade Australian. The cupboard on the right is now a cleaning cupboard (or will be when I get some brooms and dusters and so on). It has had a past life as a shaving cupboard and a pen and ink holder; I like its design.

As I've said, and as the calendars in the kitchen and living room show, I've set this house in 1929. I'm not sure of the actual date of construction, but there are some clues. Californian bungalows proliferated in the 1920s, and one part of this house has a trade name marked on it:

This is the underside of the roof, which can be lifted off. Presdwood is a trade name of masonite hardboard. It seems that it was invented in 1924, and was mass produced starting from 1929 - in America. I suspect that it would have been used to make the roof of a dolls' house in Australia a bit later than this, so perhaps the house really dates from the 1930s.

Jenny's Home - pictures

After posting the photos of my Jenny's Home room with a bare wall, I started thinking about what I could put on it. I have found and scanned some pictures from 1960s books. Two are from The Wonderful World of Ballet, which I had and loved as a child, and show a Swan Lake costume design for Margot Fonteyn, and a scene from The Pied Piper. I also have Margot Fonteyn in The Firebird, from Noel Streatfeild's Ballet Annual (1959), and part of an illustration from Charley, Charlotte and the Golden Canary, by Charles Keeping, one of my favourite illustrators.
So now the room looks a bit brighter!

Monday, March 9, 2009

Jenny's Home

Or, in my case, Jenny's room, as I only have one so far -

It was designed by Triang and Homes and Gardens magazine in 1965, and was sold room by room so it could be gradually built up - into a bungalow, split level house, tower, whatever combination took your fancy.
Mine came with the original curtains and purple carpet. I have furnished it with the Triang Spot-On furniture designed with it - apart from one piece, the Bodo Hennig lamp.

In the mid-1970s, when we moved to a new town, we rented a house for a short time which had bright purple carpets and red curtains (and lime green and yellow wallpaper in the kitchen, just the thing for early morning breakfasts ....). This Bodo Hennig lamp gave me the idea of putting bright red Spot-On chairs on the purple carpet.
(I took this photo mainly to show the side door - moulded plastic, isn't it great?)

The ceiling is formed of two clear plastic panels which lift off, allowing access from the top (and perhaps they're removed if you put another room on top? I don't know, as I don't have one ..)
So here's a view from above:

The dolls are Erna Meyer (my favourite, in case you hadn't worked that out!). They have plenty of reading material - magazines, newspapers, and a bookcase full of books. They also have a radiogram with several records, and the Radio Times to help them decide what programs to listen to.
It looks like there was a picture stuck on the wall at one time - I haven't yet found pictures for this house, so it looks a bit bare.

The front of the room is a clear plastic sliding door. Just inside the two little kids are playing with a cat.

The outer wall on the left is of lovely beige irregularly shaped bricks. The window swings open from a central axis - must take a photo of it open.

I'd love to have another room or two - before I got this room, I lusted after the turquoise furniture, so it would be good to have a room to put some in. I don't know what other colour carpets were supplied - orange might be nice!
Jenny's Home was only produced for 5 years (1965-1970), and they can be pretty expensive now. The Spot-On furniture was produced from 1960-1970, for other Triang houses as well, so there is quite a lot around - of some pieces!