Saturday, April 25, 2009

Australian metal dolls house furniture

I first saw this furniture at the Dolls' Houses in Australia 1870-1950 exhibition in 2000 (also in the book of the same name): Canberra collector Wendy Benson's 1940s house has green bedroom and living room sets, and a blue kitchen set.
There wasn't a great deal of dolls' house furniture made in Australia - a lot was imported from Japan, the US and the UK. There weren't many dolls' house manufacturers either - I have several homemade Australian houses, and some homemade furniture. But I like having some manufactured Australian pieces of furniture in my collection as well.
The first of this metal furniture I acquired was a set of kitchen furniture which came up on Australian ebay not long after the exhibition. That set (fridge, table and chairs, and kitchen dresser) is now in the kitchen of my Triang 52:


It's cream in colour, with remnants of red paint on the handles of the fridge and dresser.

The next pieces I saw, and bought, on ebay were an armchair and stool, painted light blue:


And just recently I've acquired some dark blue furniture - the same kitchen pieces,



(the cream chair borrowed from the Triang kitchen for the photo);

and also four pieces for the bedroom:


They also have (or had) red handles, as you can see here:


The "mirror" on the dressing table seems to have grey paint over the blue, though it's not very distinct:


They are small scale - the dining chairs are 2" high, the double bed 3 1/2" long by about 2 1/2" wide, and the tallest piece, the kitchen dresser, stands 3 3/4" high. The taller wardrobe is just a smidgin shorter. So they're probably 1/2" scale (1/24th), or could be smallish 3/4" (1/16th) scale - they were definitely made in the days before king and queen size beds, when furniture was more modest in scale.
I wish I had a house to display the blue pieces in, but I have nothing of the right period and scale (at the moment!). According to Dolls' Houses in Australia 1870 - 1950, they are thought to have been from aluminium alloy scraps at a factory in Arncliffe (a suburb of Sydney), in the 1940s.

They are hollow, and some have numbers or letters impressed into the back. Do these identify the pieces?
Here are backs of the pieces I have (though I have to admit I did not want to dismantle the display on the cream-coloured kitchen dresser just to see if it had a mark!).

There is a number 1 on the back of the cream chair, but not on the blue chair:


The numbers 2 and (I think) 4 are on the large wardrobe and dressing table, respectively:


Was there something marked 3? I don't have one.

The small wardrobe and the bed are marked 5 and 7, respectively; again, no number 6 that I know of:

The light blue armchair has the number 11:


The two fridges, however, have letters - B on the cream fridge, and I think it's a D on the blue fridge:


As far as I can tell, the tables and the blue kitchen dresser have no markings at all:


I'm waiting for a dark green metal sofa I just bought on Australian ebay to arrive - I'm hoping it's by the same manufacturer, but I won't know for sure until I see it!

I would love to hear from anyone who has any of this furniture. Were there other pieces, I wonder, such as a bathroom? Do the numbers indicate the range of furniture, or perhaps the worker who made them?

1 comment:

  1. What fabulous finds! These are wonderful. I particularly like the bedroom furniture. :-)

    ReplyDelete