Monday, June 29, 2009

Erna Meyer School ca 1950s

My favourite dolls' house dolls are by Erna Meyer. As well as individual dolls, and dolls packaged in couples or families, I have some boxed school sets. I found a homemade roombox on German ebay that makes a perfect school.

The outside is covered with brick paper:

and inside, the lower half of the walls of each room is brown wood, and the upper half is painted in the very institutional colours of cream and green.

In one room is the infants' class, taught by Mrs Thomas. They are having Morning News, followed by Storytime on the mat (today's book is Hansel and Gretel). Their maths workbooks are laid out on their desks.

Miss Johnson teaches the primary class. They will have an English lesson first, followed by maths, history and French. They also learn geography, music, art and P.E.
(The grubby little girl on the right of this photo came with the roombox.)

A portrait of the Queen hangs on the front wall; in the 1950s and '60s most Australian schools displayed her portrait.
There are also a number of posters relating to their study of Australian explorers, Federation, and Australian exports, as well as music and gymnastics.
It's a bit awkward for the pupils to sit at their desks wearing their satchels, so I must find some pegs for them.

This roombox was most likely made in the early 1950s. It came with chunky homemade kitchen and bedroom furniture, and in the kitchen dresser, along with a duster and string shopping bag, there's a little pile of German pfennig dated 1949 and 1950!

The teachers' desks and chairs, the students' desks, and the blackboards, are all part of the Erna Meyer school sets. The lids of the boxes show what the sets look like:

And inside one box was a leaflet from the shop where it was bought, "Gina & Selma" of Lexington Avenue, New York:

Another page shows groups of Erna Meyer dolls: grandparents, parents, children and nurse:

There's no date on the leaflet, but the school dolls I have have kneecaps, which dates them to between 1950 and 1962, according to a US researcher who is publishing a book on dolls' house dolls.


  1. this school is so nice! it reminds me of the stories my mother and my aunt telled, when I was a child. they are such pupils in 1950. Now I try to show you a pic of my aunt at school in 1950!
    don't know, if it works ;-(

  2. Hallo Oese,
    Danke schön! Deine Tante war so süß als Schulerin - ich mag das karierte Kleid und den Kragen!

  3. And seven years later I was born. I remember such clothes too, but I have not only good memories. It was bad to make them dirty and we had clothes for school and clothes for sunday. that's why I hated sundays - I was dirty too often. Thank god my parents was very modern and as soon as there was nylon-shirts etc. available I wore it and other modern clothes of the sixties, but also shorts of leather, ha: funny!

  4. Leather shorts sound very groovy!
    In English we have a saying, "Cleanliness is next to Godliness", so dirty = sinful in that equation. But practically also, washing clothes was much harder work when it was done in a boiler and wringer, or even in a twin-tub washing machine, which I can remember when I was a child. So I suppose our mothers tried to make us keep clothes clean for as long as possible. And a white collar like your aunt is wearing is very pretty - but how long would it stay white?
    Even my dolls have got dirty! They are children, after all!

  5. oh yeah! the laundry-day was a big adventure for me.
    will you have a look at my leather-shorts too?

    And have a look at the chair - amazing!

  6. Oh, I like this! My daughter has wanted me to make a school for "our children" for some time now, but I haven't found the right furniture yet. But this was really inspiring! The furniture is very nice, and I see why you love the Erna Meyer dolls, they are so beautiful and lifelike, Miss Johnson in particular! I love all the posters and pictures on the wall too, but my favourit is perhaps the small "petit Larousse" book!
    And now I learnt that the May isn't a day off from work and school in Australia like it's in many other countries.

  7. dear rebecca

    first of all welcome as a reader of my toy-blog! i´m happy you like it! und du sprichst auch deutsch?? toll! but i keep on writing in english that´s good for me and my knowledge :)

    i LOOOOOVE your little german school! the erna meyer dolls, all the furniture and details are so gorgeous! and the old ads are terrific - i´m a bit jealous (just a bit :) )!! thanks for all the nice pictures!!! one thing more on my wish list: a school!

    i like the caco dools so much, but the e. meyer dolls have the same cute faces like steiner dolls and each of them is unique - that´s make the difference. i have just one e.meyer boy, who came with a bunch of furnitures i bought on ebay (because i thought they would be lundby-size...). this very deplorable little boy is soooo DIRTY and all his joints are broken. i undressed him, washed the clothes (as good as possible and now i have to fix his tiny little body... i hope one day he´ll get some siblings and parents, too. sooo many things on the list :)

    best wishes from germany, yours nicola

  8. Beautiful set. I also like these dolls & have a few in my collection.

  9. Thank you, Pubdoll! I was very happy to find the "petit Larousse" too!
    Actually, in the Northern Territory where I live, the first Monday in May is a public holiday, May Day with labour marches. But I grew up in NSW, where the Labour Day weekend is the first weekend in October! I wasn't thinking of that at all, I must admit, I just wanted a short month because full-size chalk is so thick!

  10. Thank you, Nicola! I am looking forward to reading more on your toy-blog.
    I have some very dirty Erna Meyer children too. I figure I will use them some day as dirty children! After all, as Oese said, children do get dirty! And I have some who have broken limbs etc. I also have hospital furniture, and I am looking out for another roombox which will make a good hospital. Then they can be patients! Good luck with repairing your little boy - maybe he was climbing a tree and fell down, poor thing!

  11. Thank you, Lizzie, I'd love to see yours!

  12. Oh my goodness Oese! Very practical and easy to play in - but you still had a little white collar to keep clean :-(
    Love the chair!

  13. PS Nicola - I didn't mention in the story, but the posters are miniature versions of educational posters which were actually used in schools then (I found them on the internet and miniaturised them. The posters in the infants' class are by Elizabeth Skilton.) And the pictures of Australian explorers, prime ministers etc, are vintage stamps, which I like using as they are the perfect size and have excellent quality miniature illustrations.

  14. ...maybe he was climbing a tree and fell down, poor thing!

    i reckon this poor little boy had an accident with a steamroller and after that someone heaped up a pot of hot chocolat over him :( . i thought about using him as a kind of ugly, poor beggar-child, but he was so incredibly ugly and dirty, no! i hope after the surgery he´ll be a bit better for being a beggar-boy :) if not, i´ll send him to darwin and he can be a patient at your hospital or play with the other dirty-ones! i can´t wait to see the hospital!!!

    thanks for the tipps about the posters and the great idea with the stamps!!


  15. I'd like to be in Miss Johnson's class - she looks nice, and the other children do too :-)

    maybe you could use some teeny little nails for the kids to hang their satchels on, until you find a proper miniature row of coat hooks?

    the school, your interior design and the dolls are all beautiful; I look forward to seeing it in person some day when I visit you.

  16. Hi Rebecca, I love the school room. I think this, like a cake/flower/toy or any shop is almost inevitable in ever hobbyist/miniaturists' journey i.e we all want to make one.

    If you wish, do come by and accept an award. I hope you like what I picked for you :)

  17. Thank you, Sans! And thank you for the award. Especially nice to receive an award that you have handpicked - it's a great image.
    Yes, I have Tim's secondhand shop, and a general shop I hope to post about soon when I have done some repairs - and hospital beds and patients who are waiting for a hospital! And I have seen some lovely churches too.

  18. Memo, a belated thank you!
    And bunny, thank you too, they would be very happy to have you visit. Nails is a good idea, I'll see what I can do. Probably they would be in the cloakroom really, though - is that what we called it?

  19. Hi Really enjoyed reading this and am grateful to see the catalogue. I also have an Erna Meyer school, which I have set out in a 1920s Lines Dolls House. Infants and the cloakroom downstairs, older children upstairs in a large and small classroom (what was a two room house originally has been divided into 4 rooms by a previous owner). It reminds me so much of the small school I went to in Buckinghamshire (England) in the 1950s which was in a house.
    Like your children, mine are sitting wearing their satchels which is obviously how they came. Deirdre

  20. Hi Deirdre, thanks for your comment. I'd love to see your school - having it in a house is a great idea. Your kids are lucky to have a cloakroom! Which model Lines house is it? I've been looking for a roombox to house a set of vintage dolls house hospital beds I have, and have started thinking I might put them in a house instead, as a little cottage hospital.
    cheers, Rebecca

  21. Hi My schools is in a Lines Bros DH D The Suburban House from 1921. I guess you are on ebay so send me your email address via that (my ebay name is mixedmarie) and I'll send you some pics of my school.
    Interestingly I all think of doing a cottage hospital too. I wrote the Princess Elizabeth House article in Wendy's online magaine and said in that I was thinking of turning one of my Princess houses into a cottage hospital. Have now abandoned that idea - it's a Steiff hedgehouse house now with Pit-A-Pat furniture (not complete yet), and am currently working on a DH 8 Cottage from 1921 which I may make a cottage hospital. So far I have some medical cigarette cards (pics for the walls) a trench art carved bone skeleton and a nurse! Deirdre

  22. I love this school and seem to recall we had similar dolls in the Triang when it was reassembled for us by my grandfather (see As children we used to play schools with our fisher price family camper children, all the dollshouse dolls, and a set of building blocks laid out in rows for desks, some of the cylindrical blocks even doubled up as additional 'children'!

  23. Hello DollMum, I'm so glad you were able to leave a comment! Thank you for trying again.
    Yes, one of the reasons I love Erna Meyer dolls is that my sister and I had some when we were very young (and still have them, we didn't keep the other dolls house dolls but did keep those). I like the early Fisher Price dolls too - I don't have a school (yet), but I do have a little house - sometime I'll post about it here. I don't remember playing schools with dolls, but I did with my playmates - I was the teacher!!!

  24. Oh we played schools with our friends as well, spent endless hours scrawling in exercise books during the holidays! but the 'block' doll school was a favourite, repeated game - the whole bedroom floor was taken up with school, dollshouse, fisher price camper van with boat on the roof, furniture etc, basically a miniature world with two little girls sitting amidst it all!