Saturday, September 19, 2009

The Battlement House has arrived - now, where do I put it?

Today my newest dolls house arrived. It is huge - 3 feet wide and 3 1/2 feet tall! Each room is 17 1/2 inches wide, 17 1/2 inches tall, and 15 1/2 inches deep. So really this is 1/6th scale. I thought about where to put it before I bid on it, but now I am not sure.
It's an interesting mixture of styles, from the battlement on the roof, to the very ornate fireplaces in the two rooms on the right. This is the upper room, perhaps a living room or bedroom?

This is the lower right room, where the fireplace decoration includes sphynxes, mermaids and cupids, along with weeping women. Possibly either a dining room or living room?

I have never seen anything like these fireplaces, particularly this one - if anyone recognises them, or knows more about them, I would love to know! They are really the reason I bought this house.

The other two rooms, on the left, are very plain - the upper room has only a lampshade:

while the kitchen has a shelf running along the back wall:

I am not sure when this house was made. I suspect that the electric lights and wiring were added at some point - it is early, but the wiring seems clumsy. The style of the house and fireplaces suggests to me the very early 20th century, or possibly late 19th century (ca 1890-1915?). I did some research in digitised Australian newspapers, and found a story, printed in the Melbourne paper The Argus in 1924, about a man who in 1914:
"made a 2-story doll's house, 5ft. 4in. in height, lit by electricity, with "all modern conveniences," and set in a miniature landscape garden."
10 years later the original owner presented this dolls house to the children's ward of a hospital, hence the story in the paper.

So it is possible that my crenellated dolls house was made around this time, complete with electricity. I will try to discover when the light switches were made, which may also provide some clues.

It seems that large scale dolls houses were quite common at this period. Here is a photograph of another large dolls house, where the inhabitants can be seen sitting on the verandah:

They are a baby doll, a kewpie, and two teddy bears. Houses such as these clearly provided a home for the dolls (and bears) which little girls played with. I think my Leadlight House is probably also in this scale; like the house in this photograph, the woodwork is fairly rough, but it has very decorative features to delight a little girl.

I don't yet know who will live in my house, or how I will furnish and decorate it. I don't have a lot of furniture in this scale, so I'll see what looks good, and think about who might live in a house with battlements, sphynxes, mermaids and cupids!


  1. The girl with the hair ribbon is so sweet. The fireplaces in this house are very interesting. How nice to have a fireplace in a bedroom, I would love it. I have to make a scene with it.
    I'm looking forward to seeing which inhabitants will move in there and what furniture they have.
    regards from germany

  2. It sort of reminds me of a gatehouse to a country estate - you know the kind that has two identical houses on either side of the grand entrance with a long drive. Especially with those fireplaces and tall narrow rooms and the battlements.

  3. dear rebecca!!

    congrats!!! your new doll´s house looks like a real doll´s house adventure with sphynxes, mermaids and cupids!!! so cute! unfortunately i couldn´t tell you anything about these special fireplaces... i´ve never seen anything like that in a doll´s house. i´m sure you will make a little fairytail-house of it :) can´t wait to see it!!


  4. hi rebecca, i just saw a wonderful house on german ebay. have you seen it allready? it's worth to have a look on:

  5. Hi Oese, thank you for the link - it's a lovely house! Will you bid on it? I have been looking only a little at the furniture and kitchen pages of German ebay, because, after buying this battlement house, I cannot afford shipping for a house from Germany for a while! Really I have to restrain myself and not buy furniture either, but sometimes it's very cheap, and if very small, then the postage is cheap too.
    Oh, I will email you about the furniture. I am not sure what I have to exchange with you, though - but I'll email you about it.

  6. Thank you, DollMum and püppilottchen for your ideas. Yes, maybe a gatehouse of a castle. And maybe a castle in a fairytale, we'll see! I am trying out the bits of large furniture that I have, to see what looks good, and get more ideas. Lots of fun!

  7. Congratulations with getting this beautiful house! I have, after seeing these wonderful fireplaces, been busy searching the web, but haven't come closer to any description of the style than eclecticism (a form of historism) :-) So not much help from me I'm afraid!

    I imagine it will be a challenge to furnish these rooms, since they are rather small in 1:6th scale yet with such a good ceiling height that makes it difficult to use smaller scales. And I must confess I haven't seen much 1:6th scale furniture out there that isn't Barbie plastic either, so I'm really curious what you will manage. Perhaps you shouldn't furnish it all at once, but take your time and slowly collect nice items for it :-)

  8. wow! what a lovely size! looks just like a part of a castle :)
    I would love to see how you furnish and decorate it!

  9. ooh! I forgot to say that elfminiatures do some furniture in 1:6 scale...
    here's a link to their site


  10. Fab house! I have nominated you for a blog award, do call by & collect it when you get a minute. Lizzie

  11. wow! those fireplaces are awesome. and the pic of the little girl with the big dolls' house (book title?) is gorgeous!

  12. Thank you, Pubdoll and Natalie! Well, it seems likely that this house is much older, as a Dolls Houses Past and Present member recognised one from a dolls house dated ca 1820, and I have since found one similar to the other in a dolls house dated 1843. It's very exciting, as I never thought I'd have such an early house, and exciting too that the seller and I didn't realise at first how old it was (probably).
    So, even more of a challenge in deciding how to furnish it! At the moment, I definitely can't afford to buy genuine ca 1840 furniture - there's not a lot around, not surprisingly, and it fetches very high prices. I'm thinking I will go with the idea of either a fairytale castle, or set it ca 1918, or a combination. I found some lovely Arts & Crafts wallpapers which I think might look good. And I think I'm largely going to use any large-scale furniture I have that looks OK in it - a few 1:6 pieces, some 1:10 or large-scale 1:12. As Pubdoll said, the ceilings are high, but the floorspace is not great. And in dolls houses of the period in which it was made, the rooms did have very high ceilings, and the furniture was comparatively small. I will definitely take my time in buying any more pieces for it, as I work out what era and world it will be in!

  13. Thank you, Lizzie! I am very honoured. I'll collect it and pass it on very soon!

  14. It is a lovely photo, isn't it? I love the contrast between the rough woodwork and corrugated iron roof, and the fanciful decoration around the door. Step into a world of imagination.
    And don't you think the little girl looks like our grandmother, with her big bow? I wonder if she had a dolls house when she was little?
    A dolls house person who posts on Flickr found a book called Big Susan, about a (little) girl who had a small dolls house. The Little Girl with the Big Dolls' House sounds like another book I'd like to read!

  15. How exciting to find that the house possibly is that old! But I must admit I'm also quite pleased with myself :-)
    "The term eclecticism is used to describe the combination in a single work of elements from different historical styles, chiefly in architecture and, by implication, in the fine and decorative arts. The term is sometimes also loosely applied to the general stylistic variety of 19th century architecture after Neo-classicism (c. 1820), although the revivals of styles in that period have, since the 1970s, generally been referred to as aspects of historicism"


    I think Arts&Crafts wallpapers will go beautiful with the house, even though they are in a "wrong" style. My favourite Arts&Crafts artist is William Morris and I have collected postcards with his wallpapers.

  16. Hi Rebecca, a friend of mine has just started a blog which I think you will love!

  17. Yes, Helene, you certainly have reason to be proud of yourself! While I know the word 'eclectic'- and think it's a good description of my collection overall - I had not come across this specific use of eclecticism in relation to architecture and decorative arts. So thank you and congratulations!
    This house is also, as you commented on flickr, fabulous - in both senses of that word!