Tuesday, January 19, 2010

My 1966 Scrap Album: Fashion Dolls etc

At my mother's house, in the bedroom I slept in when I was a teenager, I still have a cupboard with some of my things in it. Among them are several scrap books, and I realise I almost have enough scrap books to make a collection!

I have one my mother's mother made for me when I was very little - it has lots of pictures with texture, like embossed cards, cards with tinsel on them, or small pictures stuck on larger ones, so you can run your finger over them and feel them as well as see them.

I also have one I made myself when I was a bit older; one my father's mother's stepmother made (the 1905 Watson's Bay card which says The Pleasures of the Season attend thee was scanned from that); and as a family we have one of my mother's father's mother's scrap albums, with press cuttings (!!) and mementos of her time as a school student, a university student, and on the world tour where she met my great-grandfather.

The scrap book that the pictures I've scanned here come from, was made for me by my mother in 1966. We had been to England to visit her family, and shortly before we were due to leave, my mother fell down some steps in her sister's house (called Rosemary Cottage), holding my baby sister, and broke a toe.

So, my father flew back to Australia with my sister and me, while my mother travelled by ship, so her toe could heal in peace. During that voyage, Mum made this scrap book from an old Sydney telephone directory. (How did she come to have that, on a voyage back from England to Australia? And enough magazines to cut pictures out of? I don't know.)

The magazines she used were from 1964 and 1965. I don't collect fashion dolls myself - in fact, my sister and I only had one, for a short time, who stood in the middle of a record and twirled around. But I realised that there are quite a lot of photos of fashion dolls, and those of you who collect them might be interested to see them. Most likely the photos accompanied patterns for the clothes which the dolls are modelling.

I've also scanned a few other photos of kitchen utensils etc, to remind us of what was seen as desirable in those years!

Some of these I have seen in miniature (this goblet, for example) - but perhaps not as much stainless steel as a 1960s doll would like!

I have to admit too that I am not sure who all these dolls are. I think most are Barbie, but who are the others?

Thursday, January 14, 2010

50 Followers! Welcome and Thank You All :-)

I was recently tagged on flickr with a request to share 10 random facts about myself. To welcome all my new blog followers, and thank my long-term readers, I thought I'd share the photos and facts here too.

  1. I read a lot, and so does my whole family.
  2. I have long hair – past my waist. When I was little, I went to a school where hair had to be cut above the collar or tied back. For some reason, I didn’t want to have my hair tied back, so my hair was short until I left that school. It’s been long ever since!
  3. I love researching family history – my own, or other people’s.
  4. I have never learned to play the piano, although my mother bought a lovely walnut one and played it herself. I did learn the recorder, and played renaissance music informally with a group of friends.
  5. I have two cats. One is a tawny black and long-haired, and the other is short-haired and black and white.
  6. I’m a linguist, which means I studied linguistics. I have also learned several languages, and speak three Australian Aboriginal languages from Arnhem Land (one quite well, the others not so well).
  7. I have one sister.
  8. My grandparents lived in a house called Unicorn Cottage. In one bedroom, there was a basin in a cupboard. My mother told me she and her brother crawled through the walls under the basin to the attic. I wish I’d done that! I never went in the attic or the cellar.
  9. I am not very good at heights (see above).
  10. I live in a tropical climate, but I prefer temperate.
Thanks for following, commenting, and showing me all your wonderful collections and creations too :-)

Monday, January 11, 2010

Childhood Furniture

In the Cupboard House are all the pieces of dolls house furniture remaining from when my sister and I were children, plus some of my Mum's. Also, the two Erna Meyer dolls which we played with as children live there.

Here they are, the poor things, the two dolls which inspired my love for Erna Meyer dolls:

I believe that my father bought these for us when he made a short trip to France during our stay in England in 1966. As long as I can remember, the little girl has been missing her face (and her hair, though that's not so unusual for Erna Meyer dolls). We must have done something dreadful to her - we were quite small when we were given the dolls. It looks as if her face has been bitten off! We attempted to give her eyes and a mouth with texta, so she would look like a person again. I suspect that there would have been two little girls (and perhaps a father doll?), but when we were properly old enough to play with a dolls house, we just had this mother and daughter pair. They lived with a family of Dol-toi dolls, which we did not keep.

On the same trip to France in 1966 (I believe), my father bought us this set of wooden furniture:

As you can see, this also shows signs of our childhood play. The grandfather clock had a paper face which got torn - the glue on the outside is from a replacement clock face which we stuck on. All the books are made from small blocks of wood, different sizes and thicknesses, and painted in different colours. We wrote 'A Book of Songs' in texta on one of them!
I would love to know who made this furniture - I've never seen it in books or on websites or ebay. I think the wood is pine, and the pieces are joined with tiny nails.

Here is our kitchen furniture:

The pale blue pieces are Twigg, and the green dresser is Pit-a-Pat. I think most likely the Twigg pieces were also bought while we were in England in 1966 - or sent by our grandparents, though I don't remember receiving them as a gift. The green dresser was Mum's when she was a child in the 1930s. I'm sure we had the second door - maybe we still do, somewhere, but I haven't seen it for years!
On the table are three little cups which we made from from acorn caps and buttons. You can also see the stains of playdough food inside the dressers:

I love the boxes in the Pit-a-Pat dresser: tea, coffee, rice, raisins and sago! Sago pudding, anyone?
I know that I used to know what the extra piece of wood is, but I have not remembered for a very long time!

I think it is a cover or lid for something - a Twigg piece, perhpas? It's painted a very pale pink on top, and is bare wood underneath. If anyone recognises it, please let me know!

The dolls house which housed this furniture was quite simple. We sold it when my sister and I were about 10 and 12, I think. I remember it being white, two storey, and open at the front - so quite a plain structure, I think. As well as the furniture here, we had a Petite Princess fireplace and dining table. I don't remember the beds or bathroom at all!

The Pit-a-Pat kitchen dresser which was our Mum's was passed on to us to play with. In the cupboard house there is also a lounge suite which was Mum's, which my grandmother kept - it came to me with the three antique dolls houses which my grandmother gave us. (I doubt it would have survived us playing with it as children!)

This is matchbox furniture, made by my mother, her brother and their governess in the 1930s or early 1940s. The fabric is quite faded and fragile, but it suits the drawing room of the cupboard house very well.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

A Drive through the Mountains

Last week, instead of flying from Sydney to Bathurst with my mother, I hired a car and drove her. This meant we could stop in the Blue Mountains for afternoon tea (we went to the German bakery in Wentworth Falls) and go to a secondhand bookshop.

I was delighted to find a copy of Flora Gill Jacobs A History of Dolls' Houses (1965 edition), as well as a book I hadn't heard of called Magic Land of Toys. This amazing book "invites kids and grown-ups on a fantastic voyage through a century of childhood, courtesy of the toy collection of the Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Paris."

It is no conventional history of toys, though - instead, it shows double-page photographs of scenes set up using 700 of the toys from the museum, in purpose-built sets, as if a child had been playing with them.

Among the toys are, of course, dolls houses and miniature shops, schools and kitchens. Some I recognised immediately, but, although the photos are not captioned, the toys shown in each scene are helpfully identifed at the end of the book, with thumbnail photos and information on date and maker, if known. (The manufacturers of the school above and the perfume shop and kitchen below are not known, though they are said to be made in France.)

The book also has text by Alberto Manguel, reflecting on the role of various toys, and parallels between toys and other cultural icons (Barbie and Diana of Ephesus?). So far I haven't read much of it, but I find the combinations of toys in the photos, the roles played by the dolls and animals of various scales, and the moods created in the scenes, quite engrossing.

(Here a Citroen multi-storey garage stands next to a kitchen by C.R. (Societé Rossignol et Roitelet), France, ca 1960.)

(The double page photos are too big to scan, so I've had to photograph them - I apologise for the poor quality.)