Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Getting your ducks lined up in a row

Pan recently did a delightful post about a Barrett's Novelty box she acquired, with a porthole mirror. She also has other items in this set, and wondered if anyone had other items. Her earlier post about her Barretts Pop-Up Electric Toaster inspired me to photograph my boxed sets of Barretts Novelties when I visited my mother in July, so here they finally are!

Mine came via America, where they were sold at Shackman's in New York:

Inside are the original Barretts boxes:

The boxes are illustrated and labelled on all sides:

Don't you love the logo? A beefeater standing at arms inside the B! The company which made them is A. Barrett & Sons - here they use the rather grand name of The Barretts of Sonderburg Street (their premises until 1970).

A. Barrett had been making metal dolls house accessories since 1920, in partnership with F.G. Taylor, as Taylor & Barrett. After World War II, both men set up independent companies with their sons, and A. Barrett & Sons produced dolls house pieces from the early 1950s until 1983, with metal pieces gradually replaced by plastic. If you want to know more about Barrett and/or Taylor, Marion Osborne's book Bartons "Model Homes" has a history of the firms, and lists and photos of the items they produced. The Novelty Box series was sold from about 1959 to 1970, but a lot of the items were available previously (in metal) and later (in plastic).

The contents of these three boxes are in my late Victorian Cupboard House, so it's puzzle find the Barretts:

(There's another Barretts' Novelty set in this photo - can you pick it?
Hint: see the list on the box below! I don't have the box for this one.)

(No, this toast was not made in the pop-up toaster!
Someone must have eaten those slices, and made some more on the range.)

Recently I bought another boxed Barretts' Novelty Set. This box doesn't have a label or a picture showing what it is:

Can you tell?

Yes, it's the ducks!

Here they are in the living room of the Italian Villa style house.

Marion Osborne says that Nos 9 and 10 were added to the list on the box when Barretts re-ordered the boxes for the novelty series, and had to take into consideration future lines. The scales apparently never got past the prototype stage; she believes the Sunbeam Mixer was part of the Kitchen Accessories set, but didn't know what else was. Does anyone have a kitchen set?

I've just won another lot of boxed Barretts Novelty sets, so I'll show them when they arrive. Until then, here's a cat whose kittens have grown up and left home:


  1. I just love these accessories! They are so evocative of my childhood. The advertising on the boxes is so springy and almost naive compared to what followed. Charming. C

  2. Thank you, CM! Springy is a great word for it. Just one colour per box, but very appealing design.

  3. Such wonderful accessories! I had never heard of these novelty boxes before! (I'm sure I must have missed a lot of interesting posts!) They look very cheerful! (But springy is a better word :-))
    I think I have admired the ducks in your Italian Villa style house before, they are lovely!
    And the pop-up toaster reminds of a pop-up toaster I have, which I think is by Barton. I bought it with my own money among with a lot of other dolls house accessories on a summer holiday in London when I was ten. Luckily I still have at least one slice of toast!

  4. Hi Rebecca. I nearly missed this post! Afraid work has kept me away from Blogland but I am so glad I got to read it. Great post and what a lovely collection you have and, of course, you actually have a set of those ducks in flight!

    The little boxes are great. What a shame they never produced the spring scales.

    Pan x

  5. Hi Pubdoll, how wonderful that you have a Barton toaster from when you were a child! It's the same toaster - Barton made their furniture themselves, but the diecast metal & plastic items, and other metal items like the tea trolley and shopping trolley, were made by other people - Barretts for the diecast, Mr Rickard for the wire goods, etc. Mostly the toaster would have been packaged by Barton, but for a while Barretts put out this novelty set.

  6. Hi Pan, glad you enjoyed the post - the photos are much more ordinary than yours, though! Yes, as Blogland gets bigger, it's easy to miss a post or two, and not so easy to leave a comment on each blog as when I started blogging and following other blogs. Thanks for visiting - let's keep a look out for other boxes in the set!

  7. One can certainly say that "Barretts makes a dollhouse a home!" And how lucky you are to have won the ducks in flight!