Sunday, December 25, 2011

Seasons Greetings!

Where did the last two months go?! I don't really know, apart from being very busy with work, and getting an issue of Dolls Houses Past and Present magazine out (I wrote an article about dolls houses and interior design / home planning, and a book review). Now it's Christmas, and I'm staying in Sydney with my sister. So I thought I'd do a quick post to wish everyone a very happy Christmas ~ happy Hanukkah ~ happy Winter Solstice ~ happy Summer Holidays ~ happy end of 2011!

These images are from catalogues which I have scanned and uploaded to flickr. This one is from the Comptoir General de la Bimbeloterie catalogue for Christmas 1952 -

And here is one from an Épis d'Or Catalogue - no date, but probably mid 1960s:

This one from the Swiss shop Grand Passage is dated 1966. It has a Magic Roundabout theme:

and some lovely miniatures:

This one, as you can see, is much earlier - it's an Australian catalogue from 1933:

It also has some lovely dolls houses inside, although not the one shown on the back cover!

I hope you all have a pleasant time with friends and family - and receive lots of lovely dolls house gifts! :-)

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Jackpot! Walther & Stevenson 1933

I buy vintage toy catalogues and store catalogues and so on in the hope that there will be dolls houses in them. Sometimes, as you know from previous posts, I'm rather disappointed. Not with this one, though!

This fragile catalogue is from 1933, from a Sydney toy store called Walther & Stevenson. I also have their 1956/57 catalogue - I'm not sure if I've shown that here yet. The back cover is promising:

And the contents don't disappoint at all!

Here on page 128 are pictures of 3 Australian-made dolls houses, of the 7 which were available:

(There are a couple of pages of Hobbies fretwork products in the catalogue, including plans for a dolls house (not pictured) and furniture, so I think that's probably what Dads could use to build their own dolls house.)

Here are some close-ups:

UPDATE: Isobel Hockey contacted me to let me know that the No 2 Doll's House here is aLines/Triang DH2 c1927 - she has one herself. So this house would have been imported from Britain. I wonder if dolls houses Nos 50, 52 and 53 were also either by Lines, or imported? The descriptions don't match what I know of Lines/Triang houses with those numbers, but then I didn't know about this No 2 house. Thanks, Isobel!

I haven't seen houses in any of these designs, but I'd love to find G 91 and G 94. The cottage in particular is such a quintessentially Australian design, I love it!

There are also pages of dolls house furniture, some of which seems to be made up and some in kits to make at home. These are the 'tab and slot' type of construction, I think, called by a trademark Loktyte ('lock tight').

Among the toy tea sets, I was delighted to see a tomato tea-set:

These three pieces of the tomato tea set came with a homemade dolls house from Sydney (which I haven't shown yet since I bought it, but did post about when it was first sold on ebay):

They are made in Japan - you can just see the words stamped into the side of the sugar bowl (at the bottom).

There are also Australian-made wooden model buildings for use with Britain's diecast lead model farm figures:

I think these are pretty rare - I've only seen some listed on ebay once (I did bid, but didn't win them). There are some in the Powerhouse Museum in Sydney, which also has a bit more information: they were first available in the Walther & Stevenson catalogue in 1931, and were still made during WWII. The designs must have varied slightly over the years, as the Powerhouse toy farm house doesn't quite match these.

Here are some close-ups:

I love the names - the proprietor of the general store is called Will Weywell:

and the pub is run by Ilava Notha:

There are more scans on flickr, where I will eventually put scans of the whole catalogue. I have, of course, started with the dolls houses and model buildings!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

A set of homemade model buildings

This is not the house I referred to in my last post, but I just realised that I had photos on my camera of a house I picked up in Sydney in July! The house is now here, of course, but I haven't furnished it yet, so it is still worth showing these photos.

I bought the house, and the other buildings with it, on Australian ebay. I was particularly attracted to the garage, with its sloping roof, round windows and tapered, rounded screen at the entrance:

I was staying with my sister in July, and we drove to the Ikea Sydney store, where she wanted to buy some things, and I headed off up the winding way to Newport in Sydney's northern beaches area.

The seller's husband had found these toys while doing a house clearance, and the seller offered me other things from the same clearance. There were lots of plastic soldiers and camouflaged buildings and vehicles, which I left, but I did pick out the cars which you can see in the photo above, and a few other things. Then I drove in to Newport shopping centre, to get some more cash for the extra things I was buying - and found a German bakery! Bliss!

The little house seems designed to fit the plastic farm figures:

There are also some farm buildings, stables, perhaps a barn, what could be kennels:

I'm not actually sure what the building below was designed to be. It has lots of small windows on two levels, but no floor dividing the levels inside. From a distance, it could maybe be a school building - but maybe it was meant as a farm building?

The tiny covered wagon (above) is made from a matchbox, with a paper hood and cardboard wheels. It may have been part of the army equipment, or perhaps it went with the plastic cowboys and Indian figures which were also part of the lot.

There is some great fencing:

and I also bought some walls, which would have been used with the toy soldiers I think. In this photo, they are holding down one of the plastic bags which held the plastic figures:

This bag is not very exciting, but the fact that it has the measurements of the tissue paper in inches indicates that it dates from the mid 1970s at the latest. (Australia converted to metric measurements in about 1974. I was in primary school, and I remember learning to convert! I'm still better at thinking of some things in inches and feet, though.)

The other bag which was used to store the farm animals is more interesting, and it is clearly dated.

One side shows Bennelong Point, with Government House, in 1873. The other shows Bennelong Point in 1973 - it's where the Sydney Opera House now stands, and, as the bag also informs us, this was a souvenir from the Sydney Opera House. 1973 was the year the Opera House was opened, by the Queen, so this bag is probably one of the first souvenirs.

Probably these plastic figures were stored away sometime in the late 1970s. The buildings certainly seem to date from the 1960s, so I guess the children they were made for grew up and grew out of them. The buildings are all clearly homemade, and the figures were bought: the petrol pumps for the garage were made in Hong Kong, and the farm animals and people were too.

Among the other items from the house clearance was one in a box (it may have been a harmonica, I can't remember for sure now), with a scrap of paper with the name Milina on it. I looked this name up in the current Sydney telephone directory, and there are several people with the surname Milina listed in the northern beaches area of Sydney. Perhaps these model buildings were made by a Milina of an earlier generation for his (or her) children to play with.

A Weekend's Reading

Yesterday, I picked up my mail. I have a bit of light reading for the weekend:

In the centre is a wonderful new book by Liza Antrim, showing her collection of family dolls houses from the 18th and 19th centuries. There's lots of information about the makers of the furnishings, much of it discovered by Liza herself. You can order the book from Cider House Press (apparently it's actually being published in February 2012, but some advance copies are available).

I also bought 58 issues of the International Dolls House News! They were listed on ebay recently - a great opportunity to add to my collection, though I haven't yet worked out where I'll keep them! There's lots of great information on vintage and newer miniatures in them, and I've been making an index so I can find relevant issues when I'm doing research for articles.

And yes, that is another issue of the Australian Sportsgoods and Toy Retailer, which seems to be just as full of news about fishing, golfing and social events as the first one I bought. This one does feature a dolls house in an advertisement - not an Australian-made dolls house, but one that I've recently acquired, so I'll show the ad and the house in my next post.

(I seem to have got out of the habit of writing blog posts earlier in the year - I had lots of ideas before I went away, and new dolls houses too, but somehow they haven't made it here yet. I hope I'll do more than one post this month, and get back into the habit of posting!)

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Gone Fishing .... or Golfing, or ...

No, not me! I have just been very busy with the Dolls Houses Past and Present magazine, working on articles myself (especially one on Pit-a-Pat dolls house furniture, which probably outgrew the definition of 'article'!), as well as loading other people's articles.

The ones who went golfing were 1950s reps and agents for manufacturers of sports goods, toys and canvas goods. This is the cover of the April 1953 issue of The Australian, New Zealand & Southern Equatorial Sportsgoods & Toy & Canvasgoods Retailer, which I was lucky enough to buy on ebay recently:

There are 8 photos of golfing events, as well as 8 of manufacturers and their agents drinking:

and a couple of them fishing:

as well as lots of snippets of news about fishing trips.

Well, this was 1950s Australia!

There are some ads for toys, as well as many for sports goods and some for tents, etc. I guess the market was much smaller than in Germany, which had the trade magazine Das Spielzeug (The Toy), or the UK, where both Games and Toys and The Toy Trader covered toy manufacturing and sales. After seeing all the wonderful ads from those magazines, copied by collectors and researchers in those countries, I was a bit disappointed to see the Australian magazine.

I did manage to find one dolls house (or two?) - hurray! but no information on the maker. See the dolls house(s) right on the top shelf:

And a closer look:

The shop pictured, Elegant Novelties, was in Melbourne, so we can probably assume that these dolls houses were made in Melbourne.

Notice how the ad mentions a "wonderful range of books", including Jane Eyre, Little Women, Treasure Island, Hollywood Album, Black Beauty and Enid Blyton books for all ages? You can see the books in this photo, on a shelf on the lower right:

Another shop also mentioned books in their ad - they advertised The Coronation Book, English Children's Books, and, again, Enid Blyton's Range of Books. Well, as I've said, it was 1950s Australia. Everyone was too busy playing sport to read.

I don't expect I'll find many more issues offered for sale. The State Libraries of Victoria and New South Wales do have fairly good runs, so I hope I'll be able to visit one day and go through them. I thought buying one might give me an idea of how easy it would be to find information in them - and it does: not easy at all! I'll need quite a bit of time to read all the snippets of news, as well as to scan the ads closely for any dolls house related items.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Bridal Fashions

My blogging friend CM, of MyRealitty and Leftcoastmini, is going to be the Mother of the Bride this month. She invited me to take some photos of my bridal pairs - you might remember Bridezilla from the second pair, who was determined to win the game of musical chairs at the fancy dress party last year!

Several of my Erna Meyer dolls are getting married:

18th century style

1950s or early 1960s


Thinking about bridal fashions made me think of the wedding photos I have of my parents, grandparents, and earlier ancestors.

The earliest wedding photo I have is one of my great-great-grandparents. They were both Scottish, although one was born in Jamaica and they lived in India; they married in Munich, in Bavaria (Germany), in 1859.

While this bride opted for the full white silk and lace deal, her daughter, my great-grandmother, had a rather different kind of wedding. My grandmother described it like this:

“My mother was married in her best green costume to her cousin Henry Dunlop one day in 1895, with no-one knowing. She went out for the day, came home as usual; a week later her mother found a note in an empty room saying - “I have gone to America with Henry; Gracie”

Not surprisingly, I don't have any photos of the best green costume!

My grandmother (this great-grandmother's daughter, and my mother's mother) also had a slightly unconventional wedding. Neither the bride's parents, nor the bridegroom's, were present; the bride was given away by her brother. I only discovered some photos of the wedding among a distant cousin's collection inherited from my grandmother's father - my grandmother didn't keep any.

Here they are in 1927, cutting the cake - I believe the dress was pale pink.

My mother had been a bridesmaid at several weddings:


ca 1945


But when she herself got married in 1961, she chose a nice gingham frock for her wedding dress. Like her mother, her brother was present but not her parents, but she refused to be given away, saying she was a person not a present.

That's Mum and Dad on the right, with my godparents on the left.

Here's a photo of my father's parents on their wedding day:

Casino, NSW, Australia, 1935

I've already shown you my maternal grandfather's parents' wedding, in Calcutta in 1903:

Another white lacy wedding dress! This is my Californian great-grandmother, who married an Englishman; her father refused to attend the wedding, so only her mother was present. (Both the groom's parents had already died.)

So, two of these brides went for the white silk, satin and lace - the others were dressed in green, blue, pink and (I think) brown & white. Some were solid colours, one flowery and one check ... Really, based on my family's traditions, I could photograph any of my nicely-dressed dolls as bridal couples!