Friday, September 21, 2012

A new dolls house

I don't know if you'll remember the scans I showed last year, from the very grandly named The Australian, New Zealand & Southern Equatorial Sportsgoods & Toy & Canvasgoods Retailer? The April 1953 issue has a full-page advertisement for a shop called "Elegant" Novelties, in Flinders Lane, Melbourne:

On the top shelf, at the back, are two dolls houses:

You can imagine my excitement when I saw the larger house on ebay earlier this year! Thanks to some friends of my sister's, who collected the house from the seller, I was able to get it freighted up to Darwin, and I picked it up on Monday!

I can't tell from the ad what colours the exterior was painted, but it has definitely been repainted. I can see tiny bits of red under the black paint on the window frames, and there is some green showing through the black paint on the central diamond shape. I don't think I'll try removing the black paint - I never get finished with exterior restorations, and I quite like the black as it is!

It's a book-style dolls house - it's hinged at the back, and both sides swing open, showing five rooms inside.  When I got it, it has bright red sticky-backed plastic (contact / fablon) on all the floors. That came off very easily, but has left a sticky residue. I just checked on Dolls Houses Past and Present, and someone had success using white spirit (methylated spirits?), so I might give that a go. I don't want to use eucalyptus oil, which is excellent for removing adhesive residue, because I think it might damage the flooring.

 I think I'll use this room as the bedroom.

Each room has different flooring. I'm not sure exactly what it is - an earlier version of contact/fablon? oilcloth? Lovely period designs, anyway! The walls are quite simply decorated - painted in a base colour, and then spattered with red paint - very simple and effective!

 This will probably be the living room.

This is the only room which had been repapered. Luckily it wasn't stuck down very hard - the main glue residue is on the front edges. The curtains are not original in any rooms - in this room, they were stapled in over the recent wallpaper.

This flooring looks good for the kitchen to me!

Two smaller rooms - the tiled floor suggests a bathroom, 
and perhaps the other room was intended as a laundry?

This photo finally shows the fireplaces! They are cut in each large room, at the inside front edge. Behind the walls at this point are planks of wood to which the hinges are attached - I'll take a photo of the back of the house so you can see that, and another of the fireplaces.
In this photo you can also see some recently applied wallpaper borders. I will remove this - the paper itself will come off easily, but there will be glue residue, so I haven't ripped it off straight away, having just spent some time removing the residue left by the glue under the wallpaper in the top right room.

I'm delighted to have this house, which is unique among my Australian houses in that I know exactly when and where it came from! I don't know who made it, but without the ad for Elegant Novelties, I might well have thought this was another homemade house, and wouldn't have been so sure of its age. (Of course, they were probably made in other years as well as 1953 - maybe sometime I'll be able to go through more issues of the Australian (etc) Toy (etc) Retailer, and see if it appears again.

The furniture that came with it was mostly quite recent tab and slot stuff, which I won't be keeping. I'm looking forward to going through my stash of furnishings and seeing what suits it. First, though, I have to work out where on earth - or rather, in my small townhouse - I am going to put it? I have too many dolls houses - or my house is too small, whichever way you want to look at it!