Saturday, August 24, 2013

Hansa, not Hanse

At the end of last year, when I was preparing Valérie Braun's article for Dolls Houses Past and Present about Hanse and Lisa dolls houses from Denmark, I thought I'd seen another Hanse house on Australian ebay. I did a bit of googling, and found that the house I'd been thinking of was actually made by an Australian company called Hansa! I was able to buy one earlier this year, and here it is:

It's a quite simple 4-roomed dolls house for children, made of solid pine wood except for the back, which is hardboard. It's 51 cm (20") high to the peak of the roof, 63 cm (24.75") at its widest point (the eaves), and 20 cm (about 8") deep.

The main thing of interest to me is the printed paper backing showing details of each room.
Here's the kitchen, complete with mis-spelled dog bowl (it says DOGY, in case you can't see it):

The living room, which shows more details through the windows:

The scenery is not particularly Australian (unlike in another dolls house I picked up on the same trip to Sydney), although barbed wire fences can be found in many country areas in Australia.

The children's bedroom looks out onto more fencing extending over hills, with some sheep scattered around. Inside, there is wallpaper with pandas, and toys including a clown, a ball and a teddy bear.

The main bedroom has a similar rural scene outside, and inside, just a chair and chest of drawers with a mirror.

Thankfully, the maker's name is printed at the bottom of the living room wall:

Otherwise, I probably wouldn't have known that this dolls house was made in Australia (although perhaps the power points give a clue). I certainly wouldn't have known the maker. The Hansa company is still operating. It currently makes stuffed animals, with a special range of endangered animals. Their website says that the company was started in Melbourne in the early 1970s by Hans J Axthelm (so Hans A, I suppose). They began making plush toys in 1989. I'm not sure when this dolls house was made - hopefully, when I am able to look through more issues of the Australian toy trade journal, I will find it. I think it probably dates from the 1980s. I did find a Hansa toy garage in a late 70s / early 80s toy catalogue in the National Library:

Geoff Emerton Toyworld catalogue, Kingston ACT, late 70s, early 80s?

It looks like my house was varnished at home, rather than in the factory, as there were lots of hairs from the paintbrush stuck in the varnish!

Perhaps they were sold as raw pine, to be finished at home. There's another one for sale on ebay right now which has been painted in bright colours.

My dolls house came with dolls house furniture that I think is more recent - it's all wood, painted white with pink seats, knobs, etc. I think I'll look through my stash for furnishings that match the printed ones, perhaps blue and yellow in the kitchen and kids' bedroom, purple and pink in the main bedroom and living room - I'll see what I can find. It came with dolls, too - Fisher Price Loving Family parents, older girl, and many babies! I'm not sure if they'll stay. So - more on this house later on, when I've furnished it. Before that, I'll probably show you the other Australian-made timber dolls house I got on the same trip, which also has printed paper backing showing features of the rooms.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Linda and more Linda

Last night, I sat down to write a blog post about the latest set of Linda furniture I have acquired - and discovered that I had not blogged about the earlier ones! I thought that I had, but I only showed two chairs in my Blue-Box rooms with the Dolly Darlings.

The first sets I got came in these boxes:

Cute, hey?

I'm glad to have these sets, as they have the brand name, Linda, as well as Made in Hong Kong, on the front, side and back of the box.

Also, the back of the box shows photos of the sets available:

So, the sets I got in these boxes are -

A dining room set in orange, brown and white:

A living room set in red and brown:

And a nursery set, which, strangely, comes with a TV:

I have other sets which I acquired without their boxes, and probably wouldn't know the maker of if I hadn't found the boxed sets.

The chairs that the Dolly Darlings are using come from a yellow and white living room set, which has a table with a cardboard surface imitating tiles:

Anna-Maria has a yellow and brown living room set, which I photographed when I visited her earlier this year:

I have another dining room set, in red and white - the dining table also has a cardboard surface, probably imitating formica:

And I have a single sideboard, which came without a table and chairs. It has a cardboard desktop on it:

I wonder what colour the table and chairs would have been, if it was part of a dining room set?

The only piece I have from the bathroom set is a bath, missing its tap. It's blue, as shown on the back of the box:

I don't have any pieces from the bedroom set, as far as I know - and until recently, I didn't have the kitchen either.

Then I found this:

The kitchen is in the same colour combination as can be seen on the first box, with yellow chairs, yellow and brown stripes on the doors under the sink, a pink towel, and a blue stove top. (I will try to remove the black marker pen from the plastic covering the set.)

The box is quite different.

The back shows an ordinary girl - and a boy (I think) - playing around a large dolls house, rather than the Holly Hobbie style figure on the other boxes.

This box doesn't show the brand name, it just says Made in Hong Kong, and has a letter E in a flag. However, the sides of the box depict the same 6 sets of furniture as on the marked Linda boxes, although they are drawn, not photographed, and they are rather different colours:

The living room set is purple and yellow, and the bathroom is purple and green, blue or white!

The bedroom looks more red than pink, and the dining room looks like my red and white set, but with a sideboard that is coloured all over.

Which box do you think is earlier? I'm not sure whether photographs of the sets available would have replaced drawings, or whether the Not Recommended for Children under 3 Years Old indicates more regulation of toys, and hence a later date. As for the design of the boxes, I don't know. Perhaps they weren't from different years, but rather produced for different markets? What do you think?

As for the design inspiration for much of the furniture, compare this ad for Modella roomboxes at the International Toy Fair in Nuremberg in 1968:

You can see photos of the room sets in diepuppenstubensammlerin's article about Modella roomboxes  and on her blog here.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Nābytek by Chemoplast of Brno, Czechoslovakia

Well, this one was much harder to guess, as probably most of you, like me, will never have heard of this maker!

I've just looked up Nābytek on Google Translate, and it means Furniture in Czech. So that doesn't seem to be the brand name!

At one end of the box is more information, including the price, and also the name Chemoplast in Brno. (The line above that means 'higher authorities'.)

The other end of the box also says Chemoplast Brno, and has a logo in which the letters cp appear. The downstroke of the p seems to be a glass tube from a science laboratory.

So Chemoplast is the maker. They do seem to have copied the designs of Jean of West Germany's dolls house furniture - I'll have to see if I have any Jean pieces to compare with these.

The three words under Nābytek 'furniture' are bedroom, living room and dining room. The one shown in red is the one in the box.

They each have a different price, as you can see.

The living room is the most expensive, probably because it includes the grand piano with its opening lid.  The bedroom was only one koruna (crown) more than the dining room.

As the boxes state that the furniture was made in Czechoslovakia, they must predate 1993, when the country split into the Czech Republic and Slovakia. Czech Wikipedia tells me that Chemoplast was established in Brno in 1952. Plastic toys were one of their main products. They went into liquidation after 1989 (although they started again a few years later, I think). I don't know when exactly these sets were made - perhaps in the 1970s, or perhaps the 1980s. I wonder if they had a licence from Jean, or just copied the pieces?

Friday, August 2, 2013

Who made it? #2

Here are some more of my boxed sets.

I have three - a dining room:

A bedroom:

And a music room or parlour:

They don't come with room settings, as the Fairylite and Spot-On sets did. I'll show the boxes in my next post - meanwhile, can you guess who made them?