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.


  1. Hello from Spain: I like your house. The four rooms are fabulous. I like the paint on the walls. . Keep in touch

    1. Hola Marta, Thanks for visiting! I am inspired now to look for nicer furniture for this house.

  2. I love the printed walls in this house, Rebecca, they are so pretty and cheerful! Google translate reckons that dogy is Czech for dogs so that may be an alternative explanation for the dog bowl, maybe HJA had links?

    1. Hi Zoe, They are cheerful, aren't they? though that cat has clearly seen the bird, and wants to catch it! I hadn't thought that 'dogy' might be from another language. It seems a bit dodgy (no pun intended!) to me for Czech - I'll check with my father. My Google translate also comes up with Slovak. Hmmm - I might see if I can find out anything about Hans J Axthelm. It wouldn't surprise me if it was just a spelling mistake, though!

  3. I love this house Rebecca. What lovely illustrations, especially with the scenes outside the windows.

    1. Hi Sharee, I love the illustrations too, and I think the house could be lovely with furnishings that match. In some ways I like the next house with illustrations even better, though this one has a nice relaxed feel about it - curtains blowing, cushions look like they've been sat on, dressing gown over the back of the chair, fence leaning rather ... a happy home!

  4. I own this model of dollhouse and I am refurbishing it at the moment. It was given to me as a gift in the mid 1980s. I always enjoyed it, but am going to fully deck it out and shingle the roof and clad the exterior walls, add lighting, etc. When new, this model was definitely unvarnished (as mine still is). Actually, it's in mint condition, but I have no emotional attachment to it, so have decided to make it one of my before / after projects.