Thursday, May 8, 2014

My buys at (and before) the Sydney Miniatures Fair 2014

I thought I'd take a photo of everything I acquired at the fair (and before) - and then realised as I was photographing them individually that I'd left out everything from one stand! So there's a little bit more than in this photo.

At last year's fair, I saw a magazine with an article about Dolly Mixture dolls houses. It wasn't by Marion Osborne, I'm pretty sure - it was by someone else who compared features of the various models known as "Dolly Mixtures" that they knew of. The magazine seemed a bit expensive - either $5 or $7, and my luggage was already overweight, so I didn't buy it. Stupidly, I didn't make a note of the magazine title or issue number, either! So this year I decided to look through the magazines offered at the fair, in the hope of finding it again. Of course, I didn't! I looked through magazines on at least 3 stalls, and bought quite a stack - including some I already have, as I didn't have my lists with me, and couldn't remember what I did and didn't have, but at least these were quite cheap - 1, 2 or 3 dollars, and only 50c for the small ones.

Before the fair, on the drive up to Bathurst, I stopped at Blackheath and did the rounds of the antiques gallery there. I didn't find lovely dolls house accessories like I did two years ago, but I did find some nice things, including a tapestry bag, with a brown background rather than the more usual black:

I intend to take this apart and use it for rugs, of course, which led my sister to comment on how upset I get when I see vintage and antique dolls houses changed! I pointed out that this is probably homemade, and has a couple of holes in it - but I wouldn't think much of those arguments applied to old dolls houses!! Double standards, I know ....

Also from Blackheath were two sets of miniature clogs, which will be furniture for a shoe house, and these three gorgeous miniature oil paintings:

They are signed A. Müller, 72. I will hang them in one of my 1970s or 80s houses. I don't want to keep the frames, but I'm not sure how easy it will be to find frames that fit, and are the kind I would like for these. I'm thinking I might try to cut off the curlicues (the frames are made in Hong Kong, and plastic, I think) to leave plain ovals, and then repaint them - or use the inner ovals as moulds.

So then, at the fair, soon after I arrived, Anna-Maria pointed out a stand which had good vintage miniatures. This was one I had bought items from both last year and the year before - Diana Simms' stall 'Diana's Gifts'. She had a box of Britain's lead pieces, and I bought several, mainly for my Walther & Stevenson farm (I haven't shown it yet, but you can see catalogue images here), and the roller and ladder for my Hobbies farmhouse:

I also bought a little Halfpenny girl, and a small bookcase or cabinet handpainted and signed (I think) SS in 1990:

I am not sure yet where the Halfpenny girl will live. The cabinet will probably go in a house by Armin Kod, which I haven't shown yet.

Diana had other vintage and some antique miniature dolls, too. Hers was about the only stall that had any vintage pieces - there were fewer than last year, when there were fewer than the year before ....

I am thinking that next year, I might try to do a display of one or two of my vintage dolls houses (from Bathurst; I don't plan to transport any but the smallest or lightest from Darwin to Sydney!) to increase awareness of the appeal of vintage. Of course, that can lead to more competition between collectors - but when fairs have no vintage dolls houses at all, and hardly any furnishings or dolls, it seems more a case of people just not being interested, or not realising their value. Anna-Maria bought a tub full of Europa and Jean furniture on the Sunday morning, from a stall which had had no vintage items at all displayed on Saturday. We think they probably had them to fill gaps as their main stock sold, rather than keeping the best for later .... She was very happy, though, as there were some great pieces in the tub (as well as quite a few that had been overpainted, probably to make the Jean and Europa match).

So, the rest of my buys are new, artisan-made miniatures. I bought more flowers, this time from Dianne Cottrell (I think she had the name Miniatures to Die For on her stand - not sure. You can see a picture of her stand, with two of the arrangements I bought, on Basketcase Miniatures blogpost.)

 A beautiful bunch of anemones:

 A gorgeous arrangement of blue irises and ranunculus (I think, although some look a bit like poppies? but she had some poppy arrangements too, with the characteristically kinked (and hairy) stems of poppies, so I don't think these are ...):

 And nasturtiums in a swan, which will go on the balcony of Swan House:

Diana packed these all so carefully, each in a separate container, with the vase stuck to the underside of the lid, and a plastic container or drinking cup placed over it.

I bought some food - yummy pizza and macaroons, from a stall with a sign saying $3 each, or 4 for $10 - but I don't know the name, as it wasn't prominently displayed!

 These will go in one of my contemporary houses - the Ikea, I think.

I visited the Miniature Supermarket again, and bought some modern groceries, again probably mostly for the Ikea house:

I discovered that Ann also has vintage groceries, although these are not yet shown on her website.

I was thinking of Diana's House when I bought these, but perhaps some of my other 1930s or 40s houses could use some of them - I don't think people living on a dairy farm would need powdered milk! I'm glad to find a source of period Australian groceries, and will contact Ann for a list of her vintage products.

I bought two more tea cosies by Win Garside (last year I bought a cottage cosy):

I think the koala cosy will go in my Hansa house - I'm not sure yet where the pedlar doll cosy will go.

Norma Bennet of Make Mine Mini was selling her own creations, and also Glenda Howell's hand-knotted rya rugs and hand woven mats. I bought several:

At the end of the fair, Norma offered me a reduced price on one of her sinks, the one I liked best, and I couldn't resist! I don't know where it will go, but I love the worn paint, the lining on the shelves, and the blue and white vintage French tea towels. Norma's photos are much better than mine, but here are mine anyway:

Norma was selling these with a dish drainer and some crockery, but as they alone cost $20, she kindly offered me the sink without them. I am sure I can find some plates in my stash, and perhaps a dish drainer too!

Right at the back of the photo of all my buys, at the beginning of this post, are a little kitchen cupboard and sink in bright yellow, red and blue plastic. These were a gift from Anna-Maria, who had received them as a gift herself (and was (perhaps?) feeling just slightly apologetic that she had had the good luck to buy the Europa stash ...)
I didn't know who had made them, but now I am thinking they might be Modella Mini pieces, as the sink seems to be identical to the one in diePuppenstubensammlerin's photo of a boxed Modella Mini Küche.

So, that's the fair for another year! Looking at other bloggers' photos of the fair, I see stands and displays I didn't notice when I was going round - too late to go back now, but perhaps some of the makers will be there next year too.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Sydney Miniatures Fair 2014

After a lovely week in Bathurst (most days were glorious autumn weather, and the leaves on the trees were such brilliant colours, especially against the blue skies), I got the train to Sydney for the dolls house fair.

Staying in hotels in Sydney is new to me - for so many years, my sister has provided a home base there, but now she's in Bathurst, I looked for somewhere reasonably cheap and close to public transport. Strathfield is between Olympic Park, where the fair is held, and the city - and I'd realised that I could also spend some time in the State Library looking at toy trade journals. So I booked the single ensuite room at Whelan's Hotel in Strathfield, which is heritage-listed - just down the road from the block of flats my Australian Nana managed in the 1960s and 70s. I was going to include some photos of the hotel, and my room there, complete with vintage furniture! but I get very frustrated at not being able to position photos across the page, as we used to be able to do on Blogger - I don't want lots and lots of blank space around photos that aren't dolls house-related, so if you want to see my photos of the hotel, you can find them on facebook (I may add them to flickr sometime, too).

I went to the Miniatures Fair on Saturday morning, soon after it opened, and again on Sunday afternoon, until it closed. I caught up with Anna-Maria (The Shopping Sherpa) and Norma of Make Mine Mini - here we are together:

Margaret Webster of Tamworth very kindly took this photo for us, and then Anna-Maria took one of me with Margaret:

(Margaret owns the first dolls house posted on the Mystery Houses page of Dolls Houses Past and Present, and I showed photos of her Milly Molly Mandy room at the Fair last year.)

I also met Emily of Architecture of Tiny Distinction, thanks to Anna-Maria bringing her over to introduce us!

I didn't take as many photos as last year or the year before, but here are some things that caught my eye.

A long street of houses, with two sides:

Behind this display you can see Norma (in black with a blue top) standing behind her stall, and over to the left, with the row of bunting, is Anna-Maria's stand.

Visible in the background of this photo are many of the displays. On the far left is Davidia Williams' Shabby Chic Shop:

Davidia told me that she had had surgery this year, and so created something that was quick, rather than one of her very detailed period reconstructions (1960s Waldfrieden and modern 1226 Cliff Drive, Watsons Bay, in 2012; Tamara de Lempicka's 1930's Paris studio apartment last year, or the 1950s Rose Seidler House in 2009).
I guess for her it would take less time than those houses - there's still an incredible amount of detail in it, and I think she also made the Bear Hug shop and Japanese kitchen next to it (though she wasn't there on Sunday when I took these photos, so I couldn't check).

I'm sorry about the lopsided angles - there were two people sitting and talking right next to this display, so I couldn't get right in front of them.

Some exhibitors had made clever use of gift bags:

I love this scene of two little Caco girls making cupcakes!

There was also a Christmas bag room:

The Tamworth group had some shops too, including Margaret Webster's very inviting antiques shop, A Little Nostalgia. Spot the actual vintage items!

[EDIT: I have been asked to remove photos of another creation from Tamworth, a room in a book.]

Also from Tamworth were a lolly shop by Karen Brown:

[I have been asked to remove photos of a country kitchen made by another Tamworth member. It had a gun over the fireplace.]
(There were bushrangers around Tamworth and the New England Tableland in the 19th century, so an isolated country house would have kept a gun handy like this.)

Last year, Margaret Webster had a Milly Molly Mandy room - this year, someone else had Milly Molly Mandy's bedroom:

This one was made by Rhonda McDonald; I don't know where she is from.

Nearby was a witches' room, with a rather sad explanation:

Still in the realm of fantastic creatures was this Hut on Tyrannosaur's Legs, inhabited by Scribes, small genetically modified ground sloths:

This was created by Marilyn Pride, of the Blue Mountains group - I gather we'll see more of it next year.

Its neighbour in the display was a comics shop, guarded by a superhero:

I also photographed Margell Public School, which Anna-Maria bought:

It was created by a teacher who had always wanted to work in a one-teacher school, but never had the chance. (From what I've heard, it's very hard work - all years of primary school to plan for and teach, all the administrative work, and often all the cleaning too. I think a miniature one-teacher school would be much more fun!)

There were many, many more displays, but I hope you've enjoyed this small sample. I have yet to photograph my purchases, which I hope to do in the next few days. I also have quite a few photos from the 1972 and 1973 issues of the Australian toy trade journal, which I've started going through, plus a few more photos of my dolls houses in Bathurst - late April, early May is always such a rich time!

Thursday, May 1, 2014

A Lumberjack dolls house?

I've been spending this week in Bathurst, with my sister. Sunday was the third anniversary of our mother's death, and we like to be together on that day and on her birthday.
This time, I flew down from Darwin and hired a car in Sydney to drive to Bathurst. Usually I get the train, but hiring a car meant I could meet up with my aunt in Sydney, and also collect two dolls houses in Sydney suburbs along the way.

The first one I collected was this:

It's 72.5 cm (28 1/2") wide (at the base) by 19 cm (7 1/2") deep. The lower rooms are 20.5 cm (8 1/8") high, and the front door is just under 15 cm (6") high by just over 9 cm (3 3/4") wide.

It has some features identical this one, which I found in a toy catalogue in the National Library a year ago:

The design of the door and the brickwork are the same, they both have shutters, although they are a different colour, and the same plastic windows are used. I think they are probably made by the same manufacturer. I wrote last year that I had found entries in recent business directories for Lumberjack-Bestoys, in Engadine, a suburb of Sydney, so there may be a link to Bestoys. I wasn't sure of the date of the Geoff Emerton 'Toyworld' catalogue I found it in, but thought it was probably from the late 1970s or the early 1980s.

With this dolls house, I can say that it probably dates from the 1980s at the earliest, as the front door is made from MDF, large-scale production of which began in the 1980s.

The main body of the house is pine wood, the front wall is hardboard, and the back wall and front door are MDF. It's an interesting design, which needs to be accessible from both sides at once, perhaps intended for two children to play at the same time. Some rooms are only accessible from the front, and some only from the back:

I think the door was originally attached by that bit of fabric which has come unstuck. I'm not sure if the bit of wood, forming a kind of latch, is original, although it may have been meant to stop the door swinging forward through the opening.

A bag of plastic furniture came with the house. Most of it is Linda from Hong Kong, the bathroom is Jean of West Germany, and some is unmarked.

The kitchen furnishings consist of a bright yellow sink and stove, with a table and chairs. Only the chairs are marked (Made in Hong Kong).

The bedroom has a lovely bright green Linda of Hong Kong set:

Most of these pieces are not marked at all - I recognise them from the Linda boxes I have (although the bedroom set on my boxes is shown in pink and red). So it's possible that the unmarked kitchen pieces are also made by Linda, but they are not the kitchen set shown on the boxes.

The dining room is also Linda:

- or at least I recognise the dining table and the sideboard from the sets and boxes I have. The chairs are a different design - they are marked Made in Hong Kong, but whether they are from Linda or another brand, I'm not sure. I'm not sure who made the bookcase, either - I have one sold by Fairylite, but it doesn't have the sliding doors. Unless I find these pieces in a boxed set, I probably won't know!

The pink bathroom set is clearly marked W. Germany, and is by Jean:

The yellow cot and the rocking horse are from the Linda nursery set, but I don't know who made the baby bath / change table - although it's marked Made in Hong Kong, it's a soft plastic quite different from the Linda pieces. (I'm not sure what the thing in front is - possibly baby scales, missing the bowl to place the baby in??)

I like the bright yellow, green and pink furniture against the pine (and MDF!) walls of this house. There's no living room furniture, so I may bring my red Linda living room pieces down from Darwin.

I wonder which dolls lived here? Probably they would have been plastic, like all the furniture, so perhaps I'll look for some 1980s plastic dolls who need a home.