Friday, February 21, 2014

Another Princess


Listed on Australian ebay recently was this copy of The Australian Woman's Mirror, with the tantalising headline "Special in this issue, Princess Betty's Doll's House - A Gift Toy".

The seller was quick to point out that, 80 years after publication, it was unlikely that this gift would still be available ... but I am always looking out for descriptions and especially illustrations of dolls houses in old periodicals, and I was not disappointed with this one.


A full-page article describes and shows the reproduction of Princess Elizabeth's play house, which readers of the Australian Woman's Mirror could obtain by sending in four differently numbered coupons (so even if the publisher still had the dolls house, I think I would have some trouble finding the other three issues of the magazine, in order to collect my coupons!!)

This dolls house is much smaller than the famous Triang Princess dolls house - this one is only 10 inches wide, 7 1/2 inches high (to the eaves) and the rooms are 3 1/2 inches deep. It seems to be made of cardboard - it is described as "made entirely in one piece, and machine-cut and scored. It can quickly be folded to shape according to simple directions."


The article begins,
"Thousands of girls and boys know that the people of Wales gave a marvellous Doll's House as a birthday present to little Princess Elizabeth - a wonderful Doll's House big enough for the Princess to play inside - with real furniture and all!
"Of course only a Princess could have a Doll's Houses as big as that, but - we thought - how wonderful it would be if every Australian girl and boy could have a little one similar to the Princess's, with a tiny dining-room, kitchen, bathroom and bedroom, complete with furniture that could be moved around as they liked!
"That gave us an idea. We obtained all the plans and details of the famous original Doll's House. Artists and architects helped us with the model, and now the result of months of intricate work and modelling is available to every child who has longed to own a wonderful doll's house."


This sounds very much as if this version of the Princess dolls house is unique to Australia, indeed unique to the Australian Woman's Mirror - though I would not be at all surprised to find that a parent company of the Mirror in the UK was actually responsible for this model.

The stairs do not require many folds, as they are printed to simulate the treads and risers.

The article kindly showed all 8 pieces of furniture included with the house. Here is the bedroom furniture, and the bath:


You can see in the photo, above, showing the open back of the dolls house, that some furnishings were printed on the walls - the bathroom basin and mirror, for example, and the dining room fireplace. The dining room seems only to have been supplied with a table and a sideboard:



For the kitchen, there was a gas stove and a long cupboard (called a dresser, though not my idea of a kitchen dresser):


As suggested in the article, the child who owned this dolls house could add toys they already possessed, and perhaps a tiny doll as well.

Even if not every Australian girl and boy obtained this little house in 1934, I do hope that some have survived, and that one might find its way to my collection!

9 comments:

  1. How very charming. It feels a bit odd to think of the Queen as we´ve known her for the past decades as "Princess Betty" but it´s endearing at the same time. I had to google to find out more about this house and came across this article about the playhouse and the Triang dolls´ house version that was available:
    http://www.thamesweb.co.uk/windsor/royal_lodge/royal_lodge.html
    According to the link, there was a paper toy version in England in 1939 and reissued in the 1950s (Dean´s). I keep my fingers crossed that a Mirror one will find its way to you! :-)

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    1. Thank you, Yukari, the information about the Dean's version of the Princess house is very interesting (I found it in the discussion forum here: http://theroyalwindsorforum.yuku.com/topic/1174#.UwanHr9mFPM). It looks in some ways more complex than this little Australian one, with lots of things for the garden - but I'm not sure if the furniture is movable, or just printed on?
      I found it rather surprising that, in 2006, the moderators of the Royal Windsor Forum did not know about the Triang Princess dolls house! It had been well known among dolls house collectors for over 25 years by then!!
      I must say that I hadn't heard the Queen referred to as 'Princess Betty', although I had read about Princess Margaret calling her 'Lilibet'.

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  2. You always find the most interesting published articles, Rebecca. Now I can't wait for you to find this little house!

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    1. Thank you, Florine - I can't wait either!

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  3. What a fabulous little house. Wouldn't it be great if one turns up now. Perhaps someone who reads your post will have one tucked in their attic!

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    1. I do hope so, Sharee! And it certainly wouldn't be hard to post, unlike some dolls houses tucked in attics or under houses ... fingers crossed!

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  4. What an interesting article, Rebecca. Surely one or two have survived - I'll keep my fingers crossed that you have a lucky find!

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    1. Thank you, Zoe! I'll certainly let you all know if I find one!

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  5. Wow! what a great find! I collect Australian Women's Weekly from the 50s as well, but I have never been lucky enough to find anything about dollhouses! Also, I havn't made any 1:144 houses lately because I have been so busy, but I hope to soon!

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