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.


  1. The toyworld dolls house was made by lumberjack toys in Gosford nsw the company was owned by a Don and Del windus they were sold to toy shops in Qld NSW and Victoria. this i know as im a brother to Don , i also owned lumberjack toy wholesales in 1976 selling Dons products. hope this enlighten you a little. Adrian Windus

    1. Hi Adrian, Thank you very much for this information! I'm really happy to know more about Lumberjack. Since I showed this dolls house, I have bought one that has a Lumberjack label on the side - it's like the one in Toyworld only bigger, though it has a different door. I have also found some more photos in the toy trade journal. I intend to show the other dolls house and the photos in this blog soon! One of the photos has a man called Frank Marsh, from Lumberjack, in it. Do you know who he was? I would love to know more about the range of dolls houses that Lumberjack made, and if the dolls house in the photos above is by Lumberjack or not. Thanks again, Rebecca

    2. Hi Rebecca, Just to follow up from my Uncle's comment above. My father Don is the man standing in the photo with the LTD1 and Frank Marsh is sitted. Frank Marsh and his wife used to own a toy shop at Pennant Hills NSW and they were very good friends of our family. The above dolls house was not made by Lumberjack Toys when we owned the company. We sold the company when I was a teenager (I'm now in my early 50's) but I don't know really much about it after that. Hope this helps. Cheers Julie Windus

    3. Thanks again, Julie. It sounds like your family would have sold Lumberjack Toys before Lumberjack bought Bestoys at the end of 1984? I haven't yet got to the 1980s in looking through the toy trade magazine - hopefully that will have more information too.

    4. Hi Rebecca, I received the doll house in the Toyworld catalogue for Christmas of 1984 from my father, when I was three years old. Although I don't have the house anymore I do have a picture of me the day I received it. Here's a link:

  2. Hi Rebecca, The above dolls house was not made by Lumberjack Toys when we owned it. Don is my dad. Frank Marsh was a very good friend of ours who had a toy shop in NSW. In the photo it is Frank who is seated and my dad Don who is standing next to the LTD1. Regards Julie Windus

    1. Hi Julie, Thank you very much for this information! It's great to hear from you, and to learn more about Lumberjack dolls houses. Do you know when your father sold Lumberjack Toys? Cheers, Rebecca

    2. Hi Rebecca, it was definitely prior to 1984. Dad thinks it was about 1982. Cheers Julie

  3. Hi Rebecca,
    I received the Lumberjack dollhouse in the catalogue for Christmas of 1984 when I was three years old. I don't have the house anymore but do have a photo of me with the house on Christmas Day 1984, linked here: