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!

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Heart Cake From Kaybot

Valentine's Day is not something I have ever celebrated - I don't remember it being a big thing when I was young, and I suspect that it's become bigger in Australia in recent years through being promoted commercially to sell more cards, chocolates, roses and so on ...

However, it seemed an appropriate occasion to share another of my new acquisitions.

When I wrote the article about Kaybot Novelties and Kay Miniatures for Dolls Houses Past and Present last year, I commented that it was frustrating that the 1951 and '53 ads for Kaybot's Golly Stores did not show any of their own plaster foods.

Then, late last year, a boxed Kaybot store popped up on UK ebay - and I was lucky enough to win it! This store is called the Circle Bakery, and the box has a photo showing Kaybot cakes and breads, as well as some boxed goods!

I was even more thrilled that the advertising signs at the top of the store are for Huntley and Palmer's biscuits and cakes - as my grandfather's surname was Palmer, he was called Huntley in the family.

Although the store shown in the label on the box is pale yellow, the store in my box is blue. It doesn't have any advertising at the back of the shelves, but has the same stickers along the top:

and the same Ryvita ad on the counter that sits in front of the shelves:

The counter is made quite simply, and the top has become a bit warped:

Here is the bakery filled with all the goods that came with it:

The boxes of sugar are different from those shown on the label, but are from the same range. I think I have boxes of the kinds of sugar shown on the label, but I expect that the actual varieties included did vary, just as the colour of the store did.

You can see that there are some gaps on the shelves of my store. I'm glad that so many pieces have survived with it, including one of my favourite items, the Hovis loaf:

It even still has its paper label! I loved eating Hovis bread when I stayed with my grandparents in England - and especially loved the mini Hovis loaves that we could buy with a bowl of soup when we went shopping at Bentalls, in Kingston-on-Thames! I have some other plaster Hovis loaves, but I didn't know who had made them, so I'm delighted to have this photo showing it among other Kaybot breads.

I also hadn't realised that the fruit tart on the counter, next to the heart cake, was Kaybot, nor the Victoria sandwich cake on the bottom shelf! Some of the items that are missing from my bakery include what looks like another fruit flan, on the top shelf, a cottage loaf, and the cake on the middle shelf with yellow, white and brown checkered icing. Luckily, I have just bought a lot on ebay that includes one of those cakes! What is it called? All I can think of is Battenburg cake, but that has checkered cake, not the icing ... Also, there's no Huntley & Palmer's Dundee Cake tin. I have one, in the kitchen of my Cupboard House - perhaps I will look for another one to add to this bakery.

All this writing about and looking at photos of bread and cakes has made me quite hungry! Unfortunately, I don't have any cake in the house - but I have plenty of bread, so I think I'll go and make some toast!

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Five Years Old!

Yesterday, 7th February, it was five years exactly from my first blog post! To celebrate, I have been thinking about a giveaway - then I read Anna-Maria's post sharing the winners of her 8th blogiversary giveaways, where she mentions legal issues .... so I am still thinking about whether to do one or not.

So, for now, I will share with you some paintings by a distant cousin of mine. Cicely Elmslie Shand was born in 1898, in Newcastle, Northumberland, in England. (She was my second cousin twice removed - my maternal grandmother's second cousin.) She painted designs for postcards and greeting cards during the 1930s. She had married a naval officer, Cecil Sheppard, at the age of 18. We don't know much about this period of her life - where she and her husband were based, for instance - but we do know that they did not have children. Cecil Sheppard would have been at sea for much of the time - perhaps she painted then. Like many professional women of the time (Georgette Heyer and Marjorie Allingham spring to mind), she worked under her maiden name.

I was lucky enough several years ago to buy some of her original paintings for cards, on ebay. 'Welcome', above, is dated 1938. 'Acceptance', below, is dated 1935.

A fan of her work has created a website showing all the cards she published. These designs are not shown - perhaps they were not all published, although I do have a card of Acceptance. She was also included in the lovely book Postcards from the Nursery, by Dawn Cope and Peter Cope (although unfortunately, the description of her family mixes up the generations,  naming her grandfather William (my great-great-grandfather John Shand's younger brother) as her father, and her father Hinton as her uncle).

To Greet You With Joy, original artwork by Cicely Elmslie Shand for a greetings card, undated.

I would like to take the opportunity of my 5th blogiversary to greet all my followers and readers with joy, and to welcome my new followers. I hope we all have lots of fun with our collections in the year to come - I enjoy sharing mine with you, and seeing and reading about yours!

Toys, original artwork for a greetings card by Cicely Elmslie Shand, 1934. Image from ebay seller apb113 (Peter Haddon); sadly, I was outbid on this painting.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Who are we? We are Spejbl and Hurvínek!

I recently bought these dolls on Australian ebay from someone in Melbourne. I was rather taken with their expressions - rather sweet and wistful. There are two men, and two boys:

They all have big ears, big eyes, a prominent nose, and very little forehead. The men are bald, while the boys have a tuft of hair in the middle of their heads.

The men are wearing black suits made of a synthetic knit fabric - they have coats with long tails, and white pointed felt collars. Their hands are white, which probably indicates gloves. The boys are wearing blue shorts and white shirts made of the same type of synthetic knit fabric, with green felt braces.

The dolls themselves are made of wood, with the arms and legs joined to the body with wire:

The men are 5 1/2" (14 cm) tall, and the boys are just over 4 1/4" (about 11 cm).

I don't know who made these dolls, or who they represent. Recently, when I was browsing vintage doll listings, I saw some dolls representing cartoon characters, and I wondered if that's what these dolls might be. Do you recognise the characters? Or perhaps even know who made them?

Update: Gil Bomber of Cestina's Dolls Houses has identified these characters - thank you very much, Gil! She says:

"You have here two sets of the iconic Czech puppets Spejbl and Hurvínek (the former used to be known as Špejbl, with the first letter softened to a "sh" sound).

Here is a link to a website with some background information: and you can find videos on youtube. (Here's a nice one:  

Where did you get them from Rebecca?   You don't often see them outside the Czech Republic.   I have the father but sadly not the son..."
Well, I bought them from an ebay seller in Melbourne. I will ask her if she knows anything about where they came from - I would think most likely from Czech migrants to Australia.