Saturday, February 21, 2015

A flower transfer house from Victoria

I've seen several houses listed on ebay in Victoria which had transfers - or decals - decorating the otherwise fairly plain front. I definitely wanted to add at least one to my collection, and when this popped up late last year, I was able to buy it.

The seller was able to tell me that her mother-in-law had bought the house in 1966, at Barwood Toy Shop in Stradbroke Park Shopping Centre, Bourke Road, Kew East, in Victoria, for her daughter's 4th birthday. I love being able to date dolls houses precisely!

Apart from the flower transfers - pansies and brown-eyed Susan daisies - and the balcony railing on the front, the house is quite plain. There are four window openings and one door opening - they don't look as if they have ever had 'glass' or a door attached to them. The house is open at the back, and each of the four rooms is painted a different colour - pink, blue, cream and olive green. I didn't ask if the house had been repainted at any stage, but I think not - the paint is very neat, with no sign of other colours underneath these. Perhaps it was bought cream, and the other colours were added before it was given to the little girl - either way, I think these are original 1966 colours.


The sides are very simple. You can see that there is foxing - spots of discolouration - on the paint. I have washed it - it's possible that a stronger cleaner would remove them, but I don't want to damage the paint, or repaint it.

The side walls continue up to the peak of the roof - there is no ceiling on the upper floor.

Here are some of the other dolls houses with transfers which I have seen listed in Victoria. 

This one has a chimney, and is front opening. There is one transfer - an animal (a cat? missing its head) - above the front door. Inside, there are rather crudely cut stairs, and there seem to be arched doorways between the rooms.

Here's another one from the same maker:

I liked this one, with its kitten transfer - such a pity that the seller's son had broken the door :-(

I would still like to get one of these, but haven't seen one recently.

When I looked through the Australasian Sportsgoods and Toy Retailer journal for 1975-1978 in Canberra last month, I found two makers of dolls houses decorated with transfers.

For one, I found only one photo, from the 1976 Toy and Games Manufacturers of Australia fair, in the July 1976 issue of the journal. 
"The Winslow Marketing Co showed wooden toys from S. M. Collins, Bairnsdale, including blackboard, table and chair sets, dolls cradle, ironing board, dolls house and the popular unpainted bench set. Also from Patrick, NZ, Benson nursery, plastic and vinyl toys plus Patrick jigsaws, draught sets, wooden blocks and peg and hammer sets. On the stand is Garry Holzer."

These S M Collins dolls houses do not have chimneys, and appear to have two doorways cut into the ground floor, with two window openings in the upper floor. There is a line of colour - probably a strip of wood - across the front of the dolls house,  but I don't know whether the it's just decorative, or serves as a grip to open the front. It's hard to tell for sure, but I think that the wooden panelling of the display stand can be seen through the window and door openings. If that is the case, it indicates that the houses have open backs.
There are two transfers on each house, placed in the centre of the ground and upper floors. The houses have different transfers, but on each house, the same image is used on both floors.

I have found a newspaper article from July 1975 with an interview with Stan Collins, timber miller, in which he explains that S M Collins Pty Ltd had turned to making wooden toys less than two years earlier (so in late 1973 or early 1974), partly because there was a demand for them, and partly because it was harder to get good quality timber for milling.

So although my transfer house resembles this S M Collins dolls house (which seems to have an open back, and the same rectangular shaped windows and doors as on mine, although placed differently), mine could not have been made by S M Collins, as it predates their first wooden toys by at least 7 years.

The other manufacturer of dolls houses with transfer decorations was Somerville Toy Traders. Despite the use of 'traders' in the name, both the sign on their stand, and the caption, indicate that they manufactured the toys shown. No information is given in these short write-ups about where they were based, but an online search revealed that they were based in Mount Eliza, in Victoria, incorporated in May 1975, and changed their name to Ten Progress Street Pty. Limited in 2000. They appear to be still active, so I may be able to find out more.

This photo is from the May 1975 issue of the toy trade journal. The caption reads:
"Somerville Toy Traders: Manufacturers of a wooden range of hookey boards, shuttle sets, hammer peg sets, etc., plus dolls' houses, garages, hobby horse, shoe flys and kiddies' furniture, table tennis and billiard tables. A brand new release was a Do-It-Yourself Pool Table assembly kit which comes in a cartoned pack and makes up to a 6 ft. x 3ft table."
Although there are transfers on the nursery furniture, there doesn't seem to be one on the dolls house.

This photos shows the display of Somerville Toy Traders' wares at the 1976 Toy and Games Manufacturers of Australia fair. The dolls house looks very like the one shown in 1975, although it does have a transfer between the two upper windows. Also, I don't see a chimney. 

Somerville Toys were displayed that year by ABCED Trading, who also showed Australian-made Rainbow soft toys, and imported Ellegi remote control toys and Canova nursery items (both imported by ALLTOYS, so interesting that ABCED was showing dolls houses from a manufacturer other than Bestoys), and Beauty soft toys.

The 1977 display at the Melbourne Toy Fair. 
"Somerville Toys: Displayed their own range of very stable wooden table and chair sets, nursery seats, pull-a-long toys, dolls houses, push/pull carts, billy carts, pull-a-longs, cradles and cots, plus an old favourite among the children, the wheelbarrow. Also showed snooker and table tennis tables, hookey boards, shuttle tennis and bobs."
 (Yes, it does spell pull-alongs that way, and mentions them twice!)

There is definitely no chimney on the dolls house, and the transfer is clearer. Like the houses shown in 1975 and 1976, this house seems to have a central front door and four square-ish windows. It's impossible to tell if they are front-opening or have open backs.

It's unlikely that Somerville Toys made my dolls house, both because of their incorporation date of 1975, and because the windows are such a different shape. So it seems that there was probably another, earlier, manufacturer of dolls houses with transfers in Victoria, who made my dolls house.

Could either S M Collins or Somerville Toy Traders be the maker of the other transfer houses I've shown here? I don't know when these two front-opening transfer dolls houses were made. They have a chimney, as does the earliest Somerville dolls house, but on the back of the roof rather than the front. They also have windows which are more rectangular than square, so less like the Somerville squareish windows than the Collins rectangular ones, although not as long. They don't have clear similarities to either maker - perhaps they're from another manufacturer again?

Back to my flower transfer house - I was inspired by the pansy transfer to find furnishings with pansies for it. I don't have any furniture for it yet, but I have got some rugs, pictures (some downloaded and saved ready to be printed out) and bowls or pots of flowers!!

I may well change these around, or not end up using them, but I've had fun trying them out!

(I only have one horseshoe, but I tried it out inside, and where I think I will put it, on the balcony.)

I'll look for some furniture to try out, and show you again once I've found some. I'm not sure what scale will work best - the door is just under 5 ½" tall, which would suggest 16th scale, but the ceiling height of the ground floor is 9", and the floor size of the bedrooms is about  8 ½" by 11 ½" each, which would accommodate 12th scale furnishings. I'll see which dolls and furniture looks best!


  1. Hi Rebecca Lovely post, as always!

    I need help, please. My Yahoo account was hacked and I am locked out of my email and the main Yahoo site. They seemed determined not to help me, I've tried asking to use phone verification and the 'secret' answer thing but they just send me a silly message to my latest email account, the only one I have now, telling me to log on to my Yahoo account to verify the new one. I've told them 5 times now, the reason I'm contacting them is because I can't get into Yahoo or Google and have lost all my contacts. Hopin this comment can come through to you.

    I can see DHP&P but not comment or contact anyone. Can I re-join under a new name as all my passwords for everything are useless, includiing DHP&P. Do you mind if I rejoin?
    Jenni (Trumble'smum)

    1. ps If you write another comment here with your new email address, I won't publish it, but will be able to email you directly!

  2. Hi Jenni, that sounds awful! to have all your passwords rendered useless - wow! Yes, of course you can rejoin DHP&P. I'd suggest leaving your current profile and photos etc, but once you have rejoined, you could put a comment on your old profile that you have a new one - obviously, not in the profile description itself, but anyone can leave a comment on a profile, and the latest is always at the top.

    Have you been able to find a Yahoo users forum or something to get advice from other people on how to deal with Yahoo? I hope they will eventually respond to you personally (it sounds to me as if you've just received automated replies so far), and that you can sort it all out. They should be worried about a Yahoo user being hacked, anyway!
    cheers, Rebecca