Monday, January 18, 2016

A Lumberjack dolls house, without doubt!

This was one of the dolls houses waiting for me in Bathurst. I had bought it on ebay, and as it was in Sydney, it made more sense to have it freighted to Bathurst than all the way here to Darwin!

As well as having many similarities to the Lumberjack dolls house I had found in a toy store catalogue in the National Library:

- different coloured shutters (yellow instead of green), but the same front door - it has a label on the side which says Lumberjack BWG Screenprint:

so it's definitely a Lumberjack.

It's wider than the house in that catalogue, with three rooms up and down:

Unlike the house in the catalogue, the upper rooms don't have dormer windows - which will make placing furniture easier!

The interior is painted white - the traces of white on the floors, and the missing bit under the stairs, indicate that this was done by an owner, not in the factory.

A child has also added stickers in many rooms - I'll be keeping them, as they're a reminder of a former owner, and some, like this one on the back of the front door with kangaroos and a koala saying "HI!", are also reminders of the house's Australian origin:

The top left room has a sticker saying "Holidays", with people running with bags:
The top middle room must have been used as a bathroom, as it has a mirror and a towel rail attached to the walls:
The top right room has three stickers, including one of a lovely orange and white tabby cat:

This room has the opening to the stairs in it. The stairs are missing a couple of treads, but it shouldn't be too hard to replace them:
(That sticker says "Don't Forget:", with a pink space to write what you're not supposed to forget!)

Here's the bottom middle room, with the front door again:

And the bottom left room:

The sticker here has an Easter egg and a chick.

I haven't furnished this house yet, just cleaned it and photographed it. I'm thinking I might use my Europa furniture in it - I'll see.

Last year I found some more information about Lumberjack in issues of the Australian toy trade journal, the Australasian Sportsgoods and Toy Retailer, from the late 1970s. Here's a full page ad from the October 1976 issue:

which gives the address then for the "Lumberjack Toy & Gift Company" as 13 Hills Street, Gosford, NSW 2250. It shows a couple of other items made by Lumberjack - a service station with carwash, and a magnetic chalk/paint board.

Here's a close up of the dolls house:

Like mine, it has three rooms across - but unlike mine, it has both dormer windows upstairs, and an inbuilt garage on one side of the ground floor, with a "fully operative tilting door". It's described as 12th scale, 28" x 18" x 18". I measured the rooms in my Lumberjack as 21cm (8 ¼") wide, 31 cm (12 ¼") deep and 19 cm (7 ½") high. So 12th scale furniture would work - I think I'll try out the vintage 16th scale Europa anyway, and see how it looks.

This ad mentions printed carpet, lino and stained floors in the bottom storey, so it does seem that they were sold with undecorated walls and upper floors and ceilings. Here's another Lumberjack I saw on ebay, which has not been painted inside:

Photos © ebay seller untide1

Another three bay model, with dormer windows but without a garage, and with the front door on one side, rather than in the middle. (It seems to have been given carpet upstairs.)

In 1979, Lumberjack had a stand at the Toys and Games Manufacturers of Australia fair, where they displayed three dolls houses:

The caption reads: "Lumberjack: Popular wooden toys including dolls houses with much interest in the limited edition 2-story colonial dolls house; chalk boards; garages; block wagons and blocks; cradles; nursery furniture; playcastle and playfort; stilts; billiard table; games table; table tennis table, dartboard cabinets, etc. Number of new releases inc. a Car Yard and Roadhouse in WOODY WOODPECKER items; Space Station with space buildings; Cape Cod house and single storey Colonial house." (I don't see a single storey dolls house in the photo, unless they mean the one on the right with dormer windows and rooms under the roof?)

Another photo shows a closeup of the limited edition colonial dolls house, with two people from Lumberjack: Frank Marsh on the left, and Don Windus standing on the right. (Seated on the right is John Bassingthwaighte, who had a sports and toy store in Dubbo.) (I think that, in the photo of the whole stand above, Don Windus is seated on the left, and Frank Marsh on the right.)

Late last year, I had a comment on my blog post about my possible Lumberjack dolls house from Adrian Windus, Don's brother, who said:

"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 I'm a brother to Don, I also owned Lumberjack Toy Wholesales in 1976 selling Don's products. Hope this enlightens you a little. Adrian Windus"

Wonderful information, as the photo caption doesn't say what Frank Marsh or Don Windus' roles at Lumberjack were.

I had found other information online, suggesting that Lumberjack later moved, and changed hands. A company called Lumberjack-Bestoys was registered with the address 25 Engadine Crt, Engadine, NSW 2233. The websites which hold that information don't give dates, but Lumberjack bought Bestoys at the end of 1984, so that address probably dates to 1984 or 85. Did Don Windus still own Lumberjack then? I don't know - I hope to find out more from Adrian or Don Windus, sometime.
Then later there's another company name and address: Lumberjack Toys Pty Ltd at The Old Cheese Factory, Hoddle Street, Robertson, NSW 2577.  The name associated with that company is Allan Jackson, who was a carpenter.
So it seems likely that Don Windus sold Lumberjack at some point, whether directly to Allan Jackson or to someone else in Engadine who then sold it on again later. Perhaps it was a later owner who made the other dolls house I have, which has the same front door, the same yellow window shutters, and the same screen-printed brick front wall as this labelled Lumberjack house, but which is otherwise made of polished pine, with a plain hardboard back? 


Saturday, January 16, 2016

A New Year, a summer holiday, and op-shopping!

It's so long since I have posted anything on this blog that I feel I should be wishing you Happy Everything, not just Happy New Year! I do hope that this year brings us all health, happiness, peace of mind, and lots of mini enjoyment - and I hope to keep in touch more with my blogging friends!

I wish my summer holiday could have been longer - but I did manage to avoid the really hot weather that arrived just after I left, so I can't really complain. I had hoped to work on some of my dolls houses in Bathurst which need restoring, but didn't really have time. I did make a start on reorganising one of the rooms where some of my houses live - the former main bedroom of the house - so that they are easier to access, and so I could also fit a couple of new houses in (more about them in later posts).

My sister and I went to a few op shops (thrift stores / charity shops), which we always enjoy doing - and my haul of dolls house related things was better than it often is! Above you can see most of what I found in two op shops. Two things are from the art gallery shop - the little figurine may go in a house or a dolls house art gallery as a sculpture, and the postcard has lots of great mini portraits! The place mats have a nice woven pattern of green and red through them, and will make good flooring - and the silk tie will come in handy for bedding or cushions or curtains ....

My sister found the Blue-Box dolls house in one of the op shops - I have several other Blue-Box houses, but not this one, so I was thrilled to find it! It cost the princely amount of $4!!! (much less than its original price of $27.00, probably in the late 1970s - I have an ad for this dolls house from 1978, though I'm not sure when it was introduced or last available).

The mat is missing, but I think all the other pieces are there (plus a couple of extras) - hopefully I'll have time to photograph it all next time I'm there.

(The box does not have the Blue-Box name on it, strangely, but it is impressed on the bottom of the house.)

In another op shop, we had taken our finds (mainly books) to the front counter, and I had a look in the glass cabinet there, where small things are kept - and was amazed to see these two containers of miniature plastic plants!

The Britains flowers even have the planting tool (it's the long blue piece with a label about complaints attached to it). (These are two views of the same container here, by the way.)


Silver birch trees with moss foliage, and plastic conifers - are these also Britains?

In the op shop where I found the place mats, silk tie and Blue-Box dolls house, I also looked through the books. There were quite a few vintage carpentry manuals and children's annuals, both of which can be sources of plans for dolls houses or dolls house furniture, so I had a good look through them - and struck lucky with one, called The Handyman's Complete Carpentry Guide by Andrew Waugh, with furniture designed by William Greenwood. This was published by the former Australian newspaper company Consolidated Press - there's no date in the book, but it was advertised in newspapers in 1954 (and was a "privilege book" (ie offered at a discount) for purchasers of Consolidated Press's newspapers, including The Argus in Melbourne).

The inside covers show some of the items described in the book - including the dolls house (the small thing just to the left of the bed, with a green roof and red walls). (As you can see, this copy of the book was originally sold at Boans, a Perth department store, so it had made its way right to the other side of the country.)

The book gives instructions for building a house, as well as for making furniture, a slippery dip, an extension ladder (!), a sleep-out - and toys, including a dolls house:

The dolls house has a rather strange front, to my way of thinking. The roof is asymmetrically pitched, but the removable front has a "double-gable appearance" - a false roof line matching the steeper side of the roof, as well as the real roof line of the shallower side ... Perhaps they thought it looked better, as the false roof line would be parallel to the porch roof. I don't think that I've seen a dolls house made to this design, but I'll look out for it now - if this plan was followed faithfully, it would be quite distinctive.
The suggested colour scheme for the dolls house was cream coloured walls, apple green window sashes and frames, and a terracotta roof (quite different from the illustration on the inside cover!).

Most of the dolls house furniture is quite simple - it might be possible to identify pieces made to these plans, but some look quite similar to commercially made pieces. The book recommends that the dolls house furniture be "stained and finished with French polish or clear lacquer", with scraps of fabric for the settee, bed and dressing table).

I was very happy with these finds - and I hope to be back soon to show you the two dolls houses which were waiting for me in Bathurst.