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.