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.


  1. Love your finds. So unique and your wishes for the New year. It's snowing here. cheers CM

    1. Snow! Are you still on the East Coast, or is it snowing in California? or in New Mexico??? Best wishes for 2016, wherever you are!

  2. Glad you had a nice break Rebecca and you and your Sister enjoyed your op shopping. The flowers were a great find and I love the plan of the dolls house and its little kitchen table. I remember a little fold up table like that in our kitchen when I was growing up. Best wishes for 2016 and many more exciting finds.

    1. Hi Sharee, Thank you! Even if I don't find anything, I love op shopping - there is something about the smell of the old clothes, books and furniture, and the possibility of finding things you don't expect, that I love. Finding these wonderful things was a bonus! It's really interesting to hear that you had a little kitchen table like this when you were growing up. I don't think I've seen one like this before - gate-leg tables with turned legs, yes. Maybe I should try making one!
      Best wishes to you and your family for 2016, too!

  3. What great finds Rebecca! I don't think the trees are Britains - I have a tiny catalogue of the garden stuff and don't recognise them. However it is in the CR and I am in the UK at the moment so can't check.

    I have just spotted The Essex Dolls House Museum in your list of websites. Research seems to indicate that it is just up the road from me. Who would have thought it - information coming from a blog in Australia! The internet is a truly wonderful thing.

    1. Thanks, Gil! I don't think I have any catalogues of plastic Britains plants, so I'd be interested to know if either tree is in your catalogue, when you get back to the CR.
      Wow, do let me know if you get to the Essex Dolls House Museum! I didn't include it on the DHP&P Places to Visit page - I can't now remember why, so if it's still there, please let me know and I'll include it!

      ps I have comment moderation enabled, so no comments appear before I've pressed Publish, that's why this comment of yours didn't show until now. :-)

    2. Yes, I realised that when I posted the second time ...

      No reply to my email to the Essex DH Museum yet. I shall keep you informed!

  4. I love the bedroom pattern with the kidney shaped pieces.. might have to make it...... i love op-shopping as well.. it's wonderful when you get a good find, as you have... see you at the Sydney fair this year. definitely going to this one.. :)

    1. Oh, that will be great to see you there, Christine! Would love to see the bedroom pieces if you make them - would you like me to send you the written guidelines too? They are not very detailed, but have a bit more information than the diagrams.

    2. yes please, that would be lovely.. it will be so nice to see you again, i can't wait to go, will be saving like crazy to get some special pieces..:)

  5. Que bien que además de haber descansado y disfrutado de las vacaciones,hayas encontrado tan buenos artículos!! Estoy deseando ver como los vas transformando y creando!!!
    Te espera un gran año de miniaturas!!

  6. Rebecca have just seen pictures and info on lumberjack you have , if you would like some more shots of dolls houses you can find me in phone white pages nsw only too happy to help cheers adrian windus

  7. Hi Rebecca, I'm enjoying seeing your collections, what great finds!

    Im researching the Blue Box products and wonder if you have any idea of the kind of plastic which was used for the furniture. I'm wanting to use some as artwork, but i need to know more about the composition, to ensure that i use the right kind of glue.

    Known only, it seems, as 'hard plastic', im wondering if it seems similar to the other kinds of furniture from HongKong of the same period. If so, i might be able to find out more.

    If its not too much bother, can you find out if is there any information of this kind on the packaging? Or any other manufacturer information that could help me.

    I only have random pieces, no longer with a box.

    Happy Collecting,


    1. Hi Eleanor, Thanks for your comment! There is not a great deal of information on the Blue-Box boxes, but I do have a book about toys made in Hong Kong which I think has a bit more information. I'll check it and get back to you. Also, Blue-Box still exists - have you tried contacting them to ask about the type of plastic used in the 1960s-80s?