Monday, April 26, 2010

Miniature Spirits

I recently collected up most of the alcohol in my dolls houses for a group shot, to contribute to an album in the Dolls Houses Past and Present photo gallery.

You've seen most of the pieces here in the houses and room boxes they belong to: the Bodensee, the VERO Rügen, the Lundby Gothenburg, PI Angus Shand's office, and the Californian Bungalow style house.

The Jack Daniels boxed set is new - I bought it for Tim, as he and Johnno had to play cards without anything to drink.

But it's not easy to see all the details in each room, so I think the idea of collecting similar pieces up and photographing them together, as Florine did with radios and TVs and diepuppenstubensammlerin did with computers, is great. I'll try to do more gradually.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Super City Skyport Building Set - buy it now!

I got curious about whether the Super City set of my last post had been available in the US. So I had a look on US ebay - and guess what? The Super City Skyport Building Set is for sale right now - 2 sets, mint in box, buy it now - and seven have already sold. Sounds like old store stock. It's described as Marx Toys 6548 - interesting, when mine says Ideal Toy Corporation. Was there a link between Ideal and Marx, I wonder?
I'd love to hear if any of you buy a set!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Super City Construction Set

I recently found this Super City set on Australian ebay.

I hadn't heard of it before, and I don't remember seeing it in supermarkets - it was sold at Coles Stores and New World Supermarkets. Coles is an Australian supermarket chain, and used the 'New World' tag from 1962 to 1990. I would guess that this might date from the 1970s, but there's no date on it. It does say 'Made in Australia':

and also that it's a registered trade mark of the Ideal Toy Corporation:

so perhaps there's a US version as well.

It's a modular construction set, not a dolls house - it's designed to build a city with shops, utilities, businesses and houses. You can tell it's Australian from the spelling of the signs:

What caught my eye was the coloured plastic sheets that form the walls of the buildings, so that you can construct multi-coloured buildings - a similar concept to the Marx Imagination house or the Bozart Kaleidoscope house.

I've had a go putting together one of the buildings:

and also making a small house that I could almost use as a dolls house in the Kaleidoscope house. The square plastic frames, into which the coloured inserts go, are 5.5 cm wide, so this structure is about 13 cm x 7.5 cm, or roughly 5" x 3":

I think the tiny plastic dolls house furniture I've used in the top pictures came with the 1949 Ohio Art Corporation metal dolls house, although it may have been available through other companies too. I bought it from an Australian woman who played with it as a child.

I haven't tried the modern home with its second floor overhang:

or the research centre or medical centre:

and I'd need the Skyscraper Kit to make the skyscrapers shown on the lid of the box, and also in the Building Guide and Plans - no doubt so that kids would ask their parents to buy it for them!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Dolly's House is now Amanda's!

Those of you who read my post on Molly Fox's dolls house collection, and the comments I received, will have seen that I was contacted by the current owner of one of the houses Mrs Fox owned, Dolly's House.

In an amazing case of serendipity, Amanda found my blog the day I posted about Molly Fox. She has very generously agreed to let me show her photos of Dolly's House here; all the descriptions are also hers.

Amanda said, "I believe Mrs Fox sold Dolly's House at auction in London in the 70s and it remained with this owner for over 30 years. The next owner had it for around 5 years and with ill health could not enjoy it and sold it on to me."

These photos show the roof which is not shown in the book. It does not come off which makes it difficult to get to the wires, and the roof space is a waste, it is so large, if built nowadays it would probably have had another room up there, or 2 or 3.

The chimney pots have spent shells from the war.

Here is Dolly's House front and back photos when I purchased it.

The little hatch is still in place in working order in the kitchen.

It had been wallpapered with modern paper which I have taken off. (I thought I may have come across some writing on the walls as I was stripping it but I didn't.) I have only completed one room downstairs left and have half finished downstairs right. It is so difficult to locate vintage wallpaper to match the original colours of the room. The book only showed black and white, so it will probably look very bright to you now. I have filled it with Dol-toi furniture that I got on the internet new in boxes, and little Grecon dolls. I thought the little cat looked similar to the one in the book, and the Christmas tree is vintage German with glass.

I make dollhouse miniatures using beads and crystal, but Dolly's House is a challenge being 16th scale. All the dollhouse items here in the UK are 12th, and I am having to make all the extras myself which takes a long time. I just finished the living room mat which took 3 months. I first used the Appletons crewel wool which gave a hard woolly finish but it keeps snapping, so I have gone back to dmc which gives a smoother finish, not as nice as Appletons. I have taken photos at a distance of normal sized photos of the family and some of my sheep (I take on orphan Herdwick sheep every year) and Matilda my miniature donkey, and cut them down to put in frames on the walls - the original little nails are still there.

It has been very difficult to source wallpaper. I ended up with J Hermes and I have used Aunt Gracie reproduced fabric for curtains. I still have the passage and the bedroom to repaper which I find very difficult to do, as the ink runs on the old Hermes wallpaper if you get the outside wet with paste, and then it is very difficult to trim even with a sharp artist knife, around the light switches etc.
I had to replace a couple of window panes as they were split and yellow, but other than that just the wallpaper as someone had replaced it - underneath was painted walls to match the doors and pelmet. The little doors and handles are all original, and the painted picture rails. The floors also have the original paint to match, I just had to disinfect the paint but it is still in very good condition. It has vinyl on the floor; I took the first layer off to reveal another layer. I have left this underneath, looks like paint to match the doors and fireplaces and pelmets. Such a lovely little house, I wanted to clean it up and make it mine, but was not sure how far to go: the brick paper on the sides looks like it has something under, and the roof paint looks too new, but the book does not show any of this so I will never know.

The original bathroom suite is still in place , with moving taps, and a moving toilet chain. The bathroom and kitchen have original paper on the walls with green and white squares which I have left alone - I will cross stitch some carpets to match. The kitchen also has a little stove that lights up.

Originally it had a large battery running the lights, and this was replaced by a rather complicated electrics board which hides behind the laundry room with a false wall, enabling me to plug it into the mains. One of the things I dread is when the light bulbs need changing in case a wire has come loose, they appear to run inside the walls, and I cannot see how or if the roof comes off to trace them when they go off. The little downstairs fireplaces lift out and have little bulbs underneath which shine through red and orange plastic to give it the red glow. I would love to hang some of my chandeliers in Dolly's House but the electrics are tricky, sometimes they can go off if a wire comes out of the circuit board at the back, so many wires, and it is just a matter of pushing on a few until they come back on.

The turntable must have been lost some years ago. It still has the little plate underneath where it must have fitted. I have Dolly's House on a table with wheels so I can move it about to fiddle with it.

The little dresser in the kitchen has drawers which are made of matchboxes reading 1922:

I have the book by Jean Latham which came with the house. I really just like to look at the pictures. I have tried to replicate as much of the original things I can find, it amazes me how much is still available in such good condition.
I have often tried to search the internet for information on Molly Fox, but did not come up with anything, I was browsing looking for Grecon dolls and I hit the side bar of options and I clicked on latest which I have never done before and your blog came up!

I have one more dollhouse which was made a few years ago with a garden. Living in the Lakes, I collect the Beatrix Potter bronze figures and thought I would make a garden to put them in. They are not to scale but it kept me busy until Dolly's House came along. I would love to know more about it who it was made for. When I bought Dolly's House I was looking for a similar one I had in my childhood but could not find one. I could not remember the make, but would recognise one if I'd seen it, but Dolly's House appealed because it opened front and back, I have it lit up every night and spend many hours furnishing it.

Thank you Amanda, for all the photos and such detailed descriptions! I love how Amanda has decorated the house so far, and made it her own while respecting the original features. It's wonderful to know that Dolly's House is in such good hands, and is being cherished and enjoyed - please keep us up to date as you decorate more rooms!

Friday, April 2, 2010

Happy Easter!

I wish all my blog friends and readers who celebrate Easter a very happy one!