Since my last post about it I’ve learned the background of my dollshouse and it is very interesting. Naomi was the one who found out first after we’d both looked at many pictures of similar dollshouses. There are various ways to tell the make and model of a dolls house. Makers marks, if you are lucky enough to find them are best. Otherwise things like the style and colour of windows and doors, type of window fastenings, positions of stairs and chimneys can all be clues once you know what to look for. We are still learning.
Apart from Triang other manufacturers of similar looking dolls houses were Gee Bee, Amersham, Conway Valley to mention a few while other companies supplied stock parts for dolls houses either as full kits or for “Dad Built” houses. One such manufacturer was Romside which particularly interested us because the company was based in Romford, where we used to live!
My house is probably a “Dolly Mixture”. These houses were cheaper than the popular Triang Houses by Lines Brothers. They were sold in various retail stores . I have seen a picture of a house that looks a lot like mine in an illustration from the 1961 Gamages department store catalogue.
Gamages sold dolls houses from several manufacturers but the Dolly Mixture houses were sold unmarked for a very interesting reason.
The reason is that these houses were made at the Wakefield Training Prison in England, first by men and later by boys when the place was converted to a youth detention centre. The workshop was supplied with the plans for the houses and the inmates learned to make them. The department stores possibly felt that if people knew where the dolls houses had come from they might not want to buy them. I don’t know that we would worry about that these days but this was a different time.
Naomi and I learned about this from a very interesting dollshouse website called Doll’s Houses Past and Present which has an e-zine with articles about many different makers of dolls houses and dolls furniture. I will add a link for those of you that would like to learn more. On the website is one dolls house owner’s story of how she met a man who was on the staff at Wakefield shortly before he died and he reminisced with her about those times. It is well worth reading. I haven’t shared it here as I am uncertain about permissions but it is a great site for lovers of doll houses especially the British ones so I’d recommend paying a visit . Pinterest also has lots of wonderful photos of dolls houses.
I would particularly like to thank Naomi for not only finding me a lovely old house but also for the extensive web surfing she did to research its background. Naomi is waiting for a dolls house of her own to arrive from England in the next few weeks and once it has safely arrived and been reassembled I hope to be able to show it to you.
In my next dolls house post I’ll show you my dollshouse furniture and write a bit about some of the manufacturers.