Recently I reblogged a post from Lee Higgins about the fundraising campaign to save the website of “Dolls Houses Past and Present”. The deadline for donations is 17 August so I felt that I wanted to write about it one more time.
It seems to me that every time I go online I read about doll collectors who are downsizing their collections. My generation is getting older and many are moving to smaller homes where there won’t be room for dolls or have health issues that force them to let their dolls go. In many cases their children are not interested in having them. Many younger people today seem to actively dislike dolls or be frightened by them but that is the subject for another post.
What also concerns me is that knowledge is being lost. I don’t see a lot of new doll collecting books being written these days and without websites that provide information new collectors have nowhere to go. As an older person I don’t think of the dolls from the last twenty years or so as being vintage, to me vintage or antique is fifty years plus, but the other day I was watching a YouTube video made by a young collector. She’d was showing a bunch of Barbies she’d found at a thrift shop and asking viewers to help her ID them. Many of these dolls were from the Fashion Fever era and I recognised several pieces from closets I own myself. These are dolls from only ten or twelve years ago, how hard will it be to ID things that are 50 or more years old without specialist websites? Sharing information about dolls is something that I feel very strongly about and I would really hate to see a valuable collection of photos be lost.
When I first heard about the fundraising campaign I wrote to the admins of Dolls Houses Past and Present to ask if I could write a post about it, this was before I read Lee’s post. Today I received an email from Rebecca Green, one of the admins. Here is what she told me:
The Dolls Houses Past and Present website was started in 2009 by a UK collector of vintage and antique dolls houses and miniatures. She had very much missed the print magazine International Dolls House News when it ended, and after hoping for a while that something would replace it, decided to start a website herself. Unfortunately she had to hand over the ownership of the website due to health issues. I became involved with the online magazine first, and then in late 2011 took over the website.
When the website started, we were very lucky that our current web host provided a do-it-yourself website builder that had lots of features that enabled dolls house enthusiasts to become members, share photos of their dolls houses, comment on other members’ houses, ask questions, start discussions, and share the thrill of their finds. However, our web host introduced a new version of their site builder some years ago, which does not have all the features we rely on. We resisted changing to the new version, but they stopped maintaining the old version that we use some time ago, so more and more features have stopped working. A website like ours doesn’t really fit their target clientele any more.
Unfortunately, there are no other do-it-yourself website builders designed to accommodate websites like ours, either, so we will have to employ website developers to build one to our specifications. That’s not cheap! And so we are trying to raise £10,000, which is a rough estimate given by the companies we have asked for quotes. The actual quotes will be itemised, and give specific figures – hopefully a bit under £10,000, but we also have to budget for the annual maintenance costs, which will be about 6 times more than we pay our current web host – but for much better support, and a smoothly functioning website!
Every donation helps, large or small, and perhaps some of your readers will be kind enough to donate a small amount, in memory of their childhood dolls house, or someone they know or knew who loved dolls houses .…
So if you feel that you would like to make a donation that would be wonderful. Normally I would never ask for money on this site but if everyone who visits in the next couple of weeks gave just a dollar it could make a huge difference. At the time of writing, 25 July, the campaign has raised 29% of the ten thousand pounds they need, there are three weeks left to raise the rest. Can you help? At present the old site is still operational although with many problems but you should be able to view the photos. I just tried.
Here is the link to the campaign.