It’s a Small, Small World – Dolls Houses, Miniatures and Models

Dolls houses belonging to my sister.
Dolls houses belonging to  Naomi

I’ve always loved dolls houses and miniature villages and things of that type. As readers of this blog will know I have a Barbie sized house which is 1:6 scale.  However this section of the blog is mostly devoted to the smaller scale houses. As children Naomi and I both had dolls houses. I don’t think either of them were new when we got them. Mine was a Triang house but more about that later.  Naomi has a good collection of dolls houses and from various manufacturers, some wooden, some tin lithographed ones and even a cardboard one. We have both posted about our very special wooden dolls houses from England, The Dolly Mix house that she bought me for Christmas, the Triang Model 61 which is an older version of my childhood dolls house that she found on eBay recently  and her Triang CEX, the newest addition to the collection.

Below: My childhood dolls house, a Triang Model 61 was similar to this one but made in the 50s, the one pictured is from 1939.  The tin dolls house is “Swansea Cottage” by Marx, one of the few houses made for the British market by them. Naomi had one like this as a child. She also had a wooden one which was quite large and which we have no surviving photos of.

One of the interesting things about old dolls houses is that unlike the stylised ones of today they reflect the styles and colour schemes of their eras. The tin ones such as those made by Marx have lithographed decor which is just beautiful. The old Triang’s, Dolly Mix’s and others made in England have gabled roofs, timber panelling and other features common in the houses of pre WWII England. To see some really lovely dolls houses go to Dolls Houses Past and Present and look at their galleries of members photos.

Naomi has done a lot of research to learn about her houses and vintage furniture and she  discovered that there were several companies that made dolls house furniture. One I remember her telling me about is Kleeware , there were also Barton, Blue Box, Spot On, Renwal and many others.

We had dolls to live in the houses too. I remember a set of hard plastic girls,I think there were a dozen and mum gave us six each. They had molded hair, sleep eyes and they were strung with rubber bands which would often break or worse the hooks that held the bands would break. Mum became quite good at repairing them with glue or, while we were sailing to Australia, with nail polish borrowed from our cabin mate.Our dolls houses were children’s playthings of course but vintage ones are very collectible. The houses that adults collect are very different.

Some dolls house enthusiasts prefer building brand new houses though and I had to admit that appeals to me as well. I don’t think I would have the patience to build a house from scratch though. I think I would buy a pre made one and just have the fun of decorating it. It is just amazing how clever some hobbyists are creating tiny little household items, clothing and food.
Every  second year there is a doll’s house and miniature show in Hobart and I usually try to go to it. Below are a few of the photos I took at the 2012 and 2014 shows.

Chalets on the beach Hobart Dolls House & Miniature Show 2012
Chalets on the beach Hobart Dolls House & Miniature Show 2012
Pretty cottage dolls house and miniature show 2012
Pretty cottage dolls house and miniature show 2012
Lilliput Department Store
Lilliput Department Store 2012

Green Grocer
A Matter of Scale

One of the things that I discovered by visiting the shows and further reading afterwards is that miniaturists work in several different scales. Here are some of the most popular ones.

  •  1:12 scale where 1 inch equals twelve inches
  • 1:24 or “half scale” where an inch equals 24 inches
  • 1:48 or “quarter scale” where an inch equals 48 inches, this scale is similar to the model railway O gauge
  • 1:144 sometimes called micro scale. This is similar to the British N scale model railways gauge.

A good article describing these and other scales for dolls houses and miniatures can be read here.

Of course there is also 1:6 which is the scale that Barbie and many other fashion dolls are made in. Barbie and Sindy have both had many houses and the vintage ones are very collectible of course. My Barbie house is neither old nor collectible but it might be if I keep it long enough. 🙂

This is my Barbie sized house.
This is my Barbie sized house.

Creating miniatures is a hobby that both men and women enjoy. In a way railway modellers and dolls house miniaturists have a lot in common. Modellers use their ingenuity to turn household objects into furniture and scenery as they become miniature carpenters, painters and electricians and practice such skills as sewing, knitting and landscaping.

Model villages in larger scales are fun to visit and probably as much fun to create if you have the room. One of the most well known ones in Australia is Cockington Green in the ACT.  This popular tourist attraction has been open to the public since 1979 and I had wanted to visit it ever since I first heard about it. I finally did in 2007. I wasn’t disappointed. As well as an English style town there were models of world landmarks and some models which were just pure fantasy. If you plan to visit Canberra I definitely recommend a visit. You can see more photos of Cockington Green on my Flickr page.

Intercity Express

Canal boat

The International Section-02

Alien Landing

There is a model village in Richmond, Tasmania too. It is called Old Hobart Town and is a replica of Hobart in its early years. Another popular model village in Tasmania is at Tasmazia which is near Lake Barrington in the northern part of the state. I haven’t been there yet but hope to one day. Closer to home there is the Tudor Court Model Village and German  Model Train World.  This used to be located at Huonville but is now at the Brookfield winery at Margate. The link will take you to the home page and has information about what there is to do and see at Brookfield.

Further Reading: Dolls House Miniatures Magazine (UK)  – Australian Miniature Enthusiasts website


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