Monday, November 2, 2015

1949 Keystone Put-a-Way Dollhouse

The Stone Family is very happy. They have just moved into their new home.

Mrs. Stone holds the baby, Sally, and the children, Dick and Jane, stand in front of their parents.

The family poses outside the front door for their official portrait.  Their new maid, Maddie, isn't sure that she was invited to be in the picture.

But she inches closer and smiles for the photographer.

This dollhouse is called a Put-a-Way because the right and left wings on the lower level can be put away inside the house. The wing on the right side of the house has a covered patio on the front and a garage with a metal door that slides up on the back. The roof of this wing is another patio.

It is a lovely outside space for the family.

The foldout wing on the right is the kitchen, and also has a roof patio.

The garage is quite narrow and the door is very small, so the family will have to buy a tiny car. Will it fit all 6 of them (if the maid goes too)?  There are lithographed tools, licence plates, and tires on the wall, so I guess it is good for storage, at least.

Now that the picture taking is over Father and Mother decide to relax with a drink. "Yikes," says Father, "We are out of Scotch. By the way, did you see that giant cat outside?"
"It must belong to the neighbours." says Mother. "I will go out and get some more scotch. Will you keep an eye on the children?"

Mother gets her purse and prepares to go to the store.  Father is reading the paper,
but looks up to comment, "That cat seems to have found a giant bottle of water."
"That's nice, dear." Mother says. She is preoccupied with trying to remember
 where the store is.
"By the way," says Father, "whose dog is this?"

While mother is out shopping we can take a tour of the house.

Upstairs, we find the girls are in the nursery, Jane's doll is almost as big as her baby sister.

Jane wishes her brother  would come play checkers with her.  If she could find some checkers - and her brother.

The bathroom is a bit small, but it has a built-in shower,  The shower curtain is original to the house.

The parents bedroom is cozy too.

The furniture is Strombecker

Maddie the maid seems to be asking the cat to jump into her arms. She should probably be getting the baby's bottle ready.

Wake up Maddie. There's work to do.

The dining room has with Strombecker furniture too. It suits the house well

Both the dining room and the living room have built-in shelving. The doors under the shelves in the dining room open.
Here is the built-in shelving in the living room. It has lithographed scones on each side

Here is the house from the back with the wings open

Another view of the bathroom. A previous owner of the plastic Renwal furniture has painted it biege.  I find it gives it a more realistic look.

Mother's finally home. She not only found the store, but she found Dick too. He had been out riding his tricycle.

Mother notices that the house looks smaller than it did when she left. What happened to the kitchen and the garage? And the patios are gone, too. She wonders if Father has noticed.

Here is the back of the house with the wings are folded in. It may be good for storing the house, but it's not good for the dolls who live in it.  I wonder how the chillden of 1949 dealt with it.

I was excited to find this house in such great condition. I had been wanting a Put-a-Way house for quite some time. I have a soft spot for Keystone and Rich Toy houses because they are such fun to play with. This one was first sold in 1949.
Thanks for visiting.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Mid-century living room and other treasures from Germany

Today I am sharing more treasures I found at the doll festival in the Sonneberg area last May.
My travel doll, Daphne, is happy to show us the room. The furniture is a large 1/12th scale
This is only one small section of the doll street sale. It stretched for blocks and went down all the side streets. What fun it was.
I found the Erzgebirge tea set and eggs with cups, as well as the little spotted dog in Seiffen, Germany.   
I found the new dollhouse rugs and the lovely antique furniture at the doll festival street market. It seemed that the entire town was one big street sale of dolls and dollhouse treasures.

I also found these lovely biedermeier/boule pieces, and the curtains complete with curtain rods and hooks, as well as the lovely chandelier.
I was particularly pleased with these two beautiful 1920s dollhouse dolls in their original outfits.  

I don't know when or if I can get back to this wonderful place for another doll festival, so this may have been the trip of a lifetime. I am so glad I got to go there at least once.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Middle class parlour from the Gründerzeit era circa 1890

I found this lovely antique parlour suite in the Sonneberg area of Germany when I was there last spring.  It is one example of the myriad of beautiful toys and dolls that were made in that area for more than three centuries.

There was a doll festival in the Sonneberg area last May and for four days the most amazing items were offered for sale.

Dealers from all over Europe set up sales tables with the most incredible treasures. It was doll house heaven!

This lovely 9-piece parlour has enamel decorations on several of the pieces. Unfortunately the four larger chairs are missing theirs. Still, it is a beautiful and rare set.

I found a picture of a very similar set of furniture in a German dollhouse book and they were referred to as "a middle class parlour from the Grunderziet era circa 1890"
The term Gründerzeitstil refers to a predominant architectural style from 1850 until 1914. In historical context different decades are often also called Gründerzeit. For this reason, the term Gründerzeit is used to refer to several periods; for example 1850-1873, 1871–1890, sometimes 1850–1914 for the architecture, or even just the years 1871–1873.

I bought the wonderful china coffee set from the same dealer. I fell in love with it. It is very delicate and so beautiful.

All of the pieces have blue beautiful flowers, gold edging, and the plates are monogrammed.

The furniture is a large 1/12th scale. I will need a large room to display it to the best effect. I haven't found the right setting yet, but I hope to be able to show you it in place soon.

In the meantime I hope you enjoy the pictures of it on my living room floor.

BTW, the carpet under the table in the first picture is a fancy tapestry matt I found in the gift shop of Princess Sissi's palace in Vienna. I think it suits the set.

Bye for now.


Saturday, September 5, 2015

Dollhouses in the news: $8.5 Million Dollhouse to Go on Public Display for the First Time

The Astolat Dollhouse Castle will begin a world tour during the upcoming Christmas season to benefit children's charities.

NEW YORKAug. 20, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- As reported in the New York Times July 16, 2015, the Astolat Dollhouse Castle, appraised as the most valuable dollhouse in the world for $8.5 million, will go on public display for the first time this holiday season to benefit children's charities including Autism Speaks.
Alan Goncharoff, CEO of the Astolat Dollhouse Castle project states, "Astolat provides a wonderful opportunity to bring this magnificent structure to the world while at the same time helping children in need. It's a win/win."
The hand-made structure contains 29 exquisite rooms along with 10,000 hand-crafted miniatures, paintings, furnishings, jewelry, dolls, animals, cars, and more created by famed artisans from around the world in such great detail that neither a high quality photo or a discerning eye can tell them apart from the full size version. In addition Astolat contains one of the world's foremost collections of antique miniatures that have historical significance as well as great value.

While people think of dollhouses as toys for children, adults often collect miniatures; in fact it was Colorado-based miniature artistElaine Diehl who designed and built the Castle over a 13 year period in the 1980's and modeled it after Tennyson's Lady of Shallot.  She then commissioned fine craftsmen from around the world to build an enormous collection of interior pieces, including carpenters, goldsmiths, glass blowers, and silversmiths. A few of the most notable miniature interior pieces include:
  • A signed drop leaf secretary desk valued at over $5,000
  • A miniature portrait valued at $1,840 painted with a brush containing one bristle
  • A 1949 Jeep Station Wagon, valued at over $3,300
  • A magnificent baby grand piano valued at over $7,000
  • A miniature Bible from 1811 valued in the thousands

Astolat Dollhouse Castle has its own Wizard's Tower, wine cellar, ballroom, library, armory, princess bedroom, and trophy room.  From its copper roof to the faux granite foundation, marble bathrooms, parquet floors, gold gilt trim, charming chapel, and rock wall wine cellar, it is an incredible work of art and craftsmanship.
Astolat Castle is privately owned and has never been on view for the general public; however, it will be on display in New York City this holiday season to benefit children's charities. More details, photos, and video at
Also see: 

Fun Facts
  • Astolat Dollhouse, the world's most valuable dollhouse, weighs between 815 and 890 pounds based on the furnishings chosen to be displayed inside.
  • Astolat was envisioned and engineered by master miniaturist Elaine Diehl over a two year period. Most of her designs were committed to memory. It then took 12 more years to construct with help from specialists from around the world.
  • It takes 2 days and 12 people to dismantle Astolat Dollhouse Castle and 2 days and 8 people to put it back together.
  • There are three times as many objects in storage at any one time than what is displayed in the Castle.
  • During the previous 20 years Astolat Castle has continually been upgraded and new items are always being purchased and commissioned to the highest quality possible.
  • High quality, very small miniatures that replicate full size objects are often easier for your brain to envision. This is because your eyes are often further apart than the miniature being viewed, allowing simultaneous viewing of 3 sides at the same time – called 3D stereotype or stereoscopy.
  • Rarely displayed within the walls of the few museum quality dollhouses of the world are dolls! Any replication of people would give away the superb accuracy of the miniatures.
  • More than 85% of girls in the United States have had a dollhouse at some point in their lives.
  • Before mass production fathers could spend up to a year hand-crafting dollhouses for their daughters. Some of these can be very valuable but most have not survived as they tended to disintegrate quickly.
  • Of the hand full of museum quality dollhouses in the world of this magnitude and value, only Astolat is privately owned.
  • Astolat's inventory of items numbers about 30,000, but less than a third are displayed at any one time within the structure. Items are rotated.
  • Many top quality miniatures and furniture are more expensive to buy or create than their full size counterparts.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

My New (old) Gottschalk Doll's House

This lovely house is all original. I believe it is from 1913. It was built in Germany. It is the smaller 3/4" scale.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Dollhouses in the News - 15 recent stories. Each one has a different take on our favourite things.

  1. Story image for dollhouses from New York Times

    Dollhouse Appraised at $8.5 Million Is to Tour - The New York Times

    New York Times-Jul 16, 2015
    The Freemans, who have an autistic grandson, are planning to display the dollhouse in New York this year, with ticket sales benefiting Autism ...
  1. Story image for dollhouses from The Globe and Mail

    Plenty of 'wow' moments in Lepage's confessional new play - The ...

    The Globe and Mail-Jul 15, 2015
    Cue the first wow moment, when a black box at centrestage opens up to reveal a huge dollhouse replica of the apartment building, each ...
    1. Story image for dollhouses from Co.Design

      These Shelves Double As Mid&Century Modernist Dollhouses For ...

      Co.Design-Apr 16, 2015
      Playing with a dollhouse as an adult might result in a Peter Pan Syndrome diagnosis—unless your dollhouse doubles as a functional shelf for ...
    Story image for dollhouses from Fortune

    FAO Schwarz closes: Read Fortune's 1940 story about its rise

    Fortune-Jul 15, 2015
    The store's own manufactures account for about 5 per cent of the volume. These items are chiefly playhouses, dollhouses, and toy garages.

  1. Story image for dollhouses from Albany Times Union

    Beatrice resident uses trash to make miniature dollhouse

    Albany Times Union-Jun 21, 2015
    The containers sparked the imagination of PEO Home resident Mary Newcomer, 93, to create a miniature dollhouse made completely out of ...
  1. Story image for dollhouses from

    Woman finds a home for her creativity with impressive dollhouses 4, 2015
    Barbara Stuermer of Jackson shows off one of her many dollhousesthat she built by hand on Wednesday, June 3, 2015. The 76-year-old is ...
  1. Story image for dollhouses from TravelPulse

    4 Spectacularly Detailed Dollhouses

    TravelPulse-Apr 26, 2015
    Have you ever wanted to roam the halls of the White House or be a fly on the wall in a royal palace? Well the following four dollhousestake ...
  2. Story image for dollhouses from The Guardian

    Doll's houses: little windows on the past

    The Guardian-Dec 5, 2014
    At an exhibition at the V&A Museum of Childhood, a collection ofdoll's houses offers an insight into the families who created and played with ...
    1. Story image for dollhouses from RocketNews24

      The detail on these Japanese dollhouses is amazing!

      RocketNews24-Jan 26, 2015
      While dollhouses have been popular in Europe for centuries, they didn't really develop a strong showing in Japan until the 1970s. However ...
      1. Story image for dollhouses from Providence Media

        Popular Doll Houses From 1920s Born From East Side's Handicraft ...

        Providence Media-Apr 23, 2015
        The Handicraft Club was founded in 1904 by Julia Lippitt Mauran, Mary Parsons and eight other women who shared a vision of “Craft and ...
        1. Story image for dollhouses from Lincoln Journal Star

          Cindy Lange-Kubick: Building joy, 55 square feet at a time

          Lincoln Journal Star-Jul 9, 2015
          He plans the dollhouses with the same kind of care as a real house. Rafters and floor joists and little headers around the windows and doors.
        2. Story image for dollhouses from CNBC

          $40000 dollhouse fit for a princess

          CNBC-Dec 5, 2014
          Every Christmas seems to bring news of hyperpriced dollhouses, but this one caught our attention for its incredible detail. (See the pictures ...
            1. Story image for dollhouses from The Age

              dollhouse to inspire young women into science, engineering and ...

              The Age-Mar 3, 2015
              The 26-year-old Brooks is in Melbourne at the Australian Toy Hobby & Licensing Fair promoting a dollhouse called Roominate that she ...
              1. Story image for dollhouses from New York Times

                Tiny Furniture: A Diaspora of Dollhouses

                New York Times-Aug 7, 2014
                Major collections of dollhouses and dollhouse furniture are appearing on the market, providing ample evidence of the evolution of the industry.
              1. Story image for dollhouses from The Portland Mercury (blog)

                If Dollhouses Were Honest: Tiny Domestic Spaces at Open Gallery

                The Portland Mercury (blog)-Nov 12, 2014
                It's what dollhouses would look like if they were honest. Meanwhile, Nick Makana's "Helena Markos" and "Helena Markos" (get it?) are what ...