Friday, May 28, 2010

A kindred spirit

 One of my favourite doll house books is The Vivien Green Doll's House Collection, by Vivien Green with Margaret Towner.

Vivien Greene (née Dayrell-Browning) (1 August 1905 - 19 August 2003) was the widow of the distinguished novelist Graham Greene and an authority on doll's houses.

In the 1960s Greene gave her the money to build the Rotunda, a doll's house museum at her home near Oxford. By the mid-1990s, the Rotunda contained some 41 miniature castles, cottages and manors, all furnished down to the last tiny piece of porcelain. Her collection was auctioned off in London in 1998 (from

Read more here: Escape from the dolls' house

 Drawn from Vivien Greene's world-famous collection of English dolls' houses, this book offers an illustrated view of all the houses in this unique museum, alongside Vivien Greene's own memories and interpretations.

I was delighted to find this book at the local flea market for a reasonable price. I pour over the pictures and commentary anytime I have a few idle moments to fill. It breaks my heart to know that her wonderful collection was sold and the museum no longer exists. How I would have loved to visit it.

Vivien Dayrell-Browning Greene died in Oxfordshire, aged 98. What an interesting life she had.

From her obituary in The Inependent Thursday, 21 August 2003

Vivien Greene was a pioneer in this branch of social history, and recognised that in miniature there can survive a record of what has so often been destroyed in full-size. The 18th and 19th centuries were a distinct era, between the end of toy-free Puritanism and the onset of jerry-built items themselves supplanted by the soulless use of plastic. Vivien Greene was often called upon to catalogue items, such as one at West Dean House in Sussex.

Her first book prompted so many requests to visit that she was inspired to build a large, elegant Rotunda - subsidised by Graham - on the side of her home at Grove House, Iffley Turn. A catalogue of the doll's house collection appeared in 1995. Such is the inevitable tendency of chroniclers to dwell upon her husband that many forget that, more than a solace, this all enabled her most happily "to combine having a loved permanent home and indulging, in miniature, my enjoyment of all kinds and periods of English domestic architecture and decoration". To her, "collecting is not acquiring. It is more like planning a delightful small party, where everyone will find a friend and feel at home". 

This last quote sounds exactly like our blogging community. I am certainly enjoying the party.



Saturday, May 22, 2010

The Barton Model Home

Every time I decide I have enough dollhouses and decide to stop buying another dollhouse becomes available and begs to come live at my house.

My latest buy is the Barton Model Home.

Mini Dork had information about this house on her Blog last month.

Several variations of this house are discussed in Mini Dork's blog, but Rebecca of Rebecca's Collection identified one like mine as the Barton Model Home, available from about 1956 to 1976. She said they were sold mostly as kits, to make up at home, although some were sold made up.

(images of a similar house (from Rebecca) are on and same site here and here)

I bought my house from the original owner. Her father built it from a kit in 1962 when she was just two. It had been packed away with its contents for several decades.

It contains Barton, Dol-Toi and Lundby (I think) furniture and a Grecon family lives there.

I find it very exciting to have an all original vintage dollhouse with such wonderful provenance.

The original owner said that her parents were from England and she thought that the house and contents had been purchased there.

I did as much research as I could and discovered that she was right. Quite a lot of the furniture and accessories are also made by Barton.

The living room furniture appears to be Lundby, except for the little art deco dresser which is probably either Barton or Dol-Toi. I couldn't find a picture of it when I was researching, but it definitely has that look.

In the living room we find two Grecon gentlemen enjoying a plate of cheese and beverages in pewter mugs. Both are nattily dressed as is expected of this type of doll. They have metal feet, embroidered hair and painted features. They are approximately 3.5" tall.  These dolls were produced in England from the 1950's to the 1970's.

I had been hoping to add a Grecon family to my collection and was delighted to get them with the house.

I haven't made up my mind yet. Will the older man and woman be the parents and the younger man and woman be their teenage children. with the toddler as an afterthought (much younger sibling)?  Will the older couple be the grandparents and the younger couple the child's parents? Or will I come up with some other computation of the five inhabitants. I think I will see where the dolls take me. They probably know who they are.

The cats are vintage Barton as are the goldfish in the nursery. I had never seen them before, but found them for sale on eBay UK, so was able to identify them.

(Don't you just love her fancy dotted dress and her red earrings?)

 A lovely Grecon lady is in the dining room beside what I think is a Lundby Piano. The keyboard cover flips up to reveal music and the gold decoration on the top of the piano appears to be hand painted. The table, chairs, clock and buffet also look like Lundby, but they aren't exactly like the furniture I have in my Lundby houses.

I think they are much earlier than the other pieces I own. Can anyone tell me if this is true?

The fireplace is Barton and plugs in to the outlet behind it. I believe the log basket, phone and cake are also Barton accessories.
The kitchen is delightful. The fridge says Dol-Toi on the back and has a paper 'Frigidaire' sticker on the front.

The cupboard, sink, table and chair are also Barton, as are the pots, pans, and food on the table.

I have seen the blue dishes included with Barton furniture on eBay, so I think they are also from that company.

The cleaning supplies were sold by Barton and a few other companies, I believe. There are two sets of these with the house. The dog is hard plastic. I haven't been able to identify it. Can anyone help?

In the bedroom a Grecon lady admires herself in the vanity. She has had some problems with her legs. Both have unraveled and one metal foot is missing.

I am not sure who made the bedroom furniture. It is wood with red accents and lovely floral decals on the large pieces. The handles are small nails painted red.

I think they may also be Barton. Does anyone know for sure?

I love the nursery. This wooden set is late 50s-early 60s Barton and is a complete set.

The drawers open, and the side of the crib can go up and down.

The child is a sweet little Grecon girl in a floral dress with a garland in her hair.

The bathroom is made of plaster and is Barton from the early 1960s.
 I look forward to your comments and any information you can provide. Don't hesitate to correct me on anything I got wrong.



P.S. I identified a number of the dollhouse items by searching for Barton on eBay UK, but a large number of the items are found in the book,
Antique and Collectible Dollhouses and Their Furnishings
by Dian Zillner, Patty Cooper

Friday, May 21, 2010

Bells are Ringing at the Flaggs

The doorbell keeps ringing at the Flagg house. First Bob's mother arrives. Bob kisses her hello while Betty pays the airport limousine.

"Bob," says Mrs Flagg Sr. " We were so worried when you were gone. Felicia said you had amnesia. How could that happen?"

"Hi Granny," says Patsy. "This is my dog Bucky. Isn't he great?"

"I don't know how I got amnesia, Mother. I can't remember anything about it." says Bob

Ding Dong. The doorbell rings again.

It is Betty's parents, Dorothy and Dabney Drapeau.

"Mom, Dad, how lovely to see you both." says Betty as she welcomes them to her home. "We didn't know you were coming. You should have called."

"Grandma! Grandpa!" yells Patsy, jumping onto the couch to hug her Grandfather. "This is Bucky. he's my dog."

"My dear," says Mrs. Drapeau to Betty in a low voice. "Is everything okay? Did you figure out where Bob went?"

Before Betty can answer the doorbell rings again.

It is Bob's sister Felicia with her husband Philip Falon and their twins Freddie and Fern.

Patsy is excited to see her cousins. Betty and Bob invite everyone to sit down in the living room.

As everyone settles in for a nice visit an Betty mentally runs through the what food is in the house and what to prepare for all the unexpected dinner guests the door bell rings again.

It is Bob's cousin Debbie. Everyone loves Debbie and greets her enthusiastically.

I wonder what Patsy is plotting with her cousins. Those kids can cook up some great schemes.
"Don't worry,"  says Patsy. "I haven't actually done it, but it looks pretty easy. Just follow me."

There goes the doorbell again and in comes Betty's sister Bridget with her husband Bill Banner and her three kids, Bradley, Bunny and Prentice.

Bob is standing by the fireplace with Philip, Felicia's husband. "So, Bob," Philip says quietly. "Where did you really go and what did you do."

"I honestly can't remember anything from the time I went missing until I saw Felicia on the street that day." says Bob just as the doorbell rings again.
Betty can't imagine who it would be since the whole family has already arrived, so she is surprised to see the Mountie and the delivery man again.

This time they seem to be delivering a bride.

"Hello again ma'am", says the Mountie. "This young lady has reported a missing person and my policeman's intuition tells me that the missing person in question is the same missing person as your missing person.
"What on earth do you mean?" asks Betty. "Bob is not missing anymore. What would this have to do with him?'

"Just the facts ma'am. This lady is looking for a man who matches the description of your husband."
The bride starts to explain. "I met a wonderful man. He had no one in the world and I thought he was very romantic and mysterious. We decided to get married because he wanted so much to be part of a family. He felt that he was missing that in his life."

"Yesterday was our wedding day and I waited at the chapel for hours, but he never showed up. I filed a missing person report and the policeman brought me here."

"BOB!" yells Betty. "Could you come out here please?"
When Bob comes out Betty takes them over to the side. She doesn't want the family to over hear until this is straightened out.

My dearest," the bride says to Bob. "How could you leave me at the alter like that!?

"Bob! You were going to marry another woman?! Explain yourself." says Betty

"I don't remember anything." says Bob

Both women start talking at once, but Bob gets the feeling he is being watched.

"Oh my," says Felicia.

"So, I was right." says Mrs. Drapeau.

"Now dear," says Mr. Drapeau

"Lucky dog," says Bill to Philip. "Two beautiful women fighting over him.

"What was that, Bill?" asks Bridget.

"Nothing dear." Bill mumbles.

"My Bob would ever do anything wrong," says Mrs. Flagg Sr. " All of you be quiet now."

"Yes, everyone, be quiet. I can't hear what they are saying." says cousin Debbie.

Well, it seems that Bob has some explaining to do. Where was he while he was gone? What other things did he do? How did he get amnesia in the first place? Where did he meet the young bride?

Will we ever find out?

And with all the adults so interested in Bob and Betty's business has anyone thought to check on the children? I wonder what they are up to.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Flaggs of a different scale

I won this Flagg Family on eBay last night

They won't be attending the family reunion because they are dolls of a different scale. They are 1:1 not 3/4 scale.

I fell in love with their faces and clothes. They look much less cartoonish than their 3/4 cousins. Don't get me wrong. I love the smaller dolls too. Their caricature-like look is very appealing. 

So I am waiting impatiently to receive my new family and thinking about what house they will live in - maybe the Stockbroker Tudor. It's about time I started fixing that one up. I have had for it over a year and I have done nothing to it. I was to afraid to start back then, but now I have lots of dollhouse experience, so I will have to take a second look.
Being a child of the 50s and 60s, these dolls really spoke to me.(Make sure you click on the picture to see the whole family.)

Look at how stylish Mom is in her circle skirt, white shrug and bandanna. Her pixie cut suits her perfectly.

Dad is handsome in his business attire, All ready to go to work and support his family.

Little brother isn't the least bit self  conscious in his green overall shorts, white shirt and white ankle socks. He is very secure with his place in the world.

I love Sis's gingham dress and white collar. Mom must have put in some good ironing time on that, but it was worth it. Sis looks like a dream child. I am sure she is a perfect little lady.

Baby brother has only his diaper, but he looks very happy anyway. This is the same baby doll they used in the 3/4 sets.

A little research has told me that these larger scale, more realistic dolls are from a later period than the Flaggs I have shown you so far. The 1-inch scale dolls are shown in ads from 1961 and 1965 and the 3/4" dolls are from the late 40s to the mid-60s. (from Dollhouse And Furniture Advertising, 1880s-1980s by Dian Zillner, Suzanne Silverthorn)

Flagg also produced 7-inch dolls in various costumes, i.e. dancers, different countries,  etc. I haven't acquired any of those yet as I thought they were too big for the dollhouse, but time will tell whether any of them end up at my house.

Anonymous left me another comment about his/her new dolls.

They are the Bennetts. The little girl is Amelia, her twin brother is Nick, The mom is Sarah, the dad is David. The baby will be Ellie.

It sounds like they are going to a very good home ad will have some wonderful adventures.

I pulled the pictures off eBay to share as Anonymous doesn't have a blog, but I think, as a kindred spirit, Anonmous shoud start blogging and share with us.

We would love to hear about the adventures of the Bennett family.

All it takes is a digital camera, and access to the internet.


Saturday, May 8, 2010

News travels fast ...

All the Flaggs have their phones glued to their ears today. (Literally, I couldn't get their arms to bend to the proper position.)


Betty Flagg phones her parents with the good news.
"Mom! Bob is home! He's okay - just a little tired."

"Oh my dear, how wonderful!" says Mrs. Drapeau. "Where has he been all this time.

Betty explains, "Bob had amnesia and his sister Felicia found him in California. When he saw her his memory came back and he came home as fast as he could. Patsy and I are so happy."

"I am so glad dear." says Mrs Drapeau. But she feels something is not right.

As soon as she gets off the phone she tells her husband. "Dabney, we must go to Betty's immediately. Bob's come back and he says he had amnesia."

"Dorothy," says Mr. Drapeau, "Why don't you let the kids have some time alone. Bob's been gone a while. They could probably use some privacy. Call Betty back and tell her we will take Patsy for a few days."

"No, Dabney. We must go to Betty right away. People don't get amnesia in this day and age. Something fishy is going on. Hurry up and pack."

Next Betty calls her sister Bridget and tells her the story.

Bridget tells Betty how wonderful it is, but she is suspicious too.

She can hardly wait to get off the phone so she can pack up her three kids and hubby Bill Banner and go to her sister.

Meanwhile Felicia, Bob's sister is calling her mother.

"Mom!" she says. "Bob's home. You can't imagine how surprised I was to run into him the last time I was in San Francisco. He disappeared because he had amnesia."

"Bob's home!!" says Mrs. Flagg Sr. "My dear, I will be on the first plane to Bob and Betty's house."

 "Okay Mom. We'll see you there. Philip and the twins and I are driving up there in the morning."

"Did you hear that Freddie?" Fern says to her brother. "We are going to see cousin Patsy. I wonder what trouble she'll get us into this time. I can't wait."
"Okay dear, I'll see you all then. I'm going to call your cousin Debbie and let her know." Mrs. Flagg Sr. hangs up then redials the phone.

"Hello," says Debbie.

"Hello dear, this is your Aunt Flavia. How are things there in your Dream House?"

"Everything is fine here Aunt Flavia. How are you?"

"I have good news, dear. Bob is home. The family is going to Bob and Betty's to visit him. Why don't you join us there?"

"I would love to Aunt Flavia. I'll take the train up tomorrow."

I wonder if anyone remembered to let Bob and Betty know that company was coming. It looks like the Flagg house is going to be pretty crowded. Stay tuned.

P.S. On my travels with Daphne I picked up a bag containing 11 Flagg dolls at one of the antique markets. All were dirty, some were damaged, and all but two were missing their clothes. I have had some fun cleaning, restoring and finding or making clothes for the family. I still need to get some paint for rubbed hair and shoes, but all are dressed now and ready for a family reunion.