Saturday, December 1, 2012

Combination Doll House by Stirn & Lyon - Antique Dollhouse

I know that my favoutite Sunday morning outing, the St. Lawrence Antique Market in Toronto, offers rare and unusual treasures, but I was blown away when I came across this one and I bought it immediately.
The Combination Doll House made  by New York firm Stirn & Lyon was patented in 1881.

The houses came unassembled in wood boxes. The box served as the base for the house and the box top became the roof.

The house pictured on the box label was a little more fancy than the actual doll house.

It appears to be marble, situated in a park-like setting on a river.

Elegant ladies gossip outside the iron fence while a little girl joyfully chases her hoop.
On one side of the house is an elegant fountain in  a manicured garden with cliffs and trees in the background.

On the other side of the house is a gazebo near beautiful flowers in full bloom and where one can watch the sailboats on the river.

An idyllic setting for a beautiful dollhouse. What child (or adult for that matter) wouldn't want to own this magnificent edifice?

Let's see if what's in the box lives up to the picture.
Here is the box with the foundation blocks lithographed onto it. Someone has added strips from cigar boxes to the bottom (which slides off to become the roof). I am not sure why they are there.
Inside the box we find everything we need to build our beautiful house. Or at least we should. As we shall see I am missing some pieces.
The panels for the exterior of the house have the bricks and window details lithographed on in blue ink. The wood panels are very thin and some have split.

A couple of the panels have the windows taped back on.
We start by turning the box over so that it becomes the base of the house.  We insert the dowels of the slotted supports into the holes in the base and slide the panels into them.

Here is the house with the walls up.
This side unfortunately has a piece is missing above the lower window.

There was only one side of the steps in the box and no small pieces to actually make the steps, but I am sure I can make replacements as all I have to do is copy the side of steps I have and cut out wood pieces to lie across the supports.

Also missing were the pieces of wood that attach the balcony and the pediment. Again I think I will be able to make substitutes once I study the house to see how they were attached.

Although this seems like a wonderful toy it is quite flimsy and falls apart if you breathe on it. It must have been quite frustrating for the little ones who actually wanted to play with it.
Here is the interior. I don't know why one of the panels has the exterior printed on the inside too. It looks like a mistake to me.

Just for fun I furnished this house with my candy containers. It's not a bad fit. I have added a tobacco felt rug to cover the illustration of the house on the box top.

This is the back of the house.These two pieces of wood were left over and fit perfectly in the back to close it. I am not sure if this is right but it seems to work.

I will leave you with pictures of other Stirn & Lyon buildings that I found on the internet. These kits can still be found at auction occasionally.

This one is just like mine, but has more small pieces

The East River Suspension Bridge, which we now call the Brooklyn Bridge, opened in 1883 and at that time was the longest suspension bridge in the world.
I'm sure kids wanted their own version and they could get it from Stirn & Lyon.

This is a much larger house but it looks just a flimsy.
This one was once in Flora Gill Jacobs' collection

Here is the interior

A Stirn & Lyon Villa. This one looks later than the one above.

Inside the Villa

A Stirn & Lyon Grocery store

Grocery store box

An 1886 postcard advertising Stirn & Lyon.
It must have been a large store. It has three street numbers

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Candy Containers as Antique Doll House Furniture

As children do today, children at the turn of the last century often found packages of candy under their Christmas trees. But the candy wasn't the as big a thrill as the boxes they came in.
The variety of candy containers was almost endless. They were made of glass, celluloid, paper mache, composition, wood, plastic, and everything else used to make toys and collectibles. Although you can still buy toys containing candies today, the golden age of candy containers was from the 1870s up into the 1920s.

Containers came in many shapes - animals (some covered with real fur), trees, people, historical figures, household appliances, furniture, decor, flowers, vehicles, holiday items, and anything else you could imagine.

My collection of candy containers is, of course, doll house furniture. I believe these were made in the early 1900s.

The red patterned armchair with matching side chairs and table is made of cardboard and covered with a print patterned paper.

When the boxes are opened you can see that the original shredded paper excelsior is still in place.

The furniture is a 1 inch to 1 foot scale, so each piece must have held only one or two pieces of candy.

The black patterned set doesn't have any excelsior, but the insides of the boxes have paper lace edging.

The construction is the same as the red set.
The sofa and the chaise would have contained more candy than the chairs, but, I am sure, would have cost more.

The piano is also paper covered cardboard.

Here is a view of the piano looking down from the top
The candy space is revealed when you push back the top of the piano.

Here are the two tables side-by-side for comparison of their construction.

The black patterned one has a wooden base. The red one has a base of thick cardboard.
The side chairs are identical in construction. The backs are slightly padded.

The arm chairs are quite large in comparison to the rest of the furniture. I guess these were for the father of the family. The construction is identical, but the chair on the right is missing a padded piece of cardboard on the back, which I assume represents a cushion.

You can find  many other examples of antique candy containers on the internet by putting that phrase into a Google search.

I was amazed at the variety of items. Holiday themed containers like Santas and Jack O'Lanterns were very popular. Unusual papier-mâché and composition examples can bring very high prices.

There is even a Candy Container Collectors of America club

I would have loved to find any of these wonderful items under my Christmas tree.

I wish they made such quality items to delight and entertain us today.

Happy Holidays!


Sunday, November 4, 2012

My Lady's Boudoir - Antique Dollhouse

Okay my mini collecting friends, I am going to need your help with this one. I have this set of incredible antique (I think) hand painted furniture and I don't know what they are or where they were made.
This room display is my rather poor attempt to emulate
the room boxes in the November 2012 Theruault action
I was lucky enough to win this lovely set on eBay. I love it, but I have searched all my dollhouse reference books and the internet and can't find anything like it.
The furniture is too big for my little cardboard room. The room is scaled for 1" scale, but the furniture is more of a 1.5" scale.

I am thinking of building a room box for the furniture based on some of the antique rooms I see in the Therault's action.
The set came with three chairs, a dining table, two side tables,
a bed, a settee, and two tall hall stands, or servers, or vanities.
I am not actually sure of their original purpose

For the room setting I put aluminum foil in the tall stands to represent mirrors, but I don't know if they had them originally.

Although all the pieces look alike there are two slightly different hand painted designs. You can see them here.

This makes me wonder if these are actually two different sets. One paint style is for the bedroom and the other for the sitting room.
Here are the two stands side by side. The taller one has a plainer flower (or blue decoration) than the shorter one.

Two of the chairs are painted to match the taller stand. The leaves on these pieces are more of a blue green than those of the other pieces.

The side tables also match the pieces above. These have gold trim on the underskirt on three sides, but none on the fourth, which I assume is the back. I have shown both front and back here.

I absolutely love the basket painted on the taller end of the bed. How sweet is this? I also love the hand painted gold trim on all the pieces. These must have been fun to decorate.
Here is the shorter end of the bed, I assume the foot, but this means that the pretty basket is against the wall in most room settings. It just doesn't seem right.

The glue had dried out on most of the pieces and a previous owner had used a hot glue gun to put it all back together. It looked horrible. I cleaned it all off and re-glued everything.

You can see that this piece had been broken.

Here is the side rail of the bed with more pretty blue flowers.

These three pieces have the blue flower decoration at the top and the base of each back.

The table top is a masterpiece! It has the lighter green leaves of the single chair and the settee.
Here is the table with all three chairs. You can see the slight differences in the patterns on the char seats.

A doll would have nothing but Sweet Dreams in this pretty bedroom!!

 I have added this sweet little glass-eyed doll to the scene, although she did not come with the set. She seems to fit though. She is wearing a regional costume that I can't identify. She is about 6 inches tall.
She has a wonderful hairdo under her elaborate lace bonnet. I love the colour of the hair.
Here is a close-up of her sweetly painted face.

I hope you enjoyed the visit to my mystery room. If you can help me identify it please leave a comment. I would love to know more about it.