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.



  1. Very interesting. I have never seen anything like it. In some ways they look new. Pretty anyway! CM

    1. In person they don't look new. I keep thinking they are from around 1900. There is a certain look about them.

  2. I might suggest 1930-50's fretwork, home-made from plans in 'Hobbies Annual' or a similar publication?


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    2. Thanks Hugh. That is a good clue. Someone may have been creating their own 'Antique' dollhouse furniture. The painting on the pieces doesn't look amateurish though. I will see if I can find anything on the net from Hobbies Annual.

      I am eager to hear more theories.

  3. Susan, when I was doing restoration work for Pat Arnell at the Mini Time Machine Museum, we ran across that type of furniture quite often. It Wes usually connected with turn of the century houses from England or Germany. It was cut and painted one piece at a time by a lot of different people. That accounts for some pieces being more well put together than others. There were also painters with varying degrees of artistic talent and experience. That is why it is irregular. I hope this helps.

    1. Thanks Casey! I am glad to hear from someone who has seen these before. I had a feeling they were from around 1900. Just something about the way they look. And, as they are hand painted, it makes sense that the patterns would vary.

  4. Very beautiful, Susan! A great find, whatever it is. I'm pretty sure it's not made from Hobbies designs, though I don't have all their dolls house furniture patterns. Perhaps German fretwork designs, or as Casey suggests, made as a cottage industry - I would think in Germany (/Austria / Bohemia / Moravia etc) rather than England - but a lot of German furniture was sold in England.
    The doll has a beautiful face, as well as lovely hair!

    1. Thanks Rebecca. What you say makes sense to me. The furniture is lovely, and well made but not as sophisticated as some of the other furniture being made at the turn of the last century. A cottage industry would fit.

    2. Cottage industry is a term that has changed somewhat. Around 1900 many companies hired people to do piecewaork in their homes - hence 'cottage' industry. Sometimes an entire family worked on the items - Dad or Mom or an older child might have cut the wood, while other family members glued and painted and decorated it. This type of item is a perfect example of the sort of things that were done by piecework, and to give you an idea of the sorts of companies that sent things out as piecework, Jumeau did ( carefully selecting widows and other women in need to do so). My understanding is that Christian Hacker's dollhouses were also made this way. Given that those two companies were the top of the heap, in terms of quality, operating this way clearly did not lessen the quality of the work.

  5. Hello Susan,
    The set is just beautiful. I really love it! I'm afraid I'm going to be pretty useless to you as I have no information to give. I hope you get your answer.
    Big hug,

    1. Thanks Giac! I love them too no matter how old they are.
      Here's a hug back

  6. It is lovely, Susan! Lucky you! I agree cottage industry, but I am thinking Sweden and copies of their Gustavian white and gold furniture that has been popular from around 1800. Lundby copied it in the 50s and 60s..I'm sure you've seen that. I have some early 50s Lerro with similar chair shapes. Whatever it is, wonderful find and I think a roombox would be great!!