The Nurseryland Drapery Store
by Deirdre Alden
Marion Osborne's book "A to Z of Dolls Houses 1914 - 1941" contains on Page 191 an article about the Unity Pack Co, based at the Unity Works in Southport.
In the mid 1930s, this company was producing toy shops including Newspaper Shops, Flower Shops, and what is described by the company as one of their popular numbers "The Playtime Drapery Stores". Mrs Osborne's book has a picture of the Playtime Drapery Stores with its triangular shop front, shop floor, rolls of material, plus scissors, buttons and cottons so that the little girl who owned the shop could use the material to make her own dolls' clothes and furnishings.
Amongst my collection of dolls houses and shops, I have a very similar drapery stores. It has no maker's mark on it, but it looks so similar, I presume it was made by the Unity Pack Co. If any reader knows more about this, I would be delighted to hear!
The Nurseryland Drapery Store.
My drapery stores is called "The Nurseryland Drapery Stores". The shop front also boasts the slogans "Shop Here For Quality" and "Branches In Every Town".
The shop is cleverly designed so that the top and floor can be folded inwards to make the whole thing become a neat box. However this makes it difficult to make the triangular shop front stand upright and mine is rigged up with some elastic behind it, otherwise it will not stay upright of its own accord! The shop also has also built in shelves and counters made of red cardboard.
Close up of the shop
The shelves of my shop have most of the original rolls of cloth - only half a dozen or so are missing, so perhaps the original owner (like me) didn't like sewing! All the other contents are however sadly missing. But I have added a pair of dolls - a shop assistant and a customer, a red plastic till, a red metal roll of tape to resemble wrapping paper, and a shopping basket for the lady customer.
Shell Toy Tea Set
I bought the drapery stores several years ago in an auction. It was part of a mixed lot of old toys which also included a 1920s/30s boxed dolls' china teaset - The Shell Toy Teaset. All the pieces of this are still nestling in their original packing straw and it looks as if it has never been taken out of the box.
Mrs Osborne's book quotes the Unity Pack Co. as stating that the features of the drapery stores "give endless pleasure to young people". Mine has certainly given a lot of pleasure to me!