Collecting Dolls Houses and Miniatures on a Budget: Where there's a will there's a way
by Christine Jaeger
This is what my nanna used to say to us kids when we were growing up.. She was never one to be deterred by minor setbacks.. She was raised at a time when it was more important to feed and raise your family than to spend hard earned money on luxury items.. There was never much money.. She raised her family of seven during the depression, but this never held her back. She was an expert seamstress and could put her hand to most things. I remember she made dolls, crafted by hand with painted faces.. Most of her furniture she painted cream and then sponged red or green paint on to give a mottled effect. She couldn't afford wallpaper, so she lined the walls of her home with butchers paper, which looked lovely until my mother, (who fancied herself a budding artist) saw it as a blank canvas and promptly set about putting her mark on it....much to my grandmother's horror... She drew Mickey and Minny and Donald Duck and the Phantom but best of all was the naked Genie , I think he was sitting in a bathtub , with a back scrubber! My mother was doing art classes by mail at the time, they were painted beautifully, she couldn't see what all the fuss was about!
Cheap job lot.
Money was tight, but love wasn't. You made do and you made the most of what you had.. I think I got this trait from her. I like to think so anyway..
Money is also tight in our house, but rather than seeing it as an obstacle, I would rather it be a challenge, something to get around. Something to overcome. Success is so much sweeter this way.
These were in a bargain bin at a miniatures fair, except for the teapots and the jug set.
I adore antique and vintage things in my home, so it's no surprise that this follows through to my choice in dolls houses. Almost everything I buy (on Ebay) is from the UK , some things are from the US. This is mainly due to the fact that there is hardly anything with any age, available here in Australia. This puts the price of any purchase up double sometimes triple, when you factor in the postage or freight costs.. But a true collector never gives up, so I try to buy bargains or bulk lots, sometimes broken pieces, that are easily repaired... Which enables me to add to my collection with a reasonable outlay, and, glue and paint work wonders. Sometimes there comes along something that I just can't live without.. If that's the case, then I am prepared to cut corners (eat bread and jam) with no qualms or no regret. Why would I buy new shoes, when I can buy a Triang tudor bed? Or a Korbi mache lounge? There is no choice..
Original Korbi suite, wanted badly.
Good things come to those who wait, and they truly do!! I am sometimes amazed at how things come to you just at the right time. I have been very lucky to have some lovely friends who have enabled me to get some things that would have been very difficult to obtain without their help.. If I can afford it, I buy it, if I can't afford it, I wait .. Something will always come up later!
I love to make things .. There are many items that can be made to compliment or enhance what you already have.. Any excess items can then be sold off to make a little profit to spend on 'must haves'..
Then another Korbi set came up, couldn't let that go.
When I first started to buy, I would buy practically anything that was old and cheap. I am more discerning now, and some of these pieces I will either tizzy up with paint and or fabric or sell them on.. No good keeping what I don't want. It's so much fun making bits and pieces and surprising what can be achieved when you put your mind to it.. Many people love to share their ideas and its a lovely way of making friends.
This is the previous set, after restoration. This set cost $20 then $28 postage.. I splurged!
There are lots ways to add to a collection, when you are on a limited budget.. For me, it's best that I don't compromise too much, by buying things that are too new in style or I'd soon lose interest.. I do, however, love to age and give antique finishes to objects to fill my houses until the real deal comes along, so I am not too pedantic about what I collect! Life should be fun... Collecting should be fun...
Go on have fun!!