A Birthday Doll House
by Susan Hale
A few years ago my son asked me why I had to go to so many thrift shops right before Christmas. It was not an unexpected question. I had been dragging him around to them all day.
"Well, David," I said. "Santa hides my Christmas presents in thrift shops all over the city and I have to find them."
The next thrift shop we went to offered up a rare 1600-era barbie outfit on a cheap plastic doll. I bought it for 50¢. The outfit sells on eBay for $150.00. This was just one of the presents Santa had hidden for me that year.
Apparently, it works for birthdays too.
In August a dollhouse showed up on Toronto Kijiji (a free classified webpage) just in time for my birthday. How the birthday fairy knew I was craving an early Schoenhut dollhouse I don't know. Maybe Santa told her.
There was a little suspense (on my part anyway) while I made contact with the seller, but a few hours later the house was mine.
It has a few condition problems, but nothing I can't live with.
I did a little research on Schoenhut houses and found that it is a US company that made wooden toys, and is well know for its circus animals and larger wooden dolls. They also made over 80 different styles of dollhouses in the late 20's and early 30's. The earlier ones opened on the sides, as mine does, but the later ones have a front panel that lifts off.
This house has four rooms, two on each side, and a full attic that you can access by lifting off the front roof.
It is one of the smaller houses made by Schoenhut. Tootsie Toy furniture is about the right scale, so I believe it is a bit smaller than 3/4" scale - maybe 1/2" scale.
All the inside windows have the original lace and cardboard valances. The lace is brown, but intact.
The living room has a gorgeous staircase.
Unfortunately the outside windows on the living room side of the house have had a less than ideal existence.
Maybe I can find replacements or reproductions. Does anyone know?
I love the locks that hold the sides closed.
The dollhouse came with the Tootsie Toy furniture shown here. This furniture is from the same period as the dollhouse.
Also included was the plastic furniture shown here. This furniture is from the early 1960's.
And the wonderful 1960's Marx furniture shown here. Plus one orphaned 1950's Strombecker lamp.
So, it seems, this was a two generation dollhouse. It was probably purchased new in the late 20's or early 30's when my mother would have been a little girl, and brought back to life in the late 50's early 60's when I was a little girl.
This idea delights me. My mother would have cherished this dollhouse when she was a child. And I would have cherished it a generation later.
This beautiful house did not belong to my mother or to me in the past, but it could have, and it belongs to me now. I plan to keep it safe and pass it along to a new generation who will appreciate it as I do.
You are invited to visit my blog Susan's mini homes (http://susanshouses.blogspot.com/) for more dollhouses and collectibles.