A Rare Little Gem - A Betal Dolls House
by Celia Thomas of KT Miniatures
As soon as this little dolls house was featured in a KT Miniatures Newsletter one day earlier in 2012, the phone started ringing and emails began to flow with people enquiring about it. Needless to say, it was snapped up immediately before it even reached my website. However I am not surprised. As soon as I set eyes on it, I knew it was something very special.
It is understood to be a c1930s Betal Dolls House by J. & H. Glasman Ltd.
It is tiny, measuring just 16 ½” wide x 10” deep x 16” high.
The interior consists of two rooms and the frontage opens as one, with three earlier versions of tin windows ..... more about those in a minute.
The interior and exterior decor is in completely original condition - with the inside rooms painted very simply in a pastel pink and pastel blue. The floor is just plain wood- no paper covering or paint.
The exterior is covered in an off-white / creamy matt colour, with hand painted mock greenery and flowers on the front, very similar to what other manufacturers were doing at that time (& indeed for many years).
To be honest, it was the front door with the triangular canopy and the way the roof was constructed that eventually led me to believe it was a Betal Dolls House.
This is quite rare......and in 16 years of trading, I have never handled one before - so it is very exciting!
There is very little information about this manufacturer, who was based in London, and really all I had to go on was a section with some Betal adverts in Marion Osborne's excellent "A-Z 1914 to 1941 DOLLS HOUSES"..... and an image of someone's Betal bungalow on the internet found by Googling "Betal Dolls House" [both reproduced in the next article - Ed.].
Oddly enough, there are some larger Betal dolls houses in the advert in Marion's book, but this is nothing like them. It bears more resemblance to the Betal bungalows.
The roof is covered in a kind of textured material - like sandpaper with some random splodges of green.
Now to those wonderful windows.......
The ordinary tin green/yellow windows were prolifically used by many manufacturers over the years in their dolls houses. But if you look carefully at these particular windows, you will notice that they do not have those little butterfly handles and at each edge they have a very thin metal rod which enables the windows to swivel open. My understanding has always been that they were the forerunners to the later ordinary version of Romside tin windows with butterfly handles and tab hinges .... so pre-war 1930s. I have seen them a few times over the years on a variety of dolls houses, all pre-war.
© Celia Thomas 2012 - KT Miniatures – www.ktminiatures.com