Denmark's Hanse and Lisa Dollhouses
by Valérie Braun, English translation by Julie Plovnick, with additional information from Elisabeth Lantz and Paige Baird.
Hanse was a Danish toy company based near Aarhus in eastern Denmark (see the next article for more details). It made dollhouses from at least the 1960s to the 1980s.
Hanse has special meaning for me, as that was the house I had as a child. My parents could not afford a Lundby — a brand that was already quite expensive at the time — so they chose something more economical. Hanse and Lisa were “the poor person’s Lundby,” and I don’t mean this pejoratively at all. I think it is due to Hanse’s inexpensive nature that the brand is hard to find today. First because Hanse houses were less widely distributed than “the original” and second because they passed into the less-than-delicate hands of generations of children and so had a hard time surviving. I know what I’m talking about: although I wasn’t a wrecker, I can tell you that my Hanse did suffer! It sat forgotten in the yard overnight, it was stuck with nails, colored on, and subjected to the onslaught of the thousands of hours I spent playing with it.
My childhood Hanse dollhouse
Hanse late 1960s
This very early Hanse dollhouse is in the collection of Swedish collector Elisabeth Lantz. Unlike the later "classic" houses, the roofline is symmetrical, and the stairs are placed against the far right wall.
1960s Hanse dollhouse © Elisabeth Lantz
This house was produced with different wall and floor finishes, too. We don't know which was earlier and which was later.
1960s Hanse dollhouse. Old photo from Scandinavian auction site*, courtesy Paige Baird.
Note the early blue Hanse label on the base of the house.
NEW: The Tranbjerg Local History Society has in its archives a photo of another of these early houses - and it has legs!
Flat roof Hanse dollhouses, ca 1970
By 1970, Hanse was producing houses with flat roofs and asymmetrical pitched roofs. The stairs have moved to the middle room, and lead up to a split level room on the left. The decor is, if possible, even more sombre than in the 1960s Hanse with brown wallpapers!
1970 flat roof Hanse © Elisabeth Lantz
The house itself is not common, but Elisabeth is lucky enough to have the incredibly rare ground floor extension too, with a small swimming pool!!!
1970 flat roof Hanse © Elisabeth Lantz
Asymmetrical roofs, ca 1970: Hanse Dollhouse 447
Ca 1970 Hanse dollhouse. Old photo from Scandinavian auction site*, courtesy Paige Baird.
This early Hanse dollhouse is identical in design (stairs, floor colour, room configuration) to the flat roof house above, except that it has a pitched, asymmetrical roof. The original box with this dollhouse shows that it was number 447.
Ca 1970 Hanse dollhouse with original box. Old photo from Scandinavian auction site*, courtesy Paige Baird.
Ca 1970 Hanse dollhouse with blue label. Old photo from Scandinavian auction site*, courtesy Paige Baird.
This house also has an early blue Hanse label.
Hanse 1973: the "orange version"
This bright dollhouse is believed to date to 1973. There is still no balcony, and the split-level room has been replaced by a large, single level living area. This rare house is also in the collection of Elisabeth Lantz.
"Orange version" Hanse © Elisabeth Lantz
The exterior has black and white brick paper, and the roof is blue.
"Orange version" Hanse side view © Elisabeth Lantz
Here is a house with identical decor, except that the staircase (and doors?) are plastic:
Hanse dollhouse with orange wallpapers and plastic stairs. Old photo from Scandinavian auction site*, courtesy Paige Baird.
The Hanse label on these dollhouses is later than the blue label, and was used until 1976:
Hanse label from dollhouse with orange wallpapers and plastic stairs. Old photo from Scandinavian auction site*, courtesy Paige Baird.
Variations of this dollhouse have the same wallpapers, but brown or green flooring. Perhaps they were produced between the houses with green flooring and grey walls, and those with orange flooring and walls?
This version has green flooring and an extra level. Note the white landing rail with 3 circular cut-outs.
Hanse dollhouse with green flooring, orange wallpapers and an extra level. Old photo from Scandinavian auction site*, courtesy Paige Baird.
A flat-roofed house with the same decorating scheme (orange wallpapers, green flooring) was also produced.
Hanse also offered an economy dollhouse, with no stairs or doors. This one has the same wallpapers as the two houses above, but brown flooring.
'Economy' Hanse dollhouse. Old photo from Scandinavian auction site*, courtesy Paige Baird.
This economy house is covered with brown brick paper, like the later 1970s Hanse dollhouses.
'Economy' Hanse dollhouse, side view. Old photo from Scandinavian auction site*, courtesy Paige Baird.
Hanse dollhouse 1975 - interior © Bine Schmid
I have been lucky enough to buy one of these early Hanse dollhouses, dating to 1975, but I have not been able to take photos of it yet! Collectors Bine Schmid of Austria and Elisabeth Lantz of Sweden have shared their photos. This house still does not have a balcony, but the split level living area is back! Note the red landing rail with many circular cut-outs.
Hanse dollhouse 1975 - interior © Elisabeth Lantz
The back is covered with plain brown paper, and the roof is solid red, with no tile pattern.
Hanse dollhouse 1975 - left, back; right, roof and floors. Photos © Bine Schmid
Like the "orange version", this house has black and white brick paper.
Hanse 1975 side view © Elisabeth Lantz
The wallpapers appear to be genuine 1970s papers for real houses!
Hanse dollhouse 1975 - bedroom © Bine Schmid
NEW: Here are images of this dolls house in an undated (but pre 1977) Hanse catalogue owned by the Tranbjerg Local History Society:
Cover of pre 1977 Hanse catalogue, courtesy Tranbjerg Local History Society
Hanse dolls house with extension floor and swimming pool, from pre 1977 Hanse catalogue, courtesy Tranbjerg Local History Society.
Economy version of Hanse dolls house with no stairs, from pre 1977 Hanse catalogue, courtesy Tranbjerg Local History Society.
Dark Hanse, 1977
The projecting balcony, familiar from "classic" Hanse and Lisa dollhouses, had been introduced by 1977. The balcony and landing railings are made from planks of stained wood. This early version shows the 1970s use of dark brown as a designer colour!
'Dark' Hanse 1977 © Elisabeth Lantz
Note the swimming pool in front of the house! This large pool appears in Hanse catalogues of about 1975/76.
'Dark' Hanse 1977 with swimming pool © Elisabeth Lantz
This house has a projecting balcony, separated from the living room by a wall. The wallpapers are lighter and more colourful than in the 1977 version, and the railings and trims are cream rather than beige or brown.
The back is covered with brown brick patterned paper, showing a door and windows.
Note the delicately patterned tile paper decorating the bathroom:
and the kitchen:
The Hanse logo appears in two places on the house (in this version, on the front of the balcony, and below the kitchen window on the other side), making it easy to identify. This version of the logo had been introduced by early 1977.
Hanse houses could be expanded with two extensions — a basement and a garage floor that were sold separately. Was there ever a little Hanse car like the Lundby one? It’s a mystery. I’ve never seen a Hanse car, nor a Lisa one for that matter.
Detail of dollhouse and extensions from Hanse catalogue 1982/3 © Elisabeth Lantz, http://www.swedish-dollshouses.com/
My "classic" Hanse with a garage extension:
The original box of a Hanse ground floor extension
NEW: Here are images of this dolls house in an undated (1977 or later) Hanse catalogue owned by the Tranbjerg Local History Society:
Hanse dolls houses from 1977 or later Hanse catalogue, courtesy Tranbjerg Local History Society.
Hanse dolls house with extension floor and garage extension, from 1977 or later Hanse catalogue, courtesy Tranbjerg Local History Society.
1980s Hanse: Large Terrace
In the 1980s, Hanse created a new house identical to the "Classic", but with a larger balcony area. This house appears in a Hanse catalogue from 1982/3:
Cover of Hanse catalogue 1982/3 © Elisabeth Lantz, http://www.swedish-dollshouses.com/
The wall between the little balcony and the living room is gone, leaving a large space to furnish. The balcony railing is more delicate and extends all the way across the front of the house. The staircase and doors are now light beige instead of brown, and a reinforcement piece decorated with a climbing plant now appears below the balcony (to create a veranda?).
I have furnished one of my 1980s Hanse houses with the same pieces of furniture by Jean of West Germany that I had in my childhood dollhouse:
and the other with Hanse furnishings:
The outside walls have changed from brown to bright red.
The bedroom wallpaper shows a forest landscape:
The Hanse logo is now printed on both sides of the house (on the bottom below the balcony and below the kitchen window on the other side).
The box states (in four languages) that this is "Modern Danish design - created by well-known Danish architects", with "Colour and lines in perfect harmony - the HANSE doll's house".
Lisa of Denmark is a Danish dollhouse brand that was headquartered in the city of Horsens in eastern Denmark.
In terms of architecture, classic Lisa houses are identical to those made by Hanse, differing only in their wallpapers and floors. The two brands are so similar that it is hard to believe the two were not manufactured at the same plant.
It is very difficult to get even a bit of information on this company. Was it in business in the 1960s? Or even before? I have no idea. Yet in the mid-1980s Lisa of Denmark was bought out by the Swedish brand Lundby.
Lisa dollhouse (the model I call 'classic') with the original box. The red carpets are actually a shade of orange.
What I call “classic version” dollhouses (those that are the most common, and which appear in catalogues from 1979 and 1981) have a “Lisa” sticker on the lower right-hand front corner. Often this little sticker is missing but marks remain where it once was. The “1980s version” has the brand logo below the balcony, at the bottom of the facade, set into the brick pattern.
On what I call the “recent version” (manufacturing date unknown), the sticker has a different shape—it is longer and the brand name appears in full (“Lisa of Denmark”) on a background of red and white, the company colors. It is also in a different position, now appearing at the lower left.
Here are the different Lisa houses I am aware of. There may be others.
"Classic" Lisa dollhouse, the most common
This dolls house appears in Lisa catalogues dating from 1979 and 1981.
Cover of Lisa catalogue, 1981 © Elisabeth Lantz, http://www.swedish-dollshouses.com/
Here is my "classic" Lisa dollhouse:
Like the early Hanse houses, the back of this house was covered in plain paper. The electrical wiring is clearly visible through the paper.
Lisa dollhouse I call the "blue version"
This dolls house appears in a Lisa catalogue from 1975/76. It is the earliest known Lisa house.
Above: Dollhouse in Lisa catalogue 1975/76; below, detail of the unlit, unfurnished dollhouse. © Elisabeth Lantz, http://www.swedish-dollshouses.com/
I don't have a "blue version" Lisa dollhouse myself - Austrian collector Sieglinde has shared photos of hers:
"Blue version" Lisa dollhouse © Sieglinde Nedomansky
The kitchen wallpaper is blue (not orange, as in the classic version), the doors are taller and narrower, and the bathroom is also a different color. The rest is exactly the same.
Lisa kitchen with blue wallpaper © Sieglinde Nedomansky
"Blue version" Lisa bathroom © Sieglinde Nedomansky
Lisa dollhouse with no stairs
This house is of unknown date. It is very similar in structure to the 'Economy' Hanse house, which may date from the mid to late 70s, so perhaps this is from around the same time?
Lisa dollhouse without stairs © Minna of Minna's Doll World - Minnan Nukkemaailma
Note the red and white Lisa label:
Lisa dollhouse label © Minna of Minna's Doll World - Minnan Nukkemaailma
On the exterior, the windows have shutters, as the "80s version" does, but they are green instead of brown. The roof does have a printed tiling pattern, like the 80s houses.
Lisa dollhouse side view © Minna of Minna's Doll World - Minnan Nukkemaailma
Lisa dollhouse I call the "80s version"
The structure is the same; the interior decoration is completely different.
The exterior decoration is also different: the windows have shutters, the balcony has wood panelling effect, and a pot plant is printed on the paper.
The roof has a printed tile pattern, and the back of the dollhouse is now papered with a design showing a brick wall with curtained windows, shutters, and a glass door. Note that the door is on the right, while on the "classic" Hanse house, it's on the left. The Lisa house also has fewer printed windows than the Hanse house.
Lisa dollhouse I call the "recent version"
The interior decoration is very light; on the outside, the brick is now red instead of yellow.
Lisa also produced its own coordinating extensions for these dollhouses - a basement extension and a garage extension, as shown in the 1979 and 1981 catalogues:
Lisa catalogue, 1981 © Elisabeth Lantz, http://www.swedish-dollshouses.com/
"Classic" Lisa with basement extension & garage extension
Note that the Lisa garage is on the right, while the Hanse garage is on the left.
The open garage with ramp:
"Blue version" Lisa with two Lisa extension floors © Sieglinde Nedomansky
Electrical components were also sold under the Lisa brand:
In addition to these dollhouses, Lisa expanded its product line with two chalets: a small model, No. 520–521, and a large model, No. 525. Both these chalets were manufactured sometime around 1984/85, at the time that the brand was taken over by Lundby - they were also sold under the Lundby name.
Chalet No 520-521
No. 520: Chalet with no pointed roof, just a flat terrace
No. 521: As seen in the photo, with a pointed roof
Chalet No 525
These photos show all four sides of the chalet. On the front, the name Lisa can just be seen in the brick paper of the gable:
Behind the ground floor wall on this side, which slides open, are stables:
If you would like more information about these companies, please see the article on the next page!
Thanks to Elisabeth, Bine and Sieglinde for sharing your dollhouses! You can see more photos of my dollhouse collection on my website, http://maisons-de-poupees.e-monsite.com/. You can see more of the Hanse and Lisa catalogues (and some houses) on Elisabeth's website, http://www.swedish-dollshouses.com/. You can also see another fabulous collection of Hanse houses on the website of Carola, a Swedish collector who is also a Dolls Houses Past and Present member: http://www.carolas-dollhouses.com/husnyckel.html.
Except where otherwise indicated, all photos on this page are © Valérie Braun.
*If these photos from Scandinavian auction sites are yours, please contact us if you would like them to be credited to your name or removed.