1930s German Wagner Dolls House
By Celia Thomas of KT Miniatures
Here is a lovely little vintage German Wagner dolls house that was sold a while ago now and is presently residing in the States. The exterior in particular evokes pure nostalgia and is quite a rare model that just doesn’t come along very often.
D.H.Wagner & Sohn had actually been trading in the toy market for many years by the time the 1930s came along, then by the mid 1930s started to import dolls houses and other toys into England via a London company called Messrs. Fred H Allen Ltd. The Wagner dolls house featured in this article is an earlier 1930s model. It has thick cut card windows but other models of Wagner houses had lithographed windows and some of the later models had opening metal windows not unlike the Tri-ang metal ones, along with card or simple plastic sheet windows.
The exterior on this old house is in original condition and retains its gorgeous muted colouring, which is remarkable seeing that it’s at least 70 years old and had been kept up in a loft for decades. Much of the original interior is still present too. Refreshingly there was no sign of woodworm or damp, two common problems with vintage houses particularly those that have been stored away in a loft for a long time.
This all-wooden dolls house was built in a fairly traditional 1930s style, with slight European connotations. The latticed panel windows are fully intact and even the original curtain material is still in place, albeit a little moth eaten! The exterior detail has either been hand painted or stencilled on. If you look at the front door, classic stencilled details can be seen quite clearly, which although quite crude are still effective. The garage door opens fully, the garage roof has a textured finish, and there is definitely plenty of room to park the miniature family motor car in there!
Access to the interior is gained via one large door at the front that opens out to reveal four rooms. Three of the rooms have original 1930s wallpaper and flooring papers. Note the bright colours and designs which are very typical of the Wagner style and so very 1930s. Sadly though on this model, a previous owner had decided to have a go at interior decorating in the bathroom .... and painted it bright yellow! As there was nothing of the original decor to salvage in the bathroom, it could be decorated without any fear of devaluing this old treasure, as long as it was sympathetically done in keeping with the rest of the house.
This house is petite and suitable for the smaller 1/16th scale furniture or even 1/24th scale. I have seen furniture in both of these scales in Wagner dolls houses, and both look equally at home. The downstairs ceiling height measures 5 1/4" (13.5cm) and the upstairs ceiling height measures 4 1/2" (11cm), so as you can see, it is quite tiny. Overall Measurements - 21" (53.5cm) wide x 8" (20.3cm) deep x 16 1/2" (42cm) high to top of chimneys approx.
Personally I just love the exterior of this house, as it is extremely attractive and gorgeously nostalgic in appearance, quite fairy-tale like. The little upper bay window of the bedroom and the stencilled brickwork around the base are just charming finishing touches that help to make this Wagner house very special. This particular model is quite rare and I was quite sad to see it depart, but know it will be much cherished in its new home over "the pond"!
See www.ktminiatures.com for a selection of antique/vintage dolls houses and accessories plus 1930s/40s handmade pieces that can be used in both vintage and reproduction dolls houses.
©Celia Thomas-KT Miniatures 2010