Friday, August 15, 2014

German Dollhouse General Store

This antique dollhouse general store came from the collection of a woman who designed the toy department window displays for John Wanamaker in Philadelphia in the 1920s and 30s. This little shop was used in the famous department store's window displays, and later was a cherished plaything of the woman's children. It dates circa the 1920s - early 30s, was made in Germany, probably by the Gottschalk company, and still retains its original floor and wallpapers.



It is much smaller than most German dollhouse shops, measuring just 7 inches tall by 13 wide. But it's still big enough to be packed full of stuff, including boxes, bottles, and canned goods; pottery; dry goods containers; a tin scale; even a tiny pair of wooden shoes.





The "Maggi" name features prominently throughout the store, on canned goods, wall posters, and the front of the counter. Perhaps the whole store was a promotional giveaway sort of item for this company?



The six tiny drawers originally would have held loose dry goods like flour, rice, and salt, for little shopkeepers to practice measuring and dispensing. The silver ribbon shaped metal labels are a trademark of shops made by the Gottschalk company, and are seen on their items over many decades.


The little shop is just the right size for antique miniature German bears. A 1910 Steiff is behind the counter, about to weigh out some treats for his tiny customer.




Thursday, August 14, 2014

Miniature French Dollhouse Shops: the Epicerie

If you've read my blog for awhile, you'll know that I have a thing for antique miniature dollhouse shops, particularly the little toy grocery stores that were made in Germany for many years. Here's something a little different: three miniature dollhouse stores that were made in France, circa the 1900s - early 1930s. This type of store was called an epicerie, the French term for a grocery store or delicatessen, and the style was very different from the German, being more of a flat counter than a three dimensional room box.


Along with the small German shop in the foreground, they all came from the collection of a woman whose mother had been the display designer for the toy department windows at the legendary John Wanamaker store in Philadelphia in the 1920s and 30s. These all featured in store window displays over the years, and later became playthings of the designer's family. They were lovingly cared for, and amazingly still retain most of their original items.

Let's go shopping! We'll start with my favorite, the art nouveau styled shop, which measures 19 inches tall and dates circa the early 1900s. It features lovely stenciled designs, a faux wood grained paper covered base, and loads of original accessories including plaster breads and cheeses, glass bottles, tin utensils, and wooden packages of fondant, biscuits, and other delicacies.





Tiny tin pans and scoops hang from a shelf.
Look at the detail on the original shelf paper trim, and the label on the little can!
These delicate glass bottles, incredibly, survived nearly 100 years of display and play.

The shop came complete with a little dustpan and brush for cleaning up the day's crumbs.
This beautiful store was the perfect destination for a French dolly who wanted some cheese and crackers, and maybe a little wine to go with them.

For a dolly that wanted to do some baking, this next shop might have been a better choice, as it features loads of tiny drawers that originally would have been filled with loose dry goods like sugar and flour for a child to scoop and  measure out. This one dates circa the 1920s.



This little chocolate box has an illustration of French comic character Tintin on the side. 


This store came with beautiful glazed porcelain dishes holding plaster foods. They display nicely on the long counter that runs the width of the shop.

The last epicerie is very unusual, circa the early 1930s, and I thought it was actually homemade due to the handlettering on the drawers and the poorer quality of the painting. I've since seen another just like it but without the lithographed papers on the interior. My guess is it was made at home from a kit or plans in a magazine, which was a bit of a trend for dollhouses of this time period. The lithographed papers are what make this one special. They feature beautiful illustrations of much earlier times, showing Victorian era shoppers at their own grocery stores.


This shop appears to be the one the children of the window designer played with the most, as it came with added products from the 1940s and 50s.

The likely more original packages include a little can of tinned crab meat, triangular cheese boxes, and a plum pudding.





That's the end of our epicerie tour. I'll post the little German shop separately. Now I'm off to do my real life grocery shopping, which isn't nearly as fun as this was!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Antique Board Games

Not much time to post lately....life is so hectic! Here's a quick pic of some of my antique board games, all waiting patiently for me to find time to play them.



Sunday, June 22, 2014

Chein Tin Toy Ferris Wheel

The outdoor antique show season has finally begun in our northerly part of the world. At the first show on our annual agenda, we found this great old tin toy ferris wheel, 16 inches tall, still in working order. When the key is wound, the wheel spins and the bell rings repeatedly (and loudly.)



Made of lithographed tin by the J. Chein Company of New Jersey in the 1930s, this ferris wheel became one of the long-lived firm's most classic and collectible toys. Its design evolved over several decades, with different images on the base, including a version with Disney characters made in the 1950s.

This earliest example has wonderful illustrations of a carnival sideshow on the end panels, and Orangeade and hot dog vendors on the front and back.



Note the Orangeade in its iconic globe dispenser.





The sideshow talker has a somewhat sinister air.

The smiling face in the wheel's center bears the name "Hercules," and this toy is sometimes referred to as the Hercules Ferris Wheel.


It is often found with the mechanism and bell missing, which is unsurprising after hearing how loud it is in operation. I imagine a lot of exasperated parents yanked the bell off after a few days of its ceaseless racket. If you find one in working order, you've found a treasure.