Saturday, April 2, 2011

Doll Houses the Series Part 3…Renwal…. Plastic with Exceptional Detail

Photo Courtsy of Nachokitty
    Renwal Manufacturing Company, Inc produced the most highly collectible of all plastic dollhouse furniture from 1945-1956.  Previous furniture for dollhouses had either wooden pieces or metal pieces. This became almost impossible to produce due to WWII and the shortages of metal.  Renwal offered a wonderful alternative, a quality product at affordable prices.  The furniture was sold in room sets or by the piece. Back then a child could furnish an entire house for under $7.00.

     All Renwal pieces are an authentic look at the furniture and life in America during the 1940’s and 1950’s. Many pieces have movable parts, such as dressers with drawers which open and shut and kitchen appliances with movable doors.  

 Photo courtesy of RetroVintageBazaar
     No other line of plastic dollhouse furniture had more accessories than Renwal.  They were as detailed on the back as they were on the front.  Everything from telephones to bathroom scales.  The rarest piece of Renwal furniture is the broom (121).  The piece that merits the most attention is the sewing machine.  It is made with 13 separate pieces all glued together.  The sewing machine retreated into the table when closed and the needle actually moved up and down when the wheel was turned.  No Renwal collection would be complete without this piece, but expect to pay premium price for it. 

The bright color of the Renwal furniture contributed to their popularity then and still contributes to the popularity today.  To see a finished Renwal house is to gaze upon a rainbow of color. Many of the pieces also had texture. The living room furniture was
“upholstered” and the beds had spreads which were patterned. Even the bathroom hamper appeared to be made of wicker.

 Photo courtesy of annafilomena

    I could go on and on about Renwal, but will stop for now.  If you are looking to add to you collection or thinking of starting a collection, stop by Etsy and have a look around at a few of our Vintage sellers…

     Remember that at the end of this series will be our BIG reveal that has been a culmination of work over the past 40 years.. So stay tuned in, and please feel free to comment.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Doll Houses the Series....Part 2....Louis Marx

I decided to start with tin lithograph houses, as currently they seem to be the most popular. The most famous of all the lines of tin dollhouses is the Marx line.  In the 1950's the company dominated the production of tin houses and plastic doll furniture. 

Marx produced their first tin houses in 1949, starting with model  # 4079 (not lighted) and # 4080 (lighted) 2 story colonial with patio deck and the wonderful Disney nursery. These first models had a garage under the upstairs patio. After 1951 a utility room replaced the garage. The Disney room was replaced by either the tin soldier or ABC theme. Houses with the Disney theme nursery are valued higher.

Photo courtesy of RetroVintageBazaar

The Marx dollhouses are simply beautiful, wonderfully detailed, and for the time period, depicted all the comforts and conveniences of the 1950's.  Fully decorated interiors and exteriors which included brick, siding, shingles, shutters, porch lights, shrubs, flower boxes and climbing vines just to name a few.   

The rarest of all the Marx doll house is the 1962  2-story Colonial with breezeway and bomb shelter in place of the utility room. The house was produce for only one year and in very limited supply.

Photo courtesy of  akissofromance

The Marx furniture was sold mainly with the dollhouses, had one-piece construction (with exception of a tall utility cabinet with an opening door) and made in solid colors. Marx furniture was produced in either ¾ or ½ scale in both hard and soft plastic. The hard plastic is older and more valuable than the soft plastic furniture. Not all pieces were hallmarked. The furniture is worth collecting, as it will surely add to the fun and value of your Marx dollhouse.

When Marx first produced a dollhouse family and several individual people in varying poses they were made of a rubber vinyl, while the later figures were made of hard plastic, and then soft plastic. The people were made of one color and all in one piece. By the 1960’s Marx changed the family to include bendable dolls with “real” clothing and a boxed set of flexible joint dollhouse figures.

Next time I am leaning towards Wolverine houses and furniture. Remember that at the end of this series will be our BIG reveal that has been a culmination of work over the past 40 years.. So stay tuned in, and please feel free to comment.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Doll Houses the Series....In the Beginning

   Part 1 in a series about Doll Houses, Past, Present and Future.  In the final blog of this series we will reveal a BIG surprise that has been a culmination of work over the past 40 years.. So stay tuned in, feel free to comment, and let the fun begin..

    A dollhouse is a toy home, made in miniature. For the last century, dollhouses have primarily been the domain of children but their collection and crafting have increasing become a hobby for many adults. 

   In the 17th and 18th century, following the Industrial Revolution, dollhouses became teaching tools for young Victorian Ladies who learned the basics of homemaking and household management. This was the first time children were allowed to “play” with a dollhouse. During that time however, only children of the wealthy received dollhouses since they were still very expensive to manufacture, and, the young ladies needed to learn proper household management skills so they could host their own social events. Eventually, mass production reduced the costs of dollhouses so that children from all social structures could have one.
 Lovely example of  early 20th century Doll House. Photo courtesy of Jenzart

   The baby houses of the seventeenth and 18th centuries, and the toy dollhouses of the nineteenth and early 20th century rarely had uniform scales, even for the features or contents of any one individual house. Although a number of manufacturers made lines of miniature toy furniture in the 19th century, these products were not to a strict scale.

Fantastic example of a T.Cohn kitchen courtesy of  CoalCountryVintage
   Children's play dollhouses from most of the 20th and 21st centuries are 1:18 or two third inch scale (where 1 foot is represented by 2/3 of an inch). Common brands include Lundby (Sweden), Renwal, Plasco, Marx, Petite Princess, and T. Cohn (all American) and Caroline's Home, Barton, Dol-Toi and Triang (English). A few brands use 1:16 or 3/4"-scale.

 1950's Marx Doll House courtesy of RetroVintageBazaar

   The most common standard for adult collectors is 1:12 scale, also called 1" or one inch scale (where 1 foot is represented by 1 inch.) Among adult collectors there are also smaller scales which are much more common in the United States than in Britain. 1:24 or half inch scale (1 foot is 1/2") was popular in Marx dollhouses in the 1950s.