Dolls' Houses Past & Present

A website and ezine about dolls' houses: antique, vintage and modern. Plus furniture and accessories.

"Pit-a-Pat" Doll's House Furniture by Rebecca Green

Pit-a-Pat dolls house furniture was made in the 1930s, and as my mother was also born in the early 1930s, my sister and I were lucky enough to play with this quite rare Pit-a-Pat kitchen dresser (shown here with a few other pieces of our childhood dolls house furniture).

My childhood kitchen furniture - blue Twigg pieces, green Pit-a-Pat dresser - and acorn cups made by us!  ©  Rebecca Green

When I began collecting, I was pleased to discover the maker of the green dresser  – and find that a few other pieces in my grandmother's houses were Pit-a-Pat too.

Pit-a-Pat furniture and its maker, Eric Lehman, have been researched previously by Gillian Kernon (who published an article in International Dolls House News, Summer 1986), and by Marion Osborne, in her A to Z 1914 to 1941 Dollshouses (this book is available from Marion, see For Sale: Books and Magazines; it’s well worth getting for the 31 pages on Pit-a-Pat, as well as the many other makes covered).

I have used my usual family history sources to research Eric Lehman - what I have found contributes a few new facts to the extensive information available through the work of Gillian and Marion. I have also collated a photo guide of the items produced, with many thanks to all the members who have shared their photos.

Who was Eric Lehman?

Eric Lehman was born Noah Eric Lehmann in Tottenham Court Road, London, in 1893. His father, Charles Colman Lehmann, was variously described as a silversmith, a brass finisher, and a metal worker. Eric was the youngest of five brothers – at the time of the 1911 census, the eldest was working as a window dresser for a tobacconist, and the other four were all clerks – for a tobacconist, a caterer’s, and Eric, aged 18, was clerk for a tea merchant.

In 1915, Eric enlisted in WWI and served until March 1919 in the Supply Section of the Army Service Corps, reaching the rank of Staff Sergeant.

 

Eric Lehman's full name and signature from his army records

 

Whether he again found work as a clerk on his return to civilian life, we don’t know. At any event, by 1928, he appears in the telephone directory as a toy importer, at 93 Aldersgate St, EC1. In 1928 his name is also given in the Games and Toys list of “Foreign Firms and Their British Representatives”, as representative for Berthold Bätz of Sonneberg, dolls and toys; Gustav Engel of Berlin, inflatable balls and toys, Ferd Rach of Biberach, Christmas and fancy candles, and Ab. Tenner of Eisfeld, splashmats.

Marion Osborne discovered that the “Pit-a-Pat” name was in fact used from at least 1928 to 1931 for Gustav Engel’s inflatable balls – as she says, not too bad a name for a series of balls!

Eric Lehman in 1941, reproduced in Marion Osborne's A to Z 1914-1941

 

In 1930, Eric Lehman married Nellie E Rutter - he is still described as a Toy Importer on the marriage certificate. From this year on, the telephone directory listing appears as E Lehman & Co, Toys. I wonder whether Nellie Lehman was the “Co”?

Gillian Kernon found that “Pit-a-Pat” doll’s house furniture was first displayed at the British Industries Fair in 1932, and knows of an even earlier piece, made in 1931.

Was Eric Lehman’s marriage the catalyst in the move from being an importer and wholesaler of toys and novelties, to becoming a manufacturer himself? Eric would probably have had experience of fine work through his father’s metalworking, but I wonder if Nellie brought skills and inspiration to the production of doll’s house furniture. Although no occupation is given for her on their marriage certificate, she was 30 at the time of her marriage, and, as the daughter of a fish seller, would probably have had a job.

Pit-a-Pat furniture was also exhibited at the British Industries Fair of 1933, where Queen Mary bought some, and at subsequent fairs.

By 1934, the business had moved to 4 and 5 Silk St, EC2, and was listed under both E Lehman & Co, Toys, and the Pit-a-Pat Toy Co. From 1937, Eric Lehman also had a private telephone listing, at 25 Ventnor Drive, N 20.

In the second half of the 1930s, Pit-a-Pat “Real furniture in miniature” was included in the Hamley’s toy catalogue, and advertised in Hobbies Handbooks. It was also available from Hobbies’ depots across the UK.

 
 
Pit-a-Pat ad from the 1937 Hobbies Handbook, on page 18 (in the advertisements section). On page 185, where dolls house fittings available through Hobbies are shown, there is a note: "Be sure to see Lehman's announcement in the advertisement pages."

 

From the advertisements and write-ups in the trade magazines Games and Toys and The Toy Trader, reproduced in Marion Osborne's book, it's possible to gain an idea of the continuing expansion of the range.

In 1934, over 60 different numbers were available, in single pieces and in complete sets. The rooms catered for included the bedroom, dining room and kitchen.

By 1935, there were nearly 100 items. The lounge and study are also mentioned, hide and fabric covered suites were both available, and  "the young "housewife" can decide on her colour scheme for her doll's house and then with Lehman suites carry out a complete scheme of furnishings."

In 1936, over 100 items were available. New lines included the cutlery canteen on legs, workboxes, and book rests. This is the first year that bathroom furnishings are explicitly mentioned (although as these are not complete catalogue listings, they may have been available earlier).  Wireless sets, rugs, pianos, vases and lamps were among the range.

1937's range had "well over a hundred different articles," and this year, the nursery and garden are also mentioned. Electrical pieces have made an appearance: "the electric flexes are fitted with clips ready to affix to a pocket battery." Among the new items are a grand piano "faithfully reproduced from the real thing," a silk rep 3 piece suite, radio gram, smokers' tables, a china cabinet and miniature garden tents. Queen Mary again made purchases at the British Industries Fair, where, as well as the usual furniture lines, a miniature gymnasium was displayed, "with the physical training class going through its exercises." Wouldn't it be wonderful to have a photograph of that? I wonder which dolls were used for the class?

Finally, in 1939 and 1940, there were over 130 items in the range. The advertising in these trade journals is of course directed at toy traders, so sales opportunities are pointed out: "130 articles of "Pit-a-Pat" Doll's House Furniture constitute 130 opportunities of a sale to EACH OWNER OF A DOLL'S HOUSE!" Display matter, including glass signs and show cards, as well as leaflets and catalogues, were available to sellers over the years - very little seems to have survived, no doubt due to the combination of war damage, recycling due to shortages of material, and simple disposal of what was just considered junk once the articles were no longer available.

 

Silk Street, where the Pit-a-Pat Toy Company had its premises, is now the site of London’s Barbican arts and conference centre. This part of London suffered severe bomb damage during the Blitz at the end of 1941. Given the scale of the destruction from the bombs, the subsequent fires, and the water used to extinguish the fires, it seems likely that Eric Lehman lost a great deal of his stock, plant and records.

The bomb-devastated Barbican site, from the Barbican’s 25th birthday website.  I believe that the two streets running across the photo in the middle ground are Silk Street and Chapel Street; Chapel Street no longer exists.

 

After the bombing, like many other firms in the area, E. Lehman & Co moved further out from the centre of London. The Lehmans’ new business address was 44 Totteridge Lane, N 20, less than a mile away from their home in Ventnor Drive.

Two years later, in March 1943, E. Lehman & Co Ltd was incorporated as a private limited company, with capital of £2000 in 2000 shares of £1 each, to carry on the business of manufacturers and dealers in games, toys, novelties,  sports goods, rubber goods, etc. The permanent directors were named as Noah E. Lehman, 25 Ventnor Drive, N.20, toy manufacturer (chairman and managing director), and Mrs. E. Lehman, 25 Ventnor Drive, N.20.

There is no specific mention of the Pit-a-Pat furniture, nor was it shown at the 1947 British Industries Fair, when E. Lehman & Co Ltd showed “Composition Draughtsmen; Composition Dominoes; Combination Chess and Draughts. Also Dice, Cribbage Boards and Pegs, Counters, Darts, etc,” giving their address as St. George Works, Totteridge Lane, London N20. (St. George was the brand name of their indoor games and accessories.)

Marion Osborne found no ads after the war for Pit-a-Pat furniture. Gillian Kernon mentions a 1944 ad saying “Pit-a-Pat again available after the Victory,” and found that the dolls’ house furniture remained in the Buyers’ Guide until at least 1954 (this apparently was not updated very often).

Gillian Kernon speculated that, after the war, the Pit-a-Pat furniture seemed old-fashioned in comparison with that of firms like Barton and Dol-toi. We will probably never know the real reasons that Eric Lehman did not resume production of doll's house furniture, but I rather doubt that being old-fashioned was the main reason. Pit-a-Pat had shown that they could reproduce popular furnishings in great detail, and had even introduced an electric television before the war - a very cutting-edge item for the time. Surely, had they wanted to, they could have reproduced the new styles of furniture. Perhaps a combination of factors like the loss of skilled workers (those employed during the war years would have worked only on the games pieces), and the continuing shortages of materials in the immediate post-war years, made the effort involved in re-introducing lines that had not been touched for 5 or 6 years too great.

The business continued at the Totteridge Lane address, as E Lehman & Co Ltd, Indoor Games Manufacturers, until 1955, when it moved to 685 High Rd, N12. This listing continued until 1960.

Eric Lehman died in late 1961, and his wife Nellie a year later. At about this time, E Lehman & Co Ltd, Indoor Games Manufacturers, must have been acquired by Crystalate Holdings, as it is listed among the associated companies in 1968 and 1971. It appears to be still operating, or was at least until 2009, still making games’ pieces.

Labels, Packaging and Catalogues

Many Pit-a-Pat pieces are easy to identify, as they are clearly marked on the bottom or back. 

An oval label is found on some pieces. Marion Osborne believes this to be the earliest label, used from about 1932 to 1934.

 

Oval label  ©  KT Miniatures

 

NEW: Eleanor also has some chairs with an oval, cream coloured ink (?)stamp:

White oval stamp  © Eleanor

 

 After this, a black on red square stamp appears on dark-coloured pieces:

 

Label on back of hanging mirror ©  KT Miniatures


Light-coloured pieces could be marked with an ink stamp:

 

Stamp on bottom of white enamelled bed ©  Rebecca Green

This image was used until 1940, on labels and in advertising. Marion Osborne noted that in 1936 the word "Regd." appeared on it, below the T of PAT.

An advertisement from 1940 shows a simple rectangle with just the words "Pit-a-Pat" Series Regd' Made in England - no house or furniture. Furniture has also been found with a rectangular black on red label, or an ink stamp, with the same wording and no pictures. This furniture was probably made in 1940, and the label simplified as war shortages began to bite:

            Oblong label © Jes Kelly                          Oblong stamp © Jane Hurley

 

Pit-a-Pat packaging is extremely rare. Barbara King has a boxed set which makes me wish more had survived. The label on the top of the box is quite plain:

Label on boxed set  ©  Barbara King

This label does not say "Regd", so probably dates from before 1936.

Inside are the promised settee and easy chairs:

 

Boxed lounge suite ©  Barbara King

and look at the paper lining the box:

Inside of Pit-a-Pat box ©  Barbara King

I wish we knew what the "Doll's House Paper" available through the catalogue below was like!

 

Marion Osborne has a later boxed set, with the word "Regd" on it:

 

Boxed set with Pit-a-Pat logo   © Marion Osborne

Rexine set   © Marion Osborne

More beautiful paper! Inside boxed set   © Marion Osborne

 

 Marion Osborne, through the good offices of Barbara King and her husband, has very kindly shared this Pit-a-Pat catalogue. It's not dated - as you can see, someone has noted that it is probably from 1939.

However, the advertisement from the June 1939 Games and Toys, which Marion Osborne shows in her book, states that there are over 130 articles available. As this catalogue says that over 120 articles are available, I think maybe it's slightly earlier - 1938, perhaps. (The same picture of the little girl appears in ads from 1938, 1939 and 1940.)

(PS Isobel Hockey has a copy of this same catalogue which is dated. The footer of each page (cut off on the photocopy which Marion has) states: "Prices subject to fluctuation and applicable to Great Britain and Northern Ireland only. "PIT-A-PAT" TOY CO., LONDON, E.C.2. Issued 21st. Feb. 1938, cancelling previous lists.)

Cover of catalogue which I believe to be from 1938.

 

"When you have completely furnished your Doll's House with this make you can surely say you have THE MOST BEAUTIFUL DOLL'S HOUSE EVER!"


The catalogue has 8 pages, including the front and back covers. It is arranged by room, with all the articles for each room listed together. I'll show each section of the catalogue below, with photos of as many of the furnishings mentioned as possible.

The back cover has illustrations of some of the pieces, each numbered according to the catalogue - very useful in knowing what some of the descriptions refer to!

 

 

Scales

All the write-ups and advertisements for Pit-a-Pat emphasize that it is "made to scale", and more specifically, that "all the pieces are proportionate in size," "Our range is the largest ever offered in one scale," "Every article is made to the same scale so that complete suites or sets can be gradually collected piece by piece."

So how to explain this?

 

Rexine chairs in two sizes  ©  Barbara King

 

 This appears to be the same chair in two different scales - but is it? The larger chair is wider, taller and deeper, but the seat height is the same. The measurements are:

Small chair 7 cm high x 5 cm wide x 4 cm deep, seat height 3.5 cm

Large chair 8cm high x 5.5 cm wide x 5 cm deep, seat height 3.5 cm

Other small chairs have slight variations in height (6.5 cm for some), width (5.4 or 5.5 cm for some), and depth (4.1 or 4.3 cm for some).

 

Settees also come in larger and smaller sizes. Susanne has a set with a sofa measuring 12.5 cm wide; smaller sofas were about 8.8 cm wide.

Large suite with 12.5 cm (5") sofa  © Susanne G.

 

Celia Thomas suggested in an article in Artisans in Miniature that the larger scale came first, and then it was realised that it was a bit too big for the other furniture, so a smaller size was made. However, Susanne's larger scale settee has the remains of a rectangular label, which wasn't used until 1940.

Larger wooden chairs were also made; Michelle says that these are roughly 12th scale:

 

Large wooden chair front and side  © Kitty Macdonald

Label on base of large wooden chair   © Kitty Macdonald

 

The label does not appear to include the REGD mark, so these chairs would probably date to between 1934 and 1936. It's interesting that the design is also quite different from the usual Pit-a-Pat chairs with turned legs.

I wonder if the larger chairs and sofas were made for gentlemen? Armchairs, and wing chairs in particular, were often made larger for gentlemen and smaller for ladies. (My grandfather had a wing chair which he had inherited from his father (who died in 1934), which was much larger than my grandmother's.) No gentleman's furniture is specified in the catalogue which we have here, but as early as 1935 there was mention, in a Games and Toys write up, of suites for the study, as well as the lounge and dining room.

My grandfather in his wing chair; the top of my grandmother's (non-matching) chair can just be seen below her shoulders. Photo ca 1960s, wing chair ca 1920s. © Rebecca Green

 

 So what scale did Pit-a-Pat use? The measurements of the small easy chairs, multiplied by 12, would be 84 cm high, 60 cm wide and 48 cm deep, with a seat height of 42 cm. These match those of my real life easy chairs pretty well, so could easily be 1/12th scale. The larger chair, multiplied by 12, would be 96 cm tall, 66 cm wide, 60 cm deep and, again, with a seat height of 42 cm. This also seems possible for 1:1 scale high-backed chairs.

Multiplied by 16, the small easy chairs would be 112 cm high, 80 cm wide, 64 cm deep, and have a seat height of 56 cm. The larger easy chairs would be 128 cm high, 88 cm wide, 80 cm deep, and again have a seat height of 56 cm. While the heights of the backs would work in 1:1 scale, the measurements of even the small chairs (especially the width and depth) seem rather large to me. 

Of course, many collectors do use the smaller scale suites (and other Pit-a-Pat pieces) in their 1/16th scale houses - as smallish 1/12th scale chairs, they would work as largish 1/16th scale pieces. The larger chairs, however, look completely out of scale.

Michelle has mentioned having seen larger and smaller kitchen dressers. This could completely negate my hypothesis, as I doubt that Pit-a-Pat would have made kitchen dressers for the gentleman's study, smoking room or library. Marion has sent a photo of three dressers, with a coin for scale. What do you think? I don't think the differences are so great as to represent the same 1:1 size in different scales. The bench height of the plain wood and green dressers are very close; the plain wood dresser is taller, but the shelf height is less than on the green dresser, which is shorter overall, but has more space between the shelves. I think it's more likely that these represent different designs in the same scale, although actual sizes mean some pieces are more suitable for use in 1/16th scale than others.

 

Three dressers    © Marion Osborne

 

NEW: Marion Osborne has sent photos of a 3 piece suite which I had overlooked. It is tiny! Well, smaller than the regular size and larger size suites shown above. It's called the "Cosy Suite". Is this perhaps meant to indicate that it is for "cosy" (ie very small) dolls houses?

Stacked sofas  © Marion Osborne

 The measurements are 3 inches wide, 1 11/16 inches tall, and 1 1/2 inches deep.

Overview of Pit-a-Pat Products

In the following sections, I will cover each category within the catalogue shown above, with photos of as many of the pieces as I have been able to get. If you have other pieces that are not shown here, please let us know!

This overview is not intended to be a comprehensive account of all the articles produced, and all their variant forms. It is based on this catalogue, which probably dates from 1938, with additional pieces where I am aware of them.

The catalogue notes that all articles are Jacobean oak stained, unless otherwise stated. 

For the Kitchen and Scullery

 

Plain wood kitchen table © Kitty Macdonald         Plain wood dresser © Kitty Macdonald

 

 Stained wood dresser ©  Barbara King       Different dresser, with shaped sides © Jes Kelly


This catalogue lists a white enamelled kitchen sink, with taps and draining board. Celia also has a blue sink - if it had a drainer, it's missing, but the taps are in excellent shape:

 

 Kitchen sink and draining board © Kitty Macdonald        Kitchen sink ©  KT Miniatures

 

Some child seems to have felt that a plain white ironing board cover was not right for their doll's house, and carefully coloured it green:

 

Ironing board © Ali Duggan

 

My childhood dresser turns out to be the "Easywork Dresser":

Green and white "Easywork" dresser ©  Rebecca Green

 It comes complete with tea, coffee, rice, raisins and sago.

 

 

               Clothes horse ©  Barbara King                      Food safe © Kitty Macdonald

 

This white-topped table must be the "porcelain" topped table, especially for pastry-making. The chair it's pictured with is a bathroom chair with a cork seat. 

 

White topped table ©  Barbara King

Housemaid's set on white stand © Jes Kelly

 

Note the Pit-a-Pat ink stamp on the broom in this set:

 

Housemaid's set on plain wooden stand © Margaret

 

 Look how detailed the gas cooker is, with the gas pipe leading around the side to the knob (a thermostat? a flame failure device?):

 

Gas cooker  © Kitty Macdonald

 

NEW: The cooker could also be painted black:

Black & white cooker, meat safe and household steps  © Eleanor

 

The pastry set included a rolling pin, a bowl and a board; here is a rolling pin which came with Barbara's knife box:

Rolling pin  © Barbara King

 

Marion has a pastry set which has torn off labels, and the same rolling pin as Barbara has. The remains of the label on the board are pinkish, so perhaps it was a square red Pit-a-Pat stamp?

Baking set   © Marion Osborne

             Bowl   © Marion Osborne                  Underneath of baking set   © Marion Osborne

 

The knife box was lined with green baize - it seems that some had more baize than others:

 

          Knife box © Kitty Macdonald                    Knife box with knives © Barbara King

 

The household steps are very clearly marked with an ink stamp on the legs, "Pit-a-Pat" Series. 

 

Step ladder  © Margaret

 

This fridge belongs to South African collector Hazel Voice, and includes the contents listed in the catalogue as well: a milk bottle, jelly (or food) and "ice box".

 

                  Fridge © Hazel Voice                        Ice box, milk bottle and jelly © Hazel Voice

 

A plate rack, with holes for hanging it on the wall, should have two plates fixed in it, but no doubt these were removed for use:

 

©  Barbara King

Does anyone have a plate rack with plates? It would be interesting to see what the plates looked like.

           

 

For the Garden

 

Note the Pit-a-Pat ink stamp on the deck chair. Margaret has a director's chair (as we would call the chair on the left) which also has an ink stamp on a back leg.

 

  Chair with canvas seat & back © KT Miniatures           Deck chair © Kitty Macdonald

  Green enamelled round table with under-shelf © Barbara King


Does anyone have a folding garden shelter? It would probably look like this:

 

©  Classic Canvas, Lancaster www.classiccanvas.co.uk

 YES! Eleanor has just discovered that a piece she has owned for 20 years is a Pit-a-Pat garden shelter. She says, "Only yesterday after carefully removing the nail holding the side flap down I discovered the Pit A Pat Series Ink Stamp on the side strut." You can imagine her excitement! Here it is:

 

Garden shelter  © Eleanor

 "It is 8.5 inches wide, 6 inches high and 4.5 inches in depth, made of dark green/cream striped material with a darker green fringe over a wood frame, rather like their step ladder is made from and it folds flat for storage."

 

 

Back of garden shelter  © Eleanor

 

Pit-a-Pat stamp revealed on wooden frame  © Eleanor

 

For the Bathroom and Lavatory

This catalogue lists only white enamelled bathroom furnishings. It seems that other colours must have been available in other years, as Celia had a lovely blue set.

 

Wash basin with taps & mirror © KT Miniatures             Bath with taps  © KT Miniatures

 

 

     W.C. bowl with lid © KT Miniatures          Bathroom chair with cork seat © KT Miniatures

 

The discreetly named "complete toilet fixture" turns out to be toilet paper:

  

         Toilet paper © Kitty Macdonald                         Bath mat © Sonia Payne

                                                                      Known bath mats have an ink stamp

                                                                          (square or oblong) on the back.

NEW: The bathmat could also be stamped in red:

 

 Bath mat with red stamp © Isobel Hockey

Two variants of the bathroom cabinet are known; the one with the squared mirror is pictured in this catalogue:

 

Cabinet with round mirror © Kitty Macdonald   Cabinet with square mirror © Jenny

 

For the Bedroom

Bedroom furniture was available in both the dark Jacobean stain, and in white enamel.

      Bedstead with spring mattress © Barbara King          Bedside cupboard © Barbara King

 

 

           Wardrobe © KT Miniatures                  Chair with imitation cane seat © KT Miniatures

 

The red bead handles and the metal handles on these dark-stained dressing tables are both original:

 Dressing table red handles © Barbara King   Dressing table metal handles © KT Miniatures

and here is another variant, with the mirror set higher:

 

Dressing table with high mirror © Jes Kelly

 

                                

Cheval mirror with plain frame © Kitty Macdonald Cheval mirror with beading © Ali Duggan

 

 

White enamelled bed with spring mattress, and detail of red stamp on head (and foot, very faintly)  ©  Rebecca Green

 

         White wardrobe © KT Miniatures               White dressing table © KT Miniatures

 

Linen basket  © Barbara King

 

NEW: A square linen basket can be seen in this group photo. It has an oblong ink stamp (see photo below in Lounge items), suggesting that it dates from 1940:

Square linen basket and other items ©  Isobel Hockey

 

For the Dining Room

I am intrigued at the furniture included in the Dining Room - a settee and easy chairs, a fireside kerb with box seats, a nest of tables, and other pieces I would have thought more appropriate to a drawing room or living room. However, here they are, so here I will show them.


The "hide suite" is  the familiar rexine-covered set:

Hide suite  © KT Miniatures

 

Fireside kerb box seats © Kitty Macdonald

 

Fender seats were very popular in the 1930s. This design was published in the Hobbies Weekly of October 13th, 1934. The boxes served not only as seats, but as storage for paper and wood for kindling the fire:

 

 

 

Dining chairs with leather seats, and oblong table with cross bar supports  © Barbara King

 

NEW: Marion noticed that I had overlooked the carver chairs, and sent a photo:

Carver chairs and table   © Marion Osborne

 

She also has a square table with cross bar supports, shown here on the right with a rectangular table on the left:

Rectangular table and square table  © Marion Osborne

 

 

Oval table © Kitty Macdonald

 

 Two variations on the sideboard, one with moulded backboard and red handles, the other with no backboard and metal handles:

Sideboard with red handles  © Kitty Macdonald

Sideboard with metal handles  © Kitty Macdonald

 

The fire screens are simple wooden shapes, but are decorated with beautiful floral transfers. Here we see pansies, convolvulus, a mixed bunch, and fuschias:

Decorated firescreens  © Jes Kelly   

 

                 Decorated firescreen  © Margaret                          Firescreen from ebay

 

This catalogue lists a round mirror with chain. Celia's diamond-shaped mirror with a string loop for hanging (see photo above, in the section on labels), must date to another year:

Hanging mirror   © KT Miniatures

 

 

Decorated tray  © Jes Kelly

 

Decorated trolley   © Kitty Macdonald

 

Decorated trolley with 3 raised sides  © Jes Kelly  Undecorated trolley © Jes Kelly

 

White trolley  © Rosemary Myers

 

 

3 tier cakestand © Kitty Macdonald      2 tier cakestand  © Rosemary Myers   3 tier red/gold cakestand © Isobel Hockey

 

 

Here also are two types of nesting tables: the usual Jacobean dark stain, and a lighter wood with green trim:

 

         Nest of 3 tables  © Barbara King                    Set of 3 side tables © Rosemary Myers

 

The gong stick would have rested on the supports still just visible on top:

 

 Dinner Gong © Jes Kelly

 

Cutlery canteen on legs  © Barbara King

The lid of the cutlery canteen also has the transfer design:

Canteen lid  © Hazel Voice

 

Transfers seem to have been a popular way of decorating wooden articles in the 1930s; Hobbies catalogues of the time have several pages of available transfer designs. Here is one page from the Hobbies Handbook of 1939, showing very similar designs to those used by Pit-a-Pat:

 

For the Lounge

NEW: Marion Osborne has sent photos of a very small 3 piece suite which appears to match the picture of a Cosy Suite in an ad from 1935, and certainly has the 'fancy seats' mentioned in the catalogue listing above. I had overlooked the set in her A to Z, where it appears in a copy of that ad and in her list of items illustrated with line drawings. So probably the floral suites are not the Cosy Suites, as I had assumed - although they seem a great deal more cosy to me than wooden chairs with cardboard seats do! The Cosy Suite is cheaper than the velvet suites, repp suites and hide suites, no doubt because it was smaller and not upholstered.

 

Cosy Suite    ©  Marion Osborne

 

"Fancy seat" of cosy suite sofa    ©  Marion Osborne

 

 

Floral (Cosy) suite with square ink stamp ca 1936-1939  © Hayley

 

 

Floral (Cosy) suite with oblong ink stamp ca 1940  © Jane Hurley

Red velvet suite © Kitty Macdonald

 

  Green velvet suite © KT Miniatures

 

Gold repp covered suite  © Jes Kelly


 

Brass top table  © Barbara King

 

Rosemary's Pit-a-Pat library books lie flat on the shelves of her non-Pit-a-Pat bookcase, while the Pit-a-Pat bookcase has fewer shelves with more height, to accommodate the books. 

 

 

Pit-a-Pat Library books © Rosemary Myers

Bookcase © Kitty Macdonald

 

 As an alternative to the bookcase, book-ends were supplied - these decorated with barbola (fruit or flowers modelled from plastic paste), as described in the catalogue:

 

Barbola book-ends  © Margaret

 

Barbola mirror   © Nicky Sedgewick

 

 

Red & gold draught screen © Margaret NEW Green & gold draught screen © Isobel Hockey

 

Would your dolls prefer to play the piano, or impress their neighbours by having a grand piano (albeit one with a rather small keyboard)? Both are available:

 

            Upright piano  ©  KT Miniatures                          Grand piano  ©  KT Miniatures

 

This is probably a piano stool - both black lacquer and dark-stained stools were available, the latter with red or green velvet seats. This dark-stained stool has a scrap of green velvet on one corner. Margaret also has a stool with a tapestry seat. 

                  Stool © Kitty Macdonald                          Tapestry stool  ©  Margaret    


NEW: Piano parade    © Eleanor

 

The velvet chair can be seen in the centre of this parade of Pit-a-Pat chairs; to its left is the Parlour Chair with fancy seat, which appears in the "Beauty of the Doll's House" section of the catalogue.

 

Chair parade   ©  Margaret  

 

Pit-a-Pat catered well for dolls' leisure time. As well as playing the piano or reading, they could play cards at this folding card table (cards not supplied, however):

 Card table and chair © Sally L

 

China cabinet  ©  Margaret
 

 

 NEW:

   

       Hanging picture  © Isobel Hockey               Smoker's stand © Isobel Hockey


Stamps on Pit-a-Pat picture, toilet paper, heater, smoker's stand, table lamp and square linen basket    © Isobel Hockey 

 

For the Nursery

Cot © Barbara King

 

Decorated chair and round table   © Marion Osborne

 

 

 Two chairs with decorated backs © Kitty Macdonald

 

Play pen © Margaret

 

 

          Wardrobe with decorated door, and fitted rails and hooks  © Marion Osborne

 

NEW: More transfers on nursery furniture from Isobel Hockey:

Transfers on nursery high chair and wardrobe  © Isobel Hockey

 

Beauty of the Doll's House

An interesting title - many of these could be considered "extras", but perhaps more for comfort and amenity than for beauty? 28 items are included in this category, more than in the other categories - but I have far fewer photos to show, as these pieces seem to be much rarer. Perhaps some were small and easily lost - or perhaps they weren't individually marked, and so aren't easily identifiable.

 

           Coffee table © Jes Kelly

 

The fabric on these fireside seats has different patterns; the arms of the chairs are also slightly different, so perhaps they date from different years:

              Fireside chair © Claire Quick                  Fireside chair © Margaret

 

           Hallstand © Barbara King                        Workbox on stand © Barbara King

 

This pedestal table is square, rather than the oblong described in this catalogue. It would still be a useful stand for the wireless set:

        Pedestal table © Kitty Macdonald                         Wireless set © KT Miniatures

 

1930s doll's houses could accommodate overnight guests with the bed settee, which was available in "hide" (rexine) and colourful upholstery:

 

Hide bed settee © KT Miniatures

 

 Chair and bed settee with paper upholstery © Rosemary Myers

Carpets were available in several sizes, and in at least two colours, green and red:

 

Green carpet © Kitty Macdonald

 

Red carpet in living room © Nicholas Brown

 

NEW: Green fringed rug 6" x 3" © Isobel Hockey

 

The mantel clock on the left, and the grandfather clock, have original Pit-a-Pat faces showing 8 o'clock. Celia has a photo (below right) of the mantel clock shown in this catalogue, which has a different shape - hers has a replacement, hand-drawn, clock face:

 

Mantel clock © Kitty Macdonald                  Grandfather clock © Kitty Macdonald          Mantel clock ©  KT Miniatures

 

Two types of desk were available, a bureau desk with drop flap, and a pedestal desk. While we don't yet have a photo of a pedestal desk, we have variants of the bureau desk, one with red handles and bare wood inside; the other with metal handles and red baize lining the inside of the desk. Valerie is lucky in having an original blotter in her bureau desk, part of the writing set which also included an inkstand, pen and paper.

  Open bureau desk red handles © Valerie Towers       Closed desk © Kitty Macdonald         

8.6 cm h (at back) x 7.3 cm w x 5 cm deep. Blotter 5.2 cm x 3.75 cm.

 

Open bureau desk metal handles ©  Margaret

 

Writing set  © Margaret

 

           Table lamp  © Barbara King                           Telephone  © Jes Kelly

 

 "Glass" topped table © Rosemary Myers

 

The folding bedstead could be stored upright or on its side, taking up no more space than the depth of the frame:

 

Folding bedstead  © Margaret

 

 The barometer is very detailed, and is marked "Pit-a-Pat Series London" on the face:

  Barometer  © Margaret

 

NEW: Eleanor has sent a photo of a radiogram, which comes complete with a record on the turntable!

Radiogram (closed and open)  © Eleanor

 

 Here are the other pieces illustrated in this catalogue which fall under this category:

 

           Pedestal desk and chair        Small table

 

A billiard table is also known to have been produced, but does not appear in this particular catalogue. Did it come with cues and billiard balls, I wonder?

 

Billiard table © Susanne G.

Electrical Articles

Houses furnished with Pit-a-Pat electrical items must have looked very cosy. Here is the overmantel set - the familiar fireplace and fender kerb, but with a beautiful overmantel oval mirror, and, visible in the second photo, electric flex to light up the imitation fire:

 

 Overmantel set with oval mirror © Jes Kelly

 

Overmantel set with electric flex © Jes Kelly

 

 Other heating options included an electric fire, enamelled in colours:

 

Electric fire  © Kitty Macdonald 

 

and a tiled fireplace, also brightly coloured:

 

Tiled fireplace  © Barbara King 

 

 

If anyone has any Pit-a-Pat electrical lamps - table, wall, ceiling or standard, please let us know. I'd especially love to see the fancy table lamp, "with animal on stand"! The standard lamp (left) is illustrated in the catalogue.

 

 

 

 

 NEW: Eleanor has sent photos of her standard lamp. The lampshade is very stylish, but Eleanor is not sure whether it's original.

Electrical standard lamp with shade; without shade; oblong ink stamp on base © Eleanor

 

Not listed in this catalogue, and presumably one of the last Pit-a-Pat items released, is an electrified television. The first regular television broadcasts  started at the end of 1936, in London. (I had to look this up, as in Australia, a television service didn't start until 20 years later!) So Pit-a-Pat was certainly keeping right up with advances in technology.

Television off © Guy Steeds

 The picture lights up when it's plugged in!

Television on © Guy Steeds 

 

Boxed Sets

Thanks to all the members who have contributed photos of their Pit-a-Pat pieces, we now have a good picture of the range available. This furniture is very suitable for furnishing dolls houses of the 1930s and 40s. Pit-a-Pat  was made for only 8 years or so, but must have sold well, as so much has survived. No doubt the fact that pieces could be bought individually, as well as in sets, meant that many children (or their parents) could afford some pieces of Pit-a-Pat to furnish their dolls houses. Some are quite rare - indeed, some are so rare that no-one has seen them! Others, like the lounge suites, chairs, beds and so on, do come up for sale fairly often.  Pit-a-Pat marked many of their pieces with paper or ink stamps; as they said, "The Seal of Quality on every article". However, paper labels can come off, and hopefully this overview will help identify pieces which now have no marking. 

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