Dolls' Houses Past & Present

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

Designed & Made by Christopher Cole - Part 1 by Zoe H

In July last year I took delivery of a lovely little 1:16 scale shop.

My Christopher Cole shop. Image © Zoe H

 

The shop had the maker’s name displayed on the back:

The label on my shop. Image © Zoe H

 

I was aware of another, entirely different, example of Christopher Cole’s work which features in one of my favourite dolls’ house reference books: Dollhouses from the V&A Museum of Childhood by Halina Pasierbska.  

 

Dolls’ House, 1970s, made by Christopher Cole.

Museum No. B.16-2005.

Image © V&A Museum, London

The V&A Museum’s house is a large, four-storey dwelling, of very modern design, and the huge contrast in style between it and my own very traditional little shop intrigued me greatly. The V&A’s house, purchased in 2005, is from the Faith Eaton Collection and it also features in her book: ‘The Ultimate Dolls’ House Book’, as “The Modern House”. 

Intrigued, I decided I had to find out more about Christopher Cole, or, more correctly, Doctor Christopher Cole, since it transpired that he practiced as a GP for most of his working life.

The Internet provided very few details but I was able to discover that, sadly, Dr. Cole had passed away, aged 92, in 2008.   I also found that he had written a book on how to make a dolls’ house in the 70s. Finally, I discovered that in retirement, Dr. Cole had lived in Bainbridge, North Yorkshire (a village not far from my own home, though I didn’t move into the area until after Dr. Cole’s death), and that he had had a small dolls’ house museum there.

Unfortunately, I could find out little else from this source but, with the help of our own Rebecca Green, I was able to trace Dr. Cole’s eldest son, and through him, his other four children who have been enormously helpful in providing information about this little documented dolls’ house maker.  This is what I have discovered:

Early Life

Christopher Kersley Cole was born in Tring in Hertfordshire, England, on the 7th of December 1916.  His father was an architect and this probably accounts, at least in part, for Christopher’s own interest in the architecture of buildings, which eventually lead to him creating them in miniature.

When Christopher’s parents were married, shortly before the First World War, a friend of his mother presented them with her family dolls’ house as a wedding gift.  The dolls’ house was intended for their first daughter, but the couple actually went on to have four boys.

 

The [now] Cole family dolls’ house – much renovated and extended over the years. The bottom two floors appear to be a G & J Lines' No 7 dolls house, ca 1900-1910.

Images © Dominic Cole

 

Of the four boys, it was Christopher who took an interest in the dolls’ house. Dr. Cole talks in some detail about this family dolls’ house and the influence it had on him in the Introduction to his book Make Your Own Dolls’ House (of which more later), but his daughter, Tessa, remembers: “He always said it annoyed him that the chimneys didn’t work, and the front door opened onto the wall dividing two rooms, and those were the sort of things he wanted to make work when he started to make his own.” Tessa, who was the first girl to be born into the family for many years, now owns this house: she was given it to play with as a little girl and it is still with her today.

Growing up, Dr. Cole attended Eastbourne College where, by his own testimony, he was happiest in the art room and carpenters’ shop.  He must, however, have excelled at other more academic subjects too as he went on to graduate from Medical School at Guy’s Hospital (now part of Kings College London).

Dr. Cole the GP

 

During the Second World War, Dr. Cole served in the Royal Air Force, based in a non-military hospital in Torquay. After the war he joined his godfather’s medical practice in Tring, in time becoming a partner and eventually a senior partner there.  Marrying in 1941, he went on to have five children and for many years, lived with his family above the Tring High Street surgery.

With the arrival of his children, Dr. Cole began to make wooden toys for them, including a castle for his son Jeremy in the 1960s and a stable for his daughter based on the stables and harness room at the back of the surgery in Tring.

Later he continued to make wooden toys for his grandchildren, including another fort for a grandson and horseboxes for two of his granddaughters.

 

1:12 scale horse boxes made in 1994 for Dr. Cole’s grandchildren.

Original photos © Christopher Cole and the Cole family, this image © Zoe H.

Dr. Cole GP and Dolls' House Maker

It was after moving to Long Barn, Tring – a converted stud farm and once part of the Rothschild estate – in 1971 that Dr. Cole, then in his early fifties and still working as a country GP, first started to make dolls’ houses for sale commercially.   Dr. Cole himself tells us in the introduction to his book, published five years later, how this came about: “After acquiring my first and only god-child, my interest in toy making took on a fresh impetus, and about five years ago I made her a large open-plan dolls’ house. Encouraged by the delight this gave, I began to think about making dolls’ houses for sale commercially …”

 

Dr. Cole’s design drawing for the “large open-plan dolls’ house” for his god-daughter, Caroline Watson.

Original image © Christopher Cole and the Cole family, this image © Zoe H.

 

Dr. Cole goes on to say: “…[I] designed a large modern dolls’ house in kit form for assembly by the purchaser. It was of limited appeal, and I still have a pile of expensive unsold parts in my workshop, I had misjudged the market and only later realised what people want is something romantic. So I designed a little Georgian terrace house or shop, with a bow-window, a brass hand-rail to the front door, and a mansard roof.  It remains the most popular design.”

 

One of Dr. Cole’s design drawings for the ‘Modern House’.

Original image © Christopher Cole and the Cole family, this image  © Dominic Cole.  

 

Interestingly, the house in Dr. Cole’s sketch above appears to be a three-storey version of the four-storey model now owned by the V&A Museum. 

 

The “little Georgian terrace house or shop” referred to became known ‘The Beauchamp’:

 

The Beauchamp: this 1:24 scale house was purchased second hand in 2011 by DHP&P member Joan Joyce.

Image © Joan Joyce. 

 

The same model is seen here on Michal Morse’s stand at a fair in 1975:  

 

Michal Morse with ‘The Beauchamp’ house for sale in 1975.

 

Dr. Cole’s youngest son, Dominic, remembers going along with his father, as a young boy, to Heals department store in London to show the “Modern House” to the toy buyer.  Although Dominic himself doesn’t recall the outcome of the meeting, the toy buyer at that time was Kristin Baybars and she recalls that she did indeed stock Dr. Cole’s houses in Heals for a number of years.  In fact Kristin went on to form a friendship with Dr. Cole and his second wife, Doreen, and has many happy memories of visits with them over the years.

Dr. Cole also approached Michal Morse, who had just opened the very first specialist dolls’ house shop in the UK in Marylebone, London.  Michal recalls that in 1972, she stocked a number of different Christopher Cole models, including two different models of his very modern houses: a tall four-storey house and a wider two-storey one.  Later she sold his ‘Dickens House’ from her Covent Garden shop.  Corroborating Dr. Cole’s own recollections, Michal recalls that the modern houses were not popular. In fact, Michal confesses to having been rather relieved when, eventually, she sold the tall model she had had in stock for some time to none other than her friend Faith Eaton - so the very house now owned by the V&A Museum of Childhood!

Michal can also recall Dr. Cole ‘s houses being stocked by Heals and believes that there was Heals poster campaign featuring the tall ‘Modern House’, with posters displayed on buses and hoardings around the capital.   Certainly, Dr. Cole’s albums contain the following two photographs showing two different versions of ‘Modern House’, both labeled ‘Special Commission for Heals, London – 1971”.

 

Special commissions of the ‘Modern House’ for Heals.

Original documents © Christopher Cole and the Cole family, these images © Zoe H

 

The two versions seen here have some slight differences, including what appears to be a division of rooms on the third floor of the house on the left that does not appear in the house on the right.

There is also a photograph of a ‘Georgian Dolls’ House’ commissioned for Heals, and this is the model which Kristin Baybars recalls being sold there:

Special commission of a ‘Georgian Dolls House’ for Heals.

 Original document © Christopher Cole and the Cole family, this image © Zoe H.

 

Later in the 70s a version of the ‘Dickens House’ with the addition of a mansard roof was available from Heals:

This ‘Dickens House’ was purchased from Heals in the late 1970's.

Image © eBay seller missfoodlove

The triangular label on this house indicates that this design was approved by the prestigious Design Centre in London.

 

Dr Cole’s family believes that in addition to Michal Morse’s shops and Heals, The Singing Tree in Kensington and another shop in Fulham also sold his houses.  My own Christopher Cole shop has a handwritten label on it stating that it was bought from a shop in Haworth which is in West Yorkshire, but it may have been bought there second hand as Dr. Cole’s family does not recall his houses ever being sold from a shop in that location.

Christopher Cole Dolls' Houses - Standard Lines

Fortunately for me, Dr. Cole was a meticulous record keeper and retained copies of various specification sheets, brochures, press cuttings and photographs of his houses, all carefully arranged in albums.  His children very kindly allowed me access to read and photograph them. Since I viewed them in March, the family has deposited them with the V&A Museum of Childhood and they are in the process of being catalogued.

The albums contain two different specification sheets for Dr. Cole’s standard lines. One of the sheets is undated and the other is dated 1978.  I know that the dated leaflet was produced from Dr. Cole’s home in Yorkshire (see later) and since the other, undated leaflet has Dr. Cole’s Tring address on it, we can be quite certain that it is earlier.

 

‘Specification Sheet’ believed to be from the early 70s.

Original document © Christopher Cole and the Cole family, this image © Zoe H

 

The prices given in the specifications support this too.  For example, the individual information sheet for ‘Barnaby Castle’ has the same branding as the undated specification and gives the current retail price as £18, but in the 1976 leaflet the wholesale price ranges from £23-28.

The earlier specification sheet lists seven different models. With the exception of ‘Albert’s Cottage’, Dr. Cole’s records contained an individual information sheet for each of these models. The Cole family recalls that their father was always on the lookout for facades that would make good subjects and had a photograph album of examples taken all over the country, and this is borne out by details given in the individual information sheets:

 

 

1.‘Jeremiah’s Cottage’: This information sheet tells us that this model was “Inspired by a Highwayman’s Cottage at Abington near Newmarket”.  Dominic Cole recalls that his father noticed the building when he went to the Abington Pottery to buy pieces from the potter David Lane. The village was on the way from Tring to the family cottage at Blakeney in Norfolk.

 

Jeremiah’s Cottage: Above, individual specification sheet; below, Dr. Cole's album photo.

Original documents © Christopher Cole and the Cole family, these images © Zoe H.

 

 

Each cottage was supplied with a replica of the original signboard bearing the name “Jeremiah’s Cottage” and had a drawing of a mounted highwayman on it. This was to be affixed to the house after completion.


2. ‘Albert’s Cottage’: As mentioned, there was no individual information sheet for Albert Cottage in Dr. Cole’s records, nor are there any photographs labeled as Albert’s Cottage, however, there are photographs of an ‘Albert Villa’ which could be one and the same model.

 

Albert Villa: Is this the ‘Albert’s Cottage’ listed on the Specification Sheet?
Original document © Christopher Cole and the Cole family, this image © Zoe H.

 

The ‘Albert Villa’ model opened both front and back. 

Original document © Christopher Cole and the Cole family, this image © Zoe H.

 

Dominic Cole recalls that ‘Albert’s Cottage’ was based on a small terraced house or houses at Albert Street in Tring. He believes that it might have been discontinued because: “for a ‘small dolls’ house’ it was just too big and never had the appeal of ‘The Beauchamp’. From memory it was also quite complicated to put together.”

 


3. The ‘Small Modern Dolls House’: The dimensions given for this house would indicate a scale of 1:16. Since the Modern House in the V&A Museum is also 1:16 scale, I wonder if we can assume that the ‘small’ in the model name here differentiates it from that taller modern house design.
The information sheet for this model states that the house is “designed to meet the needs of those who wished to own a dolls house reflecting present day trends in architecture.”

 

The ‘Small Modern House’.

Original document © Christopher Cole and the Cole family, this image © Zoe H.

 

The design is very modern indeed and we are told that “A sliding ‘glass’ door leads from one end of the area to the covered car port, and the whole of the front slides either to left or right. A continuous window serves the four small rooms on the first floor, which are linked at the back by a passage [sounds very impractical for the full-size user!]. Again the front slides either way or can be lifted off altogether.” If anyone has come across or knows of an example this very intriguing house I would love to hear of it.
Interestingly, we are also told: “Each house bears a serial number and is signed by the maker.”

 

 

Presumably two different versions of the ‘Modern Dolls House’ though it is not obvious exactly where the differences lay, unless version No. 2 did not have a front.

Original documents © Christopher Cole and the Cole family, these images © Zoe H.

 

Design sketches for the ‘Modern House’.

Original image © Christopher Cole and the Cole family, this image © Dominic Cole. 

 

4. The ‘Dickens House’: The information sheet for this house tells us it is based on “a Georgian Terraced House in London’s Bloomsbury, a house
of considerable elegance, now serving as a museum containing the works and relics of its notable former occupant Charles Dickens.”

 

Above, Information sheet, and below, Assembly Instructions for the ‘Dickens House’. 

Original documents © Christopher Cole and the Cole family, these images © Zoe H.

 

 

The ‘Dickens House’ standard box-back version, with metal railings to balconies.
Image © eBay seller svandoom.
 

This house was available “Fully assembled (unpainted), Fully assembled (painted inside), Fully assembled (completely decorated).”

 


5. The ‘Caroline Shop’: This was “based on a converted artisan’s terraced house in the Chelsea district of London” and was “painted and decorated inside and out in accordance with the subtle needs of a building of this character…a small counter provides the customary barrier between shop-keeper and purchaser”.

 

The ‘Caroline Shop’: above, information sheet; below, file photos. 

Original documents © Christopher Cole and the Cole family, these images © Zoe H.

 

 

The inside of my own ‘Caroline Shop’ dated 1983.

Image © Zoe H. 

My own ‘Caroline Shop’ shows no evidence that it ever had any of the internal shop fittings detailed in the earlier product leaflet and seen in the black and white photo above.

According to Dominic Cole, there were a number of alternative shop fronts available for the Caroline Shop and two of these are shown below [with apologies for the poor quality of the photographs]:

 

Above and below, Alternative fronts for the ‘Caroline Shop’.

Original file photos © Christopher Cole and the Cole family, these images © Zoe H.

 

 

6. ‘Barnaby Castle’: Based on Castle Rising in Norfolk, this castle had two access panels lifted off each side and features included a dungeon with a brass studded door and metal grille, and a drawbridge. The current retail price is given as “£18.00 (subject to alteration)”:

 

 ‘Barnaby Castle’ information sheet.

Original document © Christopher Cole and the Cole family, this image © Zoe H.

 

‘Barnaby Castle’ - supplied either completely made up or as a kit.

Original file photo © Christopher Cole and the Cole family, this image © Zoe H.

 

 

7. ‘The Beauchamp’: The information leaflet for this model tells us it was “…evolved to provide a dolls house that, because of its size [1:24 scale], is neat enough to fit into a child’s bedroom, is easily carried and is built to last at least one generation.”

 

‘The Beauchamp’, above, specification sheet; below, file photo.

Original documents © Christopher Cole and the Cole family, these images © Zoe H.

 

 

Turning next to the second, later specification sheet of standard lines produced by Dr. Cole, this is in the form of a fold-out leaflet or brochure and has the name and date, “ Shelly Page - July ’78” hand-written in the bottom left-hand corner.   

1978 fold out leaflet detailing Dr. Cole’s standard lines at that time.

Original document contents © Christopher Cole and the Cole family; images and design  © Shelly Page; this image © Zoe H.

 

 

Shelly Page was Dr. Cole’s second wife Doreen’s goddaughter, and through Dr. Cole’s family, I was able to contact her. Now a graphic designer, she recalls:

“I spent a couple of weeks nearly every summer with Doreen from the time she moved to Yorkshire until my marriage in the late 80's. After that my husband and I (and our son) spent several wonderful Christmas holidays with the entire Cole clan…One summer in the late 70's, while I was a fashion design student, I caught flu and stayed on for an extra week at the Mill - my recuperation was speeded along by the chance to create some unique dolls for the Museum - I decide to make Cesare, Lucretia and a child Borgia to join the Renaissance Palace! I raided Doreen's box of fabric scraps to make the clothes and I remember cutting off a few strands of my own hair to make Lucretia's braids!! I also made a 'Jane Austen' couple for another of the houses. I also designed and made the drawings for the fold out brochure.”

 

The leaflet details the same houses as the earlier list we have seen, except that ‘Albert’s Cottage’ no longer appears and a new model ‘Tulip House has been introduced: 

 

‘Tulip House’:  The front of this model is: “an almost exact copy of a small house of Dutch character (hence “Tulip”) wedged between others in the High Street of Cley-next-the-Sea in Norfolk.”  Somewhat amusingly, I thought, this house is described as being designed especially for the nursery and “not for the connoisseur”!

 

‘Tulip House’: above, individual information sheet and below, assembly instructions.

Original documents © Christopher Cole and the Cole family, these images © Zoe H.

 

 

'Tulip House' exterior and interior.

Original file photos © Christopher Cole and the Cole family, this image © Zoe H.

 

 

Aimed firmly at the children’s toy market and not collectors, the windows of this house were made of “unbreakable P.V.C.” and the front was secured with a “stout piano hinge”. The chimneystack also served as a carrying handle.

 

As well as these standard lines, Dr. Cole produced many one-off commissions and I hope to look at some of those in a follow-up article.

How Big Was Dr. Cole's Enterprise?

 

In a newspaper article from 1974, it is mentioned that Dr. Cole was producing about 80 dolls’ houses per year. In another newspaper article from 1976, this figure was estimated at 50 per year.  Either of these figures, which will have included both the standard lines and one-off commissions, is extremely impressive for a one-man enterprise, particularly given that he was working full-time as a GP all the while. 

Identifying a Christopher Cole House

It appears that almost from the off, Dr. Cole attached a printed label to the houses he made for sale commercially. Robin Ollington, artist and graphic designer, whom Dr. Cole met as patient in Tring, designed his labels for him.

A Christopher Cole “Charles Dickens House”, which was listed on eBay in December 2014, had a label attached: “Designed and made by Christopher Cole at Long Barn – Tring”.

The label on my Christopher Cole shop is of the same design but simply states “Designed & Made by Christopher Cole”: presumably this is the label he used once he left Tring.

In addition to the label, my shop has the initials: C.K.C. (for Christopher Kersley Cole) and a number: 4/83 inscribed or impressed into the side edge of the base at the front left. Dominic Cole tells me that this denotes that it was the 24th house Dr. Cole produced in 1983. The 24th of all dwellings produced that year, that is, and not the 24th Caroline Shop. It is not clear when Dr. Cole started to use this ‘stamp’.

 

Impressed initials, production number and year on my 'Caroline Shop'.

Image © Zoe H.

 

 

For identification purposes, there are certain features often seen in Dr. Cole’s houses, though they are by no means features of all of his houses, particularly where his one-off commissions are concerned. The common features include:

  • Curved corners to the windows, caused by the machinery used to create them.
  • Thin plastic/acetate windows with glazing bars screen-printed onto them. Bay windows are slotted into grooves made for them.

 

Details of my 'Caroline Shop' door and window openings, and printed acetate windows.

Images © Zoe H.

 

 

 

  • Piano hinges were often used for opening fronts or sides.
  • Some houses were sold decorated with wallpaper and painted exteriors, though the base was often left unpainted, as I believe it was on my own shop.  Dominic Cole recalls that his father bought the wallpapers retail from Laura Ashley and certainly the wallpaper in my shop is recognizable as Laura Ashley.

 

It seems that Dr. Cole worked in a variety of scales, though he eventually favoured 1:12, which was growing fast in popularity by the end of the 1980s. My little shop is 1:16 scale, as is the ‘Modern House’ in the V&A Museum. DHPP member Joan Joyce states that her little house, which we now know to be ‘Beauchamp House’, is 1:24.

 

Dr. Cole the Author

 

Many of you will be familiar with Dr. Cole’s book: Make Your Own Dolls’ House published in hardback in 1976 by Shepheard-Walwyn. The front cover of the first edition of the book features a photograph of Dr. Cole together with his granddaughter Miranda.

 

Cover of the first edition of Dr. Cole's book. Note the reproduction of the blue plaque commemorating Dickens' occupancy of the real 'Charles Dickens House'.

Copyright Shepheard-Walwyn:

Reproduced with kind permission.

 

The family recalls that this first edition was very successful and completely sold out. Neither the family nor the publisher can recall the exact number of copies printed, but it is thought that there were at least 10,000 and that 5000 of these went to the US publisher Nostrand Reinhold.  A second edition of the book was published in paperback in 1989 when 4000 copies were printed.   A review of the second edition in International Dolls’ House News in Spring 1990 tells us that the text and instruction were the same but, whereas plans for a specific house were included in the first edition, these together with the coloured photographs were left out of the later one.  Details for electrical systems were updated too.

 Dr. Cole’s book gave instructions for the construction of a dolls’ house and, in the first edition at least, contained pullout plans for the house shown on the front cover, known as the ‘Charles Dickens House’. Until very recently, Dominic Cole had the prototype for this house, however, he has now deposited it with the Dickens Museum in Doughty Street where it will probably go in the nursery.

(Right, 'Charles Dickens House' prototype, image © Dominic Cole.)

 

Anthony Werner of Shepheard-Walwyn Publishers recalls that as publicity for the launch of Dr. Cole’s book, a deal was done with the Daily Telegraph newspaper, whereby Dr. Cole was asked to make a dolls’ house of 10 Downing Street in return for them running a feature on dolls’ house making in their colour magazine.  A photograph of Dr. Cole’s 10 Downing Street dolls’ house appeared on the front cover of the Sunday Telegraph magazine in October 1976, and readers were invited to order a copy of the book with the special offer of a set of plans of the Downing Street dolls’ house. This was in addition to the plans for the Dickens House already included in the book.

 

Other Known Publications

In addition to his book, Dr. Cole also published an article entitled ‘Zetland House – A Dolls’ House for You to Build’ in The Home Miniaturist [Volume 2, No.3].

Zetland House, based on Zetland House, Richmond, North Yorkshire,

very near to my own home.

Original image © Christopher Cole and the Cole family, this image  © Zoe H.

 

He was also featured in the second issue of Modelling and Miniature Crafts where he gave instructions for the construction of one of his standard lines: ‘The Beauchamp’ house. Unfortunately I don’t have a date for either of these publications.

Dr. Cole in Retirement

 

In 1973 Dr. Cole purchased Low Mill, a semi-derelict mill in Bainbridge, North Yorkshire.  Over the next few years he undertook an extensive refurbishment of the mill, including restoration of the wheel and mill machinery to full working order.  Eventually retiring from his senior position in the Tring practice, Dr. Cole worked as a locum in Yorkshire for a short time before retiring fully. Once the refurbishment of the mill was complete, Dr. Cole, now with his second wife, Doreen, established a workshop and dolls’ house museum within it.

 

Dr. Cole in his workshop at Low Mill, Bainbridge.

Image © Shelly Page

 

Well before Dr. Cole bought Low Mill in Yorkshire he had had a particular interest in mills and had in fact created a working model of a water mill which ground Rice Crispies!  The mill was later displayed in the museum in Bainbridge.

 

These are Dr. Cole’s preliminary sketches for the mill and its workings.

Original images © Christopher Cole and the Cole family, these images  © Dominic Cole.  

 

Dr. Cole’s working model of a water mill – it ground Rice Crispies!

Original image © Christopher Cole and the Cole family, this image  © Zoe H.

 

DHP&P member Jenny visited the mill in 2000 and recalls that the museum was located in the cellar or basement.  Rather than being a traditional museum, there was of a selection of Dr. Cole’s own houses on display, about thirty of them, all different but all in a traditional style.  The houses were well painted and furnished and there were also a number of made up and decorated houses available for sale. Jenny recalls the Coles themselves as "very friendly and welcoming.”

 

View of Dr. Cole's museum. Note '10 Downing Street' in the centre of this row, with the facade placed to the left, and the interior open to view on the right. A bobby is on duty outside the front door! 

Image © Shelly Page

 

Kristin Baybars visited with Dr. Cole and his wife, Doreen at Low Mill on a number of occasions, and Kristin still has a Christopher Cole house on display in her Gospel Oak shop, which was purchased from Dr. Cole during one such visit:

 

A Christopher Cole House in Kristin Baybars’ Shop in Gospel Oak. A sketch of the same model features in an ad for Dr. Christopher Cole's 'Wooden Doll's Houses and Kits of different periods. Made to order' in The British Dollshouse Hobby Directory for 1991.

This image © Zoe H

 

Some time in the 1990s, Dr. Cole, his museum and his dolls’ houses featured on the BBC’s ‘Look North’, a regional news programme covering Yorkshire and the North Midlands.

Dr. Cole continued to produce dolls houses almost right up until his death at the age of 92. The notice of his passing published in the Yorkshire Post read: “Dr. Christopher Cole of Low Mill, Bainbridge, 4th June, 2008, died peacefully in hospital aged 92. Funeral at Askrigg Parish Church Thursday 12th June at 12 noon.”

And Finally ...

 

I love these sentiments expressed in the ‘Afterword’ of Dr. Cole’s book Make Your Own Dolls’ House, and they seem like an appropriate way to end this article in his own words:

“May I offer one final thought? Whenever you are tempted to rush any part of the job, remember that in all probability what you are building will not only be played with by the child you have it in mind for at present, but also children of generations yet unborn.  For, despite all the technological advances of our times, there is undoubtedly still a place for craftsmanship, and a dolls’ house carefully made by hand today is almost certain in due course to become justly prized as an heirloom.”

 

As I mentioned above, I hope to showcase some of Dr. Cole's special commission doll's houses in a future issue of this magazine. Meanwhile, I would love to know of any other Christopher Cole houses, articles, photos or catalogues etc!

 

Acknowledgements: Very special thanks to the Cole family, especially Dominic and Tessa, and to Shelly Page. Thanks also to Kristin Baybars and Michal Morse for sharing their memories of buying and selling Christopher Cole’s dolls houses in the 1970s; to the V&A Museum and Shepheard-Walwyn publishers for permission to reproduce images, and the latter for information on Dr Cole’s publications and publicity for them; and to DHP&P member Jenny for her memories of visiting Dr. Cole's museum.

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