Dolls' Houses Past & Present

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

Dolls House Designs from The Woodworker, 1917-1970 by Rebecca Green, with kind permission of the publisher

 

Home woodwork in many forms – fretwork, turning, cabinetry, marquetry, etc – was very popular at the beginning of the last century. A number of journals were started to provide designs, instructions and technical information, including Handicrafts, whose designs for dolls houses and dolls house furnishings we presented in the last two issues of this magazine.

 

Another such magazine was The Woodworker, which was started in 1901 by the publisher Percival Marshall.  It appeared twice a month at first, and then monthly, with some changes to its name – The Woodworker and Art Metal Worker, The Woodworker and Art Metal Worker and Allied Crafts Journal, The Woodworker and Allied Crafts Journal – before being taken over by the publishers Evans Bros., Ltd as The Woodworker and Art Craftsman, and later becoming simply The Woodworker. Evans Bros continued to publish the magazine until about 1970, after which it went through several changes of ownership. Evans Bros itself is still in business as an educational publisher.

The Woodworker was aimed at professional woodworkers as well as those who practised woodwork as a hobby. Although articles helpful for amateurs were always included, the March 1923 issue noted that their letters bag showed that “the wealth and variety of technical information and intimate workshop hints that constantly appear” were highly valued by “the small master-joiner and cabinet-maker, plying the craft in workshops scattered up and down the country.”

Unlike Handicrafts, The Woodworker did not sell wood, kits for making up designs, tools or other hardware. Their dolls house designs were accompanied by scaled working drawings, in the form of elevations, plans, sketches and sections. The reader was expected to scale these up to their desired size, and to follow the suggested methods of construction. Cutting lists were also given. The wood recommended in 1917 was deal, with American whitewood for the doorposts, rails, etc. From the 1920s to 1939, the recommendation was to use plywood, with some mahogany veneers for window frames, deal for chimneys, etc. Later, manufactured boards were also suggested, such as ‘lamin board’, ‘plastic board’, masonite and chipboard.

The Woodworker did not sell dolls house papers or fittings either, but said that these could easily be bought – in 1917, “through any large stationer or most dealers in fancy goods”; in 1929 from “dealers in woodworker’s sundries”; then in 1934, from toy stores.

 

As the scale used in the designs was generally not stated, I have shown the overall dimensions and room and door height where possible. The dolls house furniture designs published in 1936 appear to be in 1:8 scale, and would fit most of the houses presented up to 1938.

Dolls House Designs

 

The first Woodworker dolls house design which I know of appeared in February 1917. It seems that this was in response to reader requests, as at the end of the ‘The Question Box’ in that issue (a regular feature where readers asked for sketch designs and instructions for particular projects), there is a note: “J.S., C.P.L., AND OTHERS. – A doll’s house is fully described in this issue.”

 

The article on the dolls house refers to the shortages caused by the war. This was 3 years in to World War I, and the article mentioned that “During the last two years, the familiar type of doll’s house has not been a prominent feature in shop windows; the foreign article has not been imported, and few have been manufactured at home.”

 

1917. Dimensions: 28" wide x 17" deep x 26" high. Front door is 6 ¾” high.

 

This dolls house opens through double doors at the back. The roof also lifts off to make the rooms more accessible. The article explains how “from the point of view of sheer usefulness and durability – nothing could beat the plain box house with four compartments and a pair of enclosing doors …. but it does not appeal to the child-girl mind … she longs for a doll’s house which is not a mere box, but which looks like a real house.” So, while this dolls house has four simple rooms inside, those on the right are smaller than the rooms on the left, as the porch outside the front door, one of the details which makes the dolls house more like a real house, fills the extra space on the right.

 

Photos of a dolls house made to this design appeared in the Summer 1982 issue of International Dolls House News. The house belonged to Mrs Joy McQuade, who called it ‘Harvest House’. The original builder had somewhat simplified the windows, so that each front-facing window has two long main panes, with three small panes above.

 

The next issue that I know of which has a dolls house design is December 1929. However, dolls houses were also included in two books published by Evans Bros around this period.

 

Toy and Model Making Designs has no publication date, but was advertised in the Handicrafts Annual of 1924. The designs include a large doll’s villa, cottage and garden, school, model theatre etc. I have not found a copy of this book – if anyone has one, I would love to know what the dolls houses looked like!

 

Isobel Hockey has passed on the dolls house design from the other book, Home Woodwork. It has no publication date either, and nor have I found any advertisements or mentions of it in Handicrafts or The Woodworker. However, it is thought to date to the 1920s, and so I will show the dolls house here. As you can see, the windows are similar to those in the 1917 design.

 1920s, from Home Woodwork

The house is described as “built on the double-villa plan, the two main blocks being separated by a verandah with balcony above.” The house thus has four rooms plus the outside areas. A realistic appearance is one of the reasons given for this design, and also “the necessity for providing a cumbrous door or porch on the opening front is removed.” Perhaps readers had found the 1917 design too difficult, or had not liked the back opening feature?

 

 

In December 1929, we have a dolls house on modern lines. I’m not sure exactly what is meant by that, as the front is not modern in the sense of being in art deco style, although it is much simpler than the previous two houses. Inside, however, it is more interesting – there is a central staircase running straight up to a small landing and doors leading into each upper room. The lower rooms have doors at the front, giving on to the tiny hallway at the base of the stairs. All three sections of the front open – the two sides open out giving access to the four main rooms, and the central section opens to allows access to the stairs. Simple fireplaces are shown on the side walls of the rooms, directly under the chimneys (although both fireplaces and chimneys could be moved to the back wall if the maker preferred).

1929.  Front door 8” high. Room height 11”.

 

 

The November 1931 issue brought another attractive modern dolls house. The construction had been kept simple, straightforward, and economical, but the house does have a more complex front and roof than the 1929 design. One side has a bay with a beamed gable front, and the other, under the long side of the hip roof, has what is described as a vestibule (a largish porch). Inside, there are no stairs (unless the builder decides to include them) and no internal doors. The windows are simpler than in previous designs, having four long panes in the bay, single long panes on either side of the front door, and above the entrance, three panes of which the middle one is slightly wider.

 

1931. Front door 11 ½” high. Lower room height 1’ 1 ¾”; upper room 10 5/8”.

 

 

The December 1934 issue presents a Tudor-style design “for this royal and ancient Christmas toy”. At first glance, this looks like a Tri-ang ‘Stockbroker’ Tudor, and indeed, it appeared 2 years after the Stockbrokers were first sold. Of course, the design is not identical – this Woodworker version has the garage on the opposite side from the Triang models, has different timbering patterns, and is in between the Triang No 71 and 72 in size. It has 6 rooms – an entrance hall, dining room, drawing room, two bedrooms and the garage. (No staircase was included, as it “often proves disadvantageous to the arrangement of furnishings”, but suggestions for making one were given.)

 

1934. Front door: 7 ½” high.

 

Each section (top and bottom) opens separately. The garage doors would also open independently. It was left up to the builder to decide whether to make the front and internal doors opening or not, and the window frames could either be cut out and stuck on to the glass panes, or opening metal casements could be made from tin. (This, of course, would make it even more like a Triang Stockbroker!) The walls were to be roughcast (created with strips of coarse sandpaper, or by sprinkling sand on to a previously glued surface), and painted white or cream, with black timbering.

This design was available in the late 1990s from Crafts Direct, Nexus Special Interests Publishers. It was advertised, with the code WW392, in July 1992 in the International Dolls House News (also published by Nexus at that time).

 

 

In December 1935, The Woodworker presented another design described as modern and up-to-date – this one certainly justifies that description, as it has the simplicity and geometrical forms (including a flat roof and flat fronts) of the modernist movement in architecture. It has four spacious rooms, and an entrance hall with a staircase and an upper landing. The fronts of both wings open, and there is a small opening to the upper landing. Front doors were optional; the design shows an arch opening on to the bottom of the staircase. (This design, with two wings connected by an entrance way and upper landing, has a similar basic construction to the design shown above from Strong Woodwork.)

 

 

 1935. 37" wide x 17" deep x 23" high. Entrance arch approx 10” high. Lower room height 12 ½”, upper room height 10”.

 

Plans for a sloping roof were also given, for those who preferred it:

 

 

NEW: Marion Martin has identified a house in her collection as made to this design, and has sent photos of its current state, before she restores it:

1935 Modern Doll's House - Exterior. Photo © Marion Martin

 

As you can see, most of the windows are missing.  Remains of the glazing bars shown in the design above can be seen, left, in one of the few remaining windows.

 Window detail. Photo © Marion Martin

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Inside, parts of the staircase are missing too, but three rooms and the landing have old wallpapers:

 

1935 Modern Doll's House - Interior. Photo © Marion Martin  

 

Close-up of the deco wallpaper in the top left room, which also has frosted glass in the window.  Photo © Marion Martin

 

December 1936 brought a dolls house similar in layout to the 1917 design: it has a short L shape with the front door and porch in the angle between the long and shorter sides. It is finished in a very different style, however, with what I would call Dutch gables, weatherboarding on the upper front of the long wing, and brick elsewhere. (The article just says that it’s an attractive house and “the decorating effect is decidedly interesting.”) The design of the windows is also quite different – they are large and wide, with thin window frames stuck on to the glass. The article includes the very useful advice “when marking out the shape [of the walls], have at hand the brick papers … the window openings should be schemed between courses of bricks, whilst the projecting brickwork at the top should also follow through.”

 

1936. 41" wide x 21½” deep x 33" high. Entrance door: 9 ½”, lower room height 11 ¾”, upper room height 9 ¼”.

This house, unlike the 1917 design and many other Woodworker dolls houses, does have a staircase, and quite an interesting one – a bullnose tread at the bottom, 5 steps straight up and then 4 winders making a right-angled turn to a landing that runs the width of this section. (The banister is quite plain – just a baluster at the bottom and top joined by a rail.)

A plan for a simple garage was also given – it could be kept as a separate item, or screwed on to the right end wall.

A dolls house built to this design was owned at one time by Isobel Hockey and then by Olwyn Pearson, but was unfortunately a casualty of the 1987 hurricane in Britain.

 

 

The November 1938 issue presented a design for a doll’s mansion, with four rooms and a central hallway and staircase. The reason given for choosing this type of building was that it was “free from projecting bays, porches, or modern sun verandahs which, in the course of play, are so apt to get broken.” This dolls house, hopefully, would “survive more than a second Christmas.”

 

1938. 37" wide x 18" deep x 26" high. Front door 8” high. Lower room height approx 10¾” , upper room height approx 8 ¼ ”.

It opened in three sections – the middle and right fronts opening to the right, and the left front opening to the left. The rooms suggested were a living room, kitchen, bedroom and nursery, or as preferred. The staircase led up to a half landing at the back, and a partition at the front of the landing created the bathroom (the first in a Woodworker dolls house). This would mean that the bathroom was behind the large window above the front door – a rather strange arrangement which would leave the staircase very gloomy, I would think. The four main rooms were well lit, however, with two windows in the front and side walls of each room.

NEW: A doll's mansion appeared on ebay the week after the magazine was published! Here, with the kind permission of the ebay seller, are photos of the exterior:

 

1938 Doll's Mansion: exterior. With kind permission of the ebay seller.

and the interior, which clearly shows the bathroom partitioned off from the landing:

1938 Doll's Mansion: interior. With kind permission of the ebay seller. 

 

In December 1939, The Woodworker carried advertisements for books on War Time Woodwork , and plans for a Log or Coal Box for emergency use, a First Aid Box for the voluntary worker (which could hold a torch and gas mask as well as first aid materials), a divan bed (“extremely useful at the present time”), and suggestions for adequate blacking-out for skylights. The dolls house design has also been adapted to wartime conditions – it is a spacious single-room bungalow, as “few may find it possible to undertake the making of a large doll’s house for this Christmas.” The front opens in two sections; the door could be a real opening door or a dummy; and the bars of the window are painted on to the glass.

 

1939.  Front door 7 ½ “. Single room 18” x 14”, room height 9 1/8 “.

 

 

December 1940 contained articles on ‘Making Economical Christmas Presents’, ‘Your Shelter Bed’, and a section on ‘Whittle Whilst You Wait’, intended for those serving in the armed forces as well as civilians sheltering from bombs. The dolls house design is much more interesting – perhaps the writers felt that something more challenging would take people’s minds off the war for a while?

1940. Front door 6 ¼ “ high. Lower room height: 7”, upper room height: 5 ¾ “

 

It has 6 rooms plus a hallway and staircase, and an attached garage and coal house. Downstairs are the drawing room, dining room and kitchen, and there are three bedrooms upstairs. The roof is steeply pitched, leading to a central stepped chimney, and comes down below the level of the bedroom ceilings. The bedrooms have small, high windows (with a dormer window in the main bedroom). Two windows shaped like Gothic arches give on to the entrance hall and stairway, and the front door is also shaped like a Gothic arch. The drawing room and dining rooms have windows in the end and side walls, while the kitchen has a window in the back wall. The fireplaces are set in the inner walls – the drawing room and dining room fireplaces back on to each other, and the kitchen fireplace sits against the back wall of the garage and the staircase.

 

 

NEW: This dolls house has since appeared on ebay. The photos are reproduced here with permission of the seller, Roger Pritchard, of West Sussex, England. The dolls house was played with by Roger's four sisters, and last used by one as a home for her hamsters, hence the round hole cut in the back wall!

Dolls house made to 1940 Woodworker design. Top: front. Above: garage and front entrance, with front wall and roof removed. Below: front rooms of the dolls house. Bottom: back view of the dolls house. Photos © Roger Pritchard.

 

 

 

 

 

 

In 1942, a doll’s house design appeared in the December issue of The Woodworker, and Evans Bros also published a book called Strong Wooden Toys. Again, the book itself doesn’t have a publication date, but it was mentioned in the December 1942 issue, and the revised edition was advertised in The Woodworker issues of November 1949, December 1950, and December 1956. So it was available for at least 14 years, but I will show the doll’s house designs, passed on to me by Isobel Hockey, here at the date of first publication.

 

 

The December 1942 doll’s house can be seen as a smaller, simplified version of the 1934 Tudor style dolls house. It has less timbering, of a simpler pattern, and the roofline consists of two simple gables which don’t intersect, unlike the combined hip roof and gable of the 1934 model.

 

1942. Lower room height 10”, upper room height 9”.

The upper and lower fronts open separately to the two main rooms, and the right hand end wall opens to give access to the entrance porch and the small room above it. There are no stairs. The article gives the usual perspective sketch, front and end elevations and floor plans, but does not include a cutting list. It explains, “in the case of a toy it is permissible to make modifications such as the restriction on timber renders imperative. …. If you have the material for making a doll’s house of some kind, take the design as a suggestion and follow your own ideas as to size and details.”

 

 

If prospective dolls house builders had also bought Strong Wooden Toys, they could draw inspiration from three more plans for dolls houses: a Modern Doll’s House, and two Simple Doll’s Houses.

Simple House 1 has two rooms, a simple pitched roof with side gables, and a single opening front.

 

1942-1956. Front door 5 ½ “ high. Room height 6 ¾ “ (depending on wood available)

 

Simple House 2 is very like the simplified Tudor design of December 1942, but has the entrance on the other side, an enclosed entrance hall rather than an open porch, and an intersecting gable roof. The front opens in three sections, the bay side to the right and the small room over the entrance to the left.

 

1942-1956.  Room height 8”.

 

 

The Modern Doll’s House is in some ways simpler than the Simple House 2! It is made as a frame covered with plywood, plastic board or hardboard, and has a hip roof and two opening fronts. Inside, it has four main rooms and a central hallway and staircase going straight up to a landing.

 

 

1942-1956.  Front door 7 ½ “ high. Lower room height 10 ½ “.

 

 

The December 1945 issue presented another flat-roofed house. This is a simple four-room house with two opening fronts. The right front has a squared bay window with a balcony over it, and the end wall has a small oriel window. The details of the interior – such as a staircase, fireplaces, doors, etc – were left up to the maker. Much of the detailing of the exterior was achieved with paint, and the article exhorted the builder to “take special care with the painting. It is half the secret of success.”

 

1945. Dimensions: 28” wide x 17” deep x 21 ½ “ high. House represents a model of approximately one inch to the foot.

 

 

In November 1949, with post-war restrictions still in place, plans were given for a simple chipboard house with Romside door and windows. There are two opening fronts, with two large main rooms and a small room partitioned from the main one upstairs to form a bathroom. A garage is attached.

 

1949. Scale of windows and door: 1/16th. Room height 7 3/8”.

 

 

A year later, in December 1950, a more elaborate house was presented. Like the 1917 and 1936 models, this has an L shape as its base. On the left is a two storey bay window, and the gable over this is weatherboarded. The front door is placed near the angle of the L, and along the front of the second storey of the right side is a walled balcony. The downstairs windows are slightly taller than those upstairs – all are simple rectangular panes, except for one round window above the front door. The house opens at the front in two sections, and there are four main rooms, and a staircase running straight up from the entrance hall to an L-shaped landing. A garage is attached on the left side.

1950. Front door 5” high. Room height 6”.

This design was republished 25 years later, in the November 1975 issue of The Woodworker. It was also available in the late 1990s from Crafts Direct, Nexus Special Interests Publishers. It was advertised, with the code WW391, in July 1992 in the International Dolls House News (also published by Nexus at that time).

 

 

1952 was the first time that The Woodworker used a non-English architectural style for a dolls house design. In the December issue, an Alpine Villa dolls house was presented, with the comment “Alpine architecture can be very picturesque, and some typical features have been included in this model. Balconies nestling under wide, overhanging eaves give a pleasing effect which should delight the average youngster.”

 

1952. In the plan, the house sits on a base which is 36” wide and 22” deep. However, the rooms are only 6” high, and the front door appears to be just over 3 ½ “ high.

The house opens at both sides and at the front. It has quite a complex interior layout, so we are very lucky to have photographs of a house built almost to completion by Mr Kearney, and currently on our For Sale page.

 

Photo © M Kearney 

There are four main rooms, plus hallways, landings and attics. At the left side, steps lead up to a terrace and a door into a small room, from which there are also three internal steps leading down into a room off the end of the entrance hall. The front door opens to a hallway and a flight of stairs leading to a landing and corridor.

 

Photo © M Kearney

 


Photo © M Kearney

 

1956 brought the only dolls house bungalow design published by The Woodworker (apart from the wartime “spacious single-room” house). The December 1956 plan is for a modern bungalow with a flat roof over the main section (comprising a kitchen, combined bathroom and toilet, and two bedrooms, joined by a short hallway). At the front is a combined living and dining room with large windows on three sides, and a roof that slopes slightly down to the main part of the house. The house is set on a baseboard on which a path in crazy paving can be drawn, and there is a low wall in front of the living/dining room. Although the sketch shows the house finished in brick, the article suggested  that “those who feel put off by the rather regular horizontal lines of the brick work can paint imitation broken stone, the stones being of completely irregular form.”

 

1956. Dimensions: 2’ wide x 1’ 6” deep. Front door 6 3/8” high.

 

 

In December 1962, The Woodworker presented an Elizabethan dolls house – a Tudor-style house from the 16th century, that is, rather than a mock-Tudor house from the 1930s. The opinion of the writer was that “most dolls’ houses suffer from a lack, not of space, but of intricacy. The imaginations of very small children are stimulated by extremely simple toys, but children of an age for dolls’ houses adore nooks and crannies, staircases, fireplaces, attics, shops, etc. This house was designed with this in mind, showing interesting vistas between the two wings. The arcaded lower part is an open shop or market which can be furnished with stalls and merchandise.”

 

1962. Dimensions: 25" wide x 25" deep x 31" high. Front door 7¼ “ high. Room height 8½“.

 

The half-timbered effect was to be achieved by drawing the lines of the timbering onto the plywood walls, and then chiselling out the areas in between. Later, a plaster effect would be created by applying very fine sand onto a thin coat of glue and then painting it white, while the timbers were painted brown.

 

 

Downstairs, there is one large room, with stairs leading to the second storey, and the open arcade, with a trapdoor in the roof above. The second storey has two rooms (one with the trapdoor in it), and a central landing with stairs leading up to the attic. The photos show some walls missing – these were intended to be removable rather than hinged, and would be held in place with small blocks. The roof was to be finished with individually cut slates, 1” long and 3/8” high. The article noted that “as there are upwards of 600 slates on just the two front faces of the roof, the task is quite a formidable one. However, the result, sensitively painted, is extremely realistic and worth the trouble.” The writer also recommended avoiding “a mechanical accuracy” – for example, scoring the panels with a chisel without the use of a straight-edge, so that the end result was “much more free and individual.”

 

This design was republished in the December 1978 issue of Woodworker. There, the author of the original article is named as Edward H. Pinto, “one of Britain’s leading authorities on wood and woodworking.” The 1962 article does not name the author (nor are the designers of the other plans in the issue named). It does refer to an article by Edward Pinto in the same issue, ‘Making Models is Fun, Part 2’, in which he shows models of a fairground swingboat, a costermonger’s barrow, and a butcher’s shop in a roombox (these would suggest possibilities for furnishing the shop or market in the arcade part of the Elizabethan dolls house). All three models were part of the Pinto Collection of Wooden Bygones, which is now among the collections of the Birmingham Museums and Art Gallery (sadly, they are not included in the online database of the Pinto Collection).

 

 

An article for dolls house furniture which appeared in March 1969 has a photo of a dolls house in the header. I wonder if a plan for a dolls house like this had been published in late 1968 or early 1969, but I have not yet  been able to check this.

 

1968 or '69?

 

Interior Furnishings

The Woodworker published few designs for dolls house furniture. Mostly, the articles which present the dolls house plans shown above say that the interior can safely be left to the ingenuity of the worker. Some suggestions are given – cutting out clocks and rugs from catalogues, pictures painted or made from postage stamps or cigarette cards, etc. The 1935 'Modern Doll's House' article explains that “each individual worker likes to be left entirely free so far as the interior decoration and furnishing are concerned. On what is termed a “show” doll’s house, which may be publicly exhibited, a painstaking man may … devote months in perfecting each room … But for a house which is to be a child’s nursery companion, the centre of a little girl’s world of make-believe, it is often wiser to leave her the bare apartments so that she may work out her own ideas for what she herself is going to use.”

Perhaps their readers did not agree, or have the same confidence in their ability to devise furnishings themselves, for the following year, three issues contained plans for dolls house furniture.

 

October 1936: Living Room

 

The articles are called ‘Scale Model Furniture for Doll’s House’, but the only explanation of ‘scale model’ is that all the furniture is planned to scale – that is, each item is a miniature of what would be the full size piece. All three suites, too, are drawn to the same proportion.” What this proportion is, we are left to guess. In the dining room suite, the table is 6” long x 4” wide x 3 ¾” high. The chair is 4 ½” tall, while the seat of the chair is 2 ¼” from the floor and roughly 2 ¾” square. The kitchen table is slightly larger than the dining table, and the dresser is 10” high x 6 ¼” wide. In the bedroom suite, the single bed is 9” long and 4 ½ ” wide, while the wardrobe is 9 ½” high and 6” wide. In plans for a real wardrobe the same year, the dimensions given are 6’ high x 4’ wide, suggesting that the scale here could be 1 ½” = 1’ or 1:8. This furniture would fit in most of The Woodworker dolls houses up to 1938.

 

November 1936: Kitchen

 

Note that several of the pieces have mortise and tenon joins (or tab and slot, as we might call it now). In the chairs, the seats are cut to fit around the legs, and glued. Screws or pins are used in one or two pieces, but mostly the wood is shaped to fit and/or glued together.

 

 December 1936: Bedroom

The woods suggested were “ordinary solid fretwood, eg white maple, satin walnut, mahogany, oak [with very little grain], birch, or dark walnut. … Do not use plywood, except perhaps for the back or inside shelves.” The most suitable finish was wax or dull polish, or for some woods, unpolished.

Again, The Woodworker did not supply hinges or door knobs, but suggested that these could be obtained from fretwood dealers.

 

 

 

Furniture for the dining room and bedroom was also included in the book Strong Wooden Toys (1942-1956).  Alternative sizes were given: the wardrobe, for example, could be 9” x 6” or 6” x 4”, and the bed could be 9 ½”  x 5 ¼” or 6 ½” x 3 ½”.  Again, solid wood was recommended where important edges were exposed, while plywood could be used for the backs, inside shelves, etc.

 

1942-1956: Bedroom and dining room furniture

 I am sure that I have seen a wardrobe with tiny inlaid crosses on UK ebay - if any member owns it, or sold it, it would be great to have a photo!

 

 

Dolls house furniture was again presented in 1969. The article in the March 1969 issue is headed ‘3. Dining Room’, and has no introduction, so I think there must be parts 1 and 2, probably in January and February 1969. I don’t (yet) have these issues, though – if I can get them, I will add any furniture designs in them to this article.

 

 

This furniture was to be made from thin dowel and balsa, with the seats and table tops cut from 1/16” card. The pieces could be painted or varnished, and the seats upholstered.

 

 Very similar full-size furniture had been featured in The Woodworker a year earlier.

 

 

Toy Shops

 

The Woodworker presented several plans for toy shops, as they noted that ‘all children delight in playing “shops.” ‘

In December 1934, as well as the Tudor-style dolls house, plans were given for a nursery shop which “may be fitted up for any sort of trade”. Above the shop are two rooms fitted with fireplaces, which could be used as a dwelling, office, etc. The article suggested making portable counters and shelves, and carving from scraps of wood items such as boxes, loaves, cakes, or joints of meat. Small bottles could be purchased for a confectionery shop, or tables and chairs set up for a tea shop.

 

 1934, 1942-56. Sizes: Front door 7” high, shop 10 ¼” high, upper rooms 9” high.

 

This shop was included in the book Strong Wooden Toys (1942-1956).

 

 

Another shop design was published in December 1948. This is in a more modern style, with a flat roof behind a stepped pediment, and an attached garage. The rooms overhead have two opening fronts, while the window front of the shop is removable, and held in place with two small ‘turn buttons’ attached to the frame (not shown in the sketch). The article also suggests making the back of the shop removable too, to give better access.

 

1948.  Sizes: front door 7 ½” high, shop 10” high, upper rooms 9” high.

 

Later History

Evans Bros had published The Woodworker for over 50 years, but in the early 1970s, ownership passed firstly to Model & Allied Publications Ltd, then from them to Argus Press, then to Nexus Special Interests (at the same time the publisher of International Dolls House News), to Highbury House, to Encanta, to Magicalia and finally to its current publishers, MyHobbyStore. These changes of ownership entailed moves from Hemel Hempstead in Hertfordshire, to Swanley in Kent, then to Orpington in Greater London, and finally to nearby Green Street Green.  Along the way, the archive of past issues and plans was sadly lost. So while Nexus Special Interests was able, in the late 1990s, to advertise some of the dolls house plans for sale, they are no longer available - except, of course, by finding back issues of the magazine.

If you recognise any dolls houses, furnishings, etc, from your collection, I would love to hear from you! The Woodworker dolls houses certainly don't seem to have been made as frequently as some Hobbies or Handicrafts designs, perhaps because they required greater skill of the builder, in scaling up the designs and in following the suggested methods of construction.  

 

All images, except where otherwise indicated, remain the copyright of The Woodworker, and are published here with the kind permission of the current publisher of The Woodworker magazine.

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