Dolls' Houses Past & Present

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

A Fairy Tale comes true   by Hazel Voice

Soon after moving to Ramsgate, a sleepy coastal village on the South Coast of Kwa Zulu Natal, South Africa, I was asked to exhibit and give a talk on miniatures at a local church charity day.  Reluctantly I agreed.   I don’t mind showing off my miniatures but public speaking is not something I enjoy.


I turned the talk into a question and answer session and an elderly lady put up her hand and said “I have a dolls house and all its furniture that I’ve had since I was four years old – would you like it?”  Well – what does one say?  I think I thanked her and gave her my telephone number.


About a year later Gillian phoned and announced, “I have sold my house and am moving into the retirement village so if you want my dolls house you had better come and fetch it today!”  “It’s large, so I hope you have a big car!”


Not knowing what to expect I persuaded hubby to come with me.  Fortunately he is very kind and long suffering when it comes to my love of miniatures and hid his dismay very well when we were shown the dolls house and two old suitcases…!


Outside of House                                                Inside of House      




Where on earth was I going to put this huge, dilapidated old dolls house and whatever contents these equally dirty, tired old cases contained….?




In 1936 whilst living in Southern Rhodesia, now Zimbabwe, Gillian’s father built this house for her. Apparently the front and sides of the house were decorated by her aunt and the roof ‘thatching’ was made from the straw packaging used for the shipment of her father’s Whiskey from the UK.


Oh, I nearly forgot – as we were leaving Gillian came running out shouting “Here, take this box too – it belongs to the set” and handed me such a tatty old black box which she had used as a canvas for her ‘stick people’ drawings.  The label on the front said Lines Bros Ltd Tri-ang Works.     I had never heard of Lines Bros Ltd.

Oh boy…!!  What a surprise awaited me!

Mickey Mouse Nursery Set box


In the early 1960’s Gillian and her mother wrapped each miniature item in old dress-pattern tissue paper and packed them into the little suitcases as they were leaving Zimbabwe and coming to SA. The dolls house and miniatures were stored in their garage. 

They remained there until 2004 when I collected them.   


I put an old blanket on the dining room table, took a deep breath and opened the cases.

Well….!!!       It was like Christmas…! Only better….!!!

Besides the thrill of opening something that had been stored away for 40 odd years I had no idea what I was going to find…!    One by one, I unwrapped each little parcel and discovered a multitude of beautiful old dolls house furniture and accessories, some still in their original wrappers..! 


Still in wrappers

Boxer and pups


  Green tea set and toast rack


The biggest surprise belonged to the Mickey Mouse Box.    I am not sure whether the set is complete but judging from the rest of her things, I would say that it is.


Mickey Mouse Nursery Set


Other things for the children of the dolls house were:-

Complete Child’s Bedroom Set

Kleeware  Kennel and Trike



Highchair, crib and rocker


German dolls



Can you believe that I packed them all into my cupboard and that is where they lived for another 6 years!


Red lounge furniture


  Set of Tables, Desk


These two chairs have a Macintosh feel about them with their high backs and little upholstered cushions and of all the furniture I love them the best.


Macintosh style chairs



This little hall stand is only 9cm high and not very attractive but the walking stick and umbrella handle is wire twisted round wire like a spring but most incredible of all is that the hat and  umbrella are made of a wax type paper…! 


Hall Stand



In 2010 I discovered Celia’s KT Miniatures web site and recognized some of the pieces. I could hardly contain myself…!!    I unpacked the suitcases and spent hours and hours surfing the net trying to find out what I was sitting on….!  AND I still don’t know all of them…!!!!


Dining Room


Pit-a-Pat and Barton


Cutlery sets


Wireless, Radio Times and Dol-Toi TV 




Once I started investigating all the vintage items I just knew that my longing to have a miniature museum had to become a reality.  A year later my dream came true and Hazel’s World of Miniatures now nestles in a little cottage in our sub tropical garden.


Piano and stool


Metal Kitchen Furniture


Wooden Bedroom Suite


Renwal Bedroom Furniture


I simply cannot put photos of all the items that were in those little cases but I hope you enjoy looking at some of my collection.  Should you ever find yourself in my part of the world please pay me a visit.



Tiny Toy Bath



The fact that this little Toilet Paper Holder with three rolls has survived for 75 years beats me…!


Toilet Paper and Holder



This little home made picture was also in one of the cases and is of Gillian who lives in the Retirement Village Frail Care Unit.  Unfortunately, being confined to a wheelchair, she has not seen her childhood toys on display.


Gillian (left)


So this tired, warped and neglected old house, which has stood the test of time for 75 years, deserves to come alive again and accommodate all the precious little gems it did once upon a time….  But I’ll have to give the Gecko family notice first though and do some major redecorating or perhaps turn it into a display cabinet…!   


Besides giving me her huge collection of miniatures, she also gave me her collection of about 200 lead toys, mostly farm yard animals and implements made by Britain’s Ltd, and J.Hill & Co.




Miniatures have been my life for about 20 years now but it is only in the last year that I have come to love the vintage ones as well.  Celia Thomas very kindly put a little article on her website so if you would like to see some of my creations please visit:   and scroll down to Friday 25th March 2011



Vintage Fire Place and accessories displayed in an old Cigar Box 


                                              Page 4