I would like to let you discover this French toymaker who made dollhouses, among others things, in the 50/60’s, and I did not even know of it 3 years ago.
I say "among others things", because this maker also made small farms and garages, very fashionable toys in this period, as we can see on this invoice dating from 1960:
We, in France, have no tradition of dollhouses, as it exists in England or in Germany. We have doll makers, other manufacturers who made small pieces of furniture for dolls, rather big, but few manufacturers of dollhouses.
I did some research about this maker, but it does not exist any more and I found almost no information on the internet. The label (below) tells us that the workshop was in the municipality of Les Mureaux, near Paris, and the invoice provides the precise address, 49, Gabriel Vilain Street.
Thomas Toys were present at the Toy Fair of Lyon in 1964 but not in 1966. We can thus suppose that they closed between 64 and 66 (although they do appear in an international directory of manufacturers in 1968; perhaps they used old information?).
The first house of this maker which I had, did not wear this nice label allowing me to identify it. It is Annie's house (above, after restoration), a house which was found among the garbage and was resold to me in a very bad condition. It was very heavy, the wood was thick.
The side of Annie's house, with the door and steps
A few months later, I purchased my first Thomas Toys dollhouse which is identified by a sticker, and it is only then that I was able, because of the similarities, to say that Annie's house was also a Thomas Toys dollhouse. This new house was the house of Virginia. I found it in a very good state with almost all the original contents. It is certainly the house of this maker I have met most often since the beginning.
The side of Virginia's house, with the door
I saw it again on sale with the same contents, which allows me to say that this small plastic furniture was sold with the house, as well as the small doll, which I named Virginia.
The curtains in Virginia's house
Detail of the creeper on the front of Virginia's house
During my searches, I saw other models of Thomas dollhouses, without buying them, but I kept the pictures:
This house was on sale with the same furniture as the house of Virginia, with a variant of color for the bathroom:
I did well not to buy this house, because I have just seen it again, in a remarkable state, and have bought it.
Here it is, in detail:
We notice common points with the others, the window boxes, the plastic curtains, the division into 4 rooms, but also some differences, such as the retractable plastic blinds.
This little house was presented in the magazine of the French Toy, February, 1964.
This other photo published in the same magazine shows us the inside and the furniture. We find plastic furniture by Plasco and Combex, which already appeared in the other houses:
But also this charming small metallic bed which survived all these years with the house I have just bought:
What we notice with this maker, is that there are many common points between the different dollhouses: distribution of rooms, colors of walls, lamps, shape of the staircase, as if there was a basic dollhouse and the variants.
An American collector has purchased a house, which looks like the one that I have just presented to you, but the roof is different, it seems to be in metal, as for the 2 bungalows which I shall show you later, and the house has an attached garage. However we find the same blinds and balcony:
Until now, all the houses which I had seen were similar, in that they had 4 rooms, on two floors, and a wooden red roof.
Until someone offered me two one storey bungalows, with a metallic roof. We still find common points, colors of walls, floors, window boxes. What would be interesting would be to date these houses, because we see an evolution in their aspect. We can say, without mistake, that Annie's house is older that the others, the wood is heavier, it has no label on the roof. The most recent are certainly the ones which have a metallic roof, they seem more finished. We also note an evolution in the architecture, houses with flat roof are in a very 60s type.
The electric system also changed, it was on the outside of Annie's house, then later in the roof, and easily accessible in the house with the flat roof, whose front can be easily opened , as well as under the metallic roofs which lift up easily to reach the battery.
Some doll houses of Jouets Thomas are more common than other ones. During my searches, I more often came across the House of Virginia or the house with the flat roof and the balcony.
The most unusual and charming dollhouse I have met, is this small thatched cottage, which I have just bought:
It’s a single room dollhouse, with a thatched roof and a fireplace, which can be lighted up, thanks to a battery and a small bulb.
I finally would like to present you with Miss Agnes's house, which has a name on its facade: AZUR. It is the only one which has an official name. All the others have been named by me with the name of their previous owner or the name of one of my friends, but this house, charming, had a name painted on its front.
You will probably have understood that I have a weakness for these small French dollhouses with red roofs. If you see one, give me a sign, please. Same thing, if you have any information about this maker. They will be welcome to complete this article.