Dolls' Houses Past & Present

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

History of Lines Bros / Tri-ang Continued (part 2) by Wendy Gater

On the 16th June in 1919, Joseph Lines' three sons William Joseph (1879), Walter (1882) and Arthur Edwin (1892) founded Lines Bros. Ltd.

The first factory was at Ormside Street off the Old Kent Road in south east London. The company grew very rapidly, they soon gained customers such as Harrods. The new firm used the trade name Triangtois (see picture below), later changed to Tri-ang a more pronounceable name.


Lines Bros. Ltd DH/D House* c1924: exterior (above) and interior (below). Photos: Wendy Gater


By 1924 Lines Bros were doing so well they had to relocate to a factory in Merton, South London, as the premises at the Old Kent Road had become too small. They registered Tri-ang Toys as their brand name. Their trademark a triangle made up of three lines (three Lines brothers, see picture below) the factory was named Tri-ang Works.


 William was the salesman, Walter the designer and Arthur looked after the office administration. William and Walter took it in turns to be the chairman. The other directors were G.M. Campbell, a brother-in-law of Walter, Ralph Freeman, another brother-in-law who had married Mary Lines and R.C. Munro, a former school friend.

Catalogues were produced, the toys were of high quality, mainly constructed of wood. Products were sized using a technique similar to the technique used by G. & J. Lines in the 1890's. Models were made in varying sizes, the initial model would be No.1 then as the model increased in size the model number would also increase ie. No.2, No.3, smaller versions would be No.0, No.00 etc.



The early trademarks (above left) were made of metal and were attached with small panel pins, these in later years changed, post war houses have a stuck on paper transfer type trademark (above right). The trademarks are often found on the back of houses towards the top, it is worth having a scrape at the paint on an overpainted house to see if the trademark is still present underneath or to see if there is any trace of the small nail holes. It is also one of the features which helps to very roughly date a house, if there are no other clues present. It has been known for these houses to have other Tri-ang trademarks on, maybe the factory ran out of these symbols at times? Some houses do not appear to have had a trademark so do not assume that if there is no trademark that the house is not a Tri-ang.


 The Queen's Doll's House. Above: front; below: opening back. Photos by Alicia Davies


 In the 1920's "The Queen's Doll's House" was produced, one of the more interesting models of this time. The house was a reproduction of the design made famous by Her Majesty The Queen, who furnished the first model and gave it to the London Hospital in aid of their funds. It was bought for over £300, which was a lot of money at this time.

The houses being produced around this time were varied, from small houses like the DH/O to extremely large very solidly built houses like the DH/15. The use of a rough-cast finish painted white in colour was very popular in the 1920's. From around the middle to late 1920's several old house designs were being produced having been revamped ie.tudor beams added/removed, porch variations. The houses had fixed non-opening windows, opening windows were not introduced until 1930.

About 1928 the Lines Brothers acquired the the run down company Unique and Unity Cycle Co. that was based in Birmingham, it had been founded in 1888. They originally made adult bicycles but the market for children's tricycles and bicycles had grown so much they later stopped production of full sized bicycles.

It was in 1931 on the 31st December that the Lines' brothers father Joseph Lines (1848-1931) died (of G.& J. Lines). The G. & J. Lines company became absorbed into the company of Lines Bros./Tri-ang.

By 1931 the Lines brothers had over 1000 staff, this was an extremely busy year for them. An opportunity came up for them to acquire the struggling Hamleys Store in Regent Street. Walter could see an opportunity and bought a majority holding.


1930s Tri-ang catalogue


On the 7th June 1933 Lines Bros. Ltd became a public company by issue of £200,000 5 1/2% First Preference Shares, ordinary shares remained privately held until 1936, many of these had been subscribed for Lines family members and friends. Mr G.F.R. Baguley joined the board to represent outside interests.


Tri-ang No.72 "Stockbroker" Dolls House c1930's


It was in 1932 the model No. 72 was introduced, this house became known as "the Stockbroker ". This was a very large 1/12 scale house measuring approx 47ins wide x 27ins high x 17ins deep. In 1936/7, the number of the house was changed from No.72 to No.93.

This house was in production for around 27 years until around 1959. The early houses had brown metal framed opening windows, the later houses had green metal framed windows and there are also records of white metal framed windows, although these appear to be rarer.

This is one of the very popular model of houses with collectors of today and is highly sought after.

 To be continued.......


* The DH/D house above has a Lines door, but it is not original to the house, and the wallpapers are original vintage papers but not original to the house.

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