Nov 10, 2008

Interesting collection on eBay

As the layers of dust collect on my current projects in the garage, this unique collection of dollhouses makes me contemplate acquiring another one to renovate and modernize. Some of these houses are completely traditional, but I had fun looking and imagining what they could become. The live auctions start on November 20th. I'll be watching a few. (All images from James D. Julia, Inc. on eBay)

I love the architecture, especially the bay windows.
CHRISTIAN HACKER DOLLS' HOUSE WITH BAY WINDOWS. Christian Hacker two story house with unusual front, two bays and large dormer on roof and over hanging front porch. House is painted a soft tan with white trim and it has the original lithographed papered roof. Sides of the house have brick paper and the back is painted white. The house opens from the front and has four rooms with interconnecting doors. House is partially furnished with Schneegas furniture. SIZE: 31" t x 28" w x 19" d. PROVENANCE: From the Estate of Geraldine Gaba, Scottsdale, AZ. CONDITION: Good. Wallpaper appears to be original, trim work, side brick work and floor papers are possible replacements.  One door missing. Front of house has had some restoration. (Estimate $2,000-3,000. Starting bid $1,000.) Sold for $2,500.

I thought this could make a great apartment building, but no room for bathrooms. I do love the elevator.
LARGE CONTEMPORARY DOLL HOUSE. Outstanding three story house with bay windows, two balconies, six large rooms, attic, even a hand operated elevator. Front opens from front in two large sections. Painted in cream and blue with peaked red roof. An impressive accomplishment. SIZE: 63" h x 49" w x 24" d. PROVENANCE: From the Estate of Geraldine Gaba, Scottsdale, AZ. CONDITION: Very good to excellent. (Estimate $1,000-2,000. Starting bid $500.) Ebay says it sold for $1, but I can't imagine that being correct.

MAGNIFICENT TEN ROOM MYSTERY DOLLS' HOUSE. Circa 1890. An incredible dolls' house with ten rooms! Considered one of the finest American dolls' houses and sold by F.A.O. Schwartz of New York City, this was one of the largest in a series of Mystery Dolls' Houses sold in the 1890's. The term "Mystery" Dolls' House was given by Flora Jacobs as the maker has never been identified. This particular house has the gambrel roof and has the carved shingles on the main roof as well as the wing on the right side. Painted a soft cream color with black chamfered wood (often referred to as tramp art), this art embraces decoration on all three sides. If you look closely at the base and roof lines, you will be amazed by the many moldings carved in various shapes and coordinating colors. There are two entrances; one going into the main part of the house and the other going into the wing. The house has four sections that open to reveal eight rooms! All the rooms have lovely wallpaper, baseboards and raised panel interconnecting doors. The wonderful floors are often referred to as parquet floors but are actually scored and hand painted to look like parquet. An elaborate staircase with an alcove is found under the staircase. Additional attic rooms are in the openings on the roof, there is a dormer on the front that opens, a window that opens on the side of the gambrel roof and a window that opens in the back; all having small rooms. SIZE: Overall house is 39-1/2" t x 59" w x 24-3/4" d. PROVENANCE: From the Estate of Geraldine Gaba, Scottsdale, AZ. CONDITION: Good to very good. Replaced scalloped trim work at ceiling level of each room, wallpapers in both hallways seem to be original and other rooms appear to have replacement paper. Exterior cream facades are repainted and some trim on interior appear repainted. The small raised panel door entering the wing is unhinged. (Estimate $10,000-15,000. Starting bid $5,000.) Sold for $7,500.

LARGE HOMEMADE DOLLS' HOUSE WITH STAINED GLASS. Exterior of house has been repainted to resemble stucco with a painted dark red roof having two chimneys. The house opens from the front, a large center hall opens in two parts with a staircase and stained glass windows on the landing of the staircase. There are four large rooms, two large halls with a staircase. The house has a gray stone foundation with matching front steps. The front windows of the house are trimmed with flower boxes. The house has been electrified and a lock and key are found on the front entrance to lock up the entire house. SIZE: 49" t x 48" w x 21-1/2" d. PROVENANCE: From the Estate of Geraldine Gaba, Scottsdale, AZ. CONDITION: Good to very good. The interior of the house has been tastefully papered and repainted recently. (Estimate $2,000-3,500. Starting bid $1,000.) Sold for $1,000.

RARE GOTTSCHALK RED ROOF DOLLS' HOUSE. Circa 1910. This is an unusual large Red Roof which has a stationary front with both sides and back that are open. The front facade has many architectural features such as curved porches with elaborate railings and columns on both levels, bay windows on both corners, extending from the ground level to the roof, double door entrances with glass transoms over them at both levels and a set of front steps. On the roof top is a large dormer with flower boxes and a spectacular Dutch gable to accent the house! The exterior of the house is painted a light tan with darker tan trim, cream colored railings and posts, outline decoration in gray/green. Each side of the house is open, exposing three levels. The rooms have inter-connecting doors and the walls are papered and are angular in shape which makes the rooms quite interesting. One side of the house has an elaborate mahogany staircase that extends all three levels. (There is a small room on the bottom floor that is open.) The back of the house has all three levels open with the addition of railings and posts that enclose the corners of the house. SIZE: 36" t x 28" w x 28" d. PROVENANCE: From the Estate of Geraldine Gaba, Scottsdale, AZ. CONDITION: Exterior is repainted, interior repapered but professionally done. (Estimate $2,500-4,000. Starting bid $1,250.) Sold for $3,500.

SILBER & FLEMING DOLLS' HOUSE. This 3-story house, considered to be a flat box type; the roof is flat with the front facade rising above the roof, has been over-painted with similar colors to the original surface. The first level has bay windows with paint resembling stone. The two upper levels are painted in a red-orange brick with darker red brick over the windows. The house opens from the front to show six rooms; all wallpapered and three halls with staircases. Each room has a built-in fireplace and each window in the front of the house has lace curtains. There are balconies located on the second floor. SIZE: 45" t x 34" w x 18-1/2" d. PROVENANCE: From the Estate of Geraldine Gaba, Scottsdale, AZ. CONDITION: Good. The wallpaper on the back of the large doors that open to the house are original and extends to all levels. The floor papers in all six rooms appear original as they are all the same, the wallpapers in all six rooms may have been replaced. (Estimate $3,000-5,000. Starting bid $1,500.) Sold for $2,000.

I love the craftsmanship of this house; the woodwork is incredible.
JIM MARCUS DOLLS' HOUSE. Circa 1970. This doll house was one of the first dolls' houses made by Jim Marcus. They were sought after and collector's waited years to have one built. This one is a copy of a San Francisco Victorian-style house with its tall facade of bay windows, balconies, tower etc. which was entirely painted white. The intricate interior has finely carved architectural features such as grand paneling on walls, elaborate doorways and staircases. There are four levels in the main part of the house and a huge tower with a room with the tower being removable. The house is furnished with items of the period. The house is signed on the reverse "Jim Marcus 1970". SIZE: 80-1/2" t x 28-1/2" w x 30" d. PROVENANCE: From the Estate of Geraldine Gaba, Scottsdale, AZ. CONDITION: Very good. 1-8613 (2,500-3,500. Starting bid $1,250.) Sold for $2,100.

Here are even more houses from the Estate of Geraldine Gaba. I would have loved to have see how she had all of these on display. Check these out on eBay.

(All images from James D. Julia, Inc. on eBay)


Anonymous said...

I came across you while I was surfing these on eBay...I wondered who Miss Gaba incredible collection! Know anything about her?

May Your World be a Small One! said...

ABSOLUTELY UNBELIEVABLE collection of houses....I have a very, very modest collection in comparison, and I live right here in the Scottsdale/Phoenix area, and knew nothing of Ms. Gaba. It's sort of too bad they weren't donated to the Museum here, which already has some of the Thorne miniature rooms on display. I think wonderful toy history like this needs to be shared, not 'tucked away'! Sue in Phoenix....

Anonymous said...

Just to add some more info...the white Victorian by Jim Marcus is called the Russian Embassy in my Through the Looking Glass book by Ann Ruble. It's listed on page 86 if you ever get a chance to check it out. It's a beautiful house and I was very surprised to see it up for sale on eBay.

Scott Lackey said...

great great it. interested in life sized dollhouses. any direction you could point me in for more info?

Mini Dork said...


Sadly, the only information I could track down on Geraldine Gaba of Scottsdale AZ, was of her estate auction. Seems like a fairly uncommon name, but after a wild Google chase... I found a Geraldine Gaba that attended Wells High School, Chicago, IL from 1955 - 1959. She went by Geri. Married Chester Cwik in Cook, IL and changed her name. There is/was a Geri Cwik that was a sales manager at Arbor Hills in Algonquin, IL in 1997 (

After living in IL, they moved to Venice, FL. Chester Cwik, died in 2006 at the age of 68. He was a carpenter. They had 4 sons and seven grandchildren. (

So, if this is the same Miss Gaba, how did she land in AZ? According to and she is still listed in Venice, FL. And unless they were independently wealthy, it seems odd that a sales manager and carpenter would have a collection this extensive that wouldn't be considered family heirlooms and split up between the grandkids.

I wish I knew more about her. Regardless, here is an article detailing this incredible collection.

Electricity is Life shock machine

The November Julia’s sale is highlighted by the Geraldine Gaba Estate of Scottsdale, Arizona. The late Mrs. Gaba’s fantastic collection of dollhouses and exquisite miniatures is one of the finest collections of its type to hit the market in many years. This collection will be joined by many fine dolls, rare toys, a wide variety of slot machines and other coin-op, quality advertising items including selections from the Phillip H. Morse Collection (vice chairman and co-owner of the Boston Red Sox), salesman samples, and much more.

Because there is an abudance of items to be purchased, Julia’s will offer the items through a series of three auctions, starting with Mrs. Gaba’s collection of dollhouses, room settings, and unbelievable miniatures that she amassed over the last 50 years. The miniature real estate category will include highly sought after examples including two exceedingly detailed “Mystery” houses. It is unknown who made these large and wondrous houses with their textured facades, numerous rooms, and true to life features. They are expected to sell for $10,000-12,000 a piece.

Desirable French dolls include a wonderful 12” Bru Jne 4 with brown almond cut eyes, delightful facial features, and delicate bisque forearms that carries a $12,000-18,000 estimate. Her mate, a 14” Circle Dot Bru with a hint of a tongue, original kid body, and lots of charm likewise comes with an estimate of $12,000-18,000.

A variety of cast iron doorstops will also be included such as a scarce Hubley “Tiger” by Fish that portrays a dandy sporting a top hat and waistcoat. This item carries a $1,500-2,500 estimate. Also to be offered is a Red Riding Hood example appearing surprisingly calm despite the approach of the Big Bad Wolf, and carries an estimate of $1,200-1,500.

Toys of a more mechanical variety for the big boys will include a marvelous selection of coin-op slot machines and arcade pieces. Of the latter category will be an outstanding and mammoth “Electricity is Life” shock machine. Standing over six feet, it features a cast dial and glass front within a stunning oak case that emits up to a 55 volt shock to the brave soul willing to play the game. Having been in a doctor’s office in California for the last 30 years, perhaps it helped fund his entire practice. It now comes to the block with a $15,000-20,000 estimate.

The sale is rounded out by a medley of antique advertising and salesman samples. Soda advertising includes numerous wooden Kay displays such as a set of five panels with various WWII airplanes joined by their original blue and white striped rope that is expected to sell for $2,500-3,000.

A deluxe full color catalog for the auction will be available for $35 including priority shipping and prices realized list after the sale. Free full color, detailed, illustrated brochures are available by contacting the Julia offices. The catalog will also be available on Julia’s website at Previews will be held on November 19 from 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM and November 20 from 8:00 to 10:00 AM at Julia’s auction facility in Fairfield, Maine on Rt. 201, Exit 133 off I-95. Auction commences at 10:00 AM on November 20, 2008. Experts and cataloguers Jay Lowe and Mike Caffarella will be available the week of the sale for questions or consultation. For more information about this and other exciting sales, contact Andrew Truman at (207) 453-7125, by email:, or visit Julia’s website at

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the information! Absolutely LOVE your site! As a lifelong, sporadic, miniaturist, you've given me a lot of eye candy to drool over!

AF4564 said...

I just made a blog on moder dollhouses and I was wondering if I could post a link to your blog on mine. Let me know. Oh, and how is the restoration on your dollhouse going? I'm always excited to see what you do to it because I'm about to start redoing my old dollhouse to update it.

Mini Dork said...

AF4564 - Feel free to link away. Looking forward to reading your blog.

Sadly with baby #2 on the way, my blog and restoration projects have moved to the back burner. I finally ordered some needed materials to attach the new roof design, so maybe I'll tackle that this weekend. Here's hoping.