Apr 9, 2010

Melissa Johnson's split level dollhouse

Melissa sent me these great pics of a split level custom dollhouse she renovated that she found on Craigslist for $25 in DC.

She was told it was bought for a young couples child from a neighbor and they didn't have any other information on it. It shares some similarities with Lundby and Brio (maybe inspired by those) but it is just slightly smaller than 1/12 scale. If anyone has seen another one of these or might now any information on the builder, we'd love to know more.
A great idea that Melissa has done, is to always ask and document on the bottom of her dollhouses any information, her name and date when she finished her restoration. I will definitely be doing this for my houses as well.

The living room cork floor is made out of inch squares that Melissa hand cut. I think it looks great, but wow, that's a lot of work! The bed and desk are custom pieces she made as well as the kitchen cabinets, all slightly smaller than 1/12th scale also. Melissa has other dollhouses she has restored that I hope to blog on later.
Thanks so much for sharing Melissa, I look forward to seeing more of your work.

(all images from Melissa Johnson)

Many thanks to The Shopping Sherpa, Rebecca and Florine for your great dollhouse sleuthing. Below are photos and details from their comments.

Update 1
The Shopping Sherpa commented that Melissa's house looked like a Triang DH2 or DHK3 from 1962, check out the similarities on her flickr site, the windows and carport seem to be the only difference www.flickr.com/photos/49333775@N00/2898271160/. From the catalogue:
DH2 - Contemporary House as illustrated, with five electrical lights and switchboard. 42" long, 12" deep, 19" high.
DHK3 - Complete kit of parts to build above house, except electric fittings available as separate set. Main parts already cut and grooved, requires only simple hand tools, paint and glue to complete.

Update 2
Rebecca sent these links to the Barton Model Home, available from about 1956 to 1976. They were sold mostly as kits, to make up at home, although some were sold made up.

(images from Rebecca are on dollshousespastandpresent.webs.com and same site here and here)

Update 3
Florine added another idea... McCall's Do-It-Yourself dollhouse pattern, copyright 1955. She found this pattern on eBay and added scans to her flick site at http://www.flickr.com/photos/fnbettge/sets/72157623827135110/. From the pattern:
A SPLIT-LEVEL Dollhouse like this will make any little girl starry-eyed on Christmas morning. The pattern includes decoration and finishing ideas and complete directions for making house from plywood. 51" long, 11 1/2" deep, 18 1/2" high.

Update 4
OMG. I had a bit of deja vu when Melissa first sent me these pictures, but seeing Florine's pattern triggered where I'd seen this before. Modern MC blogged about this ¾ inch scale “Betsy McCall Dollhouse No. 150W” back in September 2007. Visit her post for more pictures minimodern.blogspot.com/2007/09/some-modern-dollhouse-plans.html.


callsmall said...

You scooped me, man! I saw these amazing photos a few weeks ago and I am in awe of Melissa's work. Looks amazing and what a deal!

AMCSviatko said...

It looks very similar to the Triang DH2 or DHK3 from 1962: http://www.flickr.com/photos/49333775@N00/2898271160/

Mini Dork said...

Ha ha callsmall, but you did see them first. :)

Wow Shopping Sherpa! I'm putting your link in the post so people don't miss it. It really looks like a Triang, thank you so much for sharing!

Rebecca said...

It's a Barton Model Home, available from about 1956 to 1976. They were sold mostly as kits, to make up at home, although some were sold made up. I know a couple of collectors who have them, but I'm not sure which sites their photos are on.
I love what Melissa has done with hers!

Rebecca said...

OK, here are some photos: http://dollshousespastandpresent.webs.com/apps/photos/photo?photoid=57665010 and http://dollshousespastandpresent.webs.com/apps/photos/photo?photoid=57665011 and http://dollshousespastandpresent.webs.com/apps/photos/photo?photoid=52385873 :-)

Mini Dork said...

Rebecca!!! Thank you so much for the photos and information. I just posted them, since some people don't read the comments. Thanks for finding the pictures. I will have to check out that website more. Thanks for the tip.

Anonymous said...

Thank you! It looks just like the Triang! Too cool! I will mark it as such. Really appreciate all of the input...I would love to find another one to redo. Melissa

Amy's Miniatures And Smalls said...

Lovely home. I like the scale too.

Florine said...

And here's another idea about this great little house...McCall's sold a Do-It-Yourself dollhouse pattern, copyright 1955. The pattern shows the carport and the 3 windows on second floor, although the front door and window are different. I found my pattern on eBay and have added scans on my flick site at http://www.flickr.com/photos/fnbettge/sets/72157623827135110/ Since it has such a European flair, I've always thought that McCalls copied the Barton house.

Mini Dork said...

Florine, thank you so much for scanning your pattern and flickring it for us. Much appreciated.

Rebecca said...

Hello again Melissa and Mini Dork - I just now had a look at the catalogue page on TSS's flickr site. Although she names the scan Triang 1962, the catalogue page actually says A. BARTON & CO. (Toys) Ltd right down the bottom. It's a page from a Barton catalogue, not a Triang one, which means TSS and I both spotted it as a Barton Model Home. So Melissa, please don't mark it as Triang - somehow TSS slipped up in naming her photo.
It could well be made from that McCalls pattern, though, as that has a carport which the Barton one doesn't. That is fascinating, Florine, that Barton and McCalls should produce such nearly identical models. It doesn't surprise me that the American one has a carport and the British one doesn't (although of course other British dolls houses did, but I think car ownership was higher in the US in the 50s than in the UK). It seems that an amazing amount of copying went on - I wonder how they got away with it?

Mini Dork said...

Rebecca, I was thinking the same thing about copyright infringement. Since they both were available around the same time, I wonder which came first? I'm going to head down to my local shop and see if anyone might know if these companies had any kind of partnership. I couldn't find anything online.

Rebecca said...

Now I've had a closer look at Marion Osborne's book Barton's "Model Homes". She says that the Barton dolls house was apparently a copy of a pattern brought out by McCalls.
She also says that Mr A. Barton's brother, Mr E.W. Barton, had been in America during the war, on the staff of the New Zealand Supply Mission at Washington, and before that at the British Pavilion, New York World Fair. He returned to Britain in 1946, quite a while before Barton started making these dolls houses. If McCalls first produced their pattern in 1955, he couldn't have taken it home with him. Maybe Mr E.W. Barton still had personal contacts in America? Or else the Bartons were reading the magazines or whatever where it was advertised? I don't think there was a formal partnership, at least Marion Osborne says nothing about it, and she got lots of info from one of the partners.

Anonymous said...

You guys rock! I will wait until the research is a bit more definite before I mark the dollhouse! This is so cool...you all have been such a help! You are correct in that this dollhouse has a carport attached...I decided to put metal on the carport because I thought it would be more within the style and time period of the dollhouse. Also, it did have a "front" to it that had an oversized front door but since it was in such bad shape, I did not use it and reconfigured the back as the front. Also, there was a block of wood on the out side of the carport that stabilized the posts on the carport. Again, in such bad shape and odd looking, I removed it. I know it is never a good idea to change the original look, but I felt it was necessary for the total look. Keeping in mind I bought this in Washington DC, Rebecca might be right on the nose as far as history is concerned. Thanks so much! Melissa

Shale said...

I just got this dollhouse from a Kijiji ad. I purchased it from the original owner who said her father built it from a kit in 1962. Her parents were from England. It is a Barton house as the sheet of paper explaining the wiring shows clearly.

It is exactly like the pictures Rebecca shows from DHPP, except for the paint and carpeting (carpets are flocked paper). My house has yellow trim.

The house is furnished with Barton and Lundby frurniture from the 50's and 60's and has a five member Grecon family.

I will be posting pictures on my blog once I do a little house cleaning and maintenance.


Pan said...

Great post. I have never seen the Barton house before or the Betsy McCall house.

Laurie in NY said...

This looks like the one I enjoyed for many years--sort of. My next door neighbor made it from a pattern-one for me and one for his daughter. I do sort of recall that it was a McCall pattern. Looks like mine is mirror-imaged because although the carport is on the left, so is the drawer. Have lots of petite princess (and other) furniture. Planning to sell it all this weekend at a yard sale (Long Island NY). It was at least partly decorated, but it's in pretty good shape.

Mini Dork said...

Laurie in NY Yard sale?!?!? Oh no, please sell it on ebay! I'd love to see pictures. If you do sell at your yard sale, I hope you get a good price for it. Good luck.
-Mini Dork

Laurie in NY said...

I was going to try pics this morning but it's so dark here--we just had a thunderstorm. maybe later or tomorrow. How could I sell it on ebay? It's way too big to ship USPS or to carry around to a place that will ship something that big and get a price. I could barely carry it up from the basement! (Guess I was younger and stronger when I brought it down there.) Have no idea what to ask for it, either. I'm guessing it's unique because it was constructed as a mirror image of the actual pattern (except for the carport on the same side).

Mini Dork said...

I'm not sure what you would get for it at a yard sale, but on ebay you could list it as "local pick up only", so no need for shipping, and you might get more interest.

Good luck and please take a photo before you sell it! :)

Laurie in NY said...

took some photos. I don't have a flickr account or personal website... where would you like me to post them?

Mini Dork said...

Ooo, please send me the pictures and I'll blog it. Email me at