Wednesday, August 29, 2012

During the 1930s North American factories churned out dollhouse furnishings 

During  the 1930s, due to the Great Depression, times were tough for many people in Canada and the United States. Both World Wars had disrupted the flow of toys from Germany and this allowed opportunities for North American factories to churn out dollhouse furnishings -- and prepared the way for the inroads of plastic in the late 1940s. 

But during the 1930s, metal, wood, cardboard and cloth formed the bulk of miniatures, while plywood, fiber-board and cardboard were the choices for dollhouses. Colorful printed papers were glued over these cheap materials. 

One of the most popular manufacturers of dollhouse furnishings was a company in Chicago named Dowst. TootsieToy was their trade name.  "Tootsie"  was the name of a family member who died tragically young at age 16 years. two years later the name changed to "Tootsietoy."

The doll house furnishings were made in a "special composition metal that will not break easily" and, further, that this "almost indestructible metal"  would "not break like wood."

This company specialized in small, little playthings like toy cars, planes, and little trains. Dowst also created a line for girls focusing on dollhouse furnishings. 

And what's interesting about Dowst and TootsieToy was they were able to find an economic way to mass-produce furniture. The original price for an entire set was $1.25. The smaller sets were a little less expensive and they were made out of cast metal. The metal is known as "die-cast" and is very easy to cast, providing a lot of detail. The upholstered furniture, featured  a flocked surface so it looks soft, but it's really still a die-cast piece of furniture.

The kitchen furniture pieces featured in their line are just as detailed. A few pieces in the line included a Monitor Top refrigerator, the type of stove used in the day, a Hoosier-type-looking cupboard. 

If a collector were to have a boxed set in the highest condition, he could conservatively value the set, at approximately  $200 to $300. But when you really put a whole collection together, the price could increase significantly.  At an auction, a full set of eight rooms could be valued between $2,500 to $3,000. .

Today's collectors are still in search of the perfect piece.  However on the market today, most of the pieces are maimed pianos, table, sinks, etc.,  not to mention the chipped paint finishes. The scale of the Tootsie furniture is quite small and ranges in scale from ½ inch to 1 inch.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

New Additions to Barbie Through The Years

Due to a generous loan from a collector, we now have original Barbies, Ken, and family and friends in our Barbie Through The Years exhibit. If you've never seen an original Barbie, or if you used to own one but it disappeared sometime over the years, you'll be sure to enjoy this exhibit. The Barbies range from 1960 to the early 1980s and include Ken as you've never seen him before, Skipper, and Julia, Mattel's first black character doll.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Do you remember...

...Betsy McCall paper dolls?

...composition dolls?

...Pic Up Stix?

...cowboy heroes like Roy Rogers?

...Patty Playpal?

...classic cars and cruising?

...when Scarlett used the drapes to make a dress?

Revisit your favorite toys and share your memories of favorite classic film stars and that car you used to have as you view the diverse collection of dolls and toys at the Spencer Doll and Toy Museum.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Look and Touch

The Spencer Doll and Toy Museum isn't a "look, but don't touch" museum. We have play areas for kids so that they can handle a doll from the 1940s, write on a vintage chalk board, play with an intricate donated toy train set, and even dress the dolls on a "paper doll" quilt. Bring the whole family to the museum for an educational and interactive experience!

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Fashion and Modeling Day Camp to be Rescheduled

The Fashion Day Camp at the Spencer Doll and Toy Museum today was canceled. The coordinator had a medical emergency in her family. The day camp will be rescheduled.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

It's almost that time....

...time to go back to school!

If you're looking for one more afternoon of fun with the kids before school starts, come and visit us at the Spencer Doll and Toy Museum. We have a calendar of events listed on our website, including Fashion and Modeling Day Camp on August 4. There's still time to register. Call the museum for details.