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Toy Museum at Old Salem restored at great expense by the Museum’s conservator, David Goist. Later coats of interior paint were carefully removed and the delightful surviving original oil paintings within two overmantels were cleaned and conserved to reveal the signature of an artist the museum identified as Johann Martin Schuster (1667-1738). At the same time, the trimwork that was replaced in 1967 was painted over to blend with the rest of the paint finishes but it can still be identified by its smoother texture when examining the house closely. A remarkable social document, the Van Haeften house (or the English Baby House as it was renamed by the Museum) is arguably one of the finest surviving 18th century dolls’ houses on either side of the Atlantic. Along with familiar commercial red-roof dolls’ houses manufactured in Germany by Christian Hacker and Moritz Gottschalk, there is another large English dolls’ house with a neo-Georgian exterior and a solidly Victorian interior identified by the Museum as the Regency House. Three stories tall with an added gabled roof, it features six spacious rooms, a staircase hall, hand-painted wallpapers, elaborate window treatments and it was opulently furnished in the Museum. The contents will be sold separately and include many appealing items including a charming lithographed parlor suite, many pieces of painted tinware and other metals along with a glittering array of ormolu accessories. The tallest house (just over six feet!) is the signed and dated 1888 Spanish Second Empire Dolls’ House that had previously been the jewel in the collection of the late Don and Helene Mitchell. They knew it as “Broadstairs” and joyfully acquired it in Madrid in the 1960’s. The front of the house is richly detailed with stylish window balconies, an evocative shingled mansard roofline with dormer windows, and an

The beautifully executed architectural details of the Van Haeften House set it apart from just about every other house of this era. The scale is perfect and even unfurnished, it is very satisfying to gaze upon it. It is extremely difficult to find 18th century dollhouse furnishings outside museums and that was one of the reasons Vivien Greene left the house unfurnished all the years is was displayed in the Rotunda. For some years it was inhabited by three Victorian dolls’ house dolls representing an estate agent and two prospective buyers, but when I visited the museum the summer before it closed, she told me the interested couple had been stolen so the house was left totally empty. At the Toy Museum, the house displayed an assortment of period doll’s china and other accessories.

A pleasing harmony envelops this German double-roombox kitchen with pantry as all the original painted cabinetry remains intact and nicely matched to the colors of the floor and the delicate painted border beneath the rooms’ cornices. All is crisp and fresh in this well-appointed and quite delightful kitchen that lacks nothing.

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Profile for Antique Doll Collector Magazine

September 2010  

Special Chase Dolls • All Bisques • Meet the Bumsteads • Dolls’ Houses from the Old Salem Toy Museum • UFDC Salesroom • Antique Blue Ribbon...

September 2010  

Special Chase Dolls • All Bisques • Meet the Bumsteads • Dolls’ Houses from the Old Salem Toy Museum • UFDC Salesroom • Antique Blue Ribbon...