A Dollshouse collector
Dolores was born in Portsmouth and has lived there for the past seventy years. Her Father was a builder and property developer. He restored and modernised old houses and never dumped interesting architectural items. He had an eye for beautiful antique features he came across. Dolores still has a grand fireplace circa 1870, carved and gilded, in situ in her living room!
Dolores has inherited both her Father’s artistic eye and practical skills in restoration and has continued like him, to make property investments but now in dolls-sized houses! She has at least 70 antique dollshouses and many minature shops and kitchens. She collects the finest minature furniture and dolls for these houses and has an unerring knack of arranging the rooms as well as a professional interior decorator.
She can hand-paint damaged paintwork or any missing parts of original wallpaper. She went to Art College and studied commercial art and this has given her great aptitude for precise linear painting so necessary for sensitive restoration. She never over restores and just gets it right every time. She has a superb collection of Gottschalk dollshouses, mostly in mint condition.
One important Gottschalk house that was not in perfect condition, belonged to the youngest son of Queen Mary and had been much played by the little boy. He had epilepsy and died at 14 years of age. The house was given to a servant for her children by Queen Mary. The roof and balconies had been repainted possibly to make it look brighter for another child? Dolores stripped the overpaint off the exterior to find the original paintwork and removed the new wallpaper to find the original underneath.
See pic, in a child’s handwriting: “Queen Mary”. We think and hope this was written by the little shut-away prince.
One of my favourite dollshouses in the collection is the Regency house which came with no front facade, which may be missing or it may not have had one at all. This house has the most beautiful hallway with a curving staircase and beautiful brickwork wallpaper.
The rooms have wonderful original wallpapers, some of which were distressed. Parts of the wallpaper were missing and Dolores with her fine paint brushes and steady hand has restored those parts magnificently. She has furnished it with lovely Regency furniture and wooden dolls and it is now a most complete and beautiful house circa 1800-1820.
The most recent purchase made is another lovely fine proportioned house circa 1840. It came looking in a sad derelict state with broken windows. There was a box of original furniture, all in bits, the result of 150 years of storage in a damp attic. There were original dolls, mostly without legs and arms but still in original clothes giving some hope! Dolores swiftly re-glued all the furniture and carved chair and table legs. The windows were replaced with old glass and the façade cleaned with a good scrub or magic to reveal beautiful red paintwork.
The furniture is now arranged with all the dolls scrubbed up in their appropriate rooms. See Grandma with the children in the nursery. Here is mother having tea in the living room, so now the family are all in place, clean, bright and beautiful.
Dolores has applied her skills again and rescued a family dollshouse that deserves to be preserved for future generations and for the past family who owned and played with it. Fortunately it is now with Dolores a brilliant caretaker and preservationist to survive another few hundred years.
Written by Heather Bond