13/02/2013 Toys & Collectables
Unique dolls house collection goes under the hammer
An 89-year-old woman who has spent her lifetime collecting dolls' houses from across the world will sell her remarkable collection at auction.
Nora Boll has been collecting dolls' houses since 1925, when she took an interest in her mother's collection at the age of just two.
Her collection, which totals around 30 properties, includes everything from tiny chandeliers and silk curtains made from parachutes, to minute toliet rolls and a toliet brush.
The dolls' houses include pieces from all over the world, including Japan, Switzerland and Yugoslavia, with Miss Boll visiting fairs, junk shops and gypsy markets whilst on her holidays.
She also picked up pieces from auctions and fairs, including Swiss Lundy furniture, which kitted out an entire house.
Now the unique collection of houses will go under the hammer at the Newcastle salerooms of Anderson & Garland, though it is so large that it will be split across two separate auctions, the first of which will be tomorrow (Wednesday, February 13) and the second a fortnight later.
It will also include hundreds of pieces of furniture.
Mrs Bell's mother bought their first second-hand dolls house with furniture in 1925 when Nora was just two and they lived in Elswick, Newcastle.
This was joiner-made and dated to around 1910.
Over time the collection grew and they would buy from different shops, including a toy shop in Newcastle called Alfreds, where they would pick up furniture.
The hobby stopped however when Nora's mother died early on into the war and everything in the house was split up.
Fortunately Nora's brother kept the house and a box of furniture and these were passed to Nora later, and she picked up the hobby again after retiring as a physiotherapist.
One of her favourite purchases was the house made up entirely with Swiss Lundy furniture which has three tiers to it - each one has a different type of painted furniture on it, one of them Welsh.
She also loved the largest house which was bought at Featonby's and which she could access from the front and back.
The furniture from that particular house was made around the 1940s and Nora explains that you can tell this from the fact the curtains are made up of parachute material.
Nora would love the dolls houses to either go to a museum or someone who will cherish them like she has.
She couldn't ever afford to buy a lot in one go and so she painstakingly collected piece by piece over time and looked after them with love and care.
"There is something of a cult hobby based on dolls' houses and furniture," said John Anderson, of Anderson & Garland.
"Modern dolls' houses are to the same scale and there are small specialist makers turning out items such as chandeliers and grandfather clocks. It is a cottage industry.
"It appeals to people who can't furnish a Grand Designs dream home but they can do it in miniature.
"But the dolls' houses in this collection are to different scales.
"Some items of dolls' house furniture can be expensive and it has happened that we have sold some which has fetched a higher price than the real life-size equivalent items."
Alex Kingsley, PR consultant for Anderson & Garland, said: "There has been a lot of interest already.
"It is such a unique collection. It includes stuff from Japan, Switzerland and Yugoslavia. It's quite an interesting collection.
"I've never seen one so big and to come from an old house in Heaton it's quite bizarre.
"It can be collectors who are interested in this sort of thing. A lot of people collect dolls houses and have quite big collections.
" A lot of the time people have collected them when they were young and are still interested when they are retired.
"Also a lot of the time people buy them who want to live in a dream house themselves but can't afford it.
"Those people will often buy expensive things for dolls houses, like a crystal chandelier because they can't afford a real one, people enjoy that.
"I think they will go for quite a lot. Some of the things are really rare and so old they should go for quite a bit.
"It is nice for the old lady who they belonged to."