Sunday, 12 March 2017

At Home in 1903

You know the view from my kitchen window almost as well as I do. Over the past few years, I have struck up a soft of friendship with the elderly lady whose house and garden I see. She sometimes rings me on a Saturday morning and brings me flowers from her garden, to thank me once more for the wall calendar I had made for her a few years ago with photos of her garden.

The other day, she rang to ask whether I would like to come over and have a look at the dolls house and kitchen she and her siblings used to play with when they were children.
I didn't have to think twice and was over at her house a few minutes later.

We climbed the stairs to the attic room where she had it all set up. She explained that the kitchen and house had belonged to her mother before her, and was originally from 1903. (My neighbour is going to be 85 years old this summer.)
Of course not everything you see here is from 1903. Typically, bits would be added as Christmas or birthday presents, or when something would break beyond repair and need replacement. The latter happened very rarely, as the children who played with this kitchen and house loved their toys and handled them very carefully.

Looking at the kitchen in detail, you can detect many things that were in use in real life not only in 1903, but for decades afterwards.


This little "cage" was for storing fresh eggs:
 

"Zwiebel" means onion, and "Wischtuch" means cleaning cloth.
The metal dustbin is very similar to the life-sized one we still used when I was a kid, to put the ashes from our bathroom stove in.
 

The kitchen is a stand-alone one, but the "house" consists of two rooms. Here is the bedroom:


Things such as the wash bowl and water jug, hot water bottle (on the little bed) and chamber pot (in the nightstand) were familiar household items in 1903.



The living room:


A bird in a cage - all so very detailed! And look at  that mirror, a real piece of Art Deco art! It is relatively heavy, because the figure holding the mirror is solid bronze. The entire thing is less than the length of one of my fingers. (Sorry - you can see my camera's handle in the mirror; I didn't mean that to be seen!)


There is even a small balcony at the side of the living room, and all windows and doors open and close properly. The roses were put there by my neighbour and her sister much later, as the original flowers had fallen apart long ago.


The house hosts a big family of dolls. My neighbour told me all their names, but I can't remember all of them. I know that one of the girls is Liesele, and the one in the green dress is Dorothee. The dresses were made by my neighbour and her sister when they were little girls themselves, about 8 years old, and copied from the clothes the dolls originally wore.
Look at the little horse - it is covered in real horse fur, and the mane and tail are real horse hair. The little boy must have been for a wild ride just before we came up, judging from his hair :-)



The house holds a nice collection of books - tiny calendars from 1903 to 1917, with a few missing in between. These were meant to be kept in people's wallets. They had a tiny space to write in for each day, and showed all Christian and Jewish holidays. Each book is less than the size of my thumb.



I felt very privileged to be allowed to look at and touch everything! My neighbour told me lots more than I am repeating here; each piece, each doll has their own little history.
It was a lovely glimpse into the past in general, and into my neighbour's childhood in particular.

(Don't worry - I had asked her permission to take pictures and show them here. My neighbour does not have a computer, and I am not sure she can really imagine what a blog is, but she likes the idea of many other people being able to see her precious dolls house and kitchen.)

33 comments:

  1. I have just spent a good while examining the enlarged photos and am just so thrilled at how many things I can relate to. That was an exquisite collection and a most fascinating post. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

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    1. Thank you, Graham, I'm glad you did!

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  2. How wonederful that she's kept it all this time, it looks like a museum piece.

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    1. She and her sister have been thinking about donating it all to a museum, since apparently nobody in the family wants it. Hard to believe!

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    2. How can no one in the family want it?!?! An heirloom like that....

      But if they don't want it, a museum would be the best place for it. How utterly charming everything is!

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    3. It's all boys in the young generation, I think - at least that is what she said. And most people simply haven't got the space to set it up. She lives in that big house all on her own, whereas families here often share a flat with much less rooms.
      In my family, we have a dolls shop and a kitchen that our granddad made for my Mum and her brother when they were little. My sister and I also still have our 1970s dolls house. We have not set them up for many years, but we don't want to give them away.

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  3. OH, Meike, this is fabulous. It is really like something one might see in a museum. How kind that your neighbor invited you to see this and you shared it with us. I am going to look at all the photos again. Wonderful!

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    1. She even extended the invitation to my Mum and whoever else I think would like to see it! I've told my Mum, but I don't know when and if we can arrange another visit.

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    2. I really would like to see this treasure, believe me. And as I told you, I do know this lady from the past, she used to own a yarn- and woolshop, and I often bought my yarn to knit pullovers and other things with her. She always could give me a good advice for my handcraft, I remember very well.

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    3. We will arrange something, Mum. I can't yet say when, but we'll find a time that suits all three of us.

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  4. Oh my goodness! What an absolute treasure! I'm at work right now and don't have much time, but as soon as I get home I'm going to enlarge each photo and study them carefully. Please tell your neighbor that a woman who lives in faraway South Carolina is fascinated by her treasure! πŸ’•

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    1. I will certainly let her know about how much my readers from faraway countries like her dolls house and kitchen!

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    2. I finally had time to examine all the photos closely. Wonderful post, Meike!

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  5. This is like a whole miniature museum! Absolutely wonderful - and I'm sure it must be really valuable too. Surely each one of these little objects must be very attractive for collectors! - I loved playing with a doll-house in my childhood but it was nothing like this. My mum made it out of cardboard boxes and most of the furniture too - and dolls out of yarn and pipecleaners. It probably ended up in the attic eventually and was taken over by mice... ;)

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    1. I'm sure it was a wonderful doll-house, Kristi! We sometimes made stuff out of cardboard for our dolls, too, like a bed out of a kleenex box for our Barbies and so on.

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  6. It would be nice if the old lady could get to see this blogpost. If you invite her round to your apartment for a coffee you could show her what you have done. I suspect she will be thrilled by the realisation that other people from around the world have got to see the dolls house she has cherished for so long.

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    1. That is a very good idea! I really should do that soon.

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  7. Beautifully photographed, Meike. What is it about miniature things, that fascinate us so much? They are simply exquisite - as someone else said; and they've done well to survive. I think YP (above) makes a nice point - you can show her the comments from all round the world too.

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    1. I don't know why I didn't think of that myself!
      Yes, somehow miniature worlds are attractive to young and old alike. Have you ever seen Queen Mary's dolls house at Windsor Castle? That is THE dolls house to end all dolls houses!

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  8. I love this post! I felt as if I were right beside you as you looked upon these things for the first time! :-)
    The quality of the furnishings in the house truly amaze me, they are just perfect!
    I love the tiny books also! And the dolls are exquisite!
    When you see your nice neighbor, please let her know that your friends from all over the world appreciate her allowing you to share this with us! :-)

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    1. Thank you, Kay - I was hoping my post would have that effect :-)
      I will certainly let my neighbour know about the reactions from all over the world.
      Yes, everything in the house and kitchen is made with such attention to detail, all by hand!!

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  9. What a stunning dolls house. Even in a museum this would be a star exhibit. I couldn't help thinking about how careful and responsible the children were to play with this and yet keep it in such immaculate condition. How astonishing that nobody in the family wants it - but it is such a responsibility and if they can't look after it, then it is surely better in a museum rather than mouldering away unseen in a loft, or getting broken up by kids who don't appreciate it. How wonderful this treasure is more widely known now because of your blog.

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    1. I suppose the reason for nobody in the family wanting it is partly lack of space (they ARE big "boxes", both of them), lack of willing to be responsible for it and not really knowing what to "do" with it.
      Yes, my blog has made the house and kitchen known to many more people, and I am glad I posted the photos!

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  10. Beautiful pictures and an absolutely beautiful blog. I still have my dollhouse which is now well over 40 years old. I have seen pictures of Queen Mary's dollhouse at Windsor castle on the internet and in books. It is breathtaking in detail and craftsmanship. The little paintings alone, all copies of real paintings, and each done by different artists, what fun it would be to play with it all. It was so kind of you to have spend some time with her looking at her dollhouse and I am sure she enjoys your visits immensely. Thanks for all your beautiful stories and pictures, they quite often make my day while visiting your blog. Elle

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    1. Hello Elle, I believe this is your first comment here? Thank you for stopping! I am glad you like my posts :-)
      When I talk to my neighbour over the fence or on the phone or we visit each other, I enjoy that time probably as much as she does. She has such a good, level head on her shoulders and life experience to share.
      Yes, Queen Mary's dollhouse contains wonderful things! There are even bottles of real wine in the cellar, and the books are all real works of art, too.

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  11. No, I have commented before but had a typo with the name. Elke, sorry.
    I commented about the Bad Wimpfen pictures you took some time back and that I grew up nearby.

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    1. I remember you now, Elke, thank you :-)

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  12. Happy Birthday Meike!!!!!!!!!!!


    πŸŒΌπŸƒπŸŒΌπŸƒπŸŒΌπŸƒπŸŒΌπŸƒπŸŒΌπŸƒπŸŒΌπŸƒπŸŒΌπŸƒπŸŒΌ

    πŸŽ‚ 🎁🎈

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    1. Thank you dear Jennifer!!!!
      When is/was yours? I want to put it in my birthday calendar.

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    2. Tomorrow! We're one day apart! ❤ I had meant to ask for your mailing address ahead of time. I would love to send you a card!

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    3. I'll shoot you an email later this morning (right now I'm typing on my phone). I hope you're having a wonderful day!

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    4. Thank you, Jennifer - I did! And I have just replied to your email :-)

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