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A new home for the dollshouse smart set

The City of London shows miniatures of magnificence – fit for Marchpane

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A new home for the dollshouse smart set

January 15 2013
Nicole Swengley

A property boom on an exquisitely small scale has sparked a magical new event. The City of London Dollshouse Festival is an extension of the hugely popular show that has attracted international collectors to Kensington Town Hall since 1985. More than 100 renowned exhibitors will display and sell their beautifully crafted miniature houses and furniture at the Tower Hotel on Sunday January 27, in addition to the original, twice-yearly event.

Collectors are in for a treat, given the extremely high quality of the intricate designs, such as the elegant chinoiserie bedroom in the second picture. Also take for example the work of former jewellery designer Jens Torp, who specialises in making 1/12-scale silver miniatures, such as a French horn (£680), replica 19th-century field gun bottle holder (£420), Tiffany water pitcher (£125) and limited-edition herb and oil storage box (£1,475).

Working clocks and furniture on a scale of 1/12 or 1/48 are the speciality of Keith Bougourd of Small Time. His French Boulle commodes have 1mm-deep pearwood and plywood carcasses with applied brasswork and faux tortoiseshell cross-banded with an ebonised veneer. Inspired by an original Louis XIV commode, they cost £950 each (£1,600 for a pair). The pleasure of sliding open each miniscule drawer, however, is hard to put a price on.

Tim Hartnall of Anglia Dolls Houses can help with a home for these wonderful pieces. His unfurnished but fully decorated 1/12-scale houses are hand built in birch plywood in Georgian and Regency styles. These architecturally magnificent houses have opening side-panels through which the interiors can be seen. In addition to standard models (from £2,000 to £10,000), including the bestselling Lincoln House (interior in first picture, from £5,490), Hartnall accepts bespoke commissions.

Connoisseurs should also make time for the highly detailed models of historic buildings made by Lucy Askew. Having specialised in model making for 25 years, Askew’s 1/12-scale miniatures are prized for their recreation of colour, texture, fabric and furniture, such as the gilt picture frames and looking glasses, fireplaces with fire irons and Robert Adam furniture from the Glass Drawing Room, Northumberland House. Askew also crafts bespoke “box rooms” (£5,000 to £20,000), whose wooden doors open to reveal a single, glamorously furnished room.

Rumer Godden’s Tottie, Birdie and Mr Plantagenet – even haughty Marchpane – would be delighted.