Sunday, October 31, 2010


In a lot of ways, my newest house purchase does not make sense. But in other ways it does. When I first got back into miniatures in 2008, I was completely taken with modern, but also was curious about the history of houses, especially American ones, leading up to the more modern styles. Houses produced by Louis Marx and Company, which manufactured its first metal dolls house in 1949, kept coming up, and I enjoyed looking at the colorful lithos and different structural incarnations--split levels, ranches, colonials. Marx even produced a (now very hard-to-find) skyscraper!

Skyscraper photos courtesy of Barbigirl's website

So, Marx metal houses in many ways were an important avenue into the hobby, but I never purchased a house...until now. While I enjoyed looking at the Marx houses, none of them really appealed to me as an acquisition, until recently, when I came across a 1953 "L" Ranch, a 1/2" scale single level house with great 50s detailing. This house differs from the other Marx houses, in that the children's room style is original to this house. Many Marx houses have similar room designs, but this room was never reproduced in another house. The house originally came with a weather vane and an antenna, but neither of mine survived.

You can see more about this house and other Marx houses at Barbigirl's website.

I have worked with two dimensional settings before, in my 1949 fold away dollhouse and my"instant" doll house from the 1960s, so I decided to give it another try here. I used 1:24 and 1:16 furnishings, and they work for the most part.

Note the neat shelving insert between the kitchen and living room.

Some TOMY kitchen items fit right in!

A Petite Princess chair and ottoman face the fireplace with its funky accents, and an occasional table sits by the window.

Next to the door, a side table is home to a phone...and a cigarette.

A vintage Lundby bed worked here...

The bath has a vintage Strombecker bath and sink, and are paired with a modern Kaleidoscope House toilet!

A Barton side chair and Fisher Price bed in the children's room.

Does anyone play with Marx, too??!

Credits: Sink and stove unit are vintage TOMY; living room chair/ottoman and table are vintage Petite Princess and plant is vintage TOMY; side table by door is vintage Barton; bathroom sink and tub are vintage Strombecker, and toilet is Bozart; bed and stool are vintage Lundby, and basket is Re-ment; child's chair is vintage Barton and bed is vintage Fisher Price. Accessories are AG Minis, IKEA, Petite Princess, and random dolls house store finds.


  1. I used to collect metal houses, including Marx. I had about a dozen at one point scattered around the livingroom - all unfurnished. My favorite was a one-room army barracks with extremely detailed graphics, including a chart of all the men who had been injured in the previous month. It was the perfect size for little green plastic army men.

    I only have one now, a 2-story colonial with Disney graphics lithod in the kids room.

    I still covet the one-room Marx Roy Rogers log cabin.

  2. Really lovely! I love the way you've furnished it, and the way your photos really make the viewer feel like we're in the house. The bed looks so inviting, and the door glows so brightly!

    I don't have any Marx houses myself. They come up quite often on Australian ebay, so I think they must have been sold here in fairly large numbers. Mostly it's a two-storey house with a white bay window (don't know the name of the model). I'd never seen the skyscraper before - wow! The ones I like best are the Imagination (unusually plastic, not tin litho), and another of the ranch houses - with an eagle, I think.

  3. Lovely house. I'm thinking about making a 1:144 scale Lundby house? That should be a REAL challenge!

  4. Wow! You found a gem in great condition!
    Love the details~the built in oven is wonderful!
    Thanks for sharing!

  5. Wow Chris. I have the same house except my shelving insert is blue and I am missing the center chimney piece. You take the best darn photos. I picked mine up at an auction out in the country for $20. My Lundby scale (3/4") items and other vintage items fit perfectly. My note from previous research says mine is a 1953 Marx Tin, Style Rambler. This is one of my hubby's favorite houses. I like it too. The door bell still works on mine. Congrats on this great little house.

  6. Hi Sunshine! Thanks for sharing your Marx past! Sounds like you had quite a collection. I have seen the Army Barracks before, but not the log cabin.

  7. Hi Rebecca! Thanks! Yes, I know the Imagination house and the ranch you mention has a rooster on the chimney. It is very retro looking, but opens from the top, which I cannot quite get past. Those are very collectible, though. It was fun focusing on all the details in the house. Stylistically, the house is a fun departure for me. I don't think I will start collecting Marx houses, though. :)

  8. Thanks, Kathi! Ohhh, please let me know if you decide to build a 1:144 Lundby -- very cool!!!

  9. Thanks, Lee! Yes, it is in very good condition overall. No rusting, just some scrapes and a few small bends, but that is to be expected for a 55+ year old house!

  10. Hi there, Amy! Thanks for your kind words. That's so cool that you have the same house! I have seen others with the blue insert. What doorbell???? I don't see any mechanism for a doorbell. Cool! $20 is a nice price to pay, too. Will you ever show some pics of it?

  11. I never have liked houses with two dimensional furnishings on the walls, but you really make it work! But I have always liked the yellow Tomy kitchen and it looks so great together with the yellow shelf between the kitchen and the livingroom. And I also love how you decorated the other rooms, especially the bathroom and the childrens room.

    And I agree with the others, great photos! The ones from the livingroom makes me want to sit down in the comfy Petit Princess chair and relax in front of the fireplace.

  12. Love Vintage and retro! Those tin lithos are still gorgeous! THat skyscraper is a trip! C

  13. Hi Pubdoll! Thanks! I think this may have been the first time I used the TOMY kitchen set. It is sized so small that I really have not had a use for it. I like the living room photo too; the chair adds a nice punch of color.

  14. Thanks, CM! The skyscraper is pretty out there. So many details. It's so rare; I've never seen any come up on eBay.

  15. That is a great house, I love the way you have mixed the furniture together. It all works really well. Lizzie

  16. Thanks, Busy Lizzie! Good to hear from you! I do love to mix and match -- sometimes out of necessity, but other times to create something new :)

  17. I am getting around to wondering what AG minis is. When I think of AG minis, I think of American Girl mini dolls, and they don't make furniture in that scale. Is there another AG minis? Beautiful house, by the way!