Archive for December, 2010

A Christmas Carol ( not a Scrooge in sight!)


As promised here is, on my last post of the year, a feature on Christmas.

I think I said in a previous post, I am not one for restraint at Christmas. Not for me the single coloured tree with a few bits here and there.  Raffia, string and brown paper is just not me. Christmas is all about tasteful excess, if that is not an oxymoron 😉

So here is my Christmas tree with, as mentioned before, the thirty or so 19th century to 1950’s baubles ( all glass and terribly frightening )! I don’t know how many glass baubles I have in total but it must be in excess of 100.The really old ones were bought, for my Grandfather, in the 19th century when this sort of thing was very new in the U.K. Then I have all my childhood and my Mother’s childhood baubles and some from my brother Ian’s, who is twelve years younger than me- so they are late 60’s, early 70’s.

e Some of my early decorations in their original box and the incredibly fragile tissue paper.

The 60's and 70's

On the tree you will see some hand made cones which I’ve done this year. These will be handed out to friends as they come and go over the season and will be filled with sweets and chocolates, as they would have been in the Victorian era.

A Victorian type cone.

My Christmas Tree and candlebridge

Some cones made with Stampin Up papers

These I get from my friend Jenny who is a demonstrator for Stampin’ Up – a wonderful company supplying stamps and papers, dies and punches and much more. Go and have a look.

A cone nestling in my tree branches

No…I don’t do this…”less is more mullarky!”

Below you will see what I have done to the mantelpiece and hearth.

All white, silver and iridescent

You might just be able to see the lovely figure of a reindeer made in wire which my husband bought me many years ago. Bea, as she is known, ( because she is a HIND) comes out every year and sits in the fireplace. 🙂 She will be surrounded with tiny tea lights come Christmas Eve.

I have a large collection of silvered glass and the ( real antique mercury glass ), items. They too come into their own at Christmas on the mantel.

In the Dining room, I decorate with pale blue and silver with a touch of pearl. The room is painted a duck egg blue and the curtains are a pale gold silk so it all blends well. The flowers lights were a present last year from a good friend and were an absolute find. I hang my collection of tiny blue baubles from it nowadays.

The blossom lights and Fairy Floss ( left)

I used to make bespoke Christmas Tree Fairies for Harrods, Fortnums and General Trading years ago and one of these sits on the bookcase. She is the last of her kind and Christmas just wouldn’t be right without Fairy Floss.

I drape a magnolia and hellebore garland over the dining room doorcase and Mabel ( our lovely Maple and Co bureau ) gets a pearl and glass leaf garland too. Remind me to polish the silver on top! 🙂

The dining room

The Hall is a painted a fantastic colour called Pale Hound by Farrow and Ball. It changes colour with the light (or lack of it ) and really comes into it’s own at Christmas when I add a lot of red and green. I made the doves last year and added a fake garland with mistletoe ( to catch people as they enter or leave!) round the light. You can see that Delphi Dog has her own hand made stocking. < yes well….ahem>

The photo is rather light but it's very atmospheric really.

And she also has her own advent calendar in which ( you’ve guessed it ) reposes a bone a day! That too I made for her in patchwork. Some days we forget…and then she has a whole load of them all in one day! ( Don’t tell the vet).

The advent tree


So there you have it…. Christmas in the dummy board house!

And talking of dummy boards…a while back one of my loyal readers, Penny,  sent me some super photos of Christmas figures she has made over the years. Santas and Winter characters, every one. I thought you might like me to share them with you?


All that remains is for me to say Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to my loyal readers and to those who have dipped in and out all year. May you, whatever you do at Christmas, have a fun filled time.

See you in the New Year when we shall once again put our toes into the murky waters of the 17th century and plumb the depths of the crepuscular world that is the home of the dummy board figure….


My Christmas siting room.

And my ONE concession to  Christmas religiosity? The medieval carol…brought up to date…


First Come First Served!


It is now only 11 days and 21 hours ( as  I begin to write ) to Christmas!

I hope you are all suitably decorated. I hope that you are chewing through your Christmas card list and that you have wrapped dozens of parcels with just a few to go. Not all that long ago I was in a bit of a tizzy wondering how on earth I was going to manage it all! But here we are and I have nearly finished.


Now that I feel a little more settled about my domestic Christmas arrangements, I can set myself to my PastMastery dummy board arrangements.

As promised here are the figures that are left after the prize has been doled out ( My winner JIll has chosen her prize). Here is what she said….

I love your dogs so much that I must have Gentleman with Greyhound.

So off they go to deepest, darkest Yorkshire where I am sure they will be very happy. Pictures, she promises me, will follow.

IN the PastMastery  Display House we still have:

Lady with Ostrich feather fan ( and pillar) Nick has just bought her!

The lady with ostrich fan leans on a pillar

Mozart £48.00

You would need a harpsichord or spinet for this one. He could lean on a table too.

The Lacemaker no 2 £26

This is the second may remember I blogged the making of number one.

kittens in a basket ( no chips) £10 ( Bon is now the owner of this little basket of fun!)

they are very tiny

On the street we have:
The naive Wilberforce House Gardener £10.00

He is extreme right. Not his politics I hasten to add!

London Theatre Pair £25.00 ( they can be split at £ 14 each) ( The gentleman has gone to Veralie , the lady is still for sale and since she is now alone, she can be £12.00)

Henry cat is sold but I do have him as photographic dummy boards. See below!

Mistletoe girl.(She is on the last but two posts on the blog )£25.00 Off You Go!
Lady with red rose £16.00
The scholar £10.00 (He is in the middle of the street.)

all will be charged carriage at cost.

I am also hoping to offer the display house for sale. I have absolutely no idea if any one would want it but my friends in the ‘know’
tell me that it might be something someone would like.

It has black and white  line drawings on the back walls of all the rooms. This was done so that the items we were displaying, which of course are in colour, would show more readily against them. They can be removed easily. But they do show up things very nicely should you wish to keep them.

From top left to bottom right…the drawings are:

The Morning Room…. The Salon at Woburn Abbey

The Grand Salon, A friend’s house in Oxfordshire

The Long Gallery, Hardwick hall

Handel’s House ( his bedroom…yes it really is )

The Butler’s Pantry, Leeds Castle kitchen

The Old Kitchen, Canons Ashby kitchen.

The furniture is stuck down and this too is all black and white. It can be prised up as it’s only held with a light application of PVA.

The rooms get deeper as you go towards the top. This is to allow for storage at the back.The Mansard roof is hollow, again for storage.

The front is hand painted in bricks and stones.

The street is separate and butts up against the front of the house. ( Has its own storage case). Railings are attached and there are steps down the a pathway.

The outside of the main house has PastMastery applied in paper onto a black lacquered surface and it can be removed with stripper.

The front is removable and fits into the space with turning toggles. The logo on it, again can be removed.

The floors are papers and have seen a lot of wear ( blue tac’d my figures to them) so they would need to be replaced ( except the marble of the Grand Salon).

The whole house is lit from the front.

I really have no idea how much it is worth. But if I count the cost of the materials and a little for labour ( just a little ) I think it might be possible for it to go to a new home for £150!!!

Let me know if you would like me to take some further photos.

Buyer collects or arranges collection. Speak to me nicely ( and up the price a bit ) and I’ll get my carriers to deliver! 😉

I ALSO HAVE quite a few photographic representations…dummy boards of my original figures which are photos.

They are quite good and are perfectly adequate to display in your houses.


They are absolutely no use to me whatsoever as I do not have a dollshouse and am keeping the roombox with the original 17th c. figures so do have some dummy boards I want but there will be no room for these.

Please consider giving them a good home or I will have to give them to the dustman!

I have uploaded a sheet with the names of the figures on the dummy boards. If you click on the picture I hope it comes up life sized for you to read

SMALL would be something like a small dog. £TWO POUNDS!

MEDIUM is a small person or a large dog £ FOUR POUNDS

LARGE is a life sized person.£FIVE POUNDS


{ Just to let you know I have only got – 3 Butlers left, only 1 Rotterdam Sweeper, 1 candle girl, 1 pair of seated servants, 3 girl with white pinny,  1 pair of spaniels, 2 Leeds Castle J Russells, 2 Toleware terriers, 3 Henry cats, 2 West highland terriers, 4 King Charles Spaniels, 4 man in red coat, 2 Lady with red fan, 2 lady with blue gloves, 3 pairs of Theatre figures, 2 Floras,  2 raised pies, 3 basket of fruits, 2 Baton Rouge girl and only one Gentleman with cane ( though I do have a 1/24th one which someone might like if they let me know }.

I’ll keep this updated daily.

If you would like a small one please send me stamps to the value of the item and £1 more for post and packing. If you are abroad let me know and I’ll e mail you the cost of the postage. We can sort out the details later. 🙂

Please send a cheque plus £2 for post for the others. E mail me at sue@pastmastery for address etc.


All that remains is to say that I hope you enjoy browsing and see you soon.



MY JUL DECORATIONS and some lovely Santa figures made by one of my Blog followers.

Prizes All Round!


And so we come to the end of the current ( and last ) PastMastery competition.

ONLY Twelve people ( out of thirty five ) who entered came up with the right answer.

And this is where they found it, on my blog.

Make Mine a Half

The answer is…..Thomas Peartree, the half a figure designed for the top of a wall by Thomas Gainsborough!

Thomas Gainsborough

Many of you thought that the Lullingstone Sweeper was the right answer. But she is likely to be Flemish…remember? And the legend attached to her that she was painted in this country by Van Dyck is very unlikely to be true.

Others thought that some of the Girl Peelers ( ladies peeling apples ) were English. Yes….they might be. But we can prove without a shadow of a doubt that Thomas Peartree is ENGLISH because we have documentary evidence that Gainsborough, for a start painted it and that it was seen shortly afterwards and was commented on. Have a read of the blog post to see what I mean.

I did sort of give the game away a bit when I said, in the competition preamble, that I was looking for

the name of the only absolutely proven, known ENGLISH  historic dummy board?

Because I used almost the same formula in my last words about Thomas Peartree in Make mine a Half.

The only absolutely pedigree, absolutely beyond question, proven and native ENGLISH dummy board…is sadly, only a half a one!

Is what I said.

Thomas Peartree on his wall.

Don’t you think too, that there is rather a large clue in the prize I am giving away?

And who got it right and had their name  drawn out of the hat?

Tarantara < fanfare>

CONGRATULATIONS! Jill Rothwell from Bradford in the U.K.!

You can chose between Gentleman with greyhound, Lady Sheffield, Gainsborough’s daughters, the two sisters and Lady with Ostrich feather. Let me know and it will be winging its way to you by the next post….providing it doesn’t snow again immediately! 🙂

Well done!

Here is a sample of the sort of miniatures that Jill produces.

She knits tiny little 1/24th and 1/48th toys and little scenes…but please don’t e mail her at

to ask her to knit you a jumper for your Granny…..unless your Granny is Thumbelina!!

So sweet..a little mouse family, wonderfully knitted.

A box full of goodies

I hear bells!

All that remains of this topic, is to tell you, that in my next post ( I promise not to keep you in suspense )I will list which figures were not chosen by our winner and are then consequently, FOR SALE at terribly reduced prices and which figures I still have left after my sale at KDF.

Watch this space….

MEANWHILE…. do take a look at Diary of an Edwardian Toyshop, my friend Julie’s blog.

She came to the show at Kensington Town Hall and bought a few little bibelots for her Toyshop.

The little PastMastery dummy board Frances Darley Bolt, in the doorway of Julie's shop.

The little dummy board of the girl with a white pinafore, as I call her, is one which has quite a good provenance.

She is a very good and well contained shape for a dummy board, is a life-sized figure and is at present displayed in the privately owned Shelburne Museum in Vermont U.S.A.,  part of the Darley-Bolt bequest. It has been very simply painted in oils on canvas mounted on a board and it may even have been cut out of an earlier painting -a practice well established in the 19th century.
It shows a pretty young girl in Edwardian dress and is undoubtedly a portrait figure. Influenced by the Impressionist fashion of the early twentieth century, the artist has sketchily painted the ruffled collar of the girl’s dress and the stiff linen of her apron using visible brush strokes, laying the white paint on thickly in places where the light strikes the folds. For once, we know who the girl is. She is the youngest daughter of the American Industrialist Mr. Darley Bolt and was no doubt copied from the painting by Singer Sargent.

The above of course is a miniature version of the real thing.

The Christmas Tree.

IN the window of Julie’s toyshop, just behind the wonderful lamb pulling a cart, is the Christmas Tree dummy board. You have ALL seen this one before and quite recently in.

Post Early for Christmas

I’ve said it before but I shall, I’m sorry, say it again….This is a 19th century dummy board of a Christmas tree, standing four feet high. ON it we see all the usual paraphernalia we would expect on a tree of this age. Little bells, wrapped sweets, cones, dolls, jesters or punches with the hump; fruit, stars, candles ( real of course ), wonderful pull along animals and the ubiquitous bauble.

It was made at the end of the 19th century in Nuremburg, in Germany’s Bavarian region for display in chocolate and confectioners shops. They would slide them into the window amongst all the goodies that the shop had to offer; gorgeous cakes and pastries, delicately decorated chocolate boxes and  shaped edible creations in the form of angels, bells and snow topped trees.

They would have competitions to see who could win the prize for the most beautifully decorated window.

I think this window would win prizes!

Just like….Jill!

Congratulations again, Jill.

Off you go!


I apologise, dear readers, for not posting earlier but my trip to The Kensington Dolls house and Miniature Fair on Saturday, completely wiped me out! ( As they say).

IN more ways than one.

It has taken me this long to be able to stand up without too much pain ( and that is with my special tablets!)


I sold off most of my miniature figures and now only have a few left. After my competition ( ends Sunday 12th ) I will put those figures I still have on this blog and reduce them further. They must go to good homes for Christmas! This will be, of course, minus the figure that my competition winner chooses.

I now have only 12 correct answers. You have a one in twelve chance ( so far ) of winning a Gainsborough dummy board of your choice. QUICK!  enter the competition.

I am also very glad that the snow has gone. Wiped out too…. thank Heavens!

It is still minus 10 in the garden overnight though. It’s nice to have snow at this time of year to make it Christmassy ( or should that strictly be Adventy?) but we have to spare a thought for all those people who still must get to work. Nurses, firemen ( yes they are still busy even in this weather ), carers in Care Homes and people of this ilk,  upon whom other people really rely and without whom, many people will be totally stuck.

We must also think about those who work outside…like my poor husband. A static job ( it’s been rose pruning), in minus ten is no fun! Some days of course he has had no work at all….the ground is frozen as hard as a harlot’s heart! And that -when you are self employed, is frightening. The ground not the harlot’s….oh never mind….;)

So…off you go nasty weather….off you go.… and you too, my esteemed readers, of you go and enter my competition and then OFF one of my Gainsborough  miniatures will go to a lucky winner!

Next post?


STILL for sale...The Mistletoe outside figure.