The story of a treasured find.........................................................
Several years ago I attended a private doll sale, hosted by a dear doll-dealer friend of mine. The sale consisted of the collections of another friend, recently deceased. With so many wonderful things available at this sale, a humble little dollhouse sat forgotten on a table of odds and ends. Of course, I always take pity on humble little houses and recognized this particular dollhouse as a Gottschalk-in-the-rough. It was "priced to sell," so I purchased it, despite a few puzzled glances.
Upon doing some research, I was pleased to find that this (formerly) crumbling grand lady is "famous." This dollhouse appears, as purchased, on page 31 of Evelyn Ackerman's The Genius of Moritz Gottschalk. According to the text, the delightful balcony dome is a very rare Gottschalk architectural element.
Almost as long as I have owned this house, it has been packed away. Recently, I decided to unpack and re-examine this little gem. Though the former owner and Ackerman didn't seem to think restoration was neccessary, I couldn't help thinking this house "just seemed sad." With intentions of being as gentle as possible, I began some restoration work.
Because there is paper-loss above the "window-trio," I had few misgivings about altering this area. I recreated a triple keystone trim above the windows using layered cardboard (and a creative, patina'd paint job). There is some warpage in this area and the cardboard, while appearing to be wood, had just enough give to follow the bowing. I also used layered cardboard to create the two middle window divisions. These divisions are covered with a print-out of a scale photograph of the existing brick paper. Regarding the roof, only the front right section was missing blue paint. I decided to go ahead and paint it in a custom mixed, matching color. I roughed it up a little, so the finish would mimic the back roof panel. A little beeswax polish was applied to all painted areas. This wax gives the painted portions a slight lustre and lubricates the dry wood.
Lace curtains were the only alteration to the interior. Overall condition considered, the interior floor and wallpapers remain beautifully intact. Restored nearer it's former splendor, I doubt this "famous" dollhouse will be packed away anytime soon.
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